Musings on Contemporary Waffle

A Kind of Poem on “Pachucos At The Pumps” (or was that “Pachuco Leather Punks”?), Hope, and Music


Not quite a Buick but a 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon, possibly with cassette player.

“Beneath the stains of time / The feelings disappear / You are someone else / I am still right here.”

. . .

I can imagine Trent Reznor writing that

on lined paper


before he forgot the words

coming to him as they did

out of the blue

from an angel

not a friend

with little time to waste.

. . .

Being a child of the seventies and eighties –

an eternity before the coddling of a million MP3s at a shitty one-hundred-and-twenty-eight-thousand bits per second –

I recall my father playing “Since I’ve Been Loving You” –

complete with squeaky bass drum –

on heady plastic

The old fart's original "album", 43 years on.

The old fart’s original “album”, 43 years on.

when I was 7,

and he was 25 years younger

than I am now.

He played it over and over again.

. . .

Whose old man plays anything in the house today

to make a point

to the surrounding air

that his faith is shaken, that his love has gone bad –

plays the real and imagined problems of a young man in front of his wife and child? Maybe in the car, usually alone. And when not through music then through profane metaphors (he swore a lot).

. . .


Zappa and Beefheart, and

Ten Years After, and

Joni, and

Gill Scott Heron, and

King Crimson, and

Bob Marley, and

Lisa Germano, and

Steely Dan, and

Sly, and

The Temptations,


The O’Jays

Johnny Cash, before "Hurt"

Johnny Cash, 40 years before “Hurt”

and Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” –

boring to millions who have their Beyoncés and Daft Punks today – became



trapdoors to

hope and survival

following my father’s example.

. . .

Hope became my problem, after a time, when it stopped being his.

Understanding this

was my only inheritance.



my father also liked Tom Waits’s Blue Valentine.

Tom Waits - Blue Valentine (backcover)

Tom Waits – Blue Valentine (backcover)

I remember putting this wonder

into the cassette machine

of our red ’78 Cutlass

on our way


When “Kentucky Avenue” came on,

as it did toward the end of the tape

like a slap on the back from a friend who couldn’t help you after all,

the kite tied to her shoulders was

the early clue.

When the boy decides

to remove the spokes

of his girl’s wheelchair

and cuts the braces

from her legs

to attach the wings

of a magpie

so she can fly away with him

to somewhere –

to somewhere –

my dad sobbed as he drove.

. . .

So just be quiet,

you, who speak to break

the spell, and claim your place

among the rooms

of Sartre’s Hell.

Attempt to face your swinish grace

of preen and grunt

and ignorant nerve,

and feel instead

embarrassment before

you say






  • Tom Waits – “Kentucky Avenue” – from Blue Valentine :
  • Led Zeppelin – “Since I’ve Been Loving You” – from Led Zeppelin III :
  • Johnny Cash – “Hurt” – from Unearthed :

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