good morning ~
(click the link / community rave to listen)
today's track sounds like guitars made of fallen logs tumbling down a waterfall (but gently)
on Saturday the sweetie boy himself Max Mellman and I will be spinning some of the very goofiest, most joyful bangers at Pint Sized on Lark Street - come follow my friend Sam's advice by looking hot and acting crazy in Albany this weekend:
also just announced - I'll be playing a set at Basilica Hudson's 24-hour drone this May. doing a totally brand new quartet with Matt Evans, Elori Saxl, and John Thayer, ripping. plus the rest of the lineup is ridiculous, a truly wild event - - info and tickets here.
The gym - a constantly disinfected temple of exertion where I have lately been spending a lot of my time. The place I go now is up on top of a steep hill and directly across the street from a mega church lined with pulsing neon trim. Housed in what appears to be a former Best Buy, the gym sits at an essential crux of inner life in America. It is an enormous structure dwarfed by its even larger parking lot, a true waste of space - what can you do in an asphalt football field? Inside the white-painted metal ceilings soar above you, not unlike a cathedral, and every time one of the pouting meatheads drops a 45 pound plate to the rubberized floor the percussion of it rings through the empty space. There are all the things you'd expect: free weights, benches for pressing and curling, horrible music on the overhead speakers 100% of the time, gender-segregated locker rooms, televisions blasting everywhere, archaic weight lifting machines for targeting your traps or your pecs, an area for stretching, tanning beds, floor length mirrors, a suspect juice bar I wouldn't trust to make me something edible, spin classes, a pool, an area of astroturf with truck tires and battle ropes. There are weird political overtones - I'm not sure I'm comfortable hanging out somewhere that so enthusiastically offers PE for homeschooled children, was so quick to eschew COVID protocol, and sells protein powders called things like MREs and Arms Race Nutrition. I bet they give cops a discount (but was my old gym in Manhattan any less cringe with its emphasis on calling everyone a rockstar?). On a second floor landing above the clanging metal of the setters and reppers are the cardio machines where I spend most of my time huffing and puffing through it, trying to run a little bit faster than my own yesterday's ghost. I am not fast or gifted in running, nor am I particularly in shape, but I am absolutely dogged. I keep going, I keep updating my spreadsheet. And what's more - it often feels like I'm the only dummy in there having any fun, air drumming along to the sugary music of my headphones.
I don't fit in to any particular gym archetype despite going there like six days a week lately - I'm not a young, curly-headed dude lifting stacks of plates in a gold chain, I'm not an old guy ordered to do cardio by a heart doctor raising his heart pressure with a stationary bike's TV turned to Fox News, I'm not a part of the gaggle of old ladies getting dropped off for Tuesday morning's Zumba class, I don't wear ass-accentuating leggings although I will admit that I would like to be posting more fitness thirst traps and confident enough to set up a tripod near the squat rack. And maybe because I feel so weirdly out-of-type I mostly I don't have any meaningful personal interactions - there are a couple of people who work the front desk that I'll exchange a friendly word with, but mostly I keep my headphones on and maintain a singular focus in getting the work done (on the other hand, don't I feel pretty out-of-type and weird-bodied almost all of the time? I'm not ready to think further on that). I feel spectral, like my presence in the space is outside of an otherwise lived-in reality, the gym a kind of corporeal purgatory. The treadmill - though life giving for me in this moment - is pretty similar to a 5th ring eternal punishment. Will I ever sweat enough to escape my fate?
Make no mistake: spiritual warfare is being waged. How monastic, a shining building on a hill filled with those seeking to strengthen their minds and bodies through intentional, repetitive suffering. They fast and obsessively track their macros, they offer themselves up to pain, they refuse the ruinous path of empty calories. The flagellation of it all! And yes, I do suffer there - I have injured myself, I have chafed various different body parts well past the point of bleeding, I have been in tremendous pain for days after a strenuous sesh. There is a certain amount of satisfaction I get out of going about my daily life having run a few miles in the morning, a similar feeling to when I used to stay out all night partying - my coworkers, the people at this bar, the people on this bus, they'd never believe what I did last night or what I did this morning. I pushed myself into deep pain, I kept going, and here I am - that feels good.
But truly - and there are always those who never seem to quite buy it when I say it - I like to go to the gym because there is a deep and abundant joy accessible to me there. I really, actually, almost all of the time enjoy it - not sure why that's such a hard pill to swallow for some. Runner's high, a kind of fuck-you satisfaction, loud music deeply felt, endorphins, ticking off that box of doing something with an hour of my life, it all makes me feel remarkably good and is, yes, remarkably fun. Actual cathartic joy! That feels deeply countercultural in this particular moment! Are the other strivers in their AirPods smiling from ear-to-ear? I am not so sure. Their fitness - and the fitness of other people I know - feels deeply puritan, focused toward punishment. When I'm at my most joyful I am not atoning - if anything I'm pushing my body to sin faster, better, more deeply. That there are aesthetic and well-being benefits to the habit is secondary to my simply loving to do it. Yes, I am getting faster, yes, I am starting to lose weight, yes, I feel stronger and better at breathing outside of my workouts. All great, but I'm having a fucking blast doing it. The blast is all.
But what about you? Are you waging spiritual warfare? Are you actually enjoying your life a little bit? Are you drumming the fuck along or what?