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Electric Boogaloo

Archive for the ‘Cars’ Category

Jessica Anya Blau

Before My Father Was a Voluntary Mute

November 2nd, 2009
by Jessica Anya Blau

BALTIMORE, MD-

When I was growing up in California, my parents had a fairly loose policy of not driving me, my sister, or my brother around town. We biked to the dentist and doctor. To go anywhere else—school, the beach, the movies—we walked, rode the bus, roller skated, and hitch-hiked (the method of choice in high school).

The no driving policy was cemented sometime before my sister, Becca, went away to college, when we were both in high school together.

On that particular day, the rain was coming down like an unbroken wall of water. Becca had whined and complained, cajoling our dad to drive us to school so we wouldn’t have to walk through the rain to the bus stop (where we’d stick out our thumbs to hitch-hike). My father relented, grumbling and moaning as he picked up his car keys from the kitchen counter and walked out to the garage. He was barefoot in his threadbare blue bathrobe that reminded me of an overused, shredded tissue.

Becca pushed the garage door open from the inside, then quickly got into the front seat of the old station wagon. I sat in the back. My sister was relentlessly bossy when it came to priority seating in the car. I always thought she acted as if the family owed her for her having to put up with bird shit (from my brother’s un-caged bird who lived in our family room), clutter (covering every flat surface in the house), overflowing ashtrays (cigarettes and pot), nudity (my parents didn’t own bathing suits and always swam naked), moldy food in the refrigerator (cheeses that smelled like butt-holes) and moths flying out of the cereal boxes in the cupboard (which resulted in the aromatic branches from bay trees in the cupboards as a form of organic insecticide). What I didn’t understand in this equation was why Josh and I were owed nothing for putting up with it all.

Dad drove us all the way into school—the rain was so thick, I didn’t worry about anyone peering into the window of the station wagon and seeing that he was in his ratty bathrobe.

That afternoon when Becca and I got home from school, Dad came bounding down the stairs still in his bathrobe, hollering, “I WILL NEVER DRIVE YOU GIRLS ANYWHERE AGAIN, YOU HEAR?!” Oddly, my father often seemed inured to the little things that drove most people mad (traffic lights, rude sales clerks, finding a parking spot) but could be outraged at the things that most people didn’t think about (an orange that wasn’t perfectly ripe, the movie Fiddler on the Roof, a dog shit on the lawn). So it didn’t seem surprising that he would be ranting about having driven us to school.

“Do you know that I ran out of gas!” He bellowed.

“Where?” Becca snarled. Of course she was wondering exactly what I was wondering, and that was if our father had run out of gas near the school and if he got out of the car in the raggedy bathrobe under which he was completely naked.

“On Cathedral Oaks Road, just after I dropped you off!”

“Dad! Come on!” Becca said. I imagined my friends driving to school and passing my father loping down the road, his penis probably flopping out into the rain through the sheer flaps of his robe.

“Do you know how far I had to walk for gas!?”

The only thing between the house and the high school was acres and acres of lemon, orange, and avocado orchards. He would have had to walk toward the school, then past it, to get to a gas station.

“About a mile?” I guessed.

“Dad!” Becca said. “Did you see any of my friends? Did anyone see you walking to the gas station?” Her face was a dark stain of worry.

“How the hell do I know! It was fucking raining out! I was fucking naked under my robe!”

“We know,” I said, quietly. I was worried about my latest crush having seen my father. We had gone on only one date and I was hoping for a second.

“Dad!” My sister’s body was clenched as if she were trying to contract her entire being into one tiny, dark lump. “Why don’t you get dressed before you leave the house!? Most people do this—they put on clothes before they walk out the door.”

“I didn’t even go to work today, I was so outraged!” My father was pacing the entrance hall.

“Why didn’t you take off the wet robe?” I asked.

“I took it off and put it in the dryer, but then I was so fucking pissed off, that I just put it back on when it was dry.”

“You were too mad to get dressed?” I imagined my father working naked while he waited for the robe to dry. Would he have answered the door naked? Who knows.

“What is wrong with you!” Becca pushed past Dad and walked down the hall toward the kitchen, her giant backpack sitting on her like someone riding piggyback. I followed.

“Never again!” Dad shouted down the hall at us. “Find your own rides from now on!” I could hear his footsteps thumping up the stairs.

“It’s not like you’ve ever driven us anywhere before!” Becca shouted to the ceiling. Dad must have heard her, but he said nothing and simply slammed shut the bedroom door.

My father stuck to his promise and didn’t drive us anywhere again. It wasn’t a huge inconvenience—I only thought of it when I rode in the backseat of someone else’s parents’ car, the mothers who would pick us up from the movies at night, the dads who would drive us to the County Bowl for concerts. In fact, when I rank the oddities of my childhood this one comes out normal compared the period when my father was a voluntary mute and only communicated with us by scrawling notes on a yellow legal pad that he always carried in one hand.


Steve Sparshott

Access Small Areas

November 2nd, 2009
by Steve Sparshott

LONDON, ENGLAND-

Being disabled and not being a billionaire evil genius is a shite state of affairs.

After a six year trial period, I’ve decided it’s not for me. The problem is context—context being, supposedly, everything. You see, I didn’t spec my environment; I don’t have a hollowed-out island full of boiler-suited minions, with smooth floors and rapid, spacious lifts. I have London, and it’s a fucking disgrace.
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Slade Ham

I’m Taking a Drive

October 28th, 2009
by Slade Ham

HOUSTON, TX

I didn’t even get to finish my slushee. If you haven’t had a Sonic slushee, particularly a grape one, it will totally fix even the worst day. If I misplace mine or drop it or otherwise don’t get to finish it, it can put me in a horrible mood. Normally I reserve them for road trips when I can keep it right next to me for the entire drive. It’s hard for me to be in a bad mood when I have one though.

I was sipping one yesterday when a silver SUV swerved in front of me, violently.

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Sung J. Woo

GP-Yes!

October 27th, 2009
by Sung J. Woo

WASHINGTON, NJ -

At this point in my life, I’m used to getting lost.  There are some people who have no idea how lucky they are, blessed with an organic compass embedded into their brains, but I’m not one of them.  To give you an idea of how easily I can lose my bearings, at my neighborhood mall, once I enter a store, on the way back out, I have to pause and remember and look around and figure out whether I need to take a left or a right to begin the always-challenging journey back to my car.  And most likely, there will be more dithering at the parking lot as I struggle to recall just where I parked. (more…)


D.R. Haney

Saved by Demon Song

October 11th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

I’m hungry. I have no money at all, none is expected soon, and there’s no one from whom I can borrow. I pace all night, wondering how to come by a few dollars to eat.

Finally, slowly, a plan unfolds: I can walk down the street to an ATM, fill out a deposit slip for a phantom check, feed the slip to the ATM, and request a cash advance. The bank, of course, will quickly discover that no check accompanied the deposit slip, but once I’m contacted, I’ll simply say that, being in a hurry, I forgot. By then I hope to have thought of someone who’s willing to cut me a bona fide check.

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John L. Singleton

At a Waffle House on the Edge of Florida

September 23rd, 2009
by John L. Singleton

LOS ANGELES, CA—

After we passed through the hinterlands of Florida, we stopped at a Waffle House, maybe ten miles before the border. As a kid, my mom had worked at the Waffle House, and sometimes I’d come to work with her and sit at the counter all day, eating hash browns and talking to the customers.

It was a skeezy joint but I loved it there. There was something about the endless parade of anonymous faces that floated in and out of there that made me feel at home. Every day there were different people, a few regulars, but mostly truckers and other travelers that stopped in off the highway on their way to somewhere that wasn’t here.

Celeste ordered the steak and eggs and I had a Coke and a double order of hash browns. While we waited for our food we sat in silence, listening to other people’s conversations. We were too tired to make conversation for ourselves and we’d already been talking for too long. Talking about god knows what. Mostly how we hated Florida and wanted to leave.

“I don’t know why the hell people wanna come retire here. It’s worse than already being dead,” she said.
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Stefan Kiesbye

Azzurro

September 21st, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LONG BEACH, CA-

My father drove a blue Opel Kadett. I was three, maybe four, and for this particular trip – maybe up north to my grandparents who lived close to the Danish border — he’d received a company car, a green Ford Coupe with a black vinyl top. I don’t remember what made it necessary, but the new, large car was exciting, and my sister and I had extra room in the back, even though the Ford had a sloping roofline. We were much too small to hit our heads.

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Meghan Maguire Dahn

Postcards Written to my General Practitioner during a Cross-Country Road Trip

September 7th, 2009
by Meghan Maguire Dahn

HARTFORD, CT–

Some people choose to write postcards primarily to their friends or family or significant others. Not me. I did the cursory correspondences to loved ones, but really, the person I was most keen to write to on my recent trip across the country was my general practitioner.

She’s looked after my health for my entire life.

When I was thrown into unfamiliar territory, it dawned on me that she probably knows me better than anyone else. She certainly, at any rate, knows more about my body than anyone else. The only other person that approximates that level of intimacy is my shrink, but, really, she just knows more than anyone else about what I think of myself.

Why not hang out that intimacy to air, I thought.  And what better a place than here, with its meandering, awkward intimacies.

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Jennifer Duffield White

How a Girl and her Dog Drove from New York to Montana

August 29th, 2009
by Jennifer Duffield White

MISSOULA, MT-

The barefoot summer is nearly over.

My soles are dirty, maybe permanently so; they are also thick and somewhat wiser than they were when this summer began 2,714 miles east of here.

There are certain things one learns (or doesn’t learn) when driving the highway between New York and Montana

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Stefan Kiesbye

Get Run Down in K-Town — See Three Saints!

August 22nd, 2009
by Stefan Kiesbye

LOS ANGELES, CA-

I run, and I’m pissed that Runner’s World, this Poets & Writers of the running community, this absolutely useless gloss rag which is great to read on the crapper, chose Sarah Palin over me as their “I’m a Runner” of the month. So I didn’t run for VP, but this should count in my favor. I didn’t pretend to know what’s going on in Japan, even though I can practically see it from Long Beach. (more…)


Irene Zion

Son of Cash for Clunkers

August 20th, 2009
by Irene Zion

MIAMI BEACH, FL-

I read today that beginning in autumn, the cash for clunkers program for cars will be expanded. There will be Federal rebates for clunker household appliances, such as washers and dryers and dishwashers and furnaces and air conditioners. This is all part of the congressional-authorized stimulus plan passed earlier this year. $300 million has been set aside for this so far. I have no doubt that more cash will be added. I have some ideas for other cash for clunkers programs. Perhaps all you readers can pitch in with better ideas.

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Don Mitchell

Badass Pink Chevy

August 18th, 2009
by Don Mitchell

COLDEN, NY -

Prologue: I’m getting worried about the Simon Smithson Effect (SSE). This afternoon I was fiddling with this piece, which is a companion to the earlier “I Don’t Brake for Mongoose,” both belonging to a larger work called “The Dump,” when in comes an email from the guy in Hilo who’s been using my trailer, telling me that this morning at sparrowfart, when he was least expecting it, he was stopped by a cop and told to register the trailer or face a $100 fine. SSE? WTF? LOL! Read on.
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Slade Ham

Free?

August 11th, 2009
by Slade Ham

HOUSTON, TX -

A friend of mine called with a free ticket to see a sneak preview of District 9 the other night and I naturally took him up on the offer. Free? Of course. I had plenty of time to get there before the movie started. “By the way” he says, “they’re not allowing cell phones into the theater to make sure no one leaks footage, so unless you feel like sneaking it in just leave it in your car.”

No worries. Being without my cell isn’t a sensation I’m comfortable with, but I’d rather leave it in my car than with some minimum wage Edward’s employee. I pulled in, parked on the side of a strip center parking lot, and walked over to the theater. Even on the worst day, two hours of things blowing up never ceases to put me in a slightly happy mood, and a lot of people exploded in the movie. A LOT.

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Ducky Wilson

The Hooker from Phnom Penh

August 8th, 2009
by Ducky Wilson

SMALLTOWN, TEXAS-

While an Asian pro with a rhinestone ass wiggles next to a pot-bellied shooter sporting a runaway moustache at the Bellagio craps table, I wonder what the percentage of self-deluded people there are in the world.

Probably pretty fucking high, I think as I scan the room. At the video poker bar, a bachelorette pops a caplet of X into her mouth as her friends cheer her on. “Scooby Dooby Doo,” she howls at a passing geriatric, then preps a line of coke on her wrist to rev her high.

She catches me watching and smiles. “You wanna line, sugar?”

Mississippi. Maybe Alabama. “No thanks.”

“Delusion is the cornerstone of happiness,” she offers with a snort. “You sure you don’t need a little help? You look too grounded.”

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Darian Arky

Wow, I Could’ve Had a V8!

August 8th, 2009
by Darian Arky


Lance Reynald

In the Imperfect World of Fallen Screws

August 7th, 2009
by Lance Reynald

PORTLAND, OR-

I’m going to run a bit off the farm on this one here. Allow for the author to journey through the emotional hillside with ya. Give ya a bit of pop culture tourism through the eyes of the 1980’s raised brat-pack wannabe.

It’s been a crazy few days. I’ve been pounding the pavement trying my damdest to problem solve and keep my starving artist self from starving even more and facing the very real possibility of slipping through the cracks and being homeless.

And halfway through that series of pavement pounding challenges I get a text message that John Hughes died.

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Sung J. Woo

Book Review: J. Robert Lennon’s Pieces for the Left Hand

August 6th, 2009
by Sung J. Woo

WASHINGTON, NJ -

Every time I open a new book of fiction, there’s a part of me that hopes for the improbable: to encounter something new, something utterly original.  So as you can imagine, I’m let down a lot.  But sometimes I get lucky.

It’s been two weeks since I finished reading J. Robert Lennon’s Pieces for the Left Hand, but here’s this little gem of a book, still sitting on my desk.  I don’t know when I’ll return this paperback to its designated shelf, but it won’t be anytime soon, for I keep going back to it, reading one of the 100 anecdotes in this collection at random, smiling and chuckling along the way.

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Paul Clayton

Le Voisinage de Monsieur Roger, First Blood, Part I, Chapter 7, Addendum 1.1, or My Life So Far…

July 26th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-

One of the neighbors in the ‘nage’ flips cars—that is, he buys them, spruces them up, then sells them.  There are always at least six of them parked on our little street, so sometimes it gets a little crowded.  He “ain’t from here,” as country people would say.  He hails from somewhere down south–El Salvador or Guatemala, I think.  He is well dressed, respectful, and attentive.  He can usually be found outside, cell phone in hand.  If I or one of the other neighbors seem to be having difficulty negotiating a turn into our driveways, he will hustle over and move one of the cars like an uptown parking lot Johnny.

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Ben Loory

A Thousand Words: The Problem with a Photograph

July 25th, 2009
by Ben Loory

LOS ANGELES, CA-

This is a photograph of being in love.

It’s a picture of a feeling in a moment.

It’s a record of a time when the whole world came alive.

I took it from inside a girl’s convertible. (more…)


N.L. Belardes

A Thousand Words: Shaman Child

July 13th, 2009
by N.L. Belardes

BAKERSFIELD, CA-

I got onto the hood of our car and stared up at the milky stars. Eric’s yellow school bus was parked right behind us. Desert shrubs looked eerie in the moonlight. Olaf grabbed a blanket and walked off into the desert while I found myself dreaming about the past and the walking stick in the trunk and the mysterious man we had stumbled upon in the middle of the Ohio woods many days before.

Then I listened for snakes. I remembered what my parents had told me about the time they broke down in their old Volkswagen Beetle in the desert in the 1960s. My mother saw dozens of rattlesnakes when she took my sister for a pee by some shrubs. The way I remember my pop telling the story, there were snakes in the road, snakes winding past shrubs, snakes tangled, slithering, everywhere. It was like one of those classic old desert horror movies.

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