Welcome to another installment of If My Book, the Monkeybicycle feature in which authors compare their recently released books to weird things. This week Nick Mehalick writes about his hybrid chapbook, Melissa Etheridge’s Seminal 1993 Album Made of Two Overlapping Triangles Instead of One, out now from Ethel Zine & Micro Press.
If Melissa Etheridge’s Seminal 1993 Album… were a song, it would be “Ian Curtis Wishlist” by Xui. You’d hear the shimmering and lo-fi synths at the start and go, “I know this song,” but you don’t and you know you don’t, but you’ve heard Joy division and you remember the music people made in high school who liked Joy Division so you tell yourself again you know it. That is until Jamie, that’s the singer’s name, Jaimie Stewart starts doing his thing and you realize you’ve misjudged this thing entirely, but you keep listening because you can’t NOT by now, it is so WEIRD. And then Jaimie says he’s kidding and you yell back at him “No you’re fucking not!” and the next day you ask your cool co-worker if they’ve heard of Xui Xui.
If Melissa Etheridge’s Seminal 1993 Album… were a cereal it would be Waffle Crisp and you’d be eating it, that syrupy wafflely sting tearing at the roof of your mouth and you’d be smiling, going “I can’t believe it’s back! This taste, this ADDICTION. I can feel Calvin and Hobbes looking up at me from the kitchen table again and there is a bike in the grass out front waiting to take me anywhere.” But then you’d remember catching a beating whenever that bike was left out like that and you’d pause for a minute and it would hurt but then you’d remember you’re in the future now and that bike really did take you far far away and you’d spoon in another.
If Melissa Etheridge’s Seminal 1993 Album… were a car it would be an El Camino.
If you’re disappointed by the previous comparison because you were just getting into this, think of it like a Vine or distilled narrative that will come together when you’re cutting your steak or cross stitching or running or some other rote thing that let’s your subconscious fucking think for a second. You’ll be doing that thing and taste the cereal and really wonder how Xui Xui is pronounced and then you’ll make a mental note to look it up later and honestly, if you’re still with me here, you’ll probably find that song, the New Order, FUCK! (back to the first paragraph) the Joy Division one and you’ll listen to it twice and then once again in the morning and when Maggie walks by later in the day you’ll ask her what she’s been listening to lately but won’t really be listening when she says The Future of the Left which is a fucking great band and much easier to pronounce and remember.
If Melissa Etheridge’s Seminal 1993 Album… were a stupid thing we’ve all done it would be the paragraph above.
If Melissa Etheridge’s Seminal 1993 Album… were a reason to live it would be the collective moments of bliss experienced after telling the truth when it mattered most, not as an afterthought or because there was nothing to lose, but in those unthinking organic exchanges that happen or they don’t. If each were a rubber band and they were bound one on top of the other around a metal spike until they made a ball that could be thrown and shoot around a room or box unpredictably, forcing the occupants of said room or box to keep their heads on a swivel and their hands up and at the ready, if all these moments of collective courageous truth were bound in this ball and the electric and perfect joy of this were able to be charted and felt at once, well, that would be a damn good reason to live.
Nick Mehalick is a son of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is the author of the chapbook Melissa Etheridge’s Seminal 1993 Album Made of Two Overlapping Triangles Instead of One (2021) and has a poem featured in Bone and Ink Press’s This Is Not a Punk Anthology, It’s a New Wave Anthology (2021). He currently lives and teaches in Philadelphia, is the host of the podcast Book.Record.Beer. and drummer for various Philadelphia-based bands. Find him on Twitter at @NMehalick.