Falling air in the middle of August. Dust is everywhere. Mornings start out colder than gin the night before. Exhausts shoot the white smoke up like it’s the new pope coming. Unforgiving notion, that summer’s getting away. Trajectory of sun and smog align, episodically creating blinding bursts setting vision on fire. 5am depression. I could never cope with such climate, let alone start to learn after school holidays. But that’s long gone. Dammit, I keep forgetting how old am I and cars I tend to be interested in. Piles of dying metal with unique configurations of parts not seen anymore. All my points of self-reference mash together and blow up one after another skipping huge portions of time, making my mood one grand, never-ending crescendo and eyes swell with panic. Crisis of identity gets out of hand, last rite to repeat would normally be sadness. At this time of the year, I feel like sitting in a black on black Volvo 850 with ‘Boyz-N-The-Hood’ transitioning into fanfares of ‘160$ Million Chinese Man’. Images of where I’d like to be pour out of the speakers, cigarette’s hanging out the window. Inner plot only waiting to pop the gear lever into reverse, smash the throttle and do a 180 turn over the curb because why the hell not – except its automatic and I’m stuck in a 5km traffic jam with fuel gauge begging for mercy while old man next to me yells at the clouds. Emergency drill, distraction, over-occupy neurons. Time to stop being captive of the sun – and that’s not even my expression but a Parquet Courts song.
There was something so liberating about their ‘MILANO’ album from 2017 I forgot to share it with any wider circle. Or maybe I was scared, cause trying to slip ‘Soul and Cigarette’ on parties, I heard it breaking away, making way for liveliness of another club hit. This logic of ditching your old, reliable 850 just to over-pay for Citroen C1. Who can blame them? Clashing with sentimental climate isn’t always a pleasant experience. It’s not Lou Reed carrying a gun and shooting up heroin or anything but even though the whole listening (or driving) experience is a classy and well orchestrated one, there’s something off. Like Ralph Lauren’s ’93 spring runway. New and old, merging together in a simulacra. To a bowl of disappointment for reality add two scoops of sympathy for dead heroes, cup of false belief that we too can replicate their greatness, sprinkle with the poison of choice and throw on the canvas stripped to the ground. Nostalgia kills, but when done good, it’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ without all real-life characters being morons for the sake of reinforcing good ‘ol times scenes. By the time voice of Karen O in ‘Pretty Prizes’ hits, the audience is half-empty. But instead letting sadness in, we’re pushing forward. The road ended, wheels spin hopelessly catapulting liters of mud and pebbles in everybody’s faces but we’ll be damned to stop the music. It just changes directions with us trying to set free. Chilled my eyeballs, as the curtains were torn. I’m there again. No need to perturbate. Breathe the raspy voice in, don’t let it fall. The traffic cleared, magic of music, just press the accelerator hard enough and give them some 5-cylinder backing track. Got a passenger to deliver. 2000rpm with 300Nm of torque ain’t high enough, let’s go all the way to 6 grand and look for these 225 screaming horses.
Wake up, you’re still in traffic, occupying front seat of a hated hipster-mobile. You may think I’m just plain pretentious here, and that’s nothing but true. That’s how I’m made. Grew up in an ambivalent land, with warm feelings for another far away, glow of which my inner pilgrim never allowed to shade. Images eaten for breakfast were fake, sure, never forgot about that. Just as the simple fact that I never made it to the land in question. But it adds nothing, I think. Once heard old men like the one besides me, raving like hungry crows about inconsistency of reality they found themselves in. Sitting on a bench, outside the only shop near by, used to buy more cheap alcohol. Been trying to compensate their lack of knowledge, seriously putting total age of 168 years out front. Felt they have no influence on what happens, and years of such neglect poured out in gallons. Hate on modern art, repetitions on scientific theories being “only theories”, politics that was good once, just as music, clothing, etc. ‘All these girls are walking around naked these days, the romanticism of our time is gone now, we’re doomed. I mean, look at this man for instance. Filthy, tattooed bastard probably stole that baby and is going to boil it alive laughing! Oh, I heard about them, he’ll smear his face with blood cutting a huge pentagram on his chest while looking for baby’s pineal cord and LOOK! Hedonist drives a BMW! Why is this car so low? It needn’t have to be that! I drive my Volvo since 1993 and NEVER tried to out-do the factory’ – say straight faces. The same, that’ll later go to widowed bed, reminiscing their better halves covered with low-cleavage, azure blouses, pierced by erect nipples. Dressed to impress, and impersonate Sophia Loren for dear future hubbies. One is holding half-full bottle of wine, other smiles swaying astride. Tense skin with goosebumps running all the way down her naked back. Night falls, fire crackles, Ray Manzarek’s organs in the air. Later on they’ll all listen to one lone guitarist covering ‘Somebody to Love’, never discovering who wrote it. I bow my head greetingly, driving past the hateful three. Eyes lit up. ‘Recognition! Finally someone saw us!’ Yes, you’re real. I can see your wide, working hands pulling Viceroy 100s from your shirts’ pocket. And I’m scared of becoming one of you. Don’t get me wrong, I love the one and a half tonne of Swedish steel with you on its title. I respect the fact you own it since purchase just as I respect the time you spent on this earth trying to make sense of it all, just as I am right now.
I’m chauffeuring him to the countryside, so he can correct the mistake of not visiting his disabled brother since the fall of Berlin wall. Back then, my passenger finally made his money selling everything capable of sticking a price tag to. Our destination – was exiled, excommunicated. Held the land as strong as he could, deed for which he had to pay with his broken legs. And I fear again. Fear, that when their chain-drinking, filled with nostalgic screening night is over, next morning I’ll hold his arm on our way to the car, listening to complaints of a man who never really accepted how the past played out.
Back home, when he gets out of the car leaving Obol on the leather seat, it’ll be hard to play not only ‘MILANO’, but everything stuck in the past. That’s why people turn their backs on this album, old Volvos and grumpy old man – all three of which will try to hunt me down just as not-really-ending-yet summer strucks for the 20th time. But what do I know, coming back home to a Sophia Loren of my own.
So there it is, Volvo 850 – the old neighbour lady, you’ve always mistaken to be at least half her age. Never really thinking about how much hard work and sacrifices it took her to smile with such strength.