Beat You With a Railroad Spike

The Back to Oroville Post

If you can't cast a boat off the dock, don't chain one to your sedan. How about an old story first? One of my relatives planted all the purple flowers up the dam road. Another of my realtives helped build the dam. That is contribution, commitment. Like I am here, not moving: this is not a beach but a place to nail my logs.

What a thing to wish for! Home? Huh?


We went to Brownsville for their second annual bluegrass festival. No cowboy hats for sale; you 'sposed to done already got one. The portable sink was tricky, faucet involving a foot pump. I was mistaken for somebody who helped dig a trench. In the thumbpicks and lips of kids, bluegrass sounds like an incantation. Witness the Anderson Family, most of whom were under ten. Too-big belt buckles, mom on stand-up bass. "This song's by a right country gentlemen," said the girl with the tooth gap. They proceeded to sing about train crashes and cotton. If they make the right sounds, ape the right way, they will open the pyramids of bluegrass. Authenticity is an assembly. Authenticity as a righteous goal is shit. Or shit vapor. There is honesty, maybe. But not authenticity. We are all Halloween costumes. We head home. White peaches for sale. The roads that They won't fix.

MC Oroville

"Meth till death that's all I know / I don't give a fuck about Chico!" Nowadays, MC Oroville works at a thrift store in the East Bay. Reprezent much? Find MC Oroville on Youtube, lost, confused, hostile and bearded. Oroville sells its water south with no gain to us. Thank you State Water Commission. In motels of the AM hours, the new tattoos will keep us up. In Scoops, the chicken mango dog tastes like the chicken Mediterranean dog. But they're trying. If someone invents a machine that brings murals to life, Oroville will need new brochures. I bought Wayne the river for his birthday, and he promised to build a basement. At Staples, a drunk old lady in a cobalt sundress: "you like my john lennon sunglasses!!!" They look like the Wild Wild West sunglasses Burger King gave away in 1999. The Staples girl copies the lady's ID for her, some dispute with the law, the landlord. I drive home. Oddly enough, I am learning to drive.


What else? Well, I have been watching a lot of TRL on the internet. Pop music these days: incredible. Today's middle schoolers must be six whales of cool. Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen. All these meta-videos. How does Carrie Underwood manage to skirt the edge of suburbia's country accent tolerance? She does. Listen. Fall Out Buy turns Autotune into its own insturment. That Ping Pong song by Enrique "Hot Russian Tennis Player's Ex-Boyfriend?" This is the percussion: ping pong balls! Bouncing left channel to right! Shit, son. Even the new MCR joint is catchy. Pop music is in a good place.

Except for Daughtry. He blows penny muffs.

And Linkin Park, of course. We've given you "believer" types almost half a decade to explain Linkin Park. Well?

The Radio Station

When most of your (read: my) "aesthetic" involves calling John Cougar Melloncamp's "Small Town" on its shit, well--what happens when you hit material that fits too well? I visit the radio station to promote a gig among people I haven't seen in several years. Everyone laughs at my jokes. You should rent Gummo, I say, and then something about not being able to eat ice cream. Outside, Super Mario the plumber walks by in torn blue overalls. From the Inn. Ooooh. From the Inn. Half the time you can't get into the Inn for all the yellow police tape. Katie says: "Look, a hot girl." Where? "Outside, across the street." I don't see her. "Nevermind. She wasn't really." Oh. "She just wasn't a crackhead is all. I know some crackheads." Don't we all! I didn't say that. Something stops everything like that, something in the sundown on the tin. Ashley G. says: "I should just grow my mustache, buy an accordion, and change my name to Olga." I always pictured her with an accordion. Her mother used to work at the jail; now she owns a bakery. Ashley's birthday is one week before mine. She remembered and I didn't. You know that look people give you? You know that look. When we die, we take with our bodies three mix CDs and a litany of shame. Thank you for making flyers, Ashley. At 7:30 PM on July 15th @ Mugshots Coffeehouse and Internet Cafe in Oroville, CA, the following bands will play songs:

Dustin and the Furniture
A Drum and an Open Window
At Night (no MySpace I could find)

And I am going to play a few songs, too. Should I drop off flyers at the YMCA? Katie says: "Don't worry: it's small and fills up fast." I have this weird thought of where I shouldn't put flyers. Who shouldn't come? If I MySpace my friend Chris in Chico asking for crash space, is that rude? Help me out here. Do you ever get the feeling while looking at a picture of yourself--that isn't a real person. Almost, but not quite.

The Missing Rope Swing

David and Wayne are disappointed. The rope swing is gone. In its place: torn-up boxer briefs, PBR cans, dog shit, human shit. Human shit? Yeah. Butterflies and motorboats caress the inlet. Water really moves so easily. If only I could cope that well without offending you. I play a few songs. David has a sour personality and multiple hair styles, enough that I never recognize him when I'm back in town. He leaves his ID and keys on the dashboard, but they're fine down the road when noticed. Wayne likes my song about the saddest earthquake; he says it's "interesting." David wrings this statement from his hands and flat laughter: "You can sing and play at the same time. That's good. I'm going to say--I'm going to say I'm a little jealous." When most of your aesthetic involves "Where have you gone Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Are you still busted by the lights we sped and tied up in the kites above the lake?" -- what happens when you smell that again? Old hat. Really old hat, I mean. Wayne and David are probably coming to my show--if they can get work off.


At a gas station in Corning (have you been through Corning? you know the one), the wiring went screwy. No gas for anyone! I felt like a 1970s embargo newsreel. Looking around, I realized the first few blot drops of what will happen when all the gas goes poof. Meanwhile, we flee for another station. I consider buying a black cowboy hat with a peacock feather. When I get to the East Coast, I want to be authentic. Instead, I buy some fruit salad.

Epilogue: Berkeley

On July 7th, 7:30 PM, I will be reading at Pegasus Books with Elliot Harmon and Logan Ryan Smith (alphabetically ordered). If you are in the Bay Area, please drop by. Have some beers! Ask me to expand on the Oroville stories. See if you can spot my railroad spike. It's hidden all over.


K. Silem Mohammad said...

Wish I cd be in Berkley for yr reading, Mike--knock'm DAID

the spirit of oroville said...


Alex said...

i wish i could come too :(

hopefully you can make it up here with the help of magical bums. remember: rub their stomachs twice and think ethereal thoughts!

Mike Young said...

Thanks Kasey & Alex. =) I am leaning on the magical bums of Craigslist. Craiglist, put your queer shoulder to my wheel.

Even the spirit of Oroville does, yes. Even the spirit.