good morning ~
today’s track features the grand piano in the lobby of the modern art museum where I am currently in residence, kinda poorly recorded on my cell phone
i am in fact playing a gig in aarhus tonight! if you’re in or near denmark and would like to attend, please let me know~
i’d also like to mention that my friend and most frequent bass player nico hedley has a record coming out tomorrow on whatever’s clever ~ it’s a really good one and you should check it out.
It wasn’t until we were already on the boat that we learned the true story: the ship wasn’t capable of sailing not only because it had a problem with its mast, but because three years ago it sank entirely, sixty meters below the Aegean Sea, rescued by the salvage crew only because its inordinately crow’s nest just barely poked out of the water. Apparently a single, strong gust of wind keeled it over just enough - in just twelve minutes the boat sank and, amazingly, no one was lost or even injured. The plan was to sail around the world, embarking from Denmark, but they never even made it to Greece, and the former minesweeper spent 6 months in dry dock with a saltwater-rusted motor.
It’s not the same as it used to be, they said, not in its former glory. A sort of permanent sea-floor scum on most of the surfaces and some of the windows permanently fogged up, errant nails. About halfway through the 12-hour trip through the various bays and fjords of the Danish seas they started pumping water out of the hull with a pair of hoses. Seemed like a lot of water to me, and sure enough about an hour later out came the tools and the extra wood - there was in fact a fist-sized hole in the hull. We made a sculpture, the skipper said, laughing and emerging totally unflapped. And to his credit, the ship never sunk, not at least while I was aboard it.
Why didn’t you tell us before? About the ship sinking? Well, we needed people to come on the boat. Fair enough.
Up on the bridge with the octogenarian at the wheel we talked about flying glider planes in Mexico and planes that land on skis in the Alaskan kodiak and photographing grizzlies in the wild for a season. He told me about his wood-masted sailboat that crossed the Atlantic. He told me that exerting energy is the key to staying alive and when he asked me my age he said, oh, my boy, you have your whole life ahead of you. He really believed this, and I did, too, for a moment - but then the boat began rocking and I had to, with every ounce of energy, stare directly at the horizon from the lowest part of the deck. I felt sick to my stomach, just for a half an hour or so, as the waves tossed avocados and forks and french presses around in the sloshing galley.
Shortly after the going got better, the gurgling engine continued its low exertion at the back of the boat and a wild picnic emerged: pickled herring in mustard marinade, the sweetest plums I think I’ve ever gnawed on, a salty beet salad with a medicinal, herby quality, all manner of cheese slightly more funky than I’m used to, dark, black coffee in a sky blue carafe (Madam Blå brand I learned later, an enameled 1960s wonder - it sat stoutly on the deck for the rest of the voyage, completely at home on the sea). We chatted softly while the two little girls on board watched TikTok videos and imitated the dances they saw. The air was a fresh and powerful medicine and the clouds in their endless, ever-morphing variety brought a steady alternation of soft, needly rain and chuggable rays of sun. We traced 100 coastlines and then we were docked near small mountains of gravel. Me running for my train back to the city - I rocked and swayed on the platform while savoring a candy bar dinner of last resort.
-the crispy sizzle of waves being broken by the semi-sinking boat
-harsh jungle remixes of Bob Marley songs blasted at maximum volume for the last 10 intrepid dancers on a well-lit dance floor
-a choir of high-schoolers, a hundred or more, warming up their voices on the steps leading to the Scandinavian center, how they so swiftly flew from idle, giggly chatter into full-throated harmony, rising in tandem up and up and up the scale (and then, amazingly, as I write this: another choir, unexplained and three stories up, singing into the towering space of the museum’s center)
-a concert for children that started promptly at 9am, directly in front of my room’s one window. The bubbling shrillness of their little screams, they were mad with joy, all of them pogo-ing to the music
-the little hoots of pained delight made by every single person that dared to wade into the ocean water on the first warm afternoon in a week
Sitting slightly hunched at the museum’s grand piano, one foot on the sustain and one foot on the soft, lid closed and the instrument’s skeleton key nestled in my pocket (dog bone shaped keychain), playing just loud enough to feel the strings resonating through my fingers on the keys but not so loud as to disturb the shoppers in the gift store or in the cafe. I like to play quiet, but I’m also trying to be polite - I talked my way into this privilege and feel it might be snatched away if I plunk one too many sour notes. But it doesn’t matter, the famous-architect open-plan modernism of the building ensures that literally everyone hears me, no matter what floor they’re on. Once, in the last couple hours of the museum being open, when I finally closed the fallboard the families in the cafe clapped so, so gently, holding up their hands and smiling and then the two people working in the gift shop asked me insistently to come back. Then a deep listener raised her wheelchair to better place her hands on the instrument, in order to feel the notes. My once-sunken little boat of a heart squinting at the simple kindness of it, as if emerging at noon from a darkened movie theater.
But what about you? What are you placing your hands on these days? Are you watching TikTok at sea? When was the last time you were mad with joy?