The Long Road Ahead… Or Was It Behind? Part 2

By Miles Erickson

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The Long Road Ahead… Or Was It Behind? Part 2
After getting stranded In a state park somewhere near Perris, California, my friends and I had become unwitting participants in a civil war reenactment. As we pick up, we are being lead to the parking lot as prisoners of a confederate regiment. We began walking back to the car. The soldiers insisted that, to preserve authenticity, we operate as POWs, so we marched with our hands on our heads, except for my friend Lainey, who was irritated and offended by the guys dressed as Confederate soldiers and walked like Mike Tyson approaching the ring. People don’t generally die for real during these re-enactments, but anyone who eyeballed her the wrong way was definitely taking a chance on riding home on a stretcher. In all fairness to the Confederates, a mixed-race group of art school students probably wasn’t their desired audience. We continued marching. It was 7 a.m. in December and our hands were freezing atop our heads. There was one confederate who claimed to be Robert E Lee (even though I’m pretty sure Lee was a general and wouldn’t be on patrol, but he also never fought in Perris, California, so...). He approached my friend Sam, who, being Indian, was also not entirely enthusiastic about the situation. Lee spoke in a flirtatious manner, throwing his jacket back and tucking his hands into his pants as he leaned in to our marching POW group. “Wanna see my nun-chucks,” he asked, in a tone that mirrored the way someone speaks when their really confident in their pickup line. “Uhm … okay?” Lee reached down into the interior breast pocket of his gray jacket, pulling out a pair of wooden nun-chucks, held together by a metal chain. “Yeaaah, I bought ’em online.” I think he was doing some kind of nun-chuck routine but it just looked like he was whacking his back really hard with them. All the soldiers stopped and turned to face their general.  “Woahh” “Siiiick” “Dude you’ve gotta let me try. I’m a black belt in karate and your doing it all wrong” “Robert!” A voice emerged from far down the dirt path. “Lay down your arms!” A platoon of men dressed in blue marched up in unison. “Common Robert!” The platoon commander repeated his orders. “Shove off Alex,” the man I knew as General Lee replied. Another soldier whispered to my group of prisoners, “They’re brothers” he said. “They hate each other. Every year they come here and argue.” Suddenly, shots rang out, General Lee hit the floor, red liquid bursting from his chest as he fell.
Lee yelled out in agony and began screaming obscenities. “Was that a paint ball?! You brought a paintball gun?! That’s literally a war crime! I’m telling mom! You are in violation of the Geneva Convention and I’m telling mom!”
“The Geneva Convention hasn’t been written yet, butt face.” The compression of his gun rang out like the sound of firing pistons as soldiers dropped around us. A soldier near me was hit, falling to my feet. The paint from his chest rubbed off and permanently ruined me suede shoes.

“Okay. Where did you say the parking lot was,” Lainey asked.
After much ado, we finally made our way to the actual battle. Now, having seen this kind of thing in movies and TV, let me tell you my expectations for the scale of this battle were entirely too high. I was expecting a war the size of that in Lord of the Rings or Avengers Endgame. What I ended up witnessing was about 20 guys wearing tapout shirts and various paramilitary gear firing at each other while some guys golfed a few yards away.

From what I could tell it seemed like maybe one guy had brought some cap guns and blanks, but there wasn’t enough for everybody so most people were just making “pew-pew” noises with their mouths. There were some older guys wearing faces that said, “This event has seen better days.”
We walked across the field to the parking lot, where a small group of onlookers had gathered with lawn chairs and big gulps.

“Okay, thank you General Lee! You really saved us.” I shouldn’t have said it like that, it just sort of slipped out. Lainey shot me some dagger eyes like I was personally responsible for colonial slavery.
Finally, I heard the voice of one of my group whisper, “Who’s gonna tell Cody we’re ordering an Uber and leaving him with his car?”
I wish I could say we all made it out that day, but some of us remained on that battlefield, waiting in the cold for AAA.
“From this day to the ending of the world, we in it shall be remembered. We lucky few, we band of brothers”
—Henry V, the St. Crispin’s Day speech (William Shakespeare)

Long Distance Listening Party,
Vol. 22
This playlist is available on Spotify, search my username, Mileserickson-354, New songs will be added.

Need a Friend, EL VY
Valentine’s Day, David Bowie
Goodbye My Black Balloon, The Kills
White Trash Heroes, Archers of Loaf

Need a Friend, EL VY. “Need a Friend” is sort of like soft sell meets Muse. It’s a song that maybe deserved more attention than it got back when it was released in 2015. I think part of that could be attributed to the fact that it’s sort of buried in an overstuffed album full of same-ey-sounding, generic indie rock synth songs.

Valentine’s Day, David Bowie. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, after Low, The Next Day is probably Bowies best album. I wrote an entire essay on this album back in college and it definitely warrants discussion. Previously, I talked about another song on this album “You Will Set the World on Fire,” which was Bowie doing Jack White, this song is Bowie doing…maybe...The Shangri-Las? Do-wop? It’s a song that probably would have been a number one hit had it come out in the early ’60s, but Bowie doesn’t make popular music for the time in which it would be conventionally popular, seeing as he’s a fourth dimensional space ghost.

Goodbye My Black Balloon, The Kills. Short, catchy repetitive songs are basically The Kills entire M.O. I know I’m doing a lot of “this song sounds like that song” references, but this piece does sound slightly more mature than The Kills’ usual stuff, veering more into Nora Jones territory.

White Trash Heroes, Archers Of Loaf. When discussing “Cold Little Heart”, I said something along the lines of “If a song is gonna be over six minutes, it needs a really good reason.” “Cold Little Heart” is good enough to warrant the nine-minute playtime; “White Trash Heroes”…not so much. It would be a really killer four-minute song, if they could tighten everything up a bit. But instead of putting out a radio edit, they doubled down and released a WTH four-Track Demo that’s EVEN SLOWER. Anyway, give about three minutes of it a listen. It’s one of those songs that you listen to driving through L.A. at 3 a.m. with a leather jacket on and a toothpick hanging out of your mouth, even if the illusion is somewhat shattered by your gold 1999 Toyota Camry.

Miles Erickson is a recent graduate of CalArts, published author, and currently enrolled in a prestigious, four-year, student loan repayment program. Long Distance Listening Party’s vague intention is to discuss topics framed in the context of what I’m currently listening to.

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December 23, 2022