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Cosmic Thing, The B-52’s

Reprise Records, June 27, 1989

Track Listing: 1. Cosmic Thing, 2. Dry County, 3. Deadbeat Club, 4. Love Shack, 5. Junebug, 6. Roam, 7. Bushfire, 8. Channel Z, 9. Topaz, 10. Follow Your Bliss

Detroit automakers never classified the car as a convertible, but the hindrance of a fixed roof could not prohibit me from retracting the top, inviting the L.A. sun to glaze my buggy’s interior. Behind the wheel of that Olds, the first carriage registered in my name, the conditions were mine to operate. I controlled the climate. I lowered the windows and permitted the wind to whip past the front seats and exit out the passenger side like an endless stream of circus clowns exiting a VW Beetle. And I commandeered the radio.

“I got me a Chrysler, it seats about twenty
So hurry up and bring your jukebox money”

-fromLove Shack

The afternoon was gorgeous, one of those SoCal days when fighting through urban sprawl made perfect sense. The laid-back cool of the beach flirted with harsh solar flares reflected off tinted glass that sheathed rows of innocuous commercial buildings, which sometimes got eclipsed by palm tops sprouted from occasional breaks in block after block of concrete. Disconnected as we were despite sharing a common space, I related deeply to the free spirits traveling on foot, coasting by bike, rolling on skateboards, and accelerating over simmering pavement encapsulated in their vehicles. Each frolicked across a desert metropolis with someplace or nowhere to go.

“While cruising through the ionosphere, I saw these alien beings Everywhere I went up there, they were shakin’ their alien things”

-fromCosmic Thing

Classes were done for the day. I drove a leisurely route from campus to work, taking a path far away from the congestion of the freeways running through downtown. Everything was coming together like destiny, meaning there was no contemplation about whether or not slipping into autopilot was a safe mode of transportation. It just happened; I expected to enjoy an unhurried ride. The music selection for the drive matched my playful, whimsical mood. Incongruity of any sort would have been more than mildly out of place. I sang out loud.

“I don’t know—I feel like something’s happening
Something good is happening!”

-fromChannel Z

Then, I saw red lights flashing behind me. The squad had no intention to pass; it pursued.

My heart sank. The singing stopped. A ticket was inevitable. Destiny.

As the cop walked to my window, I braced for the words, “License and registration, please.”

“My mind’s been going places without me lately
I need your arms to take me down, take me to the ground”


Routine traffic stops never take long. In a few short, cordial minutes, I received a speeding citation and thanked the officer. Yes, I thanked him without an ounce of sarcasm in voice or mind.

“The mouth of the river is laughing at us, Junebug
You know what I’m talking about
Junebug, Junebug, Junebug, Junebug”


The police cruiser pulled away. I cranked the ignition. Nerves tricked me into thinking that the car would fail to turnover—that the world had gravely changed at the onset of an extraterrestrial invasion in my rearview mirror. I thought it impossible to go on. But the car started as reliably as ever.

My hand reached for the stereo dial. The music picked up exactly where it left off.

“Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without anything but the love we feel”


The sun warmed my roadster. I was on my way again, charged with greater authority, smiling. The aide of music and lyric released into the open air.