Their parents must have been savoring a long post-meal linger in the cafe’s back garden, because two young teen gal-pals wandered into the children’s section in search of amusement. Their clothing fascinated me. Conventionally unconventional in that teen-uniform sort of way – a mix of Madonna, grunge, and Goth. Sneakers, red & black plaid net mini skirt over shorts on one, denim mini over leggings on the other, tank tops, cropped jackets with necklaces, leather buckled bracelets, tousled hair with turquoise streak, etc. My generation, at their age, was still dressed by their mothers in girly frocks an inconceivable universe away from such street-smarts. They idly perused past a few teen titles: the goth tale The Replacement, and from the Twilight series The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Then to my surprise one of them caught sight of a fairy-themed play tea set and fell in love.
Oh, enchanting moment, to see the Miley Cyrus carapace crack open and reveal the sweet youth still imagining within. Soon enough the luminous lofting soap-bubble between-worlds fairy delicacy will thud to earth, perhaps in vampire leather and heavy eye-liner or hip-hop army boots with hot-pants and knit beanie. But this moment still held a wrestle between a fairy tea-party and an allowance just shy of enough to pay for it. After intense debate with her pal about whether this particular purchase merited her entire cash reserve, the decision was finally made in the negative.
Summit concluded, her financial adviser turned and picked up the vintage classic moo-in-a-can toy. I remember this toy from my childhood. Its simple goofiness seems to be persistently attractive – there’s even an i-phone ap that brings it into the cy-world. Of course part of its charm is that the cow (or lamb, or goat, or whatever) never sounds very real…more the slightly strangled groan/croak of some indeterminate species. The girls convulsed into giggles and began an a cappella chorus for cow, sheep and two voices. The possibilities were too rich, and by the time I was done with my enthusiastic instigation they had escalated into full beat-box farm rap opera with all the sound effects. I was in school choir. I know what a cappella means. But I would never have had the nerve to leap into the kind of wild scratches, buzzes, moans, and pops these little divas were throwing out. They took a bow, then bopped off to check on their parents, and my eyes fell upon two books nearby. Air Guitar by Dave Hickey is a terriffc collection of jazz club-honky tonk-art gallery-hot rod-surf shop essays on creativity and art and our big, messy Democracy. He likes to take seemingly unrelatable things and remark on how they tango together to make Art. Like, possibly, baby’s moo-cow toy and beat box riffing. Perfect segue to the next book over: Becoming Jimi Hendrix by Steven Roby and Brad Schreiber, the thorough and thoroughly riveting biography of the shy, spacey, apparently chronically untogether young guitarist whose wild sonic experiments got him rejected as an ugly duckling at home, who journeyed away to foreign lands (well, England) where his strangeness took the rock scene by storm, who returned home a glorious Swan God of Music. Hail! all ye eccentrics riffing the sounds in your heads, who can still see fairies, possibly adorning yourself in plaid netting and/or a worked-over tee – we at the bookstore are happy to egg you on!