Just about every road out of here, I’ve explored
Scattering to the four winds, I’ve been there
All around this town, I’ve lived, I’ve learned
and the road leads on…

Just about every corner of this town, I’ve turned
Looking under every stone, I’ve found all things
Going out far from this place, I’ve loved, I’ve dreamed
and life goes on…

And if the well should run dry
I’ll pack my things and leave
If eternity should die
I’ll know what to believe
If pebbles should fly
They’ll do it in my wake
If I should wonder why
Then how much can I take
from here?

Should I lie fallow now, death describes me
Letting my root wither, thunder shakes the tree
All truth found tough to swallow, I’m choking on the bone
and so my search reaches on…

Should my friends keep me here, shall I be bored to tears?
Resting in the corner, silencing the virtue of all those years
I set my foot down for the liquid ground beyond
and the walk marches on…

And if my hope should run out
I know my friends are with me there
If the suffocation is too great
I can breathe in the air
If the stars should blur the night
We’ll watch them where we are
If the heaven we find is right
We’ll know that it is far
from here!

(September, 1996)

Dead Man, a MDA Ed.

It took a few viewings, but now I understand that “Dead Man” (1995) is a palindrome in structure. The movie begins with the protagonist William Blake riding the train in, and ends with him riding a canoe out. Begins with him stumbling through the muddy streets of Machine with the butchers, hunters, mothers, morticians and steel signs, and ends with him stumbling through the muddy village of the boat people with the butchers, hunters, mothers, morticians and wooden totems.

I’m still trying to piece together the correlations between the two ends, marking events on the front half and matching them with events from the back half. The plot is episodic in nature, so it’ll take some mulling over in my subconscious to assemble the order and draw parallels.

If you’ve not seen “Dead Man”, you should see it. It’s slow, poetic, and through its sparse use of dialog tells a serious story. A man who’s had a rotten run of luck attempts to make a fresh start. Instead, he reaches the end of the line and through a rotten run of luck reaches the end of the line and makes a fresh start to the next spirit plane.

“The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn from the crow.”

Off Day, On Day

I took today off. For working that late schedule last week, we were offered 8 hours comp time, and I took mine today. Mid-week was fine. I was actually busy today; a positive side benefit of having a day off during the week is that every place is open for business, busses run on a more frequent schedule, and lines are shorter since everybody else is at work. Win!

Got up this morning at 7:30, spontaneously (been doing that lately…I blame my back). Took a shower, got dressed, checked the web, and took my car to the dealership for a 9:00 appointment to get my timing belt, water pump, serpentine belts, and dry seals replaced. Handed over the keys, walked next door to Thunderbird Coffee. Had a bagel and a cup. Caught the glare of a mildly nutty woman who muttered constantly to herself; first thing I heard her say was “I’m not crazy” as I walked past. Good times.

There’s this one annoying band that apparently every barrista in this damn town loves to play during their shift. Peter Bjorn and John. Fuck those guys. Every god-damned time I hear the barristas play those earworms, I want to smash the tip jar. If I never hear another god-damned tune of theirs again, I’ll be happy. It’s like “PBJ” is this year’s Moldy Peaches. Stabby. So yeah, the barristas at Thunderbird played them, and after suffering that nonsense at my other usual joints, I finally researched and discovered who it was, and now I know the true name of the devil. Dammit.

I drown out the nonsense with an album by the Greek-born DJ Dousk. A few weeks back, I heard a chillout DJ mix on the Digitally Imported Chillout stream which included a few songs he wrote; I learned who he was and picked up his album “D.I.Y.” In my opinion, this guy is one of the best understated trance-ambient musicians and DJs this year. If this stuff came from Greece, I have to wonder what else is growing wild around Europe. With it queued up on my music player, this album eventually became the soundtrack to my day.

So, with a bagel and a cup in me, I put on my headphones and ambled up the road four blocks back to my apartment for some sittin’ down, chillout lunch time. My friend Josh posted a link to a 25-part series called Rail Away, highlighting tourism and travel by rail in several countries and what kind of sites and attractions you can see during your journey. I got a few of the episodes in over the course of the day, and now I have the wanderlust to travel Europe again. I cursed Josh for giving me that itch.

I answered that itch, somewhat, by leaving the house after lunch. Since I had no car and had the day off, I decided to hop the bus downtown. Discovered that the #5 Woodrow route goes from my front door to the downtown core; all this time, I assumed it bypassed downtown and went to Riverside. Who knew? Not I. Also discovered how handy the Capital Metro trip planner is; you give it endpoints, and it tells you the routes, transfers, and times to the next connection. Sooo much easier than looking at PDFs and timetables (wooble).

Took the bus downtown and hung out at the Hideout. It’d been a few weeks since I last went. Was nice to sit there in the window during daylight hours; you see all the suits, normals, junkies, and hotties strolling past. Daytime barrista was friendly, too. Got some pictures of one of the cow sculptures that have appeared around town; apparently it’s a citywide art installation called Cow Parade, and each cow is decorated by a different person and will be auctioned off for charity. Kinda like those 8-foot tall guitar sculptures, I guess.

While at the Hideout, I got a call from the service manager telling me my car was repaired and ready. Hopped the next bus back up. Stood in the 104°F heat for 20 minutes waiting on the return bus with the belly full of black coffee; ugh. But got back to the dealership, wrote the check ($$$), picked up my car, and headed back home. Watched more train videos.

After cooling my heals, I got hungry. Had dinner at Pho Thaison. Egg roll and #1 Pho. It was the best Pho I’ve had in weeks. So damn good, I actually had a mouth-gasm. Woah mama. If you haven’t been there, I suggest you go to the location on Anderson Lane. The best in town, in my opinion.

Had my after-dinner coffee at Epoch. Chatted with my cafe buddies Willie and Doug (decent folk, all). Sweat my ass off on the porch; since I don’t smoke anymore, I don’t much get any benefit from sitting out in the heat if nobody I know is there. So after they went off, I headed home, too.

But instead of home, I went driving, following the drifting winds like a rudderless boat. Ended up at Waterloo Records. Picked up “4×4=12” by Deadmau5, and then, related to some of our discussion at Epoch, got a pair of Neil Young albums: “Harvest Moon” (1992) and “Dead Man [soundtrack]” (1996). Also got a copy of “The Big Lebowski” and “Kingpin“, which I’ve been seeking for a while now. I have the “Dead Man” soundtrack playing now, and it has put a nice polish on this decent mood I’m in. Do yourself a favor and watch the movie, and you will appreciate the power of the soundtrack; some of Young’s finest work.

So here I am, busy yet rested. Got a glass of vodka on the rocks, “Dead Man” on the playlist, a fresh blog entry, a full belly, tired feet, maintained car, new experiences, a wanderlust, and a decent mood. All told, it’s been a good day.

Hope (I woke up agnostic)

getting out of bed, like there’s no god
forceful, ball of gas burning turning gold, then white
squinting eyes, tilting shadows, killing night

dream is over, the nightmare is dead
no god of mine, in mind, to find
in my head, in my heart, in my bed

today, i’ll forget everything i ever knew
disbelieve everything i’ve ever loved
and say one everlasting prayer —

thanks for putting up with me
good night to you, lord
now i lay you down to sleep.

terra spin, ground movement under way
footwork, artwork, shitwork, clockwork
to the stop of time, to end today

now all things fit together in stride
sinful play is now playground
and it’s finally good outside

fusion furnace of hydrogen, origin unknown
it came from somewhere, but i don’t care
it’s there and it shines down, warms the stone

but it can still be calloused and cold
on the sunny side of stained-glass windows,
where the sun sets like there’s no god

with whispered doubts in hushed breaths,
prayers, for souls to keep in the night
for when we finally lay down and sleep.

(June 20, 1997)

Lightly Seasoned

I think I need to move North.

This isn’t a funny-ha-ha because I’m currently living in the hottest, driest part of a summer scorcher in central Texas, but because I miss having weather to talk about. I miss having a change of seasons. I miss being thrilled when winter thaws to bring on the swell of spring, or when summer cools to bring the awe of autumn. There are cycles in weather. There are overcast days. There are clear blue skies. There’s frozen precipitation. A cold front is a guarantee of rain. And rain can go on for days. In central Texas, not so much.

I’ve been looking at pictures of Europe, Canada, and Alaska during the summertime, and I’m floored by how lush and vibrant everything is. Flowers on the hillsides. Mountains typically covered in snow are rolling in tall green grass. Even the areas less picturesque are still in bloom. Since the winters are harsh, sometimes unforgiving, everything that grows takes the fullest advantage when it can. So the greens are greener. The woods are thicker. Nature has a narrow window to thrive, and it does it at full power. Our green season is in April, but we’re south of the latitude that stays green. Everything below that turns brown and red and becomes arid, so our green season ends in June.

It’s been 11 years since I moved to Austin, and I will confess that I love this place. It’s usually dry, so the driving is decently safe, roadwise. It’s usually sunny, so the sightseeing is abundant. It’s usually warm, so people wear less more often. It’s a great town and a good area. But that’s just it: these are constants. We have our “cold” months between December and mid-march; maybe a bit of snow once or twice every three years. Otherwise, it’s the same-old. Excepting the four-month scorching drought of summer, this area is flatlined as far as seasons go.

Austin is the Paxil of seasonal weather.

I like that I can drive on dry roads and stroll around during 40°F nights during the winter, but I want some variety. There’s a reason most of the best electronic bands come from the north; for 5 months of the year, they’re locked in and snowed under with little to do outside. There’s a rich life indoors. And when the winter thaws, oh damn do they throw some parties. The ones locked up the most have the wildest throwdowns because that’s their limited window of opportunity. They have to bring out their colors. They have to bring on their rut. They have to live it up because that’s their time to shine in the sun. Winter is constantly around the corner, so motivation is strong.

It’s always nice weather here; even when it’s shitty, it’s still relatively nice. So what’s the rush here? There’s always a nice weekend to have a barbecue or sit on the porch. Central Texans live on a different clock. But when most northern cultures are living it up, we’re either stuck inside due to overheating (and hating the boredom) or biking/kayaking/climbing because that’s what hard-core “extreme” people do (the rest of us sweat miserably and do nothing because we’re stifled).

I know I don’t do well in cold weather, but that’s a matter of training and acclimation. I don’t think I would mind learning how to handle it. If the yankees will teach me how to survive the winter, I think I could find it in my heart to teach them how to survive the summer. Deal?