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From “12 Sides,” an essay published in the Summer 2020 issue of Maggot Brain, a magazine published by Third Man Records. It also appeared in Sante’s collection Maybe the People Would Be the Times, which was published last month by Verse Chorus Press.

“cool broadway,” by the fantastic johnny c (Phil-L.A. of Soul 315). Ex-collection of “Tina.” Found 1978, New York City. Estimated plays, 175–225. The grooves’ rocky road here becomes a sonic analogue to the scratches and blots and blemishes on an old strip of film, an electric haze you could mistake for gnats or snow. Those were the good times—each pop representative of an occasion of fun, each flurry of crackles a reminder of the enveloping embrace of that old gang of friends. They played it and played it and played it some more for the duration of the summer of 1968. It was Tina’s record at first, but it found its way to Beverly’s house, and then to LaVerne’s, and then to Tracy’s, and Tracy’s mother was the one who gave all the records away to a neighbor one day after all the girls had gotten pregnant and the records, just a couple of years old by then, might as well have been relics of earliest childhood. Today each of the three survivors of that time will, if questioned, recall a certain brass-section color, a certain parade-drum bounce that stands in for 1968, unspecified and indistinguishable from the sodas and chips and hair-care products and magazines that wove with the music to create the fiber of those afternoons and weekends, still close to their hearts but an unimaginably vast remove away.

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June 2016

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