2 by audrey zee whitesides
from The Afterlife of Lana Del Ray
1. The Last Radio
In the year 1949, the last radio is born. It runs on hydrogen power and its hot gold knobs are
shaped like roses. It is called "Memphis Rose," though probably it is actually conceived, gestated, and
born in Chicago, Mexico, or possibly China. It can play a country tune just as well and hears much
weeping. Everyone knows it is the last radio. Dixieland is lost feeling against bebop.
Over time, older radios will begin cutting between stations, indiscriminate & quick as family
dinners. It’s discovered that the station they change to after the static is always the same station
currently playing on Memphis Rose. Newer radios are made instead of born, stamped “MADE IN
USA.” All they play are songs Memphis Rose has forgotten, often in misremembering using the wrong
words, chords, and singers.
The Memphis Rose’s chrome deco seems always to have been dirty. No reflection.
One of her favorite programs to broadcast is the Joan Logan Detective Hour. It follows a female
private dickless named Joan Logan who has hairier armpits than any other investigator. She is always
trying to show them to every man she meets. Memphis turns these parts down. A historical chapter
could follow of the who died shaving, tracked in the night by hatless Johns.
In one of the later episodes, Joan is hunting a serial killer named Sam Senior. The drool from
both their mouths wets all the home improvement stores between Los Angeles and south Los Angeles.
Homemakers can’t buy new furnishings. Ancient tapestries swallow cartoon dogs and no one writes
songs about them for nearly a year. Time is mostly spent by the poor, the rest being afraid of how well
things are going for themselves.
When Joan catches Sam Senior, his hand becomes stuck in her armpit hair and both plunge
together off the Statue of Liberty’s torch, which has been hell on their feet. The show is not canceled.
The city goes on and crimes are committed. Everyone pretends Joan is still alive and a comedian is
hired to tell jokes when it is very apparent that she isn’t.
Memphis Rose plays a baseball show for three weeks after. Not knowing what a “bat” or “out”
is. Anemic chamber, she faints for long stretches of time and develops a chronic case of analog delay.
Memphis is forgotten by her broadcast brats, who she never spoke. Called a “conversation piece,” to
shorthand reform agents.
4. The Late Birth of Lana Del Ray
US GRANT: Whoever's in my grave is making too much of a fuss.
Leaving the theater that night, my captain, you remarked a good show should
never bring anyone together.
A LINCOLN: Ah, would I had died. Would I were not still president of this bright land and
would I could leave anyone's rights. I jumped from the playhouse and broke four
of my horsey calves. And still I have a flag in my teeth. How unglamorous.
US GRANT: Ah, have a drink to be sure.
(Lincoln sets the flag in the windowsill.)
I'm going west with the Army. There highways yet?
A LINCOLN: No matter, that's the thing.
I wish they wouldn't put the chain gangster on me, either. I wish I stayed in law
where no one cared about my receding hairline.
Ach, du. Ach, du.
The law's the lyric.
It binds us like all.
This grass is choking the sex out of me.
By which I mean no one wants me in bars.
It was prophesied by the radio named Memphis Rose that Lana Del Ray had been already born
when the above conversation took place. Someplace in the mountain woods: let’s say Atlantic White
Cedar, Pitch Pine, Red Spruce, some unimportant deciduous. Lana is eaten by a wolf this time, and
petulant will not come out (come out) until Memphis Rose prophesies again the day Elvis dies.
Practically the next day, Lana has shot her father, bang bang and an Amen to make sure he stays
down. She tells time to bother with the sun. Sweeping diner floors, she makes her way to every coast. It
goes without saying that she kept the eyes of every man who loved her above the earth.
AUDREY ZEE WHITESIDES has had writing in/on Autostraddle, Birds of Lace, and Bone Bouquet among others, and she's the author of several DIY chapbooks, including i'm the POTE. She leads Brooklyn trans punk band Little Waist and performs solo queer weirdo music as the Normal Gays.