The Long Road Ahead... Or Was It Behind? Part 1

By Miles Erickson

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The Long Road Ahead... Or Was It Behind? Part 1
This story begins in Perris, California, the morning after a long night spent sleeping in the back seat of a car. The situation was pretty simple. We drove up a road late at night, hung out for a while and then as we made the journey home we returned to that same road and found it blocked off. After a long night of hitting dead ends and at one point driving over a few holes of a golf course, we all went through various stages of grief as we realized nobody was going home that night, the four of us leaned back into our seats to get some rest. The following morning we woke to find the path sealed off and the car battery dead. It’s worth noting we were all freshman in college so nobody was missing curfew but that being said, we all had class at 1 p.m., so when the sun came up and the path was still blocked, we set out on foot in search of civilization and cell service. We took a few steps onto the green of a nearby golf course. “Dude thank god I’m not still living at my mom’s” murmured Lainey in between exhausted huffs. “If I got home right now, after having been out of touch all night, I’d be getting la chancla” “You’d what?” I asked. “I think it means her mom hits her with a shoe,” Jazzi chimed in. “Your mom hits you with a shoe?” I asked? “That’s messed up.” “No, it’s not like that,” Lainey continued. “It’s a Hispanic thing... sort of like tradition.” “It’s tradition that your mom hits you with a shoe?” I continued. “At my house we do like Thanksgiving dinner.” We stopped for a moment to take a beat as we aimlessly kicked golf balls around the putting green under our feet. Suddenly, shots rang out all around us. Gunshots and lots of yelling. “Lainey!” Cody, the owner of the stuck car, spoke up. “Is it possible your mother traded in her slippers for a machine gun?” Suddenly, a voice cried out from behind a treeline, “Meeeeeddiiiiccc! I need a medic!” Followed by a second voice, low and harsher, “No! Shut up! You’re dead!” We all exchanged confused looks as we approached the treeline. We pushed our way through vegetation, breaking the treeline. Looking down over a cliff we could see the second hole of the course, covered in 50 or so men dressed in Civil War-era soldiers’ uniforms, firing blanks at each other. (Normally I would have said “men and women” but we did not encounter any female soldiers in either regiment). The bangs continued, smoke and flashes burst from gun barrels and prop cannons, people ran at each other with bayonets, stopping a few feet from their enemies before flailing their arms up into the air “Arhhhhgggg… you’ve got me,” one solider cried out. Also, it never occurred to me until years later as I was writing this article, who attends a civil war reenactment in northern California? Anyway, I swear to Gd this is actually true, but I genuinely saw one solider hit the ground before shakily reaching his wounded arm into his jacket pocket to pull out a letter, handing it to the man who had just bayoneted him. “Give this to my best gal back home,” he said before positioning his head comfortably on the grass to “die.” By the time our brains had caught up to what was happening, the marching beat of footsteps could be heard making its way up the dirt path behind us. An outfit of men, maybe ten of them, approached us, all dressed up as Civil War infantry but with various degrees of effort; one guy was wearing a cavalry jacket over a purple Blink-182 T-shirt. A few of the guys had shaved their beards into side burns. The soldiers were confederates. “I surmise you fellas ain’t with the war effort,” one asked. “You ain’t a Union man, are ya boy?” “Uhm...any of you guys got jumpers? Our car’s dead. Or could you just point us to the nearest road or…Denny’s,” one of us asked. “Road? If your lookin’ for civilization there’s an outpost down this way. That’s where General Lee stays.” One of the men then whispered “It’s where our families and stuff set up lawn chairs so they can watch. My friends and I all exchanged looks. Lainey shot me a sharp glance, being half black, half Puerto Rican, she was less than amused with the situation. To be continued... Long Distance Listening Party Vol. 21 This playlist is available on Spotify. Search my user name, Mileserickson++-354. New songs are added every two weeks. Anti-Glory, Horsegirl Studmuffin96, Alex Cameron Cut From The Cloth, The Evens Blankets, Craig Finn Studmuffin96, Alex Cameron. Okay, remember when I did that segment discussing songs written about underage girls and how the songs fetishized and infantilized them in problematic ways? “Studmuffin96” is like the final boss of that genre, the Apollo Creed of sexualizing minors. The lyrics made me genuinely uncomfortable. I really wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, googling his age to see if maybe he was also a minor when he wrote the song, only to find out the man is 32 years old!!! If print journalism allowed for it I’d include a skull emoji here. Anyway, in defense of this song, you could definitely make the argument that Alex Cameron is doing a parody of artists like Bret Michaels and songs like “Kiss from a Rose.” Blankets, Craig Finn. Craig Finn is one of those singers whose voice is immediately recognizable, like Tom DeLonge or Iggy Pop. I Need A New War feels like a much more mature album than anything he made with The Hold Steady rock band. This is more like Craig Finn doing late era Leonard Cohen, which I find interesting considering Stay Positive, The Hold Steady’s most popular album, basically sounds like a record made exclusively of songs that didn’t make the cut for a Bruce Springsteen album. So I’d say this is a welcome change. Miles Erickson is a recent grauate of CalArts and a published author.Long Distance Listening Party’s vague intention is to discuss topics framed in the context of what he’s currently listening to.

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December 9, 2022