A day of big weather. Around one the sky grew moody; I hit F12 to call up the Mac’s Dashboard Widgets, one of which instantly displays a radar map. A jagged chancre was feasting on the northern suburbs, it seemed. The wind came first, as it always does; the trees grew hysterical and the loose leaves pattered down on the lawn. All the backyard lights snapped on. The rain fell hard, all at once, like someone emptying a great box of nails. We shut the window and turned on the TV.
“Will there be a flood?” Gnat asked.
No, hon, we’re on a hill. Don’t worry.
CRASH! BANG! FLASH! BOOM! She snuggled next to me on the sofa. There is a flood warning for the following counties, the TV weatherman said.
“Flood warning!” she said.
“That’s not for us. Don’t worry! Look out the window; all the water is running downhill.”
“What if the power goes out? I hope the power doesn’t go out.”
“Don’t worry – I have flashlights and radios and a backup stove.”
“But the internet could go out.”
Oh, bless you. “Yes, it could, but it’ll be back. We don’t need it all the time,” I said, lying.
We read a book – a Berenstein Bears jerimiad against junk food - then sat on the sofa, watching the rain. All the moment lacked was some nice vacant ambient tune by Moby or Eno.
When the rain let up we went to FedEx to mail stuff to the publishers, then hit the grocery store. In the produce aisle a man dropped a red pepper; I looked at Gnat, pointed at the pepper. She picked it up, went over to him and said – and I quote:
“Excuse me, but I believe you dropped this.”
Too cute. The old man kindly thanked her and she walked away, hands behind her back, content. Now compare and contrast with an event at the library tonight: she wanted to check out a DVD, and went to the counter to get the disc from the clerk. The clerk was busy.
“Excuse me,” Gnat said. “I hate to interrupt, but I need the disc for this box.”
“You’ll have to wait until you’re ready to check out” said the clerk in a gruff dismissive tone.
Who gets gruff towards five year olds who say “Excuse me” and “I hate to interrupt”? Jeez.
Well, it’s the dreaded multi-column day, with two other pieces due tomorrow as well – Mondays and Tuesdays are really quite extraordinary. By which I mean “Brain-meltingly demanding.” So I’ll end with some music notes. I mentioned that the day could have benefited from some Eno; as it turns out, there’s fresh work available from the Father of Ambient. The new Eno album. “Another Day on Earth,” is more immediately appealing than “Nerve Net,” which felt like flossing with barbed wire. Some tunes are just . . . nice, the the aural equivalent of applying lotion to dry skin. They’re certainly more engaging than his interminable bore-o-matics like “Shutov Assembly.” But it has some songs I never want to hear again, like “Bone Bomb,” which strikes me as an interior monologue of a suicide bomber. Some songs have that indefinable Eno presence you can’t quite describe, that sense of spaciousness and suspension and stillness. I don’t recommend it, because Eno is something you have to find on your own. It’s either the soundtrack to the inside of your head or the stupidest, most useless twaddle you’ve ever heard.
Oh, all right, examples.
This is a sample from the Ali Click remix, which you can still buy for eight bucks. It goes on like this for seven and a half minutes. Oh, it’s good.
This is from the Fractal Zoom remix. There are seven versions of the tune on the CD. Bury me with this one.
Let us not forget that when the world was new and skinny ties wrapped ‘round the neck of all good modern neurotics, the joining of Eno and David Byrne was a planetary alignment the likes of which we had not seen before, nor would see again. “Help Me Somebody” is a knockout track.
Moby tries to be Eno, and while he understands the letters, he doesn’t see the alphabet. This is an excerpt from “Grace,” which is Enoesque.
And this is from Eno’s “Apollo,” a soundtrack to a film of spacecraft footage. This is what I mean by stillness and presence. (I’ll never, ever forgive the filmmakers of “Trainspotting” for defiling this piece. Ever.) This is what I thought about as Gnat and I sat on the sofa and watched the rain. This is what peace sounds like, at least to me, today.
More tomorrow, including the ongoing tale of my war against the spectacle makers of America. New Fence. See you Wednesday.