Thursday, October 8, 2009

Black Thursday

I spent a dreary, October morning listening to Radio Dismuke – the tunes of the 20's filled my headphones, doing their best to lift the morning's mood. Their effort turned out to be totally wasted. I'm sitting with a certain sense of melancholy this morning.

Think about driving down a divided highway. You're heading southbound and, across the grassy median, you can see northbound traffic. As you drive you see the aftermath of an accident blocking all of the northbound lanes. For ten miles after that, northbound traffic is utterly and totally snarled – at an absolute standstill. Once you pass the last cars in that traffic jam, and you've crested a hill or two, you start seeing northbound drivers who've got no idea what they're heading into. They're driving along, thinking their day's in perfect order, oblivious to what waits for them. But you know.

To me, listening to songs of the mid twenties is somewhat like being in that southbound car. I've got a kind of omniscience, I know in 1929 the market will crash, that millions will be destitute, and that the nation will labor under the yoke of economic despair and only shrug it off through the auspices of a world war. I know all the light songs of cheer and good times exist inside a champagne bubble that's about to burst. Outside that bubble is a cold, hard world with little room for silly songs of love and youth.

I'm also aware that I'm living in my own bubble – champagne or not, a bubble none the less. Inside it's only possible to see the now and the nearly now. I'm in suddenly transported into one of those northbound cars and unaware of what I might be hurtling toward. Sure, maybe I've noticed a few cars slowing down around me. The economic woes of our times are only missed by those rich enough to be unaffected and I don't belong to that set. I'm just another motorist in my steel and glass bubble, speeding along with the radio turned up and the windows up. Comfortable and ignorant.

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