Sunday, March 09, 2008


I was supposed to be continuing my ten-some hours of reading about China things for a constipated 12-page political economy research paper that is scraping its way through my intellectual bowels with all the ceremony of a kidney stone but was instead jittering around my room yelling John Denver at the top of my lungs. Nobody was home.

Then I got way too into "How Soon Is Now," playing it three times in a row, arms, legs, hair akimbo, hoping to Sweet Jesus I would hear the front door open if somebody came home mid-shriek. I got to thinking about all the times I've watched family members start projects they didn't or couldn't finish, how used to mediocrity I had become. I started to think about what if I got good at this, what if I'm almost there, what if I am approaching, have approached, the moment at which the ball is dropped or carried over the wall?

"Adam Smith In Beijing" called from where it sat on my couch. But the throat kept going and I found myself cycling through most of my back-catalog of practice songs until I was crooning an a capella Country Roads and totally hypnotized by how melodic I found my own voice all of a sudden.

"Holy shit, can I sing now?"

Only science can tell.

I retrieved a digital audio recorder I had left over from a previously abandoned venture to become the school paper's only gonzo reporter. It now contains: about two hours of life soundtrack from being accidentally activated in my backpack; some hippies talking about their organic kitchen compound in the woods and how people need to rise up and take back the power; two voice samples that roughly approximate how Denver would sound if he reprised his greatest hits as the plane was crashing, and he had chugged a bottle of Drano minutes before, and there was a raccoon mauling his face.

But what's the alternative? Compiling theory about the dynamism of the Chinese market economy? When Guitar Guy still lurks the city streets and youth hostels of the world, unchallenged, laid? No, friends. I can't let that happen.

Fucking Jack Johnson.

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