Part One: Joshua Rampage
Mike “In Case You Didnâ€™t Know Iâ€™m The Big King Over Here” Tapscott managed to leave work early (read: his 4-Square round-robby was cancelled) so we could play miniature golf and savor the remaining pockets of heat in the Bay Area. After an aberration of abbreviated warmth, things are back to 55F and foggy in SF, just the way nature designed this coastal town in Northern California.
Herein lies my boggle: the mind recalls with vivid detail the island adventure I just returned from, the very trip that inspired this Sade Sundayâ€™s latest musical undertaking â€“ Monster Rally. But now everything is terribly distorted: jackets, long pants and shoes trump the tanned skin, cut-offs and bare feet of my mindâ€™s isle, creating a paradox within this report. Where is the rum and warm water when you need them?
As we drove south, I regaled Mike with tales of oceanic escapades in an attempt to distract his growling belly from hunger, but no. His blank face held eyes that fixed on the road, staring miles ahead to the Recreational Family Food Fun that awaited us at Malibu Castle. Upon our arrival, he said heâ€™d “get us straightened out” at the food court while I dispensed 3 PBRs into his water bottle for consumption during mini golf.
Everything was going as planned until the bottle overflowed and beer spilled all over the crotch of my jeans. The situation became touchy when I asked a Malibu Castle staff member where the bathrooms were located. I put on my best “itâ€™s not what it looks like” face and walked bravely into the Family Fun.
After splitting a hot dog and cheeseburger with Mike, we set out on the course with putters in hand. Admittedly, there are simple parallels to be drawn between miniature golf and Monster Rally â€“ both are an easy sport that speak softly of condensed fun, the ideal background sound for summertime. Accessible and incandescent, most of the tracks clock in around 2 minutes apiece and are made up of trade wind melodies and looped grass skirts. Word is theyâ€™re composed by a guy named Ted who is giving both his EP-length releases away for FREE, providing you the opportunity to save for that Caribbean trip to find Captain Nemo youâ€™ve always wanted to take.
Fact is, my putt putt game has gone to hell since leaving high school. I could blame the unforgiving, metal-lined holes of Castle Malibuâ€™s course, but instead Iâ€™ll readily own up to Mikeâ€™s superior skills. He had the only hole-in-one between us while I struggled to make it up the ramp of the windmill on 18.
Perhaps I was distracted by the thought of facing another dreary day when all I wanted was to soak up more sun. I have since taken comfort in knowing that I can tune in to Monster Rally whenever I want – transcending the weather and remembering how it felt listening to all those sublime songs in a tropical setting on my island adventure – and suddenly Iâ€™m not cold anymore.
Part Two: Michael Tapscott
Today I had a fist-pounding conversation about Obama. We wanted to believe so bad that we fell for a charlatan. We wanted to heave ourselves onto the rocks of belief’s sweet, salt sea and clean everything with neon and sand. But we aren’t Charles Manson, and neither is our president.
As I enjoy these United States in gloomy joy with my old friend and roommate, I breathe scared. Paranoid fantasies of internment camps and tax droids haunt me. Redwood City tugs at my heartstrings as the vast Canadian National Railway and the 101 zip commerce from bow to stern. Joshua is now living an escapist fantasy and I’m the one who feels like Nemo.
Mini golf, batting cages, pontoon bumper cars, summer fantasies and bitchy party girls, lead me into this evening’s America.
Like heat waves off the highway, Tamaryn boils the chewed up metals of all dream pop history in a heavy metal groove. Is that drummer bald with black ear plugs in the lobe? He’s hitting his drums hard and ahead of the pace that signals some metal background to me. Tell me I’m wrong, I don’t care, let me imagine it this way.
Let me imagine, a Stevie Nicks mother earth, pied piper fronting this band, let me imagine starstruck guitarists on her left and right. Let me put a beach where once was highway and flaming orbs of flying fish where once where cars. Let me live on a Yellow Submarine or Howl’s Moving Castle, not the rickity and scientific Nautilus.
The new record, Waves (2010, Mexican Summer), hits all the Mazzy Star references you can throw at it, but it also avoids the glimmer like a real good 90s alt-band. It’s hard-working and saves itself almost completely by not slouching too painfully.
I did get a hole in one at the miniature golf, I dreamt I was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with a fatal new love in my heart. Then, the old hot dog I had gnawed like beef jerky gave me stomach cramps and the M&M trail mix tasted dry and rancid on the way home. Obama had hurt my feelings for the last time and Joshua’s future is slipping from my area code, but I’ll see him in the prison camps at least.