“Don’t be fooled by the Internet. It’s cool to get on the Computer, but don’t let the Computer get on you. You’ve all seen the Matrix. There’s a war going on. The battlefield’s in the mind, the prize is the soul” -Prince Rogers Nelson
Hello, hi -
I’ve been listening to this audiobook about Prince the last few days and I’ve entered a phase of deep obsession (again). Did you ever see his appearance on Muppets Tonight?
The music this week is based around guitar feedback generated as gently as possible late last Sunday. I wanted to try and hold resonance without using electronics, that feeling when the guitar and the amp seem to be vibrating against each other in conversation. I find comfort in this, for some reason, it’s almost like the feeling of being safe under the table while your parents talk at a wedding reception. The photo I used for the track art is just a cute dog I saw wearing cool little boots on e3rd the other day.
I wrote a bunch of different things today. I wrote about simulations, like in response that Prince quote. But everything I was writing felt ponderous and unhelpful. So I scrapped a bunch of drafts and tried to write about something nice.
Tomorrow (Friday) I’m making a very brief one-night-only appearance in the city of Chicago playing with Adeline Hotel as a duo at the 2nd of 3 release shows celebrating So Many Singing, vol II, that charity comp I keep mentioning (that is extremely good! I’ve listened a few times all the way through. I think in a not that long from now we’ll be really amazed at the group of people included on it). Here’s the information on the show in Chicago. I’m extremely stoked to 1) be in that city 2) play that venue 3) go dancing afterwards.
The following day - Saturday - we’re back in New York, throwing one final comp release show at Tortoise Town, aka my living room. A somehow-still-quiet full band Adeline Hotel is gonna play, so are extreme talents CF Watkins and Katie Von Schleicher, and also we’re gonna lead a healing drone singalong for all in attendance. Email me for the info if ya wanna join! And if you haven’t heard or bought So Many Singing, you can do so here: https://ruinationrecordco.bandcamp.com/album/so-many-singing-vol-2
Re: compilations, I’m also on an excellent new New Age compilation called A New Age for New Age, which made its funding goal and is out and available now. This is also an extremely good compilation, one that’s particularly admirable because it very legitimately paid its contributors! Clara, the comp organizer, really went out of her way to make sure the people involved were compensated and credited fairly. Too rare! That’s on Bandcamp and its on Spotify, too ~
The other day a friend of mine and I were riding the subway to Queens. We were on our way to a gallery opening, chatting amicably about various things. I’m not sure how exactly it came up, but I recalled a conversation I once had on new year’s eve with a woman who was telling the whole party an explicit and in-depth story about occasionally sleeping with a tugboat operator who she had met on Bumble. We all had a lot of questions, all of which she was prepared to answer. We were shown photos, she described which sailing landmark resulted in which tattoo on his body (the octopus, crossing the Equator). She said that it was great when he had shore leave because he was sure to show her a good time for 48 straight hours, then he’d disappear again for an indeterminate amount of time - so low maintenance! We asked her, have you ever been to the boat? And she said of course I have. In fact she had stayed over a number of times, sleeping the night through laid atop the tugboat operator - with his impressive beard - because his berth, with the slight curving wall and a thin curtain for privacy, was too small to lay in side by side. She described the gentle sloshing sway of the hull in the dark black water of the east river while the boat was in port, how the lights diffused through the portholes. She described sleeping with the tugboat operator, how cramped the quarters, how there were uncomfortable leg angles and much more eye contact than in more luxurious circumstances, more contact of all sorts. She described the thrill she got from being the only woman onboard, how she felt the other sailors’ eyes on her, how courteous and hospitable in the extreme their treatment.
I was relating this all to my buddy who was kind of chuckling in appreciation. The train lumbered underneath Manhattan. When I finished talking about it he said, you know what? I’ve always loved tugboats. I love watching them. They’re so small and powerful, they’re little bulldogs just putting around the harbor, puffing smoke, drawing these impossibly large ships in to port. They seem like they like to do what they do, they seem proud. I like the sound of ‘em. They chug beautifully, they chop up the water in just such a way. I find tremendous peace in watching them. I really like sitting on a bench in a harbor and watching the tugboats go by, you know, while drinking a cup of coffee. In fact, I think watching tugboats is one of the main reasons I moved to the neighborhood I used to live in. There’s that big cruise ship port down there and there are all these tugboats…I liked being near them, I liked walking just a few blocks in the morning and being at the edge of the city, I liked looking out my window and knowing the boats were moving in the early morning. I liked falling asleep knowing that their day was just beginning.
My buddy finished what he was saying, there’s a pause, and in a puncture of that moment the woman standing and holding the same pole as us finally turns to face us. She says, you know? I’ve always loved tugboats. I agree, there’s something peaceful about them. I used to think years ago - I mean this was two decades ago - that maybe I’d learn how to sail, maybe I’d work on a boat. There’s freedom, you know? If you don’t wanna work that day you just take your little office somewhere else, you go out away from shore. And I’ve always liked the water - I grew up here, there’s water everywhere, all around. People don’t think about that here. But all that never happened. I never lived on a boat…but I do still think about it sometimes.
By the time this woman - a perfectly nondescript person who seemed to be finishing her work day and had apparently been listening to me talk about fucking on a tugboat - had finished talking, we had arrived at our stop. I gestured to the door with a tilt of my head and smiled, she thanked us for talking about tugboats with her. We stepped off the train and parted ways, but I like to think that she was imagining the sea air against her face as the train pulled on to the next station.
After the gallery opening a number of us went to a little French restaurant down the street. We were a large, semi obnoxious group and we were quite obviously the last seating of the night. Mostly just drinks were ordered, although I think a few mussels were eaten as well. When we got in a taxi to leave, my girlfriend realized she had left her backpack in the now-closed restaurant. She popped out of the taxi, returning momentarily with both her backpack and some other plastic bag. Apparently when she had gone back inside the restaurant saying “I forgot my bag!” they handed her this plastic bag. She said, no there’s a different bag, so they went and found her backpack, too, but they didn’t want to deal with the plastic bag anymore so she just....assumed possession of it. It became her responsibility, she put it in her lap in the cab. We looked inside. It appeared to be an entire dinner meal of delicious looking Korean food, packaged as a takeout order. We had no idea where this could have possibly come from - certainly not the French restaurant - but there were no answers forthcoming, so when we finally got home we stuck it in my fridge and forgot all about it.
There’s a longer interlude that could be included here about kindness. Or more specifically how the following morning, after helping her carry her sculptures down a few city blocks and stashing them in my basement, my girlfriend realized she was missing her wallet. She had offered to buy me a seltzer (love) and when she went to get out her cash the wallet was gone. She’s really not the type of person to be that absentminded so it was especially freaky. Where could it have gone? And she had to fly back to Ohio the next day, anxieties were mounting and multiplying. But even then I felt more freaked than was appropriate. I could feel my heart pounding. The thing I won’t go into here is how this specific situation was incredibly potent for me, it reminded me of a similar situation that ended bleakly (watching a man be roughly handled and zip-tied inside the NYPD precinct at Broadway Junction while he screamed and cried, a wallet being handed over in an evidence bag after a terrible, cry-til-your-throat’s-sore kinda evening). I was beginning to really freak, beads of sweat. But then I thought maybe it’s at the French restaurant and I called on speaker phone, preposterously they said “bonjour,” they said “oui, we have the wallet,” and after a long talk about why the situation got so charged we went back to the French restaurant. We got the wallet, then we treated ourselves to boba tea. Big and little victories of kindness.
The day after that we absolutely squeezed every last minute out of our short time together. The day got away from us, or maybe I should say that the things I had to do got away from us. My girlfriend barely made it on the plane, and I barely had time to get my house ready for the show we were about to hold in the living room. This was the show that Scree played here, a release show with two other excellent bands, and way more people came than I was really prepared for. I treat it like a real venue but ultimately it’s just my living room, and people love Scree’s music, particularly in a warm and intimate setting. So my house was filled to the gills and the various friends who might have been able to help bartend were unavailable, so I was running around, doing sound, turning lights on and off, trying to contain the chaos and working the bar as best I could. My house was warm, full of smiling bodies and beautifully played music, gentle affection and contented little smiles all around. At one point Ryan from Scree came by the bar, I asked him how he felt. He said he felt good. He smiled, as wide as I had ever seen him smile before. There was no qualification to his statement, he said it with solid certainty. I felt good, too. Although I hadn’t had a chance to eat dinner and my stomach was rumbling. My friend brought an enormous tub of guacamole but we had run out of chips, I thought about eating it with a spoon. And it was then - during Scree’s set - that I remembered the mysterious Korean food. It was still in the fridge, and I pulled it out as quietly as I could, chuckling to myself while Scree played as the tofu - spicy and mysteriously brown sauced - squeaked with each bite. It was delicious, it was nourishing, delivered to me under mysterious circumstances and kinda preposterously available in a moment of need. Just a funny series of events, interactions in sequence, connection and need, big and little victories of kindness.
How’s it going? Are you looking forward to the year end holidays? Are you surprised that the decade will be over so soon? Are you thinking about how the next 18 days are the days with least light we’re gonna get in the whole orbit of the Earth? How after the 21st it’ll get a little lighter each day?