Friday, September 28, 2007

This is Cliche

I waited two months before listening to my ipod on the streets or in public transit. I didn't know what I was missing.

I was called into work two hours ago to find out, after I had made the commute, that it was a miscommunication. No worries, I popped in my head phones, sat in Bryant Park and watched the city to the soundtrack of Andrew Bird.

I was immediately intoxicated.

Catastrophe wrapped in ambient music is poetic. This statement needs no explanation but here I go:

Imagine an atomic explosion in the Arizona dessert with no sound but the music of Handel's Messiah. Is this a twisted thought? Maybe. But just the THOUGHT of this experience induces pathos that neither experience could independently induce. The experience itself, the bomb with a soundtrack, would be a novel experience. Many consumers buy soundtracks to movies because of the emotional content of the film, not for the quality of the music. (I know I'm throwing around large generalizations that I'm not clearly explaining but bear with me if you can.) I'm sure there are already many academic, physical, psychological, metaphysical, and artistic studies into this idea. If there aren't, then I need to get crackin'.

Nothing catastrophic happened on the streets of New York today. I wasn't living in New York when the towers fell, but I was eternally scarred by it. And know that the youtube clip of the news footage played to the music of a certain country-western singer is a crock of shit. A personal visceral catastrophe does take on new light when watched retrospectively with music, but that is a disturbing thought that I don't want to expand upon.

Unlike the large tangential examples above, my experience today was subtle, natural, and in perfect sync with the music.

Seconds after I sat next to the fountain and put in my earphones, rain drops began to fall and two kids under the age of three, a black girl and a white boy, began to dance around the edge of the water as the harmony of strings filled my head.

I began to walk to the subway to get home before the downpour, and a petite waif wearing heels slipped across the wet cement and braced herself on a handrail as symbols clashed. I laughed out loud.

A rise in feedback and distortion complemented the screeching breaks of the arriving train.

A creole man in a skin-tight, long-sleeved shirt and overalls walked, head bobbing out of sight, while the train pulled away to the staccato plucking of a string quartet.

At Columbus Circle a chic black woman boarded the train car along with 30 other random rush-hour suits. She had to squeeze up beside me and smelled of pineapple. Mr. Bird sang "bum bum-bum-bum bum/bum bum-bum-bum bum." (Yeah, I couldn't figure that one out either.)

I exited the depot into the rain and walked along the park -- the symbols sizzled, brushes on the high-hat, reverb on a cello, slow fingers plucking guitar, Bird crooned over his own harmony and whistled through the bridge as a wave of strings rose in volume and swam around my head, until they fell into the street as the chorus of rain drops picked up the encore . . .


  1. You are doing good work here. Your writing is begining to shake off the dust of over-thinking. On NPR a music critic, reviewing James Blunt's new album, mentioned this about the artist: "His songs lack depth...he's all craft where the heart should be." I think this something to keep in mind as you continue. Let the be where it belongs. The craft will take care of itself.

  2. Keep hammering the keyboard, broseph.

    The ability to communicate your introspective revelations increases through your blog frequency.

  3. Your clan and your "what do they know?" attitude. Welcome to the herd. HA! : )

  4. You have a way with words, my son. I love this piece.

  5. that's awesome. i used to feel like i was in some cool movie walking around town, taking the subway in korea with my iPod going.

    i found your blog from a link on your wife's. we knew each other at oru. :)