Saturday, June 10, 2006

four on the floor and four in the air

Against better judgment and certainly against my physical capabilities, I headed out this morning at the unreasonable hour of 9 a.m. Granted, not such an unreasonable thing every other day of the week, but on a Saturday--on a Saturday with the faintest whiff of post-wine cottonmouth lingering--it was an irregular, if not unpleasant, wa to kick off your weekend. At least at first.

Not to ruin that kind of build-up, but it was really all right. My car was bathed without incident; I was allowed to sit and read (David Foster Wallace's first book of essays) undisturbed (though I think I made one portly fellow with yesterday's Sports page a bit uneasy as I sat down next to him to wait for my car); and my car was returned to me cleaner than I'd left it. There was some concern about the incredible amount of doghair still clinging to my trunk, but a trip to a 'traditional' drive-thru-and-wash-your-own-damn-car hut took care of that.

It was a cloudy morning. Every morning in June in Los Angeles is cloudy. I have to say it's something I've grown to love. It's sort of a gentle entry into the typically too-hot summer, like being taken out to dinner and fed a nice delicate dessert before being thrown against the wall and vigorously beaten about the head and shoulders.

But all in all, it was an uneventful trip. Except for one moment, a little bit of time I got to share with someone else out and about. There was this guy who accelerated by me in his black boxy sports car on the way home. I like to think his name is Cobra because that's what was written across his back window, along with an enormous cartoon rendering of a viper ready to strike that I assume was in accordance with the good people who made the black (5.0?) Mustang he was piloting. There wasn't an incident to be had here either, really, but as I briefly accelerated along with him through the intersection I caught a look at his face--as is my habit for people with odd cars or driving habits (and no, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this).

The driver, Cobra, was probably in his late 30s or early 40s--hell, maybe he was my age, but the manner in which his life was spent had clearly diverged from mine. His face was a tanned and weathered topographical knot of valleys and grooves, highlighted by what appeared to be a still-healing gash along his left cheek. What had happened to Cobra? Was he in a recent knife-fight? Was he grazed by a thrown piston as he checked under his own or someone else's hood? Was this why he seemed in such a hurry?

Then he was gone, and we went about our Saturdays. G'bye Cobra. This one's for you...sorry about the length, I know you've got places to go.

"Cobra," by My Morning Jacket

Yes, this song's a little goofy, and yes, maybe it could've been wrapped up in 8 minutes instead of 24, have to admire its spirit, its sense of the journey. It opens with a burgundy pleather jacket groove, with its rubbery disco bass and drums compressed nearly to a diamond's sharpness, the whole thing smells of muscle cars and cheap cologne. Jim James is calling out from the bottom of that well of his, warning that he knows somebody, and it seems like a pretty fun ride. Then the whole thing comes apart at around the 7:26 mark and becomes this noisy, wideopen blues-funk jam that comes close to rattling the whole song apart, but then a drum machine comes to the party and things get a little more hazy, a little more hypnotic. A Fender Rhodes stops by for a drink, then a lonely banjo ends the party with a chorus of angels. How'd we get here now?

The whole story could've only been resolved in 24 minutes. It's the Cobra, after all. You going to tell him no?

Buy MMJ's delicious 'Chocolate & Ice' EP.


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