The Pop Group Returns

One of the greatest rock groups ever, The Pop Group, is going to release their first album in 35 years. As promotion they’ve revealed the title track, “Citizen Zombie” which you can listen to here. The Pop Group is one of my favorite bands ever, but the new track isn’t all that impressive; it’s okay and certainly better than a lot of songs being released nowadays (it’s like a lesser version of the lead singer’s, Mark Stewart’s, collaboration with Primal Scream,) however it seems too calculated and the musical ideas aren’t all that interesting. I’m still eager to listen to the rest of the album when it’s released; according to Rolling Stone it’s going to be produced by the same guy that’s produced Coldplay and Adele, which is an interesting choice, I guess. I doubt the album’s going to be all that good (hopefully I’ll be proven wrong,) but at least more people might be turned on to The Pop Group’s previous albums.

In the meantime, here’s one of their more well-known songs, “We are Time” which is easily one of the greatest rock songs ever:

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The Patient

Dr. Harris sat in his office, trying to look calm. He was skimming the notes he had on Karen, trying to convince himself that she was just another patient to be treated. Five minutes later, Karen entered his office for her appointment. She had short, blond hair and greenish eyes; she was also a little overweight and wasn’t the most beautiful thing ever, but there was an ineffable quality that hovered about her presence, obviating any mere imperfection. “How are you,” Dr. Harris quietly asked.

Karen took a moment before answering, crossing her legs (she was wearing a skirt) and prepared a smile. “Fine.”

“Fine?” Harris nodded, “That’s good. How’s the new job, you mentioned your manager…”

“Yeah. No. Work’s been fine.”

“That’s good.” Her eyes faced him, but Harris felt as though they weren’t looking at him; this was something that frustrated him, as though he didn’t exist and was merely a springboard for her to talk about her issues. But this didn’t stop Harris from looking at her eyes.

Suddenly, her head jerked to the left, toward the window and she said, “I don’t want to talk about it, but I guess that means we should…”

“You mean…”

“Yes. That. It’s been almost a year since he’s died. And I’ve been thinking about him.” She turned herself back to Harris. Harris noticed that she, unlike his other patients, always guided the sessions. He considered this a part of her arrogant personality, but this was just another thing that both excited and agitated him.

“In what ways have you been thinking about him?”

She sighed. She looked so pale. “I guess…I shouldn’t say I’ve been thinking about him. But things surrounding him. How…he wasn’t a bad person; he was more human than most people who just walk around dough-eyed; he could have been a great artist, but things prevented that.”

“His drug addiction.”

“Yes,” she said sharply, “His drug addiction. But that’s not what I mean. The things pushed him onto that route…” She trailed off; her eyes started to turn red. Suddenly, Harris felt so small behind his desk. Her voice returned. “I was just thinking about how little control he had. He could have been great, could have been larger than his past.”

“But, he made his own choices. No one was forcing him…” before he finished that thought Harris stopped himself. Karen didn’t respond to this; she seemed to be in her own world, a place that he couldn’t access.

“All men are tethered to circumstance,” she suddenly said, “Even great men had little control of what they became.” She waved her hand. “I don’t know, it’s a silly thought, but it’s something I keep having. Maybe I like having this thought.” Harris didn’t know what she meant by her last statement. He just nodded and let her continue.

An hour quickly passed and Karen was gone. Harris went to lunch and came back to talk with another patient. He tried to stop thinking about the enigmatic Karen, but he couldn’t quell the image that floated within his mind. There was that thing about her that he couldn’t analyze, that he couldn’t reach or even touch upon—it was beyond things and beyond him. He knew he shouldn’t be treating her considering his feelings toward her—he also couldn’t help her—yet she was there, every Wednesday at 11:30.

The patient Harris was with was another dull, middle-aged, middle class guy, just like him. The patient babbled on and on about his wife; Dr. Harris nodded and moved his pen.

White on White, Defined

A nothingness wrapped
in mediocrity owns this
wall, owns your gaze.
Mere sheets and hints
of printed words pinned
to immensity, slathered
in greater glumps of white,
but the description makes it
less as you learn the painting
somehow represents
the communities fractured
by Eisenhower’s highways.
You look at it, then back
at the description. You step
away and travel to the video-
foot exhibit—a boot decimates
pumpkin pie on a screen,
and all you can do is thank God
that there isn’t a description
for this as well.

In the Sand

Every morning, the sun slips into the sky, the cold water moves itself and the old man is summoned. He’s gathered to the edge of the beach; he doesn’t gaze at the living ocean or the red giant’s rising, but fixates on the sand. He holds a long, metal arm with a flat head hovering above the sand, and walks slowly down the edge, barely avoiding the water’s receding touch. He searches and the metal arm helps him see. Sometimes, the arm alerts him with a pinging noise; this is when the old man slowly bends down and digs at the sand with a tiny shovel. Some metallic object is uncovered and pulled from obscurity, for now, and is dropped into the old man’s pocket. The old man continues on, no change in expression, always seeking a treasure that sparkles in his skull. A few more treasures and then the old man’s body fails, dies. But it doesn’t matter—the old man is replaced; another old man with a metal arm becomes tethered to the same march along the sand. The essence of this scene is greater than you and I.

This scene, or one like it, will move along even as its original players drift from the spotlight; it may come across differently, but the import will be sustained. It may not be an old man, or his imperishable search, but those things are just vessels anyway. Meaning will touch you by other means. The old man’s searching, which has remained with me through the years, will dissipate once I die, but others will see what I saw in other things, and live with it. It’s the meaning of the image that will live longer than me, its mere recipient. But for now, the old man remains, perpetually searching the sand because my mind deems it so for, like the old man, I too grasp for something.

Duty

Age: Eight

Gabriel playing outside, blue sky paved above old buildings. Rides on his green bike (beautiful bike) air sweeping sides of his face, only thing pa ever gave him. Passes by group of black boys smirking, yelling “spic” and throwing rocks.

Gabriel home without his bike, mother kisses his face. She is crying too.

Fifteen

Gabriel on the couch—suspended again knocked-out Red who’s twice Gabriel’s size, almost happy. Mother in the kitchen thinking about Gabriel’s pa.

Nineteen

Gabriel enters the kitchen, stares at the plates in the sink—she’s gone. Finds the window, takes another swig, pushes the window up, yells at the kids laughing outside.

Twenty-Six

His girl doesn’t understand, he has to do this—who he is. Heads out, on patrol sweeps the area, Gabriel sighs. This city: people who think they can do whatever they want, less than dogshit. Car in front of him, sirens, pulls them over. Soon gets one on the ground breaks his arm–another rat, can’t believe such a pathetic thing still breathes.

Next day: Gabriel drives around, blue sky. Follows a group of them on the sidewalk, one of them turns gives him a face thinks he can do whatever he wants.

Twenty-Seven

Convenience store robbed a few blocks away: Gabriel on alert. Minutes later, senses something. Looks over, there is a shadow that marks a building’s side, leads him to a hooded man moving down the sidewalk. Gabriel and his partner pop out of their car.

Minutes later. Sixteen year-old killed (five in the chest, unarmed). Gabriel thought he heard his laughing. Now the laughing is gone. Gabriel puts away gun. Looks at his partner.

Thirty-Eight

Gabriel with new family, new city. Kids in the window, Gabriel sips his coffee: warm and nice—every morning is like this. But the sun’s going to move again and Gabriel will be pulled by the night, to hunt the streets for the rats. It’s who he is.

The singer’s crowd

dwindled to a face unlooking
at him, but at the specter that only is
the crowd’s. The singer is gone.

The singer was theirs. Now he’s fallen
into fragments. The crowd is bound
to itself, becomes a single mind.

This mind listens, waits, but the old
man is not the singer. And the past
doesn’t dance into substance.

But the singer sings the unknown
song, unslipping into the mind that is only
felt by the echoes it makes.