Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Man Melting: The Playlist >> Part III

This is the final installment of the playlist for my short story collection, A Man Melting. Read Part I and Part II.

13. Fat Camp

The story: Danny and Sophie open a weightloss camp for teenagers in the Scottish Borders, but it’s not exactly Danny’s dream job.
As he stood at the front gate the next morning to welcome the parents and their chubby spawn, he could pick the cars which were there to drop off kids before they even indicated.
4WD – Yes
Hatchback – No
Jaguar S-type – No
Toyota Minivan – Yes
Mr Whippy ice cream van – That poor kid.
The song: ‘Fat Children’ – Jarvis Cocker

No comment needed here:

Oh, the parents are the problem
Giving birth to maggots without the sense to become flies
So pander to your pampered little princess
of such enormous size
Fat children took my life

14. Facing Galapagos

The story: When David starts receiving emails from someone claiming to be Charles Darwin, he is forced to consider evolution from a new perspective.
‘Many people still believe the Galapagos are as untouched as when I arrive the first time. Despite there being no indigenous population, the islands are no home to over forty thousand inhabitants. Not bad for a few lumps of basalt in the middle of the Pacific. Not that I am trying to discourage you from paying a visit, far from it. But it would be remiss of me not to mention the Earth’s enforced evolution at the hands of human beings. Many would say devolution, but has this planet ever looked like this before? We’re still moving forwards, even if our destination is oblivion.’
The song: 'Revolution Rock' – Los Fabulosos Cadillacs

One of the unexpected joys of traveling in South America was hearing Spanish cover versions of English songs. Like hearing ‘Eclipse Total Del Corazon” in a taxi, and clicking that it was a cover of Bonnie Tyler. Technically I hadn’t heard Los Fabulosos Cadillacs’ cover of The Clash’s ‘Revolution Rock’ in 2008, but it was on my computer when I expanded the story in 2009 to include the section in Ecuador, so I’m going to excuse myself just this once.

Oye, revolution rock
revolution rock estoy en estado de shock
Revolution revolution ah ah
revolution revolution...
Todo el mundo a mover los pies
y a bailar hasta morir
esta musica causa sensacion
este ritmo golpea la nacion

15. Evolution, Eh?

The story: A minor hoodlum kills time with a friend in Midland Park.
I was thinking about all the tricks as I rode the escalator up, until I saw a dead leaf and a cigarette butt at the top of the escalator getting pushed up against the comb thing that the steps go into. People were just stepping over the leaf and the butt like they didn’t notice or like they didn’t want to notice, but I thought it was cool. The leaf and the butt looked like they were dancing as they bounced against the comb and the steps slid into the floor. Like they were happy or something. Even though it was a dead leaf and a cigarette butt.
The song: ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’ – The White Stripes

The most poetic song Jack White has written. Sure, his dead leaves are things of sadness, and the leaf in ‘Evolution, Eh?’ is much more hopeful, but it’s close enough.

Dead leaves and the dirty ground
when I know you're not around
shiny tops and soda pops
when I hear your lips make a sound

16. The Spirit of Rainbow Gorge

The story: Noah ‘Rusty’ Kissick achieves his lifelong goal of being elected mayor, only to find he has something bigger to contend with: nature.
The rain kept falling during his interview. ‘I really am proud of this community,’ he told the reporter, a young man with short hair which had curled tightly in the rain. ‘This is the Rainbow Gorge spirit. We’re more than just a fishing spot, we’re a lifestyle.’ A gust of rain-heavy wind blew Kissick off balance and he stumbled backwards, but was saved by a pile of sandbags waiting to be arranged.
‘As you can see,’ the reporter said, the camera now back on him, ‘Rainbow Gorge is a town under siege. With water levels rising, and help slow to arrive, this may be the one that got away. Back to you, Russell and Jacqui, in the studio.’
The song: Blame it on the Rain – Milli Vanilli

No one ever seems to have voted for a suddenly unpopular politician. Same goes for an unpopular pop group. If you approach ‘Blame it on the Rain’ as a piece of fun, suddenly the miming ain’t such an issue. Is there anything redeeming about a ‘driven but limited man’ like Kissick?

You want her back again
But she just don't feel the same
Gotta blame it on something
Gotta blame it on something
Blame it on the rain that was falling, falling
Blame it on the stars that did shine at night
Whatever you do don't put the blame on you
Blame it on the rain yeah yeah

17. The Sceptic’s Kid

The story: Jamie, the son of the President of the NZ Sceptics Society, is understandably fascinated by claims that extinct animals are reappearing around the globe.
‘Then they caught the really big eagle,’ Melanie said, ‘ yanking his hand to make him pay attention. ‘I think it was the government.’ I nodded. ‘They tried shooting it was darts to put the eagle to sleep, but it was so big they had to shoot a lot of darts into it, and when it finally went to sleep it didn’t wake up again. The scientists did tests on it and said it was a Fast Eagle—’
‘She means Haast’s eagle.’
‘—which everyone thought was extinct!’
The song: ‘Birds’ – Paul Weller

Neil Young’s avian love song was well covered by Linda Rondstadt but my favorite version has to be Weller’s. Any story about New Zealand’s native fauna is its own avian love song.

When you see me
Fly away without you
Shadow on the things you know
Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go
It's over, it's over.

18. Unnatural Selection

The story: After six years in Boston, Rachael returns to New Plymouth to work in a bank, buy a house and spend weekends in the garden...
Over the next week I saw three more teachers from St Stephen’s, though like Mr Haines and Mrs Shipley, they all had other jobs.
Mrs Chapman, running a lawn-mowing franchise with her husband.
Ms Matai, though she may have married since those days, ruling over the customer service desk at Woolworths.
Mean old Mrs Yew, the parking warden.
New Plymouth was crawling with teachers, ex-teachers crawling with my distant, near forgotten past.
The two teachers I knew I would not be seeing on the streets of New Plymouth any time soon were Jim Lewis and Kerry Drewe.
The song: ‘It's Only Natural’ – Crowded House

I couldn’t very well go an entire playlist without a single Kiwi artist. And it’s fitting to pair this piece of Kiwiana (don’t be fooled because it’s not black and white, and two-thirds of the band were Aussies when this song was recorded, this song will be around a long time) with a story obsessed with the homecoming.

Ice will melt, water will boil
You and I can shake of this mortal coil
It's bigger than us
You don't have to worry about it
Ready or not, here comes the drop
You feel lucky when you know where you are
You know it's gonna come true
Here in your arms I remember

A Man Melting Playlist Part I
A Man Melting Playlist Part II

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