Like the title of the song “Back On The Street Again,” we are all, in a sense, starting over thanks to the CV pandemic. It has caused untold suffering for millions of people around the world. And yet, in the midst of this dark night of the soul, it is becoming obvious that we will emerge, like a new-born butterfly, into the sunlight. We will resurface in these baptismal waters with more compassion, new skills, and better ways of doing things large and small.
“Back On the Street Again” originated on an album simply titled “Steve Gillette.” Released in 1968 by Vanguard Records, Gillette’s debut album became an immediate success. Many of his songs have since been recorded by other well-known folk music artists. “Back On the Street Again” and “Darcy Farrow” are two of Steve’s most popular songs. I’m also a big fan of two other songs on the album: “A Number And A Name” and “The Bells In The Evening.”
Enough said. Here’s my cover of “Back On The Street Again.”
Is the car running away from something? Is it running towards something? Or is it just some dumb kid with a lead foot accelerating off of a dirt shoulder? If you picked option three, you get an all expenses paid free night at a Comfort Inn in Sawdust, Idaho. Here’s a more detailed description of what happened.
The cop who gave the kid a speeding ticket has left the scene. The kid is angry. He’s also trying to impress his sixteen-year-old girlfriend sitting next to him in the bucket seat of a restored 1971 Pontiac GTO.
The kid is basically a nobody, despite his ability to restore vintage cars, who is trying to prove he’s a somebody. It doesn’t help that he’s preternaturally short and stubby for a seventeen-year-old. It does help that he’s been blessed with freakish good looks. And, he’s never had a bad case of acne. His girlfriend, Luisa, is an average-looking teenager who started wearing braces later in life than most of her peers. Fortunately for Luisa, a company called Invisalign has invented a unique clear plastic brace that doesn’t look as bad as metal braces. These braces aren’t even called braces. They are called “clear aligners.” Isn’t that clever?
(Please note: I had never heard of Invisalign before I wrote this post. I was vaguely aware that something like clear braces exist, so I Googled “Clear Braces.” Invisalign came up. For all I know, the claims the company makes are pure poppycock).
To be perfectly honest, Luisa’s good fortune regarding her braces is completely beside the point. The big question is, as I’m sure you are wondering by now, why does Luisa hang around with the kid? There is no cut and dried answer, as is the case with many things in life. It may be that she is a good listener. The kid does most of the talking in the relationship, and, as far as Louisa can determine, she is the only person around who takes an interest in what the kid has to say. Another factor is that nobody besides the kid is beating a path to Luisa’s door. So, a bird in the hand applies.
There are other subtler reasons to account for the kid’s presence in Luisa’s life. We don’t have time to get into all of them. Mainly, and to her surprise, Louisa has admitted to herself that she likes the kid. A little. Upon further examination, she has realized it’s impossible not to form a connection with someone you spend regular time with, unless that person turns out to be a serial killer.
I’ve been remiss in mentioning the kid’s name. It is Elmore. The name is another cross the kid has to bear. His father was an avid fan of the writer, Elmore Leonard. Hence the first name. Shit happens.
Elmore likes to impress anyone who will listen with his knowledge of fast cars. He likes to put adults on the spot by asking them questions like, “Do you know what the letters GTO stand for?” Occasionally, an elder will know the answer, but most of them say, Grand Touring…Uhh.
Elmore stands there smugly and says, “It stands for Gran Turismo Olomongato.”
A pregnant pause normally follows. Elmore proceeds to explain that Gran Turismo Olomongato is an Italian phrase denoting a race car that is officially sanctioned for grand tour racing competition. Upon hearing this, Elmore’s audiences generally find an excuse to peel off in another direction, leaving Elmore to ponder why such a phenomenon happens with maddening regularity. He then consoles himself with the thought that most people beyond the age of twenty-one have become passionless souls obsessed with boring careers.
I’ll have to end here, because I know that people don’t like to read long blogs. I started writing this by randomly downloading the picture at the top. I recommend it as a fun exercise if you have no clue what to write about. If I had something socially redeemable to write about, I would. If you are looking for a theme to this blog, try this: To Stay Sane in the Midst of a Worldwide Pandemic, Sometimes It Helps to Write About Nonsense. This is probably a good practice any old time.
Questions abound as to what will happen to Elmore and Luisa. How will they grow as characters? Will they fall in love? Who besides these two will enter the story? What is the central conflict. And who is the antagonist? If you have any interest, let me know and I’ll continue the saga. And, if you have any story ideas, don’t be shy to suggest them. Your thoughts are welcome.
Some people are saying this is “the end of days” as prophesied in the bible.
I don’t believe it, but I have a great big question. Why is the good work of so many good people NOT creating a better world?
There are millions upon millions of courageous, charitable, loving acts of kindness offered from one person to another every single day.
If we stacked these everyday loving acts end-to-end, in a matter of weeks they would reach the Moon and back.
So, where is our better world?
It’s not here because the actions of “bad actors” are overwhelming the virtuous actions of “good actors.” The bad actors are tipping the scales in the wrong direction; towards the darkness—not the light.
The latest example of this is the Corona Virus.
I am furious at the oppressive, reprehensible Chinese government for foisting this plague upon the world.
They are responsible for the pandemic because they have not banned “live markets” in China where cats, dogs, rats and mice, among other abominations, are sold to people TO EAT.
It is highly likely the virus originated from a “live market” in Wuhan, China.
The Hong Kong government banned these markets long ago. So, why has the Chinese government allowed these obvious public health hazards to exist?
It is probably because the poor, downtrodden Chinese people don’t have enough healthy, clean food to eat, thanks to their totally misguided “leaders.”
And then there is this: The Chinese government censored and imprisoned a doctor in the city of Wuhan who could have stopped the plague at the outset. She wanted to quarantine the people who were originally exposed. The Chinese government didn’t want the facts to escape into the light of day. They saved face and dumb wittingly allowed the scourge to multiply. This brave doctor eventually died from the virus.
And now the world is infected.
Why must the many suffer from the sins of the few?
I cannot forgive the oppressive, Communist, Chinese government for this act of reckless irresponsibility, and for the cruel and inhuman punishment they regularly inflict upon their own people.
When this nightmare passes, the international community will have to take steps to pressure rogue governments like China to eliminate potential breeding grounds for deadly viruses.
Until then, I pray for the health and safety of all good people everywhere on this Earth.
David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.