good morning -
(click the link / abandoned summer camp basketball hoop to listen)
today's track is one live take, no overdubs, something like 45% of an actual song
a little surprised that I don't have anything all that specific to tell you about - I should really book more shows (do you wanna book a show?).
also - it looks like I'm gonna sit in with Lea Thomas a bit at Avalon Lounge show next Thursday and then in August I'm gonna tour the east coast a bit with my buddy Sinai Vessel's band (I'm so excited to get to play the opening track from this record live). more on all that soon.
want to start saying things like this more often: if you like reading this newsletter, please share it, consider signing up for a paid subscription, or just drop me a line. all those things are a really nice thing to do :o)
Asleep in the grass at dawn with a smile on my face, sprawled on my back on the blanket, my knees and the arches of my feet ringing like a struck bell, my arms interlaced with those of my sweetie while the man in orange and his companion jingled wind chimes and caressed an amplified zither under a makeshift shelter. A deep partied out contentment, the profoundest of naps, I both sank and floated away from my corporeal form. Though I comprehended only, I don't know, maybe five minutes of the performance - I conked out immediately, exhausted as I was by having boogied all night to the disorienting sounds of a pioneering DJ from Chicago (exactly how is one supposed to dance to a footwork remix of the X-Files theme?). I had also just completely had my shit rocked by an edible called "Island Time" - making small talk at 4am with an old college acquaintance I hadn't seen in eight years in that state was probably more exhausting than staying up all night. But I was nourished - fun was had, phone was off, buddies were warmly greeted, we were camping behind the blacksmith's forge at the LARPing grounds in rural New Jersey one million miles away from neurologically damaging emails and pedestrian difficulties. I hadn't danced 'til dawn since the last time we went camping at a rave and this one - with its puppet show, its ambient music stage, its somewhat geriatric, unhurried pace, its Renaissance Faire-ready setting - really told me something I needed to hear: you're not necessarily any cooler than anyone else for being a huge dork about techno or whatever, just enjoy yourself.
I've lost track of the number of times I've seen Laraaji play. He has a remarkable tendency to materialize before me - the time, for instance, he played in a Bushwick church a mere five blocks from my apartment, or the time he was unexpectedly playing at my favorite record store in Manhattan the day I happened to be in town (Commend RIP). Then there was the time a few years ago when my girlfriend was working on installing a large water fountain sculpture at a park in the Bronx - she heard chuckles and cooing and celestial sounds and, peering through the bushes, she saw Laraaji soundchecking for a performance later that day, a concert just for her. I was very surprised to receive a photo of the sighting, not unlike she had spotted a rare bird. He and his partner Arji recently played live at my new job, the same concert venue where, when I was still just a civilian listener in the building, I saw him play at dawn for the first time - I was very moved when they allowed me a gentle, grandparent-style hug after the performance, early morning sunlight streaking across the generous expanse of the concrete floor. I feel very connected to him and his work - I chose the recording studio for my last record of songs based on the fact that he, too, had recorded there.
I had trouble all weekend deciding whether or not the rave was perfectly or horribly timed. The first of July is tough for me and many of my closest ones, a day when we all viscerally remember the profound absence of our sweet, wild friend. She, too, is an orange one - neon anthropecene sunsets and skin contact wine and citrus prerolls are some of the ways we call her back to us, the orange heart emoji gets a lot of mileage whenever this anniversary rolls around. Should we have all more somberly and intentionally gathered, eating pizza and getting drunk at dusk at Brighton Beach as we did a couple of years ago? Ultimately, though, I found comfort in her undeniable always partying energy - it is so obvious that she would want us to go where the loud music and drugs happily are.
But of course then when Laraaji and Arji - the graceful soundtrackers of my 5:30am nap - led the assembled hi hat freaks in a sweaty laughter healing workshop later that afternoon, and when the pulsing lights in the room all glowed a profound orange, some kind of grapefruit heartbeat, and everyone there lifted their hands in a communal call for heavenly uppies, and I remembered how fucked up and high on chuckling I felt the first time I participated in such a workshop many years ago, and then when I thought about everything I had experienced and gained and lost in the five long years since I first heard Laraaji's corny jokes that cleverly disarm you into a state of guffawing grace, and then when Arji told us that we were encouraged to cry, that laughing and weeping were part of the same cosmic music...well of course I was very moved, my friend was very missed, all the joy I've ever grasped in the last four long years truthfully always somewhat diminished by her not being here to share it, hot wet tears rolling behind my very necessary sunglasses not unlike the humid summer raindrops splashing on the camo print tarp under our tent.
The festival was cool overall, very well organized except for the lack of toilet paper on Saturday afternoon and the lack of clarity on where the rained-out ambient music stage got moved to. The tacos were unbelievably good - heavenly, full stop. I loved dancing and the lights and the fog and I am a little bit horrified to find that I am pleased they kept everything to a reasonable volume - decibel monitors and everything, my ears never rang but it was pleasantly loud. Even more horrified to find that the talks and performances I remained either sitting or supine for were among my favorites of the entire excellent schedule, haven't relaxed this much in months. 5 out of 5 stars would buy again.
Crouching in the rain constructing obscene munchies from the hastily-assembled contents of the camp cooler: nourish thyself, soggy raver, your weary feet will shuffle you to the brink only if you feed the forge, irons glowing orange in the fire.
But what about you? Are you, too, LARPing through your life? What rare birds have you spotted? Are you singing in the cosmic choir?