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A True Story about Laurie Anderson and a Bicycle Built for Two
By Jessy Randall
This morning there were very big winds in Colorado Springs, up to fifty miles per hour. I had Laurie Anderson’s Strange Angels on in headphones on my walk to the library. I often had to walk backward because of the wind, which was blowing tons of leaves around and getting dirt in my eyes. While I walked backward I listened to “The Dream Before,” in which I heard “History is an angel / being blown backwards into the future.” And I thought, I’m part of history! And I felt like Cher in Moonstruck when she on her way home after sleeping with Nicolas Cage and she’s kicking a can down the road and the leaves are blowing around and she’s wearing that amazing dress.
Why do I have this song on my iPod? Well, when I was in college there was this boy, and he had this really ugly shirt, and at the time that suggested to me that I would probably fall madly in love with him, since my high school boyfriend, Boris, had been in possession of a terry cloth shirt with paisley decorations and that shirt was emblematic of him and of how much I loved him, and here I was in college and this boy I’d just met had on a similar shirt, not terry cloth though. Anyway he played Laurie Anderson’s Big Science for me, and then he played it again, and probably every time I went to his dorm room he played it. My crush on him went nowhere, slowly, but because of how awesome Big Science was (“O Superman”! “Let X=X”!), I bought Strange Angels, on cassette of course.
Later I got digital versions of the songs.
So there I was, listening to it on my way to work on a very windy day—listening to a song involving angels being blown backward into the future, and then, pedaling right past me, was a guy riding solo on a bicycle built for two. I swear! He was riding all alone on a bicycle built for two. If this scene had appeared in a movie I would have said, oh, so fake.
If there’s a problem with our saturation in popular culture in the early 21st century, this may be it. Really amazing things seem too amazing to be real, so that when we tell these stories we have to say “I swear, it’s true,” and the more we say that, the more we sound like we’re lying.