“Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant from the album Killer on the Rampage
First Week of April, 1983
My most cogent memory of Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” music video was the part where he’s sitting in his living room, watching television, and then he goes to stand up, but falls right through the floor, as though it were made of water. As a child, this image frightened me, in part, because I had a minor case of what some psychologists might refer to as “magical thinking,” in which, so long as I didn’t think of something as a possibility, it wouldn’t happen. (Non-psychologists might call this “being a little idiot.” Both terms are equally apt in my case.)
So, there I was, a little idiot, sitting on a pillow in my living room, watching Eddy Grant’s pseudo-psychedelic motorcycle-fetish/funky-reggae music video on Video Rocks — a half-hour local daily UHF (remember UHF? any channel above 13 that was on the second knob back when TVs still had knobs and got to play interesting shows because nobody was watching?) show that still managed to play more videos than MTV does today—and then Eddie stands up and slips wetly through the floor.
Why did he have to do that? I’d never before considered the possibility of my home spontaneously changing forms of matter. But I did now. And now that the thought was inside my brain, it meant it was bound to happen eventually. Maybe right around the time that I would stand up so straight that my knees would bend forward and I’d smash my face into the ground, which, for all I knew, was going to turn out to be water. And how could I be expected to swim with my knees bent backwards? And I’ve never been a good swimmer to begin with. I would drown for sure.
Years later, I would learn that most horrible things that happen to you in life happen to you completely out of the blue. Things you never expect. Such as when a friend tips your canoe on a lake in Vermont while you’ve got several percocets and beers in you and you’re still a pretty bad swimmer and you come this close to deciding you’ve had a pretty good life and just letting yourself sink beneath the surface where all the rest of the bad swimming idiots and forgotten reggae singers live.