A psycho-geographic review of Alan Vega "Deuce Avenue"
There's a shadow hanging over the city, a creeping menace, of incivility, theft, and possible violence. The question is who are the perpetrators? There are those who like to wear the signs, and those who hide them as best as they can.
My friend's beat car glides across the dim street, Alan Vega's "Deuce avenue" pumping on the automobile speakers, a steady sequence of threats, tire screeches and snares echoing against the blind walls. The threats are even more puzzling, coming from individuals not prone to wielding it, as likely to direct violence towards themselves as using it indiscriminately against the innocent and the guilty. We drive through wet lawns, park in the middle of empty streets, get out of the car and stand a minute under the glare of certain street lights, offering creepy grins to the midsize town mid-week midnight.
"Body bop jive" comes crashing against decades of teenage kicks, an aural drive-by in the drive-in century. The evenings are looped at this point, boredom is an agent of change and chaos in Parking-lot city. We derive endlessly, systematically ending up facing walls, gates, and interphones. Alan Vega's voice repeats death and sex threats on the answering machine until it runs out of tape, flips and plays again and again on the car stereo.
A couple of years later, I come out of the parking lot, alone, on foot, still drunk, piss on my shoes. Parking is no longer the main attraction, too expensive anyway at thirty bucks an hour, and I have only two wheels to park. The Japanese main street has so much to offer I get a headache, evenings go by in a flash, I barely have time to play "Faster blaster" on my way to the river, where teenagers pass out with broke foreigners like myself. As months zip by and the streets gradually brighten, I forget the menace and soften up to the joys of a paid schedule. But the second avenue finds me, in the shady backstreets and blue-collar roads of the Kyoto/Osaka continuum. I find myself staring at spooky vending machines, toying with the knife in my leather pocket, contemplating careers in crime, scaring the good citizens, I have too much money and not enough time for boredom, and I grow restless.
I was told never to be late in Japan, instead I am always two hours early, and practice the derive, in search of violence, the other side of boredom. South Osaka is all lubed-up, ready to be fucked for a few coins, offering its rank flora and fauna, highway ramps, tunnels, empty buildings, bars on every street corners, bodybuilders, bikers, pimps, geeks, perverts and facilitators, every vice a virtue as long as the bill fits your pocket. I derive on my way to a concert, follow an elevated highway on foot until it loses me and the american village pulls me in, there's a posse of low-riders hanging out in front of the hip shop, it's a bad scene they say, but it's nothing more than a hobby, the real violence on the main street happens in the bedroom, the classroom, the bathroom; the rope, the stick and the laxative; and it is very real. I come out of the venue for a smoke with my friend, some drunk woman stumbles out of a cabaret club, falling over her male companion, breasts abroad, my friend tells me not to look but that's all there is to do, even when the little pimp kicks her as she's lying on the asphalt, screaming. We get back inside.
Another year, another city, the sweet money's gone and "no tomorrow" scares me to death, walking through the underpass between Shepherd's bush and Notting hill, the city's bored and ready for some serious savagery. Or maybe I am. Walking around Kensington, I hit the same iron gates, the same closed gardens, the same private roads, the same surveillance cameras relentlessly scouting locations for future confrontations in this diffuse spectacle. One day soon, we'll run out of road and gas, we'll park the car between crumbling graves and have "future sex" in the back. Then we'll light one last cigarette on a passing will-o'-the-wisp as the city lights go off one by one.