Jacob Lawrence, "Playing Records" (1949)
Jacob Lawrence, Playing Records (1949)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

July 26, 2003:

"You guys are lightweights."

Thin boy, black hair, long. Sucks a hit from a burning roach at the end of a clip.

Round young woman, black hair, long. Confidence, power: all eyes on her, that theatrical presence, with her cleavage and her sparkling eyes and her soft red lips.

"You're not getting a full hit," she says, partly irritated, partly amused. "Breathe deeper."

Red-eyed young man, blonde hair, long. Laughs a long laugh, drowned-out by the howling of a jet airliner just yards overhead, swooshing down the final feet of the landing path, so close it's as if the landing gear would graze the roof. Books rattle, dishes rattle, a nervous cat skitters. Probably the record skips, although it's not possible to hear it one way or the other. The roar of jet exhaust, then normal sounds return: cars on the freeway, the three of you laughing, music from speakers piled high with album covers.

"Down by the ri-ver..." Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. "I shot my bay-bee..."

Long afternoon without time. Tortillas and chocolate without hunger. Dry green leaves inside a plastic sandwich bag, and a world grown wider, not so much by virtue of the pot, which is not new news, but by the records, which are. And by the sweet strawberry kisses of the confident woman with the cleavage, and the sparkling eyes, and the soft red lips.

"Good evening. We apologize for the previous apology. This apology was unnecessary, and appeared on the record due to an administrative error. This record is not, as stated in the previous apology, Pleasures of the Dance, a Collection of Norwegian Carpenters' Songs, but a new album by the humorous television show, Monty Python's Flying Circus..."