Luisa has suggested that we take Rory for a bike ride to buy some groceries. In the garage, Mascis attaches a "Trail-A-Bike" extension to his seat, for Rory to ride behind him. We cycle down their street and across a main thoroughfare, past the Amherst College football stadium and crowded flower beds, onto a bike path stubbled and veined with moss. "Oh man," Luisa says, as clean, fragrant winds push through cornfields and ferns on our left and right, through the tips of great elms above us. "I think a storm is coming." Up ahead, Mascis pedals calmly, his hair streaming behind him like cobwebs.
We leave the bikes unlocked outside the main entrance of Whole Foods. Luisa buys a pound and a half of quivering Hake. Together, the three of us wheel through a battery of local cheese samplings, through the frozen-food aisles, Mascis moving slowly, looking right and left and then right again before turning the cart, in step with the dulcet tones of the cashier's scanners. Keeping pace with him can have a strangely anesthetic effect. You can understand why it might unnerve someone more tightly wound. "The first time I saw J," Luisa says as we try some juice samples, "Dino was performing in Berlin with the Gun Club. We wanted to stand right up next to the amplifiers, to get a real sonic feeling. The second time, he was in Berlin for Green Mind and my friend, she was promoting the concert. She said to me, 'That J Mascis, I think he's on drugs.' 'I don't know,' I told her. He just seemed kind of dazed."
At home, we set the table in the sunroom after dark, and eat by candlelight. Luisa's baked the fish and steamed some fresh chard. Mascis, who often wears thick, clear, safety goggle-like frames, has switched to a new pair of thin purple stems. He is otherwise preoccupied with his new cell-phone case, also purple, which deflects harmful radiation away from the body. His favorite color, purple, is everywhere here: purple paint on the house's shutters and porches, a purple colander in the kitchen, purple panels on Rory's soccer ball in the driveway, and a purple leash for the family bulldog, Mango.
Last night, Luisa says, she had a drink with the Mascis' new neighbor down the street, Violet Clark, the wife of Pixies frontman Charles "Black Francis" Thompson. "She finds Amherst so quiet," Luisa says. "It is," Mascis murmurs above the crickets chattering in the trees. I ask Mascis if he's had a chance to talk shop with Thompson yet. "That's the one thing I've tried," he says. "Guitars or amps or records or movies, it's not really his thing."
Reunions, Mascis claims, are another subject that hasn't yet come up in conversation with Thompson. While the Pixies have yet to record a new album's worth of material since they reunited in 2003, Dinosaur Jr. have equalled the output of their first try, and have now enjoyed a longer life the second time around.
"I had a big brother and he beat the crap out of me all the time," Mascis says, barely touching his food. "He tortured me all through my childhood and I feel like I tortured Lou in some ways, too, just passing it on. But we grew up together and learned how to play together. I'm sure I'd be happier playing with other people, but I know Dinosaur's got an original energy. It's not like I was looking for friends. I had friends."
I ask him if he considers Barlow and Murph like brothers.
"No," he says, with a small laugh. "More like distant cousins."