Shake 38

The Regulars

Feel the Burn, My Thanes
Article by Nancy Bell

I’m on the treadmill at the gym. I used to listen to podcasts while I worked out but I noticed my body wasn’t getting any sexier. Now I tune Pandora to any number of pop music stations I’ve set up for the purpose of making me work out harder. I’ve got Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Beyonce, Pink, Miley Cyrus. I never listened to this kind of music before. It’s been a real eye opener! Wow!

A few years ago I went to see the bird show at the Los Angeles Zoo. It’s a great show! They keep the birds in remote controlled aviaries miles away in the San Gabriel Mountains that loom in the background. At one point the trainer says, “And now I’m gonna call Pookie down from the mountain!” And she holds out her arm and she hits the remote that opens the aviary and way way off on the mountain you see a tiny dot come flying down, closer and closer. It’s a red-shouldered hawk that lands on the trainer’s big leather glove. It’s so beautiful! She turns to the audience of little kids all criss-cross apple sauce and says, “Birds like Pookie are almost extinct! Do you know why?” From the children, a dull singsong chorus: “Because of us.”

My student says that the character of Richard the 3rd is more fun than Macbeth because Macbeth is such a downer. Richard the 3rd is like a Macbeth that doesn’t give a shit. Macbeth is always whining about how bad he is, even before he kills the king. He knows he’s gonna get it. I’ve got a bad feeling about this, he tells his wife. But he keeps creeping on in this petty pace from day to day. He gets more upset about himself as the play goes on, but it only seems to make him eviler. “What’s his problem?” my student says. “Why’s he gotta be so bad if he can’t even enjoy it?”

It’s going down
I’m yelling “Timber!”
You better move
You better dance
Let’s make a night
You won’t remember
I’ll be the one
You won’t forget
This song has come up on my Pandora a couple of times, now. It’s great for the high intensity part of the workout. Fuck everything! I look down at my phone to see who/what it is. Timber by Pitball (Featuring Ke$ha). Timber. Oh, that’s what they’re saying: “I’m yelling Timber.” I get it. Like, it’s an image of a tree being cut down. Pandora says its from an album called “Global Warming.” There’s a picture of a flaming planet Earth on the cover. Later on in the song, Pitbull raps, “I’m slicker than an oil spill.” This is so much better than podcasts!

We’re like Macbeth. We know how this climate change thing is gonna end. We feel super bad about it. We promise we are not gonna be able to sleep a wink until it’s over. We know how bad we are with our fossil fuels and our bad farming and our…Facebook! Bad us! We hear that knock knock knocking and it’s Macduff and he’s coming for us, of woman born or not. And why? Because of us. But just like him, we keep on doing it and doing and doing it. And the witches give us just the right amount of maybe-it’ll-be-okay to keep on fighting even after Birnam Wood (Timber!) has come to Dunsinane.

Back on the treadmill, it strikes me that there is one big difference between us and Macbeth. That’s what my crash course in pop hits has taught me. Something has changed since I was sitting criss cross applesauce at the zoo. We name dance albums Global Warming and gleefully evoke the spectre of redwoods crashing to earth while we dance and hook up. Climate Change! Let’s party like it’s 1999! That’s more Richard the 3rd. No denial necessary. Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious SUMMER! I hit the incline button on the dashboard and crank it up to 15.

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