Songs to speed by

Some songs are just custom made for slamming the accelerator to the floorboard, dontchathink? Ever received a speeding ticket while listening to a particularly song on your car stereo? I have, and I remember it well.

I used to have a crappy old silver Chevy Bel Aire, complete with a jazzy factory installed am/fm radio that would get nothing but static and the odd oldies station. So when I received my first “Ghetto Blaster” I stocked up on double D batteries (I think it took 12) and stuck it in the center of the back seat and played my carefully constructed mixed tapes whenever I went cruising’ with my posse (my Canadian friends will find the fact I’ve labeled them here as my “posse” quite funny, I believe). The car was usually packed, the passengers usually quite drunk, and the person sitting on the “hump” in the back seat got to hold and, most importantly, control the music.

When the evening was over and the only one left in the car was myself, the “blaster” was on its own, free to sway and tip over onto the back seat floor mats (usually soaked with melted snow and salt) whenever I had to slam on the breaks or make a sharp turn.

Coming home (when the thing didn’t tip over and knock the removable speakers off their hinges and the batteries out of their casing) I usually preferred to listen to really fast and hard music, mostly to keep me from falling asleep at the wheel at 3:00 am in the morning.

It was The Dead Kennedy’s “Riot” that did me in. It’s a slow burner, taking it’s time to build the mood, and as the song progressed in tempo I could feel my foot inch down on the accelerator in perfect time with the song. Inch by inch, kilometer by kilometer, the trees whizzing past at an ever increasing rate. By the time the song reached the explosive chorus (“RIOT, the unbeatable HIGH!!!”) I SLAMMED my foot down, pounded my fists on the dashboard, screamed along to Jello Biafra and…

…saw red and blue flashing lights in my rear-view misrror.

If there is a worse feeling than that, especially at the unholy hour of 3:00 am on a Sunday, I‘d like to hear it. I must have been going at least 100 down a country road where the limit was 60, but I can’t be sure of anything except that it was way over the limit. I popped a breath mint (even though I hadn’t been drinking…much) and nervously gave the officer my drivers license and other info. He in turn gave me a massive ticket and sent me on my way with a stern warning to “slow the hell down, son“. I’m lucky it wasn’t a Mountie. He would have rolled me in a carpet and kicked the shit out of me.

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