Under the Rainbow

A few reminiscences without direction

There is a United States of the mind that exists, communally, somewhere; sometimes recorded in Hollywood, trees blossoming Kentucky white and autumn leaves in New England, in front of houses styled in innocent times, and diners, on roads that last from day into night, with small glistening coloured neon signs appearing from the distance, blurred by raindrops on the windscreen, wobbling as they approach, then flashing by suddenly.

There is route 1, the rocky Hitchcockian Californian coast and the immense Redwood trees, capturing time, and in small towns that no longer had a remembered name, dotted as they are between so many other dots on a map, one feels somewhat like one is somewhere in the Fifties, at fast food joints where coffee is sipped among bored teenagers in parochial team colours, girls hanging onto local budding sports stars, who ignore parochial greetings but eye passerbys warily nonetheless.

The bluesman plucking his guitar on the waterfront in San Francisco, piercing the air with scaled notes, had drifted me straight back, in filtered dreams, to the Doobie Brothers, opposite Alcatraz, with the busy Chinatown nearby, residents practising Tai Chi in the street, moving in slow mesmeric movements, pushing palms outwards, and lifting knees slowly to stand balanced and relaxed on one leg.

And it is thus that San Francisco stands, seemingly perfectly stable but its tenuous hold, in reality quite fragile, sited right on the San Andreas fault line, guaranteeing it subjection to a constant series of tremours, one of which I felt as I sat watching the mist uncover the classic image of Golden Gate bridge, before an ancient hippy came over and thanked me for “sharing the experience” with him, “man.” The Golden Gate, which serves by example, invites and opens the way to the Wild West, and is a better structural metaphor for the Hollywood States than the Statue of Liberty, which admonishes, and is too proud and characterless behind her stony stare.

Chicago was a city of blues too, and has a Sixties feel to it, all the more intensified travelling up through Wisconsin. There is the Rocky mountains of Colorado and the rocky coast of Maine, places where we’d recorded our few songs such a long time ago, we being a band fancily called the grand Bleary-Eyed Bob and the Buffalo Blues Band. Or was it Bob and the Bleary-Eyed Buffalo Blues Band? No matter. We’d sung forgotten melodies like the ones we wrote on a road that dipped down and back up, over hill after hill, with brief views of red barns, white terraced houses and steel water towers between lush green grass and small trees.

a young me
passed this way among shrubs
-tall trees now

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