Tag Archives: Dennis Hopper

I Dreamed You Paid Your Dues in Canada

Photograph by Jose Padua
Does Van Morrison drive and if he does
I wonder if he drives a mini-van?
I started driving a mini-van in 2005
when we thought we were going to have
another baby, but we didn’t have that baby
until 2010, and a mini-van is probably
the sort of vehicle you’d expect a man
like me with a wife, a daughter and
a son to drive. Twenty years ago, before
I left for New York, I drove a Dodge
Charger, just like Frank Booth, the wicked
character Dennis Hopper played in David
Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet, and
before that I drove a red VW bug that
one night got smashed to bits by a
brown Pontiac when I parked it outside
the 9:30 Club in DC to see The Bush Tetras,
a band most people remember for the song
“Too Many Creeps” but which I remember
more for my car getting destroyed while
listening to them play that song live on stage.
That’s when I got my Frank Booth car.
And though Dennis Hopper once said
“I am Frank Booth” to David Lynch
and everyone believed him at least a little
bit, that’s not me, even though I did drive
a Frank Booth car for a number of years,
and even though sometimes, at parties,
I would do a Frank Booth-inspired dance,
jerking out my hands in what might be called
an anti-jazz hands move, when what I wished
I could have done was break out in song
with a voice like Van Morrison’s, singing
hush-a-bye don’t ever think about it,
and taking everyone by surprise like that
because it’s not something, it’s a thing
that people wouldn’t think me capable
of doing, just like when I was in fourth grade,
and while waiting in line at the water fountain
I suddenly broke out and danced like James Brown
(for half a minute) as I listened to the sound
of “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Part 1)”
playing in my head the way it sometimes did
in those days. It wasn’t what anyone expected
and it wasn’t even what I expected, especially
since I’m not James Brown and I’m not Frank
Booth or Dennis Hopper or Van Morrison and
I’ve never been mistaken for any of these people
and never been expected to do what they do or did,
because James Brown and Dennis Hopper are dead,
Van Morrison is alive, and Frank Booth never existed,
and I don’t know if Van Morrison is somewhere
right now, behind the wheel of his mini-van,
on the way back home from the grocery store
with a pork roast, a bag of frozen vegetables,
and a half-gallon of strawberry ice cream, but I am,
living my life among the trees and the two-story,
sometimes paint-peeling streets, and though I rarely
get to dance anymore I love these days spent like
leaves floating on low water, and the song that
plays in the background, filling my mind with vision.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua