1 April 2008...10:35 am

The Recruits Stand Sideways Along The Bar With Their Thumbs In Their Belts And Watch The Room

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Bert Jansch_Needle of Death.mp3

I heard that William Daniels once starred in a television series with David Hasselhoff; Daniels is a talking car and in one episode drives Hasselhoff’s character around after he’s fallen asleep. That story made me very nervous and I don’t think I ever want to see the show. William Daniels was also in Boy Meets World, a show that was responsible for my tenacious-long-beyond-its-serviceable-years love of the mushroom cut and not responsible for very much else.

(I also read in the WSJ today that Knight Rider is being re-adapted because we ran out of good ideas in 1982 and just realized now.)


Bert Jansch_The Black Swan.mp3

I disliked the talking car premise because I am wildly in love with William Daniels, circa-1776, but also because when I was seven I was victimized by a recurring nightmare. My parents are nonexistent or else simply absent, and I am in their maroon Corolla, which is sitting inside the garage of the house at 126 South Kingman Road.

The garage was at the end of a driveway; neither garage nor driveway nor South Kingman Road sloped at all, but in the nightmare gravity is taking me nonetheless and then all of a sudden I’m in Audubon, New Jersey, the sun-bleached, muted quasi-city in south Jersey where my grandparents owned a big house and I slept over in a room that, in hindsight, reminds me of The Yellow Wallpaper.


My little sister was actually stuck inside a locked car once. The Corolla stayed in the driveway, but my mother ran around it sending, I guess, panic signals to the neighborhood fire house. Instead, she attracted the attention of Young Don Franklin (my father actually called him Young Don; his pectorals prevented me from calling him anything at all), who was outside mowing his parents’ lawn.

Don was always beagle-esque in his devotion to my mother. When he saw her jumping around, shouting at Hannah that everything would be fine, he took off running. Don cleared the rhododendron bushes that separated our backyards and sprinted to the car, arriving just in time to jump around with my mother for another ten minutes until the fire department arrived.


After the door was unlocked, a fireman reached in and picked my blinking, two-year-old sister up out of her car seat. The fireman turned to hand her off to a responsible party and he found: Don! The lumbering high school senior held Hannah by the armpits and then turned, beaming, to present her to my mother.

Bert Jansch_The Wheel.mp3

He was the rescuer! I spent the crisis drawing in the dirt underneath the swing-set with my toe, and furiously humming William Daniels’s 1776 pièce de résistance, “But, Mr. Adams.” The song is a conversation between the delegates about who is to write the Declaration. Adams keeps deflecting the honor by explaining,

If I’m the one to do it
They’ll run their quill pens through it
I’m obnoxious and disliked, you know that, sir.

It is true, he is so obnoxious. I love him. He decisively corners Jefferson:

Mr. Jefferson, dear Mr. Jefferson
I’m only 41; I still have my virility
And I can romp through Cupid’s Grove with great agility
But life is more than sexual combustibility.


Truer words. I have this cat now, too, or I live with her; her name is Guiteau, and she is actually Krista’s. Guiteau fell in love with a stray who matches her and lives near our roof. I like to talk to Guiteau when I get home from a long day of carrying my laptop back and forth on the L train.

When Krista was in London I kind of pretended Guiteau was mine, and all of a sudden I was living the single girl in Brooklyn dream, crooning encouragement at feline love affairs, making a lot of tea and eating cookies to Beach House. I even watched My So Called Life one night while I mended a flannel.


[Buy more Bert Jansch here.]

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