I’m 16. I know nothing about prostitute names. I’m not even aware prostitutes go by fancy names like Candy Glaze or Vanilla Sprinkles. Then again, I also no nothing about donuts.
When I think about prostitutes my mind almost automatically wanders to strippers and drag queens, the dirty back alleys of 70s New York, or just a random Midwestern bar full of truck drivers and trailer trash. When I think about prostitutes I think about Taxi Driver, Lou Reed’s Transformer, the stage act of The New York Dolls.
And donuts don’t mean a thing to me, not yet introduced to the Dutch market. Oh blissful years before the end of cold war, only worried about complete nuclear destruction, not the calorie-count of fast food meals.
It’s 1985, I’m 16, and I don’t feel like a child anymore. Between 1983 and 1985, between the release of Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs, I stopped being a child. I’m also not an adult. I’m in the twilight between both, understanding nothing.
Two years ago, ‘In the Neighborhood‘ looked like a parade of clowns, now every song on Rain Dogs takes me deeper into a feverish panic. The map is not the territory anymore, and all I want to do is visit the places Tom Waits is taking me. My finger traces places on an imaginary map: Singapore, 9th and Hennepin, Union Square, (east of) East St.Louis, and a dozen other States and locations.
From now on I will live my own life and create my own stories. The old safety net moves out of view as I mentally lunge forward. I will still be protected; if I don’t succeed or turn mad I will still be taken care of. If I fail I will return to the blissful slumber party of childhood, taken care of, but not taken seriously.
I’m scared, I don’t want to do this, I want to be safe, but every song on Rain Dogs drives me deeper into a romantic maze of possibilities, the pied piper is doing his irresistible job. It’s 1985, and It’s time.
My mental journey, this mental hitchhiking (across the USA), is quantum-mechanic shape-shifting between Willie Wonka and Travis Bickle, multi-directional, fantasy and nightmare at the same time, child like wonder in a house of horrors, or vice versa.
Swordfishtrombones is beautiful but bleak, not a very comforting place. Scary Vietnam veterans, schizophrenics daydreamers, buck shot eyed sailors, they all gather at night, underground, in deserted towns no one knows or remembers, left behind spots on the map. It confirms my current world, my version of reality; all standing still, slowly decaying because of inertia.
Rain Dogs takes me places. Even in its darkest corners it is still full of possibility. Danger is just a temporary state, a transitory phase. Life is around the corner. None of it is truly depressing, every lost illusion the starting point of something new. It’s 1985, I’m 16, and I’m ready.