“There’s a city in my mind / come along and take a ride” sings David Byrne. I’m in a dentist chair receiving local anesthetic. The Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere is traveling from my phone to my ears. My mouth is here for a root canal. I’m scared, tense — my fingers nervously grip each other like thumb-wrestling lobsters. “it’s all right, baby it’s all right” Byrne assures me. I’m woozy from a combination of the drugs and my body’s own opiates. DJ Brian Blackout is taking me on a ride to a city in my mind. Wait, Lobsters don’t have thumbs. ”it’s all right, baby it’s all right.”
The thump and sheen of Narada’s Divine Emotions plays call and response with the saw tooth buzz bass of the dentist drill. Instant remix. I wonder if the dentist can hear the music as it escapes my open-clamped mouth. Does my skull shape the sound before it gets to her, like Roger Troutman’s talkbox on a Zapp record? I can only see her eyes, but they are beautiful. The masked stranger speaks gently to me while intermittentlyadministering jolts of pain. A tube hangs from my mouth, but it’s not piping in synth riffs, it’s sucking out drool.
Blackout’s 30 minute joyride continues as I lay immobile and fully horizontal in the dentist’s chair. ”You Can’t Run From My Love” chants Peaches, and it’s true. I have enough silver in my mouth to kill four werewolves. I’m not going anywhere. At least my body isn’t. My mind is at a carnival in a hospital parking lot in Sewell, New Jersey. I’m 15-years-old and I’ve paid six tickets to ride the Music Express. I bob up and down while revolving on a giant turntable like a record that’s been warped by a cigarette lighter. The percussion thins out in the break, then the vocal and the pulsing baseline disappear in a laser burst. The MermaidS‘ Do mE is mixed in seamlessly. The song is perfect and warm and thick like the summer air. Lights from games of chance leave trails as I whiz by them at 45rpm. I close my eyes and watch the purple-red flashes against my eyelids.
I open my eyes. The dentist light shines down on me. She asks if I feel any pain — just a little. I close my eyes again. I’m lacing up roller skates at the Skate Key in the Bronx. It’s a friend’s birthday and we’ve made the long journey up from Brooklyn. Eddie Kendricks Goin’ Up in Smoke recalls the disco glory of this soon to be gone paradise. “What is it now?”, I wonder, “A car wash?” The beat doubles up. It’s too fast for anyone but the pros to skate to. There’s a reason they put disco lights on the ceiling of this place.
By the time Robert Palmer’s You Are in My System drops its full weight, I’m at Twilo on west 27th street in Manhattan. Back in the dentist’s chair, my feet are finding it impossible not to move. At Twilo, the kids are finding it impossible to keep from wrapping their arms around speaker columns that stretch to the roof. The bass is thunderous, the treble smacks like 1000 pounds of sugar-free chewing gum.
I wince as I’m poked in a bad place. Each tooth has at least two canals and my #19 molar has three. Lucky me. I’m given another dose of Novocain. High hats clatter like a freight train, announcing the arrival of Mercury’s You Lift Me Up. Nine feet above the dentist chair I can no longer feel the left side of my face. The skin and hair on the back of my head has peeled off and all I can see is the blurred glow of the florescent lights. It’s like a thousand glow sticks. A song from last year is teaching me to love 90s house again. A band from Switzerland, named for our galaxy’s innermost planet, is the soundtrack to my sensory deprivation. It’s Altered States soundtracked with Piano House.
When it’s over, I feel peaceful. I’m exhausted. I’m at a rave in a disused warehouse at the end of a long pier. The sky is early morning blue-grey. In a few minutes the sun will rise over the ocean. I have met Brian Blackout and he has taken me places I thought I had lost the directions to.
Brian will take you to far away places this Saturday May 5th at Ugly Rhino’s Cinco De Mayo party where he will DJ with the rest of the YDH2S Crew. More info here.