Alright Alright (Here Goes part II: Lifter Puller) Feb 4, 2021 11:52:54 GMT -5
Post by skepticatfirst on Feb 4, 2021 11:52:54 GMT -5
GEOGRAPHY: FIRST PASS
In the Here Goes thread, we worked out early on (heregoes) that many THS place names like "Hostile, Massachusetts" are not just metaphorical, but basically allegorical:
- Boston/Massachusetts is the state of Hostility
- Denver/Colorado is the state of Being High
- Ybor City/Florida is the state of Wild Partying
- Los Angeles/California is the state of Making It Big
et cetera. There are THS place names that are metaphorical in a non-allegorical way, too:
- Las Cruces [TS&tT]: literally, "the crosses," and like Dos Cruces in Both Crosses, evidently a reference to the place of Charlemagne's crucifixion.
- La Quinta [TS&tT]: a reference to the La Quinta motel chain, to go along with all the other motel references in the songs: Residence Inn [DH], Comfort Inn [Star18], Thunderbird [SN], and Motel 6 [212M]. (The pun has precedent: Residence Inn and Comfort Inn are "living in" [Ambassador] metaphors; Thunderbird and Motel 6 are drug metaphors ["Thunder"=cocaine/heroin, "6"=TR-6=amphetamine, see LISTED above]. Compare The Ambassador, the hotel where Kennedy was killed).
We could list others. The crucial point is that *these THS place names are not literal*; they don't affect the real-world setting of the THS story, virtually all of which unfolds in the Twin Cities.
At first blush, it's *not at all* clear that the LP world works the same way.
Florida and Colorado in LP look nothing like their THS versions.
Despite an abundance of wild parties, there's no Florida in the songs at all, except for Miami in the NC list.
The only reference to Denver or Colorado is "these denver slums they look so good in text" [SBackwards], which, coming immediately after mention of the Dharma Bums, is an obviously metaphorical reference to Kerouac's On The Road --- but, precisely because it's so straightforward, seems very different from the crazy use of names in THS.
The evidence for Massachusetts points in different directions.
There are only two LP references to Boston, both in simple lists of place names [NC, LGI]; neither appears to be anything like Hostile, Mass.
There is one reference to Massachusetts [Rental], but because it's in a purely negative statement, it's hard to use it to draw conclusions.
References to Springfield, Massachusetts and New Bedford, Massachusetts [MiM] give us a little more to work with. The Springfield lines:
peter panned out here from springfield, mass
peter panned back into springfield, mass [MiM]
seem to be something other than literal: "Peter Pan" is a drug reference (to PCP; see LISTED above), and Springfield is where the headquarters of the Peter Pan Bus Lines are located (wikipedia), suggesting a doubling-down on the drug reference, rather than a realistic destination.
The New Bedford line:
well hello, new bedford, mass won't you hit me with a little bit of amnesty [MiM]
is also interesting: by escaping to New Bedford, the narrator of the song can be presumed to be getting a "new bed," but it's hard to make a strict connection between that and the "amnesty" he's looking for. Again, it looks like there's something metaphorical happening here, but it's not allegory.
There are, on the other hand, a number of LP references to California that begin to sound more THS-like.
There's an innuendo-laden road trip to the west coast in Mick's Tape that closely resembles Holly's trip in Star 18, C&N, etc.
We've already noted that "orange grove" [Langelos], like "strawberry stand" [TPatP], is a place where drugs are for sale, i.e. a trap house (see FRUIT above). But as the immediately preceding reference to "dust bowl" confirms (wikipedia), "orange grove" is also a reference to John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath, the story of the Depression-era Okies who went to California to work as crop pickers ("a grove of yella oranges" appears in chapter 18 of the novel, p. 281 in the Modern Library edition). So that's a California-as-drug-house metaphor, which, while not the allegorical California of THS, is certainly not literal, either.
Long Beach Island
Finally, there's the LBI (Long Beach Island, in New Jersey) and the other East Coast shore locations, which do sound a lot like the Ybor City of THS.
A final case that's easy to assess is Viceburgh, the story of a group of kids meandering on foot between several locations:
- "1st and 59th": Google Maps confirms that there's only one such intersection in America, and that's the one in Manhattan at the end of the Queensboro Bridge, also known as the 59th Street Bridge. (Possibly a reference to the "59th Street Bridge Song" by Simon and Garfunkel, another song about wandering around on foot; compare "Just kicking down the cobblestones" [link] to "just kickin walk like a panther" [Viceburgh]; the Paul Simon connection found by muzzleofbees makes this more likely [link].)
- "the fens": this is definitely a reference to "the Back Bay fens" [HM] of Boston.
- "dogtown": this is a reference to either the abandoned settlement in Massachusetts (wikipedia) or else the Beltrami neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis (link), or else the SoCal skate punk mecca (link).
It is self-evident that these places cannot all be meant literally, not all at the same time.
So already there's no question but that some of the use of place names in the LP story is metaphoric, even if it doesn't seem to be extended to allegory in the THS style. But it's also noticeable that the more clearly non-literal uses mentioned above (California, LBI, New Bedford) don't show up until later in the catalog (the documented lyric "the shore's a bore" in Double Straps was evidently changed after the album was released; what's actually sung is "you're sure a bore").
Since we're looking for clues to the real location of the story, we still want to consider whether the early LP geography may be literal, even if the later geography isn't. Could it be that place names on the first album, or at a minimum in the early five tracks, are still descriptive in the ordinary sense, rather than metaphoric?