Oakland is Oakburg, really. It contains many towns, villages, shires, hamlets. Oakburg is alienated from its constituent parts. One day you might find yourself in Oakburg, or in Temescalton, or O.co Coliseumville, who knows, the city is always changing names to suit what’s fashionable. A stranger walking past you on the street might feign as though he’s about to punch you in your genitals; don’t fret, that’s a standard greeting. This highway adopted by OAKBURG’S HARDEST ARTISANS–that is a real sign, somewhere here. This place seethes with some unclassifiable emotion, diffuse anxiety.
(Execution Song Interlude) by Porter, whose previous post can be read here.
1. The Myth of Freedom
If Mellencamp does one thing well here, he succeeds in conveying the complacency of small town life. The song sounds how misplaced pride in an unambitious life feels.
The Cougar’s thesis: Small town = Good enough for me. The most contestable claim being that he’s seen it all in this small town. The second, that he can be himself and people let him be just what he wants to be.
Ask those who chose and choose daily to leave the small town. You are guaranteed to receive reports of inadequacy and intolerance; a stifling air will resonate through responses.
But what of those who stay and suffer? How would their song sound?
2. The Mayor Heraclitus
Enter sonic destroyer. The guitar introduction itself an assault, followed in short time by the rumble of Roland and bass, a prelude to an outright crankdown. Then, the critical lethargy – carried by the rhythm – of the over-enunciated lyrics, deadpanning the Cougar’s own stifled enthusiasm: live here my whole life.
Find something to do. Things get nasty. Kerosene and self-immolation combined as sport fuck: in nothingness stirs a restlessness. This is real American complacency. Set me on fire.
As with Cougar, there is no mention of/room for ambition, while difference lies in the response to the lack of opportunities. Where Cougar is sedated by his small town, Albini is bored unto rapture.
Perhaps from nothing comes nothing and over again, conflagration as apple pie.
3. Again, for good measure
17 seconds of Small Town and 18 of Kerosene: listen.
Who’s honest? Who’s telling the truth? Is there honor in denial? In self-immolation?
No one said that you must move to a city. But must you pretend? Between staying or going, which will kill you more?