good morning ~
(click the link above to listen)
today's track is made up entirely of samples of my own voice, played back on a synth and then dubbed onto tape and re-recorded
i'm very weary and frankly impressed with myself for getting this out to you - i've driven 2,500 miles since sunday morning, as you'll read.
but this coming sunday in nyc i will be gathering all my strength and all the available insect wings to simulate cicada waves live in concert at IRL, a lovely venue in greenpoint. tickets are here, the cheap ones are already sold out, and the show features both an ambient set by OHYUNG and my buddy Max DJing (he makes extremely good mixes called Turn Off the Dark and a new one just came out). see you there!!
and thank you to all of you who signed up for premium subs last week - - it is very much appreciated and i hope you enjoy ~
Red eyes blinking in the dark, a sea of flashers, nearly in sync and looming on the line of the horizon, took me ten minutes of hard concentration to realize that they were in fact wind turbines silently summoning electricity, tumbleweeds of power. Two-hundred-foot tall fans catching the panhandle breeze, their airplane safety lights the only thing announcing the machinery to us as we drove by. So eerie, and I couldn't figure out why they seemed organically out of phase with each other - it felt as if the whole farm of wind was breathing. But the next day I saw one in the daylight and understood: every time the blades made a full rotation, they blocked the lights from view, making it appear to disappear during my long drive in the night.
When you drive west things become artificially prolonged. In the mornings the sun is slower on its climb up over the horizon, it's brilliant yawning colors can stay painted in your rearview for hours if you drive fast enough. And then when it finishes crossing the sky for the day it sticks around, too, the last guest at the party and you lock the door after them when they finally leave. But when you drive east it's just the opposite - you feel the pace accelerating, you lose an hour to time zones every few hundred miles, and you find yourself suddenly crossing the threshold of day or the threshold of night. You and the sun are traveling in opposite directions and when you're weary enough you imagine that it is the very wheels of your little vehicle that are spinning the earth beneath you.
The mostly ailing sidewalks of once-great American cities. Was it possible once to walk uninterrupted by roots bursting through the concrete through Amarillo? In the glorious days of ample cattle and free-flowing crude oil were the curbs ever level? Just how much of this expansive, ample land mass can you safely cover on foot these days? That depends on how willing you are to walk on shoulders and hop over guardrails, to walk where you're not explicitly permitted. I just looked it up: the average American takes a little over 4,000 steps a day, hardly anything at all.
That one night in Texas we stayed in a budget hotel in an elaborate building that once held an important bank. Our room loomed over the wide, empty streets and from the window while we got ready for bed I could see the marching marquee lights of an antique theater and the lonesome changing of traffic lights at intersections where no cars passed. When the sun rose and I parted the blackout curtains there was a comically perfect gradient draped over where the night used to be, precisely orange to purple. Directly below us was the roof of the parking lot, five stories down, still harshly lit by a single light pole, burning incandescene - its shadow stretched forever across the concrete roof.
The next day coming out of the panhandle I put on the soundtrack to Paris, Texas and tried to hold back the tears while we blasted across the desert. That spooky, spectral slide guitar and the rollicking scrub, a sky so big you can't help but cry. It occurs to me, in the opening of that movie, that we are really meant to understand that Harry Dean Stanton's character has lost his way, not so much because his suit is dusty and rumpled but more because he is simply walking nowhere in particular - something that is simply not done out here. A man without a vehicle, a cowboy without a horse, a sail without a mast.
I find and put on the song from the movie's soundtrack that isn't officially on streaming services - you have to get an unofficial copy somewhere else - and though I've heard the arrangement of the tune a million times I never bothered to look up a literal translation of the Spanish. The song's so touching and classically doleful that I always felt I understood it perfectly, it's obviously sad in the way that only folk songs can be. But late that night, in a hotel that's so similar to the previous one that I keep getting lost in the hallways, I read the words to myself while a Dodgers playoff game plods on TV, here's the nuance I've been missing:
So far am I from the land where I was born! Immense nostalgia invades my thoughts, and, to see myself, as lone and dismal as a leaf on the wind, Would that I'd weep ‒ would that I'd die ‒ out of sorrow!
O, land of sunshine! I sigh for to see you. Now that, far from you, I live without light ‒ without love. and, to see myself, as lone and dismal as a leaf on the wind, Would that I'd weep ‒ would that I'd die ‒ out of sorrow!
And that's the trick of it, the roads wind on and on and the biomes change imperceptibly, radio stations crossfade with each other as you cross the physical boundary of the throw of their transmission. Deeply underslept when I finally hit new york state I think that maybe I can take a nap in a park by Lake Erie. Instead I am so moved by its undulating and it's hugeness and the wet smell of it that I nearly jump in before I remember that there's still five hours of state to get across. I wave to my Canadian friends. Pulling into Buffalo to drink cup after cup of coffee in a diner I hit seek on the radio again and again. When I finally pick up CBC1 coming from Toronto, I am welcomed with something unusual: the deep joy house of tracks by Honey Dijon, blasting before 9am on a Tuesday morning, because - believe me - someone out there is always dancing.
But what about you? What are you driving through? Where are you walking? What are you picking up in-between the static?