Cold walk home today, I looked up overhead. Sunset starts too early these days, both of the middle-aged strangers I spoke to this afternoon said so and I agreed (one at the springs, one at the library). Pinks starting to ring the clouds, and parallel to me, a tiny jet engine plane, its long tail streaming out behind it, white and just starting to get the dusk colors going. From my perspective it looked like a needle being dragged slowly across the light blue skin of the sky, leaving a just-on-the-verge-of-bleeding scratch. From where I was looking we seemed to be going along in the same direction, at the same speed. I stopped and wondered if the plane would stop in mid-air, too. Who was flying in that tiny plane at 4:15pm today above the airspace of my little city?
The needle that drags across the platter of plastic accepts the vibrations of the audio information embedded in the plastic. The embedded music shakes the needle just so, and a series of devices take the information from that shaking needle and broadcast it into a room. In my case my turntable sends signal to a receiver that then sends audio to two big speakers up on milk crates, speakers I bought from a guy's garage on a street with no streetlights or cell service after I saw them listed on Craigslist. He'd only accept cash so I had to drive back into town and get 200 bucks out of the ATM at the Stewart's and when I got back to the garage he popped in a U2 cassette to show that it still worked ("I still haven't found what I'm looking for," the anthem of craigslist). The needle that drags across the plastic only lasts so long, they wear out, and the records that vibrate the needle get scraped again and again, each time the record is played. The needle, however microscopically, rips up the plastic bit by bit. And the plastic blunts back. So every time you listen to an LP you destroy it a little more, until one day you hear the backside of the flip side of the record, the ghostly impression of it, the topographic mirror image of the music on the other side of the record now detected by the needle, which is also ever degrading. In high school I eventually wore out my mom's already worn out copy of everybody knows this is nowhere. I'm on my third copy of it now, and there's nothing more spectral than hearing the backside of music, like seeing the inside of your face.