There's something inherently American about the strip mall. While merchants gathering in a central area to sell their wares has been a global phenomenon for millennia, it was just a handful of decades ago that the suburban United States reveled in the idea that a VHS tape could be rented within ten feet of a beauty salon offering perms and highlights. Safe Boating Is No Accident's latest video, for "Post-American Blues," rolls through some of these very American pockets of neighborhood commerce, with the band paying special attention to a dying breed of storefront: the mom-and-pop pet shop, specifically of the reptile variety.
"We had a really long talk about the economics of a reptile store in a strip mall; we kept seeing signs for "buy/sell/trade a reptile," and I wondered what the exchange rate is on a lizard," jokes Safe Boating Is No Accident vocalist and guitarist Leighton Peterson. He says that on the long drive from his northeast Denver home to the band's practice space in Lakewood, the musicians talked incessantly about these locally owned shops.
The group spent a day visiting a handful of the surviving shops, filming the once-ubiquitous retail relics and collecting footage that matches the song's tone of despair. As a videographer, Peterson pushed the scaly theme, adding floating stock images of various kinds of lizards and superimposing them over live footage of a Safe Boating Is No Accident show.
"Post-American Blues" also sports an equally antique karaoke-video vibe, complete with the overactive bouncy ball instructing viewers what to sing and when. Peterson says the idea came after he fell down a YouTube rabbit hole and obsessed over the dynamics of vintage karaoke videos; he felt the throwback feeling would fit the random reptile footage nicely.
Working freelance video-editing gigs while looking for permanent employment, Peterson has been tasked with creating several karaoke-style videos for other bands.
For more modern folks who love karaoke — or for those who desire a soothing throwback to simpler times, when VHS tapes ruled and lizards were popular pets — "Post-American Blues" has it all. When asked how he personally felt about reptiles as pets, Peterson, a known "dog person," says this:
"No shade to anyone who owns lizards, but it never appealed to me. I don't think a reptile can love you, but maybe I'm wrong." Who knows? Maybe in post-America, lizards will be the only ones left to love us back.
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Bree Davies is a multimedia journalist, artist advocate and community organizer born and raised in Denver. Rooted in the world of Do-It-Yourself arts and music, Davies co-founded Titwrench experimental music festival, is host of the local music and comedy show Sounds on 29th on CPT12 Colorado Public Television and is creator and host of the civic and social issue-focused podcast, Hello? Denver? Are You Still There? Her work is centered on a passionate advocacy for all ages, accessible, inclusive, non-commercial and autonomous DIY art spaces and music venues in Denver.