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Everybody Live for the Music Go Round

Last night, we went for a walk. It's one of those things you can do more easily in suburban Portland than you can anywhere in southern California; you don't get stopped by a traffic light at every single intersection, and you don't have to worry as much about who might be lurking in the shadows if you take a shortcut through the park.

And where did we go? The library. We just happen to be mere blocks away from the public library, which is great for all sorts of reasons. For one thing, it should cut down on our potential bills at Powells, which I can already tell is a dangerous store for me to be in. It will also keep us from spending too much more buying bookshelves, which in turn will make it easier to move when the time comes. Borrowing books is just better all around.

And it felt good to walk. We need to find a better path to the library, one that doesn't take us along our busy street with no sidewalks, but I used to walk all the time in Minnesota, and I missed it. I'm looking forward to more perambulatory adventures.

On our way home, after dark, we passed a house on our street that had the garage door open. Two young guys, both in big parkas, wandered aimlessly around the driveway. I could hear some loud garden-variety shitty rap music coming from inside the garage, and as we approached, I was a little apprehensive, but not really worried. I was, however, curious about what they were doing.

As we passed, I glanced in the garage and saw nothing, just a jumble of boxes and bicycles, like you'd find in any other garage. Nothing going on. The kids were just meandering around, like cows in a pen. The bigger one was softly singing along (rapping along? whatever) to the song. Not surprisingly, he knew all the words.

Just wandering around the driveway, singing along to a crap song full of bad language. That's how the kids in America spend their Monday night. Ten blocks away is a building full of possibility, a building containing the collected works of everyone who came before them, the still-growing body of knowledge and achievement of their species, and yet they won't look any further than some corporate slave pretending to be a rich badass and braying about "cappin a muthafucka."

And it is "won't," not "can't." I had plenty of friends in high school who weren't terribly bright, but they at least had hobbies. They fixed up Firebirds and pounded out Metallica chords on a BC Rich guitar and played D&D and Shadowrun. In other words, even when they were "doing nothing," they were doing something. And they smoked pot. So what the hell is these guys' excuse?

It's not just them, of course. The whole country is sliding into a big couch-potato stupor of ignorance and apathy, and I sort of don't expect anything better from people my age or older who have been caught up in it. If you're not paying attention now, after the seven years of bullshit we've had, there's probably not much hope for you. But in high school, kids are full of energy, just looking for a focal point. Pacing in a circle listening to someone else's music is a sign of boredom, a cry for something to do.

Like music? Great. Sell the "rims" from that Explorer out front, and buy a turntable setup and a microphone. Make your own music. Ever felt like drawing or painting something? Art supplies are cheap, sometimes free if you're creative enough. Or buy an old crappy car and tear it apart and make it your own. Whatever floats your boat. Hell, build a boat.

You don't know how to do any of that? Hmm. Well, there's a building ten blocks away that can help. Get your asses out of the driveway and go take a look. It's not too late.
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