On Franklin’s Tower


Today in the locker room we heard the distant strains of “Franklin’s Tower” coming through the walls. While undressing, we listened to Jerry’s high, reedy voice and the watery textures of his guitar, and considered with some disdain the detached and meandering quality of the music — like so much of The Grateful Dead, vaguely cheerful and detached, loosely psychedelic, a demented nursery rhyme — and how it represents the opposite of The Velvet Underground and their progeny. Yet the effect of confronting it in this unexpected setting — and through the walls — was immediate and visceral; we suddenly recalled hearing the same song ___ years earlier in the basement of a fraternity house — “Theta Drug” — where overhead the sound system thudded through the floors. How easy it is to remember the dank stench that emanated from the floors and the thin, piss-colored beer we gulped down from plastic cups as we stood among the clumps of other nervous freshman waiting for refills at a battalion of kegs. Most incredible is the presence of a girl we “liked,” a girl we had already seen on campus and who now hovered nearby, her long, blond hair and diaphanous skin giving her an ethereal quality that made us even drunker than the alcohol. We worked up the courage to glance at her shyly and — enter fanfare of trumpets — she returned the gaze! When our eyes met through the dark gloom, our pulse quickened, though it was less at the thought of falling in love with this particular saint than a fervent hope she might save us from the more tortured longing beginning to possess our heart.


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