The House on Shady Boulevard

“So this home,” begins the Narrator. “It’s the cute little craftsman — the one with the stained glass, correct?”

“Yes — inasmuch as the Ship of Theseus is the Ship of Theseus,” replies the Traveler. “Yet don’t be fooled by its current guise. A subsequent owner repainted the home’s exterior with colors that don’t suit it. To properly understand its appeal, one must picture it now as it appeared then: a charming brown-and-yellow bungalow, two houses in from the corner, cyclopean stained-glass Eye of Providence fitted into the frame of the front window, staring intently at all who pass, on land that used to belong to the city’s waterworks.”

Narrator meets the Traveler’s gaze for a moment, then jots a few words in his journal. “And the musician / record producer Mitch Easter,” murmurs the Narrator, as if reading from a dossier. “Frontman for 80s alt-rock / jangle-pop group Let’s Active: he lived there too, did he not?”

“Yes, Easter grew up there, too. Not in the same house, mind you,” hastens the Traveler. “The Easter home was two doors down. But yeah, that was Drive-In Studio. That’s where Mitch recorded R.E.M.’s first single, ‘Radio Free Europe’ — there in his parents’ garage.”

“And Mitch would go on to produce Brighten the Corners, is that right?” asks the Narrator.

“Yes, precisely—the Pavement album,” says the Traveler, lips pursed.

“On which appears…?” adds the Narrator, as if coaching the Traveler through an as-yet unmemorized script.

“On which appears / a song called ‘Shady Lane.’”

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