The Adolescence of America or A Short Tale and Two Images or A Response to Mark Haim's X2 at On The Boards on March 29, 2012 Mar 30, 2012

by Andrew


The motley crew gathered in an abandoned New Jersey parking lot in preparation for the adventure. As each shivered in the small mass, watching their collective breathes join in a hovering cloud of anticipation, they couldn’t help but scratch their varyingly sized heads with a mixture of curiosity and aversion. Mark Haim arrived too late for fashion, but the mass quickly forgave him as his smile shone abundantly bright enough to refract the sun, igniting a discarded pile of newspapers around which all could huddle. 

With impatient moans and authority-challenging stabs, echoing those of the pre-adolescent boys boarding William Golding’s ill-fated aircraft in Lord of the Flies, everyone took their seats. 

A tall woman who might have been Fran Lebowitz standing on a stool. A chubby Stonewall teddy bear still groggy eyed and regretting his decision to have slept in chaps. A Nebraskan poet who parroted Carl Sandburg. An emerging stallion of a boy named Holden from Caulfield, Missouri. A gorgeous first generation actress of ambiguous ethnicity whose optimistic eyes sparkled through trippingly tipped curls. A team of all-American-red-white-and-bruised-cheerleaders straight from a Mellencamp power ballade. And, lastly, the bus driver, still shimmering with morning dew. 

He calmed their curiosity and announced their destination: Seattle. A percolation of delight spread throughout. The route: up and down, around and through, punching, kicking, celebrating and crawling through the deep, dark tempting labyrinth of Americana. 

Gazing at the various portraits and landscapes slip sliding in the otherworld of their window frames, this adventuresome army survived wind storms, run-ins-with-the-law, temptations of space and settlement, heart shattering loneliness, rest-stops, waterparks, hearty stomach stuffings of corn, blaringly charming country music, county fairs, deep longings for fresh soil, hospital waiting rooms, passionate love affairs, caffeine and cigarettes and more caffeine, winding and shadowed forests, military enlistments, stagnancy of progress, and surprisingly hearty laughter. 

Many years later they would all gaze, with hyperbolic nostalgia and longing, at the panoramic USA-commissioned-mural imprinted on their varyingly sized medial temporal lobe structures, and wonder if it was true. Did their memories, swirling with images of Rockwell, Warhol, Sendak and Kubrick, serve them dutifully, or was betrayal at play? After years of marching in clipped step, through the wilderness of routine, reality and rediscovery, their memories of growing elderly in an adolescent America were fading quickly. 

By dramatic candlelight the Sandburg-mirroring poet tried to spin phrase anew, but caving to routine instead rested his hands on repetition, and with the aid of his walker stepped in line and settled on what came before, scribbling: “Sometimes I grow, shake myself and spatter a few red drops of history to remember. Then – I forget.”