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August 17, 2017 Jukebox Happy Hour

w h o k i l l 

Elizabeth O’Brien

w h o k i l l  photo

w h o  k i l l,
April 19, 2011, 4AD
Length: 42:12

If this album were a place, it would be a penny candy store: high fructose and courting an overdose. 

We clutch our nickels and quarters and choose candy pieces one by one. 

Without the word, we know we're standing inside an anachronism, little kids at the counter of a penny candy store that still sells coke in refillable glass in a Pennsylvania coal town with slate sidewalks where girls still wear hair bows to church and we leave with sticky mouths, our teeth already aching. Peel plastic wrappers back to gorge ourselves: earning not-hungry-for-dinner bellies fervently and my cousins will remind me years later how I'd tell them candy stomach aches are the best stomach aches, which they believed, which is true.

I  l o o o o ved the penny candy store—I was a scruffy kid, scab-kneed and un-bowed in tee-shirts and boys' jeans, and the pocket change my parents bestowed was sacrament, a blessing that meant Jawbreakers, Nikl Nips, licorice whips and Tootsie Pops (how many licks). A Fireball, a Gobstopper, some Laffy Taffy, a package of Bottle Caps, Fun Dip, some satellite wafers. Runts and Zots, candy Dots, Red Hots, Crazy Dips, Blo Pops: two treats in one. Blue-razz, cherry-lime; we ate candy buttons by the strip-full. Smoked candy cigarettes and bubblegum cigars in gold paper rings. We wore candy bracelets and necklaces and then gnawed them right off, sucked Ring Pops, candy watches and lipsticks and threw back Pixy Stix, wax bottles, wax lips: we crunched tip-first on marshmallow cream cones.

There were Grapeheads and Cherryheads, Lemonheads, Warheads. Crybabies, Sugar daddies, and Necco wafers in miniature rolls: I knew we were buying happiness. We got it cheap.

And when Merrill Garbus strikes up a beat on w h o  k i l l and puts another on top, red-rover-come-over, all pip, bop, and squeak, what I think of is penny candy: fizzy centers and sour sparkles on stained sticky teeth. Very cherry, sour apple, our color-change tongues, and sweat-palming coins down onto the glass as the candy man fills a little bag to order, piece by piece.

Drink: Butterscotch Schnapps chugged straight from the bottle and I'm not sorry.


image: Tara Wray