The mobile-card seller on the corner’s been blaring “Thriller” for half an hour, and a car idling at the light calls out “Billie Jean.” And now? The fast-food restaurant on the opposite corner that turned its external speakers off last year: “Thriller.” But out of phase with the boombox. A dead man’s voice is racketing off the walls of my apartment.
Saturday morning and Michael Jackson’s voice is everywhere. The rest of the weekend would take the shape of “the summer song,” with half-a-dozen MJ hits bouncing through the air like the way catchy singles used to snake their way into the collective consciousness from boomcars and jukeboxes and storefronts. The effect is eye-crossing out on the street, pop refrains slicing and dicing out what seems like a dozen open windows at once.
The café on the block: “Rockin’ Robin.” Another “Thriller”-bot lowrides by. This is the price of A/C. I liked it when after the Bulls clinched there would be gunfire straight up in the air all night. Down the block, the bartender at the local holds the jukebox remote in his hand to keep the wall of Jacko out of full rotation. A customer complains. “Just throw the quarters on the counter instead, missus. They won’t go to waste then!” The day is gorgeous and all I can think is, “When will this death die?” (Ray Pride)