Glancing out my back door I glimpse a black and white cat on my deck, beckoned perhaps by my drum-play. One of my teenage dreams involved touring with a band, improvising with instruments night after night, town after town. I was never much of a traveler, lacking wealth, talent, and initiative. Yet still I got around. Made it here and there. Hence the “literary turn,” the turn to books and careers based on them. Books allowed me to spin off in any number of directions, across many dimensions, albeit mediated by language. Where to tonight? I slip on Joe Henderson and Alice Coltrane’s The Elements and read about obstacles to black homeownership as documented with painstaking detail in Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s new book Race for Profit.
Punch buggy (grey? beige? needs a new paint-job?) turns a corner as I sit in my car paused at a light. The sight of it fills me with an inexplicable sense of cosmic benevolence. Spotify plays me “The Lemon of Pink” by The Books as the shadow of a hawk, wings outstretched, floats across the surface of the parkway in front of me.
When I return home, I recline in my yard and listen to Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants surrounded by a perfect atmosphere of birds, trees, air, and sunlight. Stephen Holden savaged the album in “The Last Flower Child,” his review for the Village Voice. Despite its many dips into schmaltz, however, Journey more than compensates, whether with the intricate mythology of “Same Old Song” or with the sleek proto-Brainfeeder future funk of tracks like “Race Babbling.”
Shifting to the couch in the living room, I snack on potato chips and check Twitter. Marc Masters points me to International Harvester; Byron Coley points me to several new releases on Feeding Tube Records: Weeping Bong Band and Delphine Dora & Sophie Cooper’s Divine Ekstasys.
A friend texts me about a book I need to read: Federico Campagna’s Technic and Magic. The universe inflates, appears as a vast hippie modernist inflatable, like the ones assembled and promoted by groups like Ant Farm. The feeding tube grows in two opposite directions at once: attracted or pulled, take your pick, both by gravity and levity. One part of me snacks on Caramel Delights, while another part receives the gift of Joe Henderson’s “Earth,” my pick for the greatest soul-jazz track of all time.
“Earth” announces itself again, a refrain throughout the day, the second time in the form of an 11-minute video from Adult Swim. Melting, morphing screens, mirrored surfaces, cut-screens between dimensions. All this and more is ours to explore when we blow the realm of necessity to pieces (as in the Alice Cooper song) and flee to the realm of freedom.