This is a weekly newsletter where I send out a new “nice sounding” track, some writing, and a picture of something I saw. It’s also one way I let people know what I’m up to otherwise. Thank you for reading. You can hear every single My Big Break track in one playlist right here.
Good morning ~
I’ve got such a lovely audio slice for you this week, courtesy of the grand piano I have somehow finagled access to on the campus of the prestigious college where I am currently staying. I’ve been working with this new way of generating clouds of tones using the piano, and I recorded a clumsy twinkly piano improvisation over one of ‘em. So nice, like a vibe that would actually be comforting were it to be heard in a doctor’s office waiting room. It truly is a “nice sounding” track, so much so that I decided not to read over it at all like I have been doing. The track art is a picture of a crane I walk past to go play the grand piano, something so ominous and godly about something reading “ALL” towering in the sky above.
Yesterday I did an impromptu stream on the Whatever’s Clever Twitch channel and, well, it turned out beautifully - you can watch the hour plus of video feedback and gentle drones here:
I’ll also be talking with my buddy Mark from Brewster on his Friday night chat show on Instagram Live - - 8pm eastern time, come hang with us (I miss hanging out with people so fucking bad, jesus).
And if you haven’t checked it out already, I urge you to listen to the Adeline Hotel record that came out last Friday. Solid Love is one of the albums I’m most proud to have played on. You can get physical and digital copies below (by the way, Substack allows Bandcamp embeds now, that’s cool):
In the front yard one afternoon we notice a beautiful bright red bird. It is shockingly red, and seemingly unafraid of us inching toward it. It’s a plump little songbird, we have never seen a bird like it before - it is far more vivid than the more common cardinals and blue jays I see constantly around here. It’s a winged little ruby with darting eyes. But it gathers itself and hops, hops, then flies away. I take a picture of it to send to my friend who knows about bird stuff, I send him a zoomed in pic (grainy and badly cropped, as if I was twice my age). He doesn’t respond at first so the following day I post a picture online, asking if anyone recognized its type. A short while later somebody responds with the species and the corresponding wikipedia article. A scarlet tanager. Such a beautiful name, I roll it around in my mouth a bit. I am pleased to learn something new about this place I’m in currently - a state that is somehow familiar (every state is a bit like Ohio) and totally alien to me (no other state is quite like Ohio). Shortly after this pleasant online exchange I hear a terrible thump against the kitchen window. At first my theory is that someone has thrown something at our apartment, not sure why this was the conclusion I came to. I’m right in the middle of doing something (boring and tedious) for my remote job so I take a few minutes before I check it out. I am very surprised to learn as I stick my head out the back door that the sound was apparently made by a scarlet tanager - perhaps our friend from the previous day - flying headlong into the glass. He (I say he based on his plumage) hit the glass so hard that there is a little tuft of sunset-red feather stuck to the pane. I try to get close to him, to see if he’s okay, to see if my approaching causes him to fly away. But he is stunned, so stunned that when I crouch down and, I don’t know, try to comfort him, he doesn’t even recoil from my touch. My index finger makes contact with the plump curve of his back and the feathers are soft and warm. I quickly Google “how glass bird help” and text my girlfriend - both her and the Internet say I should maybe put it in a box to shelter it. But he’s under the eave by the window and there are no predators that roam the interior courtyard of the apartments during the day, so I eat my lunch by the window and watch Star Trek, looking out back at the bird every once in a while to see if he has flown away. An hour or so goes by and I miss it when he does - the next time I look he’s gone.
Watching the sunset through the rear window of the kitchen we are both amazed at how a cutting from a roadside shrub has flourished in the skinny vase on the table. The late afternoon sun is cutting through the trees to the rear of the house and dappling the exuberant branch of shrub gorgeously. It almost appears to be slowly turning in the rays. It’s a cold Saturday and we have spent most of the day outdoors, mostly watching our breath trail upwards to join the ever-shifting clouds overhead. Our cheeks are rosy and we drink hot beverages - one coffee, one tea - to try and warm our insides a bit. There is beautiful music playing on the stereo. Uncharacteristically for both of us we are doing nothing. We are not working on anything, we are not emailing people, we are not snapping off big chunks of labor to gnaw on like dogs with a ham hock. We are sitting and watching the sun stream through the leaves. She says to me, I’m going to replant this one. It’s earned a place in a pot, it’s done enough. It just wants to live. And I say to her that that’s all we need someone to say to us. Two days later in the morning I look and I see that the bush has two new little buds of leaves aching up out of itself. It has been replanted, it is living, it has done enough.
Riding on my exercise bike I keep hearing an odd sound over the audiobook I’m listening to (the audiobook is Flea’s autobiography which is very good, he reads it himself and gets choked up often when describing things he loves, I found it incredibly touching). I have my headphones in and the windows open, and there’s a sound coming from outside. At first I think it’s some kind of power tool - at a six-foot-apart barbecue last week there was a neighbor driving fence posts and making an insane noise, I thought maybe he was at it again. But I look, across the street and in the small cluster of woods between houses there is an enormous woodpecker, driving his beak so loudly into the bark of the trees that, when I notice its impressive wingspan as it hops to another tree, my foot comes free of the pedal and I nearly fall off the bike.
One morning - early, before it feels like anyone has woken up - I throw open the curtains to let in some light. There, in the middle of the road, I see five deer walking as slowly as I have ever seen deer walk. I can hear their footfalls on the asphalt. They are as unhurried as I could ever hope to be.
And you? Have you done enough? Do you want to live? Are you unhurried? Have you recently flown headfirst into an enormous pane of glass?