Tango in the night

It’s a week for nostalgia. I’ve already looked back at U2’s “The Joshua Tree” because the darned thing’s coming back out again, and the Irishmen along with it. Tonight I might as well needle-drop another one of 1987’s monster platters that mattered, not least because today’s Pitchfork review of the reissue put it in mind. What comes to mind as I listen to it, drift away to a distraction of a video or two and swim back toward it, is how so many of today’s post-genre pop songs floating around draw on some of the same musical textures, without any of the classic-rock history that used to come with it. All that was solid, format and reference, has melted into air, or drifted off into streams and mixes, digital-audio workstation pre-sets and patches. None of this even takes into account the old choir, or Victoria’s lovely take on “Everywhere” kicking around somewhere on our band’s account. I’d better set my watch for whenever it is that Lindsay Buckingham and Christine McVie album they teased earlier this year will drop.

A scholar with a dollar as you can plainly see

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You get up and get dressed and go out, ready to chin-up and console. You sit down early in a corner booth to beat the rush. You look up what’s going on, and then you learn that someone rolled away the stone. You make a face and laugh loud enough to make a few people in the far corner look at you for a couple of seconds, not like a weirdo or like trouble, but more like someone having a Friday on their Saturday. This is my testimony: It can take a little while but when you learn that history never completely repeats and your day gets well and truly made, you find you don’t even really mind the wait. You find you’re just grateful to be present.

Trickles, tricks, clocks, ticks

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Today was about reassuring my mother that I wasn’t at immediate risk for a 30-foot wall of water to come rushing into Oakland. It was also about explaining how far away I live from the Oroville Spillway and the Feather River floodplain, and how many people had to evacuate, and what might happen in the next week with rainy weather forecast, water draining from a lake as fast as safely possible, and the stressed Delta levee system’s effects on the state’s drinking water prospects. This stuff is not the same as the Edgar Cayce stuff I grew up hearing about from her and going off to the public library’s shelves to bone up on out of curiosity. Today, as it turned out, was also about trickling leaks, treacherous currents and the swiftness with which a man may find himself lost in a flood.

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Asking and not receiving

Building on yesterday’s question where someone I’d never met before wanted something from me I wasn’t willing to give, even more asks came in this morning over the transom, hands outstretched and bayonets clenched and glinting between teeth.

First came one from a government agency, and that required a decision from above my pay grade. Then came another from another media outlet about something I’d filmed a while back, and that meant declining on one of several possible grounds. Then the third came from a different outlet about participation in an encounter, and that one could take a day or more to process, given how its language construes me.

I need to think about whether I’m the person they seem to think I am, and what the half-life is on the person I used to be, the person who they think they might have answered.

Declined

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I wrote about something today. Hours later, I got a call from someone two time zones away asking me if I’d give them details about a particular thing I’d written but not fully disclosed. When I told them no, they accused me of being a bad journalist. After all, why write about something if I wasn’t willing to back it up? I was polite, and eventually the person thanked me for calling back and hung up. I thought about it for a good while after. I realized I’d told them no for several reasons, but only told them about one: that I hadn’t wanted to be the bearer of bad news, at the expense of advancing things faster than other parties were willing. Another, larger reason that swum up from muddier water later on: good as librarians are and excellent as it can be to emulate their virtues, I’m not one. Granted, I’m not paid to be one. I justify what I write to my editors, but I’m not required to open my notebook to anyone who asks. This is something I need to revisit or figure out how to sit with.

Later on, I drove by the old Merritt Bakery and confirmed what I’d seen a few days earlier about the upcoming auction. Town business, man. Town business.

How the rain came tonight

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I’ve been making more timelapses lately in order to look at the world without time, in the words of that line from “The Matrix Reloaded” I’ve never quite gotten over.

I want to see what the clouds look like in the reflected surfaces of the buildings outside the one where I work, and how the light changes as the clouds shift and the hours lengthen into evening, and when the weather predicted by forecasters and expected by pedestrians suddenly starts landing on everything outside.

Then I want to see it differently, so I’ll use one app to speed it up or another to filter it in black and white and gray, because I’m greedy about options and lazy about sharing and keen on using certain platforms in certain ways.

Town business

Today, after reading a few people talking about this early-morning fire on Twitter and Facebook, and after watching a couple of videos from The Specials, I wrote these lyrics:

It's the morning after the fire on 73rd and MacArthur on the deep East Side
Everyone is bewildered and nobody saw it coming until the place got fried
Not every block blaze is suspicious
But not every flame can be innocent
When criminals parade waving contracts
And it's harder every day just to make rent One block over
there's a robbery going down
don't try to protect
The terms of the exchange
are exactly what you would expect
in this town Now flash forward years after tears run dry on the deep East Side
Abracadabra hey presto there's galleries and bistros it's been gentrified
Not every new neighbor is nameless
But not every old one gets to linger
When you're shoved by an invisible hand
And insult to injury is it gives you the finger One block over
there's a robbery going down
don't try to protect
The terms of the exchange
are exactly what you would expect
in this town Not what we mean
when we used to say
town business
It's a sad tired scene
When you get to see
town business