Norfolk & Western
Dusk in Cold Parlours
he tap was empty and my mouth was dry. I was rare and resolved to throw in the sobriety towel, but my fist pounded the oak bar on its own accord. The shaggy Irishman on my side gave me a look of appreciation: he too wanted to get wicked sopped. Giving up my effort for the moment (the bartenders piercing look, but more so his warning of banishment for life, influenced my decision) I made my way to the tattered jukebox in the corner--next to the booth with a couple in mid-clothed-coitus--kicked the bottom steel panel, and leaned my elbow on the side, striking a pose in case a less-bitchy J.Lo-esque female should enter the door at that very moment; I would obviously be irresistible. But one-half of my coolness-allure failed to kick in. Instead of being swathed in the fuck-it-all roar of "Kick Out the Jams" (whose pheromone power I'm eagerly waiting the opportunity to affirm), I got some guitars and stuff, but they didn't growl or roar, they hardly even purred.
This sentimental shit never attracts womenfolk. I can attest. I tried driving my needle into Simon and G-funk (as well as this gal, if you get my crude metaphor) while "entertaining" a dame one evening, but she folded her skivvies and bolted for some reason when I asked who Robert McNamara was. He played for the Yanks, right? Something 'bout a proposal and "fiction characters" is playing now over some country banjo shit; I'm beginning to think a prostrate position would be more apt than the elbow-leaning, shifted weight one I'm in right now. I'm reminded of a story my pa told me about how he got hitched. Ma wasn't too interested in his offer, but she said yes anyways. "He had land and three mules and he had more teef and was ain't no worse lookin' den the man down the road" was all she ever said to me about it.
The tender signaled to me that the tap was refilled but I wasn't in the mood anymore. I was waxing nostalgic. Stories of Swedish mountain treks, cold nights snuggling with a non-existent lover, antiquated railroads and warm log fires floated in my slightly soused head. I wasn't in a dingy Somerville parlour anymore; I was a Depression era youth riding the rails. I was a Union soldier shying from the front lines. I was hallucinating--and I was hardly drunk.
I peered into the jukebox's window, squinting and spinning my head with the record in an attempt to read the label. My neck stiff and my mouth still dry, I made my way back to the bar. (The track playing was a dull instrumental, you see) While at the bar, I asked the tender where he got the record that was playing. He said Portland. I asked where that was. He said he didn’t know. I dropped it. My geography fails me, but I'm assuming it's a southern town. A town where young boys prod lifeless carcasses in the thick weeds; where the whistles of defunct railways can still be heard in the wind; and where the line between local mythology and text-book fact is nonexistent. It has to be.
If I was a soft-voiced poet with a knack for whispered phrases and nostalgic imagery I would call myself Adam Selzer. I would employ The Decemberists' drummer Rachel Blumberg along with Joey Burns and M.Ward. I would play hushed music for candlelit drawing rooms, not bars. I would also highly encourage you to enjoy my music with candlelight and a large, large, lager.
Reviewed by: Gentry Boeckel
Reviewed on: 2003-10-09