Plastic #3 (Polyvinyl Chloride)
The Beatles sound best on vinyl. The remarkable fidelity of the compact disc ignores historical
context, whitewashes the curvature of sound waves. The Fab Four meticulously arranged their
harmonies to accommodate the random hopping of the needle, overtones of dust. Perfection is
simply an accumulation of tiny flaws. White noise is different each time you listen.
The sprawling expanses of the American suburb are caked with it. Grooves are etched into
plastic in an attempt to create the illusion of wood. Vinyl siding is weatherproof, scratchproof,
and never needs to be repainted. It is also a lie. In an age so obsessed with information, this
seems like a terrible waste of space.
Suburban housing developments are a parade of Edison phonograph cylinders waiting to have
grooves cut. Houses talk, when they are given voices. An oversized stylus (easily integrated
into the design of future ladders) is all that’s needed to listen. Climbing to the roof to clean the
gutters no longer needs to be a chore. On your way up, listen to the tribulations of past
generations. Discover the previous occupants of your dwelling. How Jenny broke her leg in the
backyard jumping from the swing set. How Carl fell in love with the neighbor boy’s golden
curls. How yesterday all their troubles seemed so far away.
We could take this a step further. Magnetize strips of vinyl weatherproofing before they leave
the factory. Attach a letter to each one containing an unbelievable offer that can’t be refused.
Turn neighborhoods into endless piles of credit cards with 18% APR and no late fees until next
year. Just think of the combined maximums on all of those rows of magnetic strips. A cul-de-sac
Drew Dillhunt | Mudlark No. 39 (2010)
Contents | Plastic #4 (Low Density Polyethylene)