it’s quarter to noon on a wednesday in 1987 and i’m not in a car careening down olympic boulevard behind a cascade of beamers and lexii with california plates. no. i’m on a brick sidewalk, so i must be in harvard square, and i must be on my way to the taang! records store, or mystery train, or in your ear, or newbury comics. or maybe i’m leaving the square, headed down oxford street behind the harvard divinity school, looking for a sandwich shop between here and porter. either way, it’s 1987 and the song i’m hearing is “i burn today” by frank black. it won’t be written or recorded for another 15 years or so.
the $10 bill in my pocket is marked for disaster: after the record shops i’ll scour the basement at the harvard book store and later today i’ll have a beer at the middle east with mark sandman to try to convince him to start mixing in a saxophone with his doom-and-gloom bass lines. it’ll be midnight and the dog day heat of summer will be traded in for a sporadic nighttime breeze while i saunter in a barely perceptible zig-zag down mass ave.
i’ll be headed for inman square in the wrong direction but there’s a strong chance that i might keep on walking. through harvard. through porter. behind davis. down past ringe. arlington, dry town.
i might not stop until i reach lexington. it’ll be 2am. i’ll have to sleep here on the green until the sun rises on a forgiving thursday morning.
i won’t be able to call anyone to pick me up. there’s no such thing as a cell phone.