Monday, September 28, 2009

The Abyss, Revisited

I was talking to a friend of mine named Tony yesterday at the bar at the Peter McManus Cafe. The Giants/Jets had whipped their respective opponents and we got around to less important matters: first this, then that, and finally, sonically, the abyss. He's a sound engineer and I told him about appearing on WNYC a week ago and getting to put those cool headphones on.

This is video version of the radio appearance:



A couple of items:

First, I'm not sure the full sideways shot is my best angle. Man, I'm gonna have to step away from the Nacho Cheese Doritos for a while.

Second, there's nothing like those studio-quality, full-coverage headphones. These days everybody uses ear buds. Which are fine, but I can't remember when the last time I had a set of big, fat headphones on. Actually, I can. It was last week at WNYC. But before that?

Third, did I tell you they made me get up at 4:45 am? Even now, two weeks later, I'm still doing a cost/benefit analysis on that and coming up quite a bit short.

Anyway, back to the 'phones. My point to Tony was that the silence you hear (if that's the right word) when you put on those headphones is stunning. It's like no other moment in your life, particularly if you live in Brooklyn. Absolute quiet. Infinite depth. The deepest abyss.

He knew what I was talking about.

And now, today, I find myself in another sort of sonic abyss. I'm sitting alone in my apartment. My daughter is gone. My house guests are gone. Alice the cat is gone (I ate her with hoisin sauce). And the silence is deafening. I am doing that same kind of plummeting you do when you look at a Jackson Pollock too long, and I can't even hear the rush of the wind because I have my studio-grade headphones on. The silence, I am here to tell you, is deafening.

Everybody, by the way, thinks that when you fall into the abyss it's empty. Cold. Dark. Dead.

Naaah. Couldn't be nicer.

Me? I've taken the fall. Leap--make that taken the leap. Gathered both feet beneath me, made sure I could feel the mud scrunched up between my toes for maximum traction, and leaped. Lept. Leopt. I'm a leopard. And the water's not cold; it's warm. And the river's not dark; you'd be surprised how much you can see. And dead? Naaah. Teeming with life. Somewhere, they appear to be playing Wagner. Which is odd.

You want to soar beneath the surface, open your mouth, ingest it. Ingest all of it. Of course, if you did that you'd drown. Which is not the object of the exercise.

Me? I'm just swimming upriver.

Huck fucking Finn in reverse. Some days the current is so strong you're swimming at what seems to be a great rate when, in fact, the river bank is slowly going by... the wrong way. These days, though, I'm pleased to announce, headway is being made. I see less of the sun. I'm seeing lots of green. I'm at one with the river. Which is good, 'cause if you're not, there's more damned things swimming around next to you that would like to bite or otherwise fuck with you than you can shake a stick at.

The snakes make the best eating. Once you get good at it; once you've mastered your gag reflex, you just grab 'em, bite their heads off, and then slide 'em down your throat. Don't even have to stop swimming. Shit 'em out about a day later, bones and all.

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