Suburbia Encroaches

il centro atlantico

This song is an ironic tribute to the titular  Bruce Rattner Prospect Heights travesty, a hulking shopping mall in Brooklyn which is now connected to the Atlantic Terminal mall and the Barclays center. Originally it was this weird, lonely disconnected mall that was like a handful of big box stores oddly stacked on top of each other in the middle of a giant intersection. The weirdest thing is there are no central passageways where the stores open to, only walk ways at one end. There was some logic to this at the time I believe, but I don't think they would do it again. I watched it be erected out my back window in 1996; it filled a previously empty lot, in part of the space where Walter O'Malley would have built Dodger Stadium. Now there is more bigness there, this original Atlantic "Center" seems an off-center afterthought. At the time, I remember being struck by there being a full size Caldor ( yes, Caldor!) dept store -- like I would find in a strip mall in the suburbs -- on the 3rd floor of this building in Brooklyn. (There is a Burlington Coat Factory in the space now, which always seems empty). I wonder if there is a bigger contiguous retail space anywhere between the Bronx expressway and Prospect Park. The thing that impressed me most about the Atlantic Center, I think, which ended up in the lyrics, was at the Pathmark grocery store (now a Stop & Shop), -- they had these giant portions of food bundled in value packs... like enough chicken to serve 8 hungry people, wrapped in cellophane and styrofoam. I had never seen this in the city before.

When I was conceiving this song I remember joking around with my friends Helena and Ilona about the motto of this place being "Enter and Purchase" or "Enter Therefore Purchase". I remember spending a silly evening laughing at these ideas; oppressive retail and the robotic response to spend money. This idea showed up weakly in the lyrics "is that enough or do you need more? So you should enter and purchase, therefore."


 one thing musically that is fun about this is it has this instrumental bit between the vocal lines that juxtaposes a 3/4 riff and a 4/4 one (the guitar is in 4, everyone else is in 3). It's kind of machinelike and robotic (i.e. '80s King Crimson lite). Then the vocal line was always like some 80s hard rock song, my version of Billy Squire.  I always felt like it must be ripped off from something, but I couldn't figure out what so I left it. At the end we jam for a while on the 3/4 "you can get it" riff; sometimes it would turn into a 4/4 shuffle at a slightly quicker tempo, and we might go into a blues. I remember singing "my baby does the namby pamby" occasionally, then by the end we'd shift back to the 3/4 to restate the "Atlantic Center" riff. Once in 1998 we worked up a non-sequitur Prince tribute in this section (I will post this, it's worth hearing.)

What we have here was recorded in 1997 as a demo to help Anomaly get gigs. We have Matt Applebaum on electric guitar; Brian Lafleur on drums; Eddy Spinosa on bass guitar and I play synthesizer and sing. The instruments are from a single take mixed live to stereo, then we recorded the vocals separately and synched them up in the studio, thanks to composer/engineer Peter Flint.