“Man, I just had the weirdest dream back on the bus there.
Do you ever have those dreams that are just completely real?
I mean, they’re so vivid, it’s just like completely real.
It’s like there’s always something bizarre going on in those.
I have one about every two years or something.
I always remember ‘em really good.
It’s like there’s always someone getting run over or something really weird.
Uh, one time I had lunch with Tolstoy.
Another time I was a roadie for Frank Zappa. Anyway…”
This part of the collection is a bit of a tour of North American cities – we’ll visit Toronto, New York, Minneapolis, and the Cascade Mountains. This one was written on my first trip to Austin, Texas, which seems like a wonderful city. I knew about it from its early ‘90s portrayal in Bill Hicks routines, and Richard Linklater’s Slacker, a film I still really love. I even dug out a Slacker location guide and was able to visit a lot of the places that appeared in the film. There’s still signs of the Austin of Slacker: the apartment of Richard Linklater’s character, who delivers the opening monologue of the film (the beginning of which appears above) is still there. It was the office of Richard Linklater’s production company. In Slacker, there’s limited distinction between the fictional world and the world of the people making it.
But that was 1990. If you haven’t seen Slacker (you should), you’ve probably heard about its most iconic scene – in which Teresa Taylor (RL drummer for the Butthole Surfers) tries to sell two passers-by what she claims is “Madonna’s pap smear” – pubes and all. It’s one of the more quotable and light-hearted moments in a film that is, like many of Richard Linklater’s films, full of deeply flawed, somewhat weird and pretentious characters that are nevertheless grappling with big existential, political, and creative issues, and figuring out what it means to live their lives.
The Pap Smear location is right in the middle of downtown Austin – and is now an anonymous-looking generic boutiquey shopping street, if such a thing is possible. Those towers are crystal daggers, dreams pinned down by glass and steel. I’m not sure what I would have made of 1990 Austin, to be honest – I’m probably a bit more vanilla than anyone in that movie, or in Austin thirty years ago.
This song’s another word acrostic (like Dental Health) – only this time the first word of each line spells out the first 33 words of Richard Linklater’s opening monologue (above). I can’t remember where the guitar was recorded – possibly in Richmond, Virginia, I didn’t have an acoustic guitar while I was on tour so it must have been a friend’s – but I do remember I had a crappy cold for days, and the original vocal (which I scrapped) was recorded in a basement in New York City – and it sounded terrible. I like the breathy intimacy of this one.
Next week, we think about Halloween costumes – until then, you can preorder Year of The Bird Volume 4 – out just in time for Christmas.