now, instead of taking a trip somewhere. how about a trip to innerspace, to a state of perfect enlightenment? i mean, why go to a fancy hotel in the south pacific, to a famous european city, when you can take an existential journey? you don’t visit rome, you become rome. turn your eyes inward instead of outward. point your lantern, not in the direction of an external destination, but illuminate the interior- the corridors of your own existence. now, many of us are afraid of doing so because we feel that all there is is emptiness and anxiety within us.
– Joe Frank
Here is another audio file. I’m experimenting with a new medium. Why not? Admittedly, the sound quality is not the best. However, it is in stereo, so if you have speakers for your computer use them instead of your phone or the built in speakers on your computer.
This piece comes in three parts. The first is a series of found sounds, random shit I’ve recorded in the past week: an electric gong, electric shaver, a shovel scraping snow, the mechanical crank on the side of the Metropolis coffee roaster, and so forth. Part two is a conversation between me and my friend Mike Glader about corrective moments during childhood. He is also the one playing music in the background, and you can find out more about Mike’s work here. The last section covers my visit to the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA), where there is a running exhibit on Edward Gorey, an artist originally from Chicago whose drawings are like the tales of the Brother Grimm without any discernible moral lesson. Special thanks to docent Angela Plath, whose perspicacity is matched only by her generosity.
(you might need to press play then pause, allowing it to load)
A final word. Incidentally, with an Edward Gorey postcard purchased at the LUMA gift shop, I got an autograph last weekend from one of my living heroes, Joe Frank, when he performed live at Steppenwolf Theater. Frank has been at it for several decades. “It” being writing, performing, and radio broadcast. He is 88 years old, needs assistance onto the stage, but is as strong a story teller as ever. Joe’s show airs every Sunday at 11pm on WBEZ and was the inspiration for this blog’s weekly format.
On the post card, before the show, I wrote to myself: Dear Ben. You are right where you need to be. Keep going, and one day you’ll be a great writer. Beware of guideposts. Your Friend,
After the show, I asked him to sign the post card, next to “Your Friend”. My knees were shaking as he read over the card, looked up at me and said, You want it to seem as if I have written this to you? Yes, I said. But my pen is different than yours. That’s OK, I’ll tell people your pen ran out of ink.
He signed it. Then he said his pen did run out of ink, and he signed it again. I got two signatures, and a chance to bullshit with one of my heroes.
Both Edward Gorey and Joe Frank, for all their morosity, melancholy, and ennui, are profoundly childish men. In that spirit (the spirit of childhood) I’m going to begin playing with sound for the next few weeks, maybe beyond. It’s something I’m definitely not ‘expert’ in, but am super-excited about. So, please, bare with me, if it sounds bad blame it on your own speakers, and offer any constructive or deconstructive (just not any destructive) feedback. Thanks.