— ../westy (@westyreflector) September 15, 2017
September 15, 2017 at 04:30PM
— ../westy (@westyreflector) September 15, 2017
September 15, 2017 at 04:30PM
— ../westy (@westyreflector) September 5, 2017
September 05, 2017 at 05:49PM
With the passing of Walter Becker, let’s resurrect a piece of mine on Steely Dan, for whom I had conflicting feelings but also heavy sentimental attachment, their inescapable songs stamped on many pivotal moments through my halcyon teenage daydream years. I didn’t choose to write about them – the piece was an assignment.
Back in 2013, I jumped into in a meme game, on a whim, against character and habit. That it was a Facebook meme made it even rarer for me, since I spend maybe 5 minutes a month in eff-space (another post for the future, perhaps). Courtesy of Scott Faulkner (http://www.vinylsaurus.com), the game was if you “liked” Scott’s Facebook post, he assigned you a band/act and you would write on them in the same format. The assignments would then cascade through every generation of likes. Marc Weidenbaum (https://disquiet.com) liked Scott’s post and was assigned The Residents. I, in turn, liked Marc’s post about The Residents, so he assigned me… drum roll… Steely Dan.
It’s 2061. Shunted off in the corner of the rec room at Elysian City: A Home For The Aged, I spend my days staring out a 2nd-story window at a leafy City neighborhood in a vain attempt to cancel out my immediate surroundings. I am 90 years old. My money is gone, my companionship is long over, I have no savings. The government will not approve me for a phone or any sort of connection to the Internet (by that time, access to the virtual world is age restricted for over-85s the same as drivers licenses). I don’t have a guitar. All my instruments and vinyl collection were sold to pay for a hybrid pig heart I needed when I was 83. Elysian also forbids personal music playback devices and headphones, so I can’t seek comfort in the albums I released decades ago in my highwire days.
The other patients create an absurd, inescapable, Cuckoo’s Nest din. I am there because I lost my money, but most are there because they lost their minds. Phillip, a former tenured NYU Comparative Literature professor, screams all day, every day in the same seat, about Donald Trump’s “Kalashnikov eyes” the “god damned Pension Police in the walls!” Every time he tries to eat, he hallucinates himself into the same Thanksgiving dinner simulation where he’s arguing with his brother Mitch about the 2016 election. By the end of every exchange (of which we only get his side), Phillip will slam his plate up and down, sending most of his meal in all directions.
Phillip eats only mac ‘n cheese, and his mad gyrations fly an inevitable noodle or two across a couple tables to smack me in the face or splat on my window. Shriveled, stray elbow noodles are strewn around the room, caught in gaps between the home’s original Kentile floor tiles and wall mouldings, and also underneath an IKEA credenza that holds a Monopoly game without a full set of money and a few well-worn mid-2010s issues of InStyle Magazine. Too-on-the-clock-to-care orderlies don’t cajole their vacuums and mops to reach any of the crevices, so the noodles just accumulate unnoticed like ear canal hair.
The psych wardlords play Gen-X music to try to salve everybody with what they call “youthmmersion therapy,” and most of the time it works. But whenever the Thompson Twins’s “Doctor Doctor” comes on the loudspeaker, 80-going-on-15 Leanne teases her wiry blurry hair up high, and apes Alanna Currie playing timpani drums. Leanne bangs on the table with her Jello spoons every time the chorus revs up, and then screams along (“Doctor Doctor! I’m burning burning!”). Her just-off-key caterwauls always bring two of the floating control drones that patrol the corridors and administer most of the medication. They will grab Leanne by our shoulder-mounted mandatory drone-connector epaulettes. The drones will then hoist Leanne towards the ceiling, where she will float and sing in a seemingly gravity-less performance around the room until she is floated out into the corridor back to her room. If I’m lucky, the drones for Leanne will arrive as Phillip crescendos his one-way dinner fight, and they will catch his noodles mid-flight in elegant ICBM intercept maneuvers.
I turn back to my window, hoping to find solace in the people walking below, living some semblance of real life. Every once in a while I see someone not wearing their virtual shield, maybe walking a dog or taking their kid to school, and paying attention to the environment. No one ever looks up, and for that I’m grateful.
Anger breaks your wing, not the object of your anger.
— ../westy (@westyreflector) August 28, 2017
August 28, 2017 at 01:47PM
Knowing the exact path and time of an eclipse is a cosmic spoiler. Where have all the Stonehenge gone?
— ../westy (@westyreflector) August 21, 2017
August 21, 2017 at 08:23AM
A kid in Kankakee pees excess adderall and a shark off Sydney feels extra focused. Coincidence?
— ../westy (@westyreflector) August 10, 2017
August 10, 2017 at 08:56AM
Some people we pass on the street are the universe allowing glances of ourselves in possible futures.
— ../westy (@westyreflector) June 27, 2017
June 27, 2017 at 01:52PM
The highest stations of sapiens hierarchy afford one word answers to all emails.
— ../westy (@westyreflector) May 25, 2017
May 25, 2017 at 02:34PM
On a quest to find a guitar pedal I’d read about called the “Endless Sky.” It creates large ambient washes and textures from playing only one note on the guitar. Features a cowboy boot on the hand-painted graphic with lazy clouds around the six dials and three foot switches. One knob is labeled “reality fade,” the rest I don’t recall. Driving a desolate dusty oceanfront road, and come upon the pedal’s graphic on a supertall sign for a roadside-burger-shack-sized store on the ocean side of the road. Pull in.
Parking lot is dirt. Ocean breaks and foams over huge boulders behind the store (the vibe is El Rey de Pescado in Naiguata, Venezuela). Several sprays from crashing waves threaten to envelop the store, but the age of the small building conveys that it’s held the sea back for a long time, and a quiet serenity about the place gathers as I approach.
As I’m walking up to the store I feel like my thighs are really rubbing together. Looking down, I discover that my thighs have not ballooned, but rather, my pants have turned into Renaissance royalty red-velvet gold-seamed pantaloons.
Tattered screen door. Inside the store, there’s just a counter with four Endless Sky pedals sitting next to an analog cash register.
“One,” I say.
“You don’t want to try it first?” the proprietor asks me, without looking up from a yellowed newspaper.
“No need,” I say. “I know it’s perfect.” I look at the pedal and notice the brand.
“Thought this was a secret Strymon,” I say.
“Nope,” he says, still fixed on his paper, “it’s a Nemo. This is the only pedal they make.”
“Well well,” I say, “even better.”
For sure, my formal education let me down. Not until last night did I learn the screw part of a corkscrew is called a 'worm.'
— ../westy (@westyreflector) May 6, 2017
May 06, 2017 at 01:59PM
Walking underwater at a brisk clip at the bottom of a large body of water. Water is crystal clear blue like liquid sky, the sand is white and firm, and I glide forward with little effort. I breathe normal in the water – no oxygen tank, scuba gear or wetsuit necessary. There’s no doubt I’m in water, though, because exhaling or talking creates bubbles that float to the surface.
I am walking with a stocky and very tall partner, Gene, played by the late actor Ken Howard. We are underneath a superhighway. Huge light-gray concrete supports rise from the sand bed to the surface off into the distance of the body of water, which appears to be around 75 feet deep. The structure emits audible rumbles from the traffic moving on it and I feel the resultant sound waves shake the sand underfoot in regular, low-frequency sine-wave undulations.
The light refraction from the surface into the water is bending the light so much that we can see profiles of the cars and trucks driving on the highway. A large 16-wheel semi passes over. Gene leans down and taps me on the shoulder.
“That’s the one,” he says. “That’s him.”
I take a notebook out of a shoulder bag and write a couple notes. The book has a police shield on it. I realize I am a detective or some sort of undercover officer.
“How did undercover turn into underwater, Gene?” I ask.
“Stop asking stupid questions,” Gene gruffs. “Go see where we are.”
I float to the water’s surface and poke my head out. The superhighway rises another 75 feet over the water and ribbons off towards a city skyline about 10 miles away. I dive back under and head towards the bottom.
“We’re in Chicago, Gene!” I exclaim. “That is so strange. I thought we were in Pontchartrain.”
“Ah, Christ,” Gene says. “At least there’s Lenny’s bar.”
We arrive at a transportation depot, buzzing with people arriving underwater from all directions, and take an escalator up from the sand bed into a sprawling complex. At the top of the escalator, Gene motions to the right and we walk around a wall into a cavernous but skinny, empty, oak wood-paneled room reminiscent of The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station. I unzip my trench-coat, which is dripping puddles and leaving a trail of water behind me. My clothes underneath, however, are warm and dry.
“Thank God you’re wearing a tie,” Gene says, breathing a sigh of relief. “It’s that skinny stupid black shit you insist on, but it’ll do.”
We sit down at a table by the bar and the bartender, impeccable in a crisp white shirt, bow tie and black vest, looks up at us from polishing a highball glass, and smiles.
On 03 May 2017, at around 17:45, on 6th Avenue and President Street, a man and a woman passed me by, empty-handed, as I walked home after shopping. I had been in the market for approximately 12 minutes, and was about 3 blocks (so 2 minutes) south of the market when these two walked by me the other way.
I was heading south on the west side of 6th Avenue. The man was going north on my side of the avenue. At the moment he passed by, behind him in my visual frame, the woman crossed the avenue, and then turned left on the east side of 6th, also to head north.
Thing is – they both were just in the market with me. And here they were, headed back, opposite me, with no groceries, towards the market.
I recognized the man, because after getting caught behind the market’s front door while grabbing a bouquet of flowers, I held the door open for him to enter the store. He was skyscraper tall, perhaps 6’5″, and rail thin, so we’ll call him “Stick.” Approximately 3 minutes later, I was leaving the produce area by the store’s entrance, and saw the woman enter the store. She was memorable as she was African-American with long beautiful platinum blonde braids. The braids flowed down below her waist. We’ll call her “Tress.” They were separate shoppers, for sure not together.
9 minutes later, I swear Tress and Stick were still in the store when I arrived at the check-out, and neither alit at any adjacent cashiers while my cashier (we’ll call her “Samantha”) scanned and weighed my stuff. Tress, last I saw, was reading milk labels in the dairy section in the very back corner of the store, at most 5 minutes before Samantha rung me up. I last recall Stick massaging a melon in Produce with an almost empty basket.
This means Stick and Tress, between my last spotting them and my arriving at check-out, would each have had to check-out, go home, put away their respective groceries, come back outside, and walk back towards the market at the same time.
A sense of cool unease washed over me on 6th Avenue as they passed by, a feeling reminiscent of the last clove cigarette I smoked in the early ’00s.
constraints only limit relative to expectation
— ../westy (@westyreflector) May 2, 2017
May 02, 2017 at 11:48AM
Any microbiologist worth the weight of their microbiota also washes their hands before – not just after…
— ../westy (@westyreflector) April 30, 2017
April 30, 2017 at 05:38PM
Spent entire dream watching two nameless men dismantle six stories of scaffolding across an eighty-foot-wide apartment building. They worked for the most part in silence, communicating with hand gestures punctuated by the occasional “¡Mira!” “¡Cuidado!” or “¡Yo!”
The scaffolding was made of equal parts silk and metal. The men used the silk to climb up and down, raveling and unraveling themselves in an aerial silk performance to move in all directions. At times they also used ladders integrated into the metal piping.
Alternating working above each other, they released large pieces of scaffolding with the flick of one hand, then in the same motion, guided the debris’ trajectories downward. The awaiting partner below caught the falling pieces one-handed and stacked them on the sidewalk.
I was watching through an open window from inside the scaffolded building, feeling the air rushes created by the men’s silk dancing and the falling metal pieces whizzing by. The silk’s movement ruffled and flapped like sails coming-about in stiff winds. The synchronized work moved hypnotic and left me mesmerized, thrilled, frightened and satisfied – akin to watching a snowboarding half-pipe or big-wave surfing competition.
“They’re dancers,” I thought out loud, to no one.
Dream Journal 04.26-04.27
“Full Archer Jacket”
I paratroop onto a Chatsworth, CA, warehouse rooftop w/ another soldier. We recon with a tiny drone to find rebel militant locations in the building. They have dug an ICBM silo under the warehouse. We are here to shut it down.
We spelunk into the building through a busted skylight, pass all sorts of people, none of whom concern themselves with us. Find the rebel headquarters on the 1st floor. They think I’m one of them, bringing them my partner as a prisoner. Treat me like a hero, giving me a foot-long croissant and a huge gun with a Victrola Victor Talking Machine phonograph speaker-horn for a barrel.
“It shoots death frequencies,” the rebel leader tells me in Spanish. “Don’t fire it at the sky or use it at a zoo.”
The militants, who look like they’ve stepped out of the Archer Vice San Marcos jungle, keep giving me equipment (walkie-talkies, a Nespresso, etc). Over and over I escape out a basement door via a secret elevator with an apartment front door as its door. The rebels mistake me for one of them every time, and never figure me out. My partner never escapes.
The final time I escape across the street, the sun has just set, and the rebel commander appears on the warehouse roof. He shoots the Victrola phonograph horn gun into the sky as my commander yells “Goddamn!” in Gunnery Sergeant Hartman fashion.
A few seconds later a small yacht floats down from the sky, nose first. It appears about to crash into the grassy area of a public pool complex next door, but then does a loop-de-loop and drifts slowly, though clearly out of control, over the pool filled w/ raucous kids, between diving boards, into large hedge, hurting no one.
The rebel leader points the Victrola horn gun right at us across the street and yells something we can’t understand. A rush of wind picks up intensity and blows seagulls backwards by us, struggling to fly.
“Hold on, boys,” my commander says.
I’m the star of a reality show called “Surfin’ The Pole” where I tour the North Atlantic on a surfboard. One episode had me find a hidden river that led away from the ocean and took me through quaint Finnish towns.
The river was the de facto Main Street through all the towns, and I waved at people and stopped for food along the way, all the while never leaving my surfboard. The water was crystal blue, not all that cold, and looked like amusement park waterslide water.
(à la Harris Teeter or Piggly Wiggly)
I’m talking to my mother in the beer section, sitting on the floor with my back against a fridge door, looking up at her. Cases of beer piled high in the aisle lend us some privacy. I’m beyond agitated.
“All the meat used to convict these people had the same date,” I tremble and point off to my right. “They used the same packages! Not a single one of these people is guilty, Mom!”
In the distance, a “slow parade of the guilty” – six people shackled together, heads bowed – moves by a large deli case by the cashiers. Shoppers heckle, hiss and toss old cold cuts at them while onlookers laugh.
I flash back to a man (Samuel Jackson – type) in a hidden bunker letting me in on the secret, showing me clues on the cold cut packaging that unravel the mystery.
My mother says, “Get a grip on yourself, Dave.”
I point around. “But this is all a lie! Everything here.”
“Go buy some dinner,” my mom says. “Ease your mind off all this.”
I wander to the deli and prepared food section towards the front of the store. I feel exposed. In one case are two huge halves of red cabbage. They are so large that nothing else fits in the case. The next case has globular gray slabs labeled “World’s Best Chicken Parm!”
Seemingly friendly butcher says “Hey there! Hungry?”