The "T" Stands For "Nice"
I’m getting a lot done now, on a steady diet of Scotch, Diet Coke and Aspirin, with a few handfuls of Cap N’ Crunch Peanut Butter thrown in here and there. I’m laying off the blow; I’ve got enough fucked-up body shakes and raw, telepathic mind power to take me through the night. NYC is a memory to me now (every day’s an endless dream of cigarettes and magazines) but if I close my eyes I can see you all—flickering about at the edge of the frame like ghosts. I’m looking back at you to see you looking back at me. Hey, Sterling…Hey, Fitzcarraldo…You give great movie head, in case you didn’t know. A silver camera…a titanium laptop…I’m procuring all the metals necessary to start a new country based on life, liberty and the pursuit of unreality. A citywide cinemascope. The hippy kids here think I’m some kind of visionary. They drove me through the canyon on the back of a pick-up with a thermos full of green tea and mushrooms. They wanted to see what I would see, but as we passed by the jagged god-fingered peaks a cloud passed in front of the moon and all I could make out were a thousand shades of black. I closed my eyes and it felt like my head was buried in a pile of dry leaves, but it was just the desert air, pressing and prickling.
“What is it, what do you see?” they asked.
“Nothing,” I said, viciously rubbing my face. “I’m alone. Alone, in the crowd…bathed in the yellow light of the show.”
“Which show, who is it?” they wanted to know. “Is it hip-hop? Nas? The Streets? Interpol? Nirvana? Kurt lives, man.”
“I don’t know. Wait. I’m surrounded by Fords. Chrome fenders and hubcaps. I’m in Detroit. It’s Kraftwerk, holy shit, I’m a member of Kraftwerk!”
There was some muttering among the kids as they reminded one another who Kraftwerk was. We were pulled over on the side of the road, next to a yellow sign warning of dangerous snakes. The girl who’s playing the part of Sterling Fassbinder stood strong and upright with her anorexic 12 year old sister perched high on her shoulders. I made a mental directorial note that both of them needed to have their hair bleached again.
“It’s the first Kraftwerk show in the States. Detroit, Michigan. Motor City. We’re expecting maybe a few handfuls of white computer nerds to show up. When they tell us that the arena is packed we can’t believe it. Who the fuck is listening to German synthesizer music out here in the middle of the U.S.? The curtain goes up and a sea of black faces erupts in a cheer. Flabbergasted, we turn on our machines and begin to play. The audience starts dancing. Dancing! Never, in our wildest dreams could we have imagined this happening…
It’s a brand new era…a new age of techno and house and hip-hop and I’m right on time. I’m smack in the middle of it. The scene will build around me.”
I opened my eyes and they were all looking at me, eyes glazed, mouths open, like they were watching TV. Sterling’s sister and I locked gazes. Her expression was one of quiet boredom. She alone wasn’t buying any of this. I got pissed off at her blasphemy. Who did she think she was?
I dug at a flat rock with my toe and lit a Marlboro 100. There was an iridescent swirl in the sky; the mushrooms kicked in a bit and suddenly I felt certain that a large silver curl was going to drop out of the sky, just like that time in Omaha. I forced myself to swallow my fear and look up. I stretched my arms out to the sky:
“Listen, everyone: I’m the real deal, Holyfield. I’ve got it going on two times. I’m not like the others, who will spend their entire lives grasping at the magic string, which they can see but never touch.”