Dear Dirty America

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Texting & Driving In Los Angeles Triggers the Destroyer In Me

Texting & Driving In Los Angeles Triggers the Destroyer In Me
December 01
14:42 2013

“I really wish I knew why I’d done some of the things I’ve done over the years. I don’t know if I’m a medium for some outside source. Whatever it is, frankly, I hope it’s not what I think it is.” — Ozzy Osbourne, Hit Parader, 1978

Magnifying the Rumblings from Hell

ADAM MICHAEL LUEBKE

I imagined blowing bullet holes through the thin rubber walls of the tires of the car next to me. I’d gleefully watch them deflate. Pow! I’d be doing the driver a favor, since most of his energy was going into tapping out text messages rather than focusing on driving. I also placed a well-aimed shot into the car’s engine. How satisfying the way the bullet blitzed through the hood and left a clean metal wound.

When I snapped back to conscious reality, my foot was still on my brake pedal, the light was still red, the rolling bass riff pumping out of the huge speaker in the trunk thrummed my driver’s seat like it was a 1950s weight loss machine trying to burn away extra fat with intense, low-level vibrations, and, quite unexpectedly, I found my hand was shaped like a toy gun and aimed at the driver next to me. Pointer finger stiff, thumb cocked back, and the other fingers curled into my palm.

The driver of the Corvette glared back. I turned my hand pistol into a shoddy wave, like that’s how I greet every cool guy in a sports car. Just another non-threatening hand pistol wave.

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait around to see his response. I slapped the turn signal switch so hard I nearly busted it. I made an emergency right and squealed away from the intersection before the Corvette driver could decide how he’d like to make me regret pointing my fake finger gun at his vehicle.

But what had happened back there? It’s difficult to seriously defend people who send text messages when they drive from whatever pitiless outcome befalls them, but I’d never personally fantasized that kind of barbarous response.

What internal darkness was I harboring? And what unearthed it? Maybe it was the music that coaxed me into a subconscious trance that flowed together with a sincere disdain for reckless drivers on the already chaotic streets of LA. Frequencies and vibrations are powerful. They should not be disregarded. They can lift you up or flatten your mood, or lull you into an altered state. Native Americans would ride the sounds of their shamans’ rattles into the next dimension.

With the right set of speakers in a fairly modern vehicle, you can ride a similar wave. You can sense the sixty percent of you that is water trembling on the molecular level and being shaped by the various frequencies and tones of what we call music in our modern era: in this case it was two seven-stringed guitars and a bass down-tuned so low the strings slap the fret board when they’re plucked. Combined with aggressive drumming and a voice wailing or screaming.

A giant subwoofer in your trunk magnifies the rock music rumblings that feel like they’re being burped up from the Undergloom. There really is a spellbinding element to music. As David Bowie told Rolling Stone in 1976, “I believe rock and roll is dangerous…I feel we’re only heralding something darker than ourselves.”

I had such a speaker installed in my car so I could, as Hunter S Thompson put it in the fall of 1971, “bounce around like a ping pong ball.” But I was not bouncing. I was absorbing.

While my seat vibrated under my ass, I’d watched the cool guy in his Corvette next to me texting away. His sideburns were short, straight, and professional. His hair was stiff, gelled for success. We were stopped at a red light. But when we pulled forward, he barely glanced up from his phone. We stopped at the next red light. He was texting again, with both thumbs, rapidly pounding the phone’s screen.

That fuck, I thought. That degenerate human. Absolutely needing to pound out message after message on his phone. I should have performed a citizen’s arrest. Maybe I’d get my name in the paper. Screaming headline in the LA Times: “Little Known Blogger Gets Beaten to A Pulp After Attempting Citizen’s Arrest”.

Well, so be it. Somebody has to stand up for what’s right in this society. One day the snout of that ape’s Corvette is going to ram into the ass of some kind, unassuming girl’s rear end and sandwich her car between his and the truck in front of her. All so he could finish typing in “OMG” or “Totally” or “Definitely” or “Yeah” or “Wassup brah?” or some stupid baloney modern day bullshit excuse for language that we practice.

Wrath of God

Wrath of God

My thoughts were hateful. I admit it. The dark lyrics and banging music were shaping the water in my brain. I hardly realized I’d slipped in sync with the music. That’s the ominous part. The hypnotic effect of sound carrying a particular set of sentiments. The negativity floating on smooth rhythms makes unthinkable lyrics and emotions palatable, even tempting.

The light was still red. He continued to text. I didn’t realize until he looked up at me that I had my right hand in the form of a play gun — and I’m double jointed, which makes my thumb able to tilt back on its first knuckle at an unbelievable angle. For the Corvette driver, that might have been the most threatening part. “What kind of a half-assed shooter you got there, son?” he might have thought.

His face changed. His lips stiffened. He closed his mouth and set down his phone. He shouted something, but my windows were rolled up and my music was impenetrable. I’d been shooting out his tires with my fake finger gun like my friend Mr Kim really shoots out the tires of Los Angeles red light runners with his very real .22 pistol.

Yes, Mr Kim is still loose. And yes, he’s still badgering the assholes in Southern California in the only way he knows how. One solitary, but well-aimed shot at a time. And Mr Kim doesn’t listen to music. It’s against his system of ethics. “Why play with fake emotions?” he asked me the one time I’d met him. “Why play with sadness, anger, hate, joy? It’s vanity. It’s illusion. It’s useless.” It’s for the same reasons he doesn’t eat sugar.

When Mr Kim brandished his little .22 pistol, he said, “Why not do something that’s going to make a difference?”

Despite Mr Kim’s admonishment, I may delve into waltzes to balance out the heavy meth-metal and melodramatic opera that makes up most of my listening experience. A more innocuous tone with a joyful vibration could go a long way in a person’s life.

I know spiritual people who swear only by Enya-styled dribblings that are as inspiring as a cloudy day. Peace and harmony! these people exclaim. Only good thoughts! You are what you think! Your whole life is an accumulation of your belief system up to this point!

But I won’t stop listening to metal quite yet. There has to be an appreciation for the full spectrum of emotion. Could you listen to the tinkling sounds of an angel’s harp all day? At what point would you crave a dark lick of bass and a little distortion as accompaniment? Let’s plug that harp into an amp and give it some juice. Bend that note. Play those strings faster. Loosen them a little. Turn up the volume so we can feel it. And that’s where it all begins, or breaks down.

God has 99 names, after all, and some of them are not pleasant realities. Without the frightening ones, like God the Avenger, there would be little appreciation for the value of bounty and peace. The successful young man in the Corvette was practicing Recklessness and Disregard for Humanity.

In reaction, I’d been heralding Al Mumit, the Destoyer, or at least ringing his doorbell again and again just to feel that intensity in my chest and the vibration beneath my feet. And for a few seconds, it felt good.

[Header photo by Intel Free Press; body photo “Cain fleeing wrath of God” by William Blake, 1805]

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2 Comments

  1. Joanna
    Joanna December 02, 11:29

    It’s the LA vibe that calls forth the infernal beast, I tell you! Having come of age in Hollywood, I remember blaring my music of choice—not meth metal but hard-enough rock—every time I ventured onto street or freeway encouraging it to stoke the flames of my inner defensive driver on the verge of road rage. I could pop at any minute and proudly wore a thinly veiled smirk which any cheap $10 psychic would see right through as symptomatic of a desire for riffing vengeance against the careless driver who dared disrupt my rhapsody. God speed, dear author.

    Reply to this comment
    • DDA
      DDA Author December 02, 15:52

      You’re an intense breed of human, dear reader, as is apparent in your comment. I know all too well what you mean. It’s that smirk, hovering just over the steering wheel, that we should all watch out for.

      Reply to this comment

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