Mark Roberts (Digest, 5/14/98): Kamakiriad is set in the near future. The Kamakiriad (a trip you take in a Kamakiri) . That is to say in a car called a Kamakiri (Japanese for Praying Mantis). A journey of pure groove where the narrator takes us through the adventures and detours along the road. Every track has a great forward motion.... I still rate the Nightfly as number one, but Kamakiriad has a more uplifting feel about it.
Roy.Scam (GB, 3/27/98): Rhetorical question about "Trans Island Skyway": Did he get rid of the girl he picked up at the car wreck before he visited his dad? Was it "C'mon Daddy! jump in. Look what I brought you."
Flocko (GB, 3/27/98): The TIS timeline always intrigued me, too. My thoughts are that Donald did the nasty with Miss Snakehips at a Motel 6 along the trail, then snuck out in the middle of the night while she was still asleep and ditched her before going home to see Dad. I think the Kamakiriad was a two seater, and unless Miss Snakehips was going to sit on Daddy's lap, and it could be embarrasing should Daddy get a boner or something.
oleander (GB, 4/9/98): It's the dreams of a would-be wild boy in his new, not very sporty but beloved bubblecar...a nebbish, really ("this route could be trouble"--the words of a neurotic, not a swashbuckler). Dreams the part about the beautiful survivor as he cruises & sees an accident. I mean really, "I'll brew up some decaf"--not a very dashing pickup line. I think the part about his father is endearing. Wants to show him his great new car. I really like the image he paints of the future--benign technology...sprinkled with a little danger, kind of the bright side of William Gibson. Same flavor as on Nightfly, in IGY, where the future was seen from the Kennedy years, with only a hint of cynicism.
Roy.Scam (GB, 4/10/98): Interesting theory that the pilot of the Kamakiri is more of a dreamer than a doer. Remember Brian Wilson writing all those songs about things that he never did (surfing, drag racing, even student riots)?---Well, Brian's brother went out and did all that shit and look where it got him, one might say. But I'm old fashioned and I like to think that a guy and a girl can still enjoy the simple things, like sharing a cup of decaf at a blood stained wreck site. My vote is that the Snakehips interlude was real.
oleander (GB, 4/12/98): well, maybe he & snakehips did do it in the Kama, but sometimes it's way BETTER in daydream than in reality...
As Dr. Mu noted, "Five Zoos"=the five boroughs of New York City. Great image of us busy, self-absorbed little humans going about our ant-like ways while the tectonic plates grind on below us.
Love the falsetto. And the way he says "decaf"--he might as well be saying "Come away with me and be mine forever!" Not a bad pick-up line at all, actually!
8/12/98): Whenever I hear "Trans Island Skyway" recently, I'm reminded
of the old Twilight Zone episode where a woman (I think Inger Stevens)
was driving across country and kept seeing the same hitchhiker repeatedly.
She finally got rattled and called back east to her home,...only to find
out that she had died three days earlier.
WOOOOO-EEEEE-OOOOOO (Scary movie music).
Consider the possible 'passing away' references in this apparently benign song:
* I was born yesterday-- We all know that those not busy being born are busy dying.
* "Trans-Island Skyway"-- The passage from one island to another is an excellent spiritual/existential metaphor.
* A bloody car wreck-- A great way to die, I'm sure you'll agree.
* The kid who was driving I know from somewhere-- Might even be myself.
* The beautiful angel (Snakehips) to soften the transition-- Remember the Jessica Lange character in "All That Jazz"?
* Reunited with loved ones from the past-- Notice that he says "Hello Daddy", like a child might.
* His life flashing before him-- Maybe the Sprangles represent some cerebral memory landscape.
* Simultaneous calmness and dread-- "I'm happy but this route could be trouble."
* Steaming "up" the TI Skyway-- Not 'down', not 'along', but 'up'.
* That final deadline-- What else could that be? What's the origin of the word "deadline" anyway? Seems like a rather morbid compound word to convey a point on a schedule. I'd say the underlying theme of this song is about as un-wimpy as they come.
(10/3/00): Trans-Island Skyway
* "I was born yesterday" - leaving his old life behind. Also suggests being "taken for a ride" (ripped off), and of course a reference to the classic Judy Holliday/Broderick Crawford comedy "Born Yesterday".
* images of enclosure and separation from the outside world - "It's a total biosphere", "This cool rolling bubble" which are also used in later songs, especially Snowbound
* "The frame is out of Glasgow, the tech is Balinese" - East-West synergy. A pleasing tension between the two motifs: Glasgow, a dour, grimy Protestant Scots industrial city (formerly a major shipbuilding centre). The Kamakiri marries its chunky, heavy-duty industrial products with the exotic, florid intricacy of the art and architecture of Hindu Bali, a tropical paradise.
* "Say, there's a wreck on the side of the road" -- the car accident scene must surely be a reference to J.G. Ballard's novel "Crash". Ballard's controversial novel (recently filmed by David Cronenberg) concerns a group of people who gain erotic stimulation from violent car wrecks and mutilated accident victims. (A whole new twist on the term "autoerotic"!)
* "steaming up" -- an obvious sexual connotation when applied to cars, and indeed the whole chorus could be interpreted as an extended sexual metaphor
* "that final deadline" -- in French the orgasm is called le petit mort, "the little death"
* "deep in the Zone" - (Cf. also Negative Girl (2VN): "She's in the zone, crying on the phone"). Besides the sexual overtone, THE TWILIGHT ZONE is another possible reference (probably too obvious). It could also refer to Tarkovsky's film STALKER, in which "The Zone" is a mysterious and hazardous region that has been sealed off after some undefined disaster. The central character, The Stalker, ekes out a living by guiding groups to the centre of The Zone, where it is rumoured that an alien force or object is located, that will make any wish become reality.
Edd (GB, 4/27/01): KLH is, indeed, a line of speakers. (Maybe other audio gear also?) Henry Kloss, who later went on to big-screen projection TV and other consumer electronic whiz-bangery, was one of the founders.