Canterbury Tale

Jorge Rodríguez


At the City Arms Inn in Canterbury listening to It’s a beautiful life whoa oh ah oh feeling like I understand finally something of what Eurotrash is. The sounds in the bar decidedly weird —— a drunk man (Russian?) points out the Italian shoes of the girl sitting next to him he presumably wants to flirt with: “I like Asian girls.” Meanwhile I wait for either L or T to pick up the phone, two of the only people who might understand the absurd setting I find myself in, a medieval town for the pleasure of mostly old white people, the bartender a young man in a blazer with spiked hair and two tough Slavic men dressed in sports suits just shook hands and grabbed the clownish man flirting with the girl in a tough way that was hard to shake off but somehow guaranteed safety and a certain knowing each other.

“You arrrite? I will bring the food —— yes, phlesssure.”

There is some talk about a Philippines lady, food served cold. I wonder about my application to the Alpine Fellowship.

“Philippines Lady, they are serious man. She liked my voice, that’s why she say I’m from Philippines.”

The prize is OK, somewhere in Sweden Abudi abuda abudi abuda, classic Eurotrash jam of the 90s and today closer to being thirty years old —— my own place in something like the generation that this song gave birth to, the first time I listened to it somewhere in Mex. during a birthday party at Roller Disco, the tonga/ konga line and my peeps on skates holding on to small wrists as I celebrate my 6th, 7th or 8th birthday, the child of divorced parents trying to do their best to give a child the celebration that is his “right.” Everyone seems to be down for the mood and I notice reflected in the front door window a ROUTE 66 neon sign


Yam palish Balgamash on ROUTE 66. Tell me what it means in proper English what it means.

Waiter says: “Fuck me.”

ROUTE 66 for Europeans is this grand journey that must be traversed on a motorcycle with a girl on your back —— excess of miles enthral the imagination of these European masses —— there is also the erotism of sharing words and translation hanging from the tip —— how you say this or that —— the provocation of those foreign tongues enunciating something that could be familiar but is also not. The exchange of words somehow is energetic, keeps things moving.

“Is correct or no?”

The Other: “Of course no. She still do not understand.”

L doesn’t pick up, T doesn’t either. The symbols on the wall connect the City Arms Inn via ROUTE 66 or maybe announce a glowing desire for the mind-speed across the highway riding on a bike speaking Russian or some Slavic language across the American Southwest at speed rates that were only ever meant to be reached by white settlers driving from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Maybe that is untrue; I’ve never been on ROUTE 66, consciously at least, but one time I was riding to Los Angeles and almost ran out of gas in the desert observing the needle hang by a single thread on the (E) of the fuel gauge for at least an hour in the desert where you don’t remember don’t remember your name an hour is not measurable with a clock but by tens or dozens of miles travelled an hour is 80 or 90 miles and not 60 minutes Another one bites the dust. Tchuck. What pavement, what streets and what concrete were Freddy Mercury’s feet scratching in this song that has, by this point, become an acoustic layer of all desolate halls, trucks, empty highways, logistical space with auto-acoustic tunes. For better or worse these sounds and spaces always seem immutable and fixed, but perhaps I only forgot how to savor the particular lateness of the century which plays itself on repeat across so many places across the globe via the same 100 songs on ROUTE 66 all connected to one another. What if there was a society that connected these bars across the world by the same curation of space, the same layers of sound and rhythm preplanned in a Kongress in order to induce the feeling of not being quite at the right time or in the right time, that nothing is totally lost so much as it is late, overdue, not too late as in a despondent future but too late as in expired like rotten milk la la la, la la lalara la la la the sound goes on and on in City Arms, Weavers Arms, Nando’s, the stuff that’s much like everywhere else with a vague British flavor to it.

Jack once said what he liked the most about England was driving around and stopping at places where a plaque would tell, “in such and such a year, something here happened” just when the most globalized song of all time, Around the World, kicks in and reminds me again that I am thirty years late to the party and that gives me some consolation as to why I can never enjoy being social in a bar, because I am hyperaware of the lateness of it all —— my birth, a tower in a public hospital where children snatchers (people said) stole babies to sell them into slavery?!@! The myth of human trafficking seems also a product of that era —— and somehow I was birthed in the midst of but also through all these fears and discourses. And that’s a thought worth sticking to, to be birthed and born in a world where words and their reverberations are there at the time of your birth to make you gain sense/ understand that you are not born alone, but in discourse.

I was a hard birth, I found out today. My mom had to be rushed to the hospital in the morning but I was not born until like 6 (thought it was 11 —— confirmed it was 10:11ish). Dolores de parto for a whole day perhaps through this event I may be induced to think that my impatience at the world stems from this day, when I wanted to be in the world but could not do anything to speed my entering into it. Time’s up. I’m being put away via that stance that signals

“Your time here’s up, champ,” so the page is a witness to this unglamorous exit.

Jorge Rodríguez is in flux in Turkey & the US-Mexico Border.