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Monday, May 18, 2009

FAR Future, Episode 87: Virginia Slam

With the story itself finished, I’m busying myself with filling in some of the background stuff. Song lyrics, one of Serena’s plays, maybe a few “ePedia” entries later on. Now that the main job is done, some of this is clamoring to get out too.

Thursday, July 24, 2036
Virginia Slam

The Boy gave us a call today from the camp outside of Suffolk VA, between Richmond and Norfolk.

“Hey! Guess what?”

“Um… you got married?” I laughed.

“Ha. I was at a salvage shop in Suffolk today, and I found a Les Paul and an amp — 80 bucks!”

“Why so cheap?”

“Everyone’s going acoustic these days. Don’t have to worry about the power going out, and some bars don’t even have electric except to keep the beer cold. I’m chopping the amp, converting it to run on a fuel cell.”

“Does it all work?”

“Yeah, the guy let me try it out. He even threw in some strings he had laying in a whatever bin.”

“So what are you going to do with it?”

“Play some old stuff. I figure with a full fuel cell, I can play all night if I want.”

“As long as you can recharge it.”

“Yeah, there’s that. But they got genbikes everywhere here in the camp, and I can pay a kid to pedal for me. It’ll go about the same amount of time you charge it — pedal an hour, play an hour.”

“Good luck with that, then. How is everything else going?”

“It’s a job. But people are getting real weird. I keep hearing stuff that’s just bullshit.”

“People are always gonna give you a line if you let them,” I said.

“Yeah. But some of this — it’s just whacked. Townies are sayin’ the refugees are running whee and zone labs and sellin’ the shit to kids —”

Both? And no turf wars?”

“Yeah. Like I said, whoever’s startin’ this stuff don’t know jack. And the refugees are sayin’ the townies are raisin’ a militia to come shoot up the camp and get ’em all to leave.”

“And you’re hearing both sides? How?”

“Yeah. I go into town and eat sometimes. Some of the townies are real assholes, they thought I was an opt-out because I smoke, then they think I’m a refugee, but then they apologize when I tell ’em I’m with the chautauqua. Then they start sayin’ that crap. I try to tell ’em different and it’s like they don’t want to hear it.”

“I’m surprised you bought that guitar, then.” The Boy has never been one to laugh off an affront — which is how he ran afoul of the junta and won a trip to Colorado.

“That guy at the shop, he was cool,” The Boy said. “He deals with refugees and opt-outs all the time. He hears the stories too, but he knows they’re crap.”

“So how long are you going to be there?”

“About a month. We’ll run out of material before then, so we’ll do a few shows in town before we move on. The townies don’t go out to the camp, so they won’t know we’re playing the same stuff we did in the camp.”

“I guess. Have you seen any of those news crews like the ones that came by here in March?”

“Everyone hears about ’em. But nobody ever sees ’em. What’s with that?”

“I wish I knew.”

He asked me how things were going at the manor, and said to thank Serena for the script. She still has a certain cachet in the chautauqua movement. Things here go as they often do in the summer… just not as hot as usual. We still sleep on the porch or in screen tents, except when there’s heavy rain, which we’ve had more often than usual this summer. The kids love sleeping outside, as they always have, and they have a tent of their own so the couples can have a little privacy. Bobby and Martina continue to show no signs of early romance — and believe me, everyone has been watching carefully! — so it hasn’t been a problem. Then again, they have to share the tent with Pat and Ray, and Pat’s more or less in charge. He put them on opposite sides, Ray next to Martina.

Speaking of Pat, he submitted a clatter track to a music sharing site, and get reasonably positive feedback. The criticism has all been along the lines of “too derivative, sounds like Klappernwerk” or some other group. Then again, anyone not into clatter says it all sounds the same, so Pat (like any clatter artist) is trying to come up with something sufficiently different to be his own but still be clatter. Samples of non-metallic instruments are cropping up in some tracks these days… purists frown on anything that isn’t an improvised percussion instrument, but new genres always go through a phase of defining themselves (or expanding their audiences). Lyrics, or at least vocals, are the newest frontier — “Bang Out the Beat” (track, album, and artist all share the name) was #5 on the clatter download charts last week, and looks to be around a while.

Ray’s into everything, now that he’s gotten familiar with the various routines around here. The dogs absolutely love him, and will do anything for him in the pasture… it’s really amazing. He can point to a calf, tell the dogs to put it up, and they’ll cut it out of the herd and chase it into the holding pen. We talked about entering him in the next stock dog trials, but his parents nixed it. Not sure what the deal is there; maybe they don’t want to be too tied to this place.

There was a time I could relate.



  1. Yet another excellent addition to the Far Future chronicles, FarF! I really enjoy when you describe what the culture will be like. Those details really draw me further into the story although I'm not sure if I'd find clatter music to my liking.

    Looking forward to the next chapter,

    P.S. I also enjoyed the photos of the flora native to the Manor and your explanations which were fun to read. Thank you for giving us a window both into Far Future and the Free Range Asylum.

  2. Hey Far! Sounds like The Boy enjoys being a gypsy! ha! What is "whee and zone labs"? Maybe The Boy can figure out to run his amp on nonconventional NG?

  3. Hey guys! Future FARf is here to answer…

    Bri, think of clatter as a form of electronica, only without the electronics. ;-) But when performed live, you really need a minimum of eight people and they really have to know what they're doing & work together well (or it sounds like a drunken rampage in the kitchen cabinet) — so most of it is sampled and mixed on gadgets or higher-end devices.

    Yooper, whee and zone are the designer drugs of the 2030s. A "director's cut" post after the main story is over will describe my experience with whee. Nobody knows why, but wheeders and zoners despise each other and that extends to the supply end.

  4. Sounds like the boy is doing well, Far. Sorry I got to see this so late but I was away for a few days. I hope that your vacation is going well.

  5. So far so good, Boran. Interesting that The Boy is also doing mostly well IRL at the moment too!

    Vacation. It beats the heck out of the chicken houses. I'm going to torture some golf balls this afternoon, for the first time in a long time. It'll be interesting to see whether playing golf on the Wii affects my game any.


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