Monday, August 24, 2009

Soundtracks and Habitats

I am back after a week off from writing, blogging and for the most part, listening to music.I had to ship off to NYC for a week of in preparation, I brought my trusty 80 g ipod. It got real crowded with a life on ipod shuffle..turbulently indecisive among 12000 songs. I lost my attachment to my digital collection while trying to seperate (by song) my brooding and dealing with the year long absence of my sister...I felt fastened and displaced...without rhythm with my headphones on. Too much ease and no connection...instant gratification and stoic submission I felt like switching back to cassettes on plain old auto reverse.The waiting would have felt fine.

I made an effort to use music heard "by accident" or organically spilling out of situations as my soundtrack as I walked the "hot time, summer in the city" streets of New York. There was lots of sweaty people lead-singing out of tune with their overloaded earbuds/ipods grafted to tight skulls...anything from Arctic Monkeys to Foreigner to Kanye... blind black buskers with only 2 or three quarters in their collection hats doing "On Broadway" a Capella unaware of their suckability in the Union Square station, pumping house music thrusting out of an Abercrombie and Fitch relentlessly bombarding shoppers as shirtless male models take pictures with the gawky Asian tourists out front... dry and fuzzy reggaeton pinching its way through a fist sized transistor radio as I waited for my bodega bagel..... The soundtrack to our lives is bugs and breeze for some, busy bustle for others.... It has been an introspective tour of the soul for me, like a colon cleanse for the imagination, setting free parts of the brain that lay hidden like lazy bugs under rocks. Turn that rock over and watch what gets to squirm into new comfortable spots: That is what I felt much to listen to and too many decisions sometimes cancel each other out and end up a companion of white noise for a brain that was emotionally spent and needed rest. So I went organic.

Some of my favorite sounds included:

-an early morning Red Hook junkyard mongrel hooting and growling at me through the chain link while I walked by.
-the intermezzo of clashing cabs vying for space and passengers while flaring their horns.
-a disheveled man without a home mastering a junk made drum set while smacking amazing rhythms out using only empty 5 gallon buckets, a chunk of a radiator and chutzpah on Houston and Broadway.
-the cacophony of tourists asking directions on 34th and 7th in a rainbow of language.
-the french hipster with the beatbox and cigarette purging the same un-intelligible song three days in a row outside of the job site on Spring Street.
-subway wheels screeching demonic to a halt at Astor Place.

Wherever you are today....unplug, tune in and drop out if only for a minute. There is music in the corners of rooms and the backyards of the suburbs that are in no need of earbuds or digital files... there lies only the passion for listening and the deep breath of escape.


  1. How true. If we truly listen we will here a cacophony of sound that turns into an earthly be-bop. I go to northern wisconsin where there is absolutely no background noise. In that backwoods environment you make your own ear noise and even sometimes just listen to the deafening quiet. How sweet it is!

  2. A good much as I love music, I often spend time alone in silence and end up hearing myself think (if I like it or not). I love the sound of birds, cars in the distance and little kids laughing.

  3. For years I lived in cities and became accustomed to constant urban buzz . Two years ago, my wife and I bought a house in a village in rural Ontario, close to the US border.

    Evenings are spent listening for the proverbial pin that I wait for one of the neighbors to drop.

    I am sincerely sorry that you are marking a sad anniversary, sir.

  4. Rock on. Great post.