There’s so much I have to tell you.
First of all, I moved to California, so, that’s what On Moves is about now. Get it?
This is reporting from the field, as it were.
Lately: The Alan Parsons Project. Jean-Luc Ponty. Gentle Giant. That’s right. FUSION. I am a fusionista. Ok, so maybe the APP and GG aren’t quite fusion, but they’ve got undeniably fusionic tendencies within their respective progs.
Actually, as I write this, I’m listening to APP’s “I Robot” from the album of the same title. Not only is it an amazing album cover (shout out: visual concerns, Bryce Dwyer, airbrush techniques) but dang if it isn’t just all sorts of futuristic groovy, occasionally menacing, and always smooth as syrup.
This is a record I could have been listening to the other day when I went to get my car washed. It needed to be washed, sure, but that’s not why I washed it. I washed it because I wanted to sit in my car, having shifted luxuriantly into neutral, and be carried through a bizarre multisensory ride of a quality the so-called “Imagineers” at Disneyland couldn’t even begin to fathom. (No disrespect to Imagineers though, in all seriousness. A truly noble class in an frequently ignoble world.)
Check back to my articles on proximity. What is a world? What constitutes the delineated object or environment? Does delineation turn environment into an object? What is the agential capacity to compose an environment, situation, aesthetic experience? For me, it was an incredibly hot day. I chose to put on my jazziest elastic-waist shorts, get in my car (which, although covered in bird shit, sap, various earth boogers and barnacles, I must insist: I would have let get worse. I was not going to the car wash to wash my car, it was merely a cosmically ticklish bonus, an opportunity for wet, gleaming metal in the sunlight.), put on Hot 92.3, drive to the corner of Sawtelle and National, and pay $8.99 for the #4 car wash, the cheapest, my tires would not be polished.
I shouldn’t be spending $8.99 on a car wash, let me tell you. Hell, the last few times I washed my car, I reveled in my own hairy shouldered perversion of the beefcake-with-the-boombox, putting on my red mesh tank top and blasting Death’s Sound of Perserverance while I inefficiently and water-wastefully hosed down the old Bad Luck Truck. That occasion, itself, a classic example of radical experimental proximity in action, a case of amateur Imagineering, to be sure. Again, Bergson’s “Any Moment Whatever,” but maybe switch Moment with Monument and let’s call it a sculpture because it is a very fine mesh indeed. Today, the very block of marble from which We Might Chiseleth, is different, and thus our response to said chiseling must be quite different. Today, my boy, we go to the Car Wash.
(I’d like to report that Parsons is still killing it, this record is pretty heavy…but even as I write this, a thoughtful and groovy nod to gentleness and soul-baring.)
So, initially, I’m powerfully moved by the kindness emanating from the gentleman who takes my money. Even the fact that he asks me, when I tell him I’d like the #4, if I wouldn’t like the #5 instead (the one where I get my tires polished), feels unimposing, truly motivated by kindness, just checking my man. I say no thanks and he grins: “Right on.”
I drive forward onto the tracks, stop, put my car in neutral. The tunnel shaped machine kicks in. A quick blast of water and suds is the first thing. Art Laboe takes some shout outs as a mellow electric piano pulses quietly in the background. Then the long flat foam rectangles, blue, from the ceiling, flop abjectly onto my windshield, crudely vogueing in slips and slurps through the water and glass. Now it is darker. It is loud. The track is carrying me lovingly upon its weird lurch and various sprays peek through my car’s new and wet blue dreadlock wig. I smear out from beneath the blue floppers and am set upon by textured foam tubes, rotating on larger tubes, attached to the wall somehow. I’m not really clear on what was going on at this phase, but it looked great.
Finally some more tubes, all of different sizes. (I Robot, side 2) Kind of like symmetrical pipe organs, white and blue. White and blew – air, that is. My car was being dried. Anyway, a video might have been better to show you all what this thing was like, but I’m sure you can imagine. Maybe for the next column, I’ll have made a video of it. Maybe I’ll do a Kickstarter to fund the $8.99 for the cost of the wash, or maybe if even more folks donate than I initially need, I can get the #5. Maybe even the #6.
Arend sent me this link to a recent interview with William Gibson that appeared in Wired. There’s a great passage that I’m going to quote. It’s really stuck with me and so I thought maybe I’d share it with you all, especially in light of the carwash and some thinking I’ve been doing about why our current time-slice has become such a relevant Any Moment Whatever for a renewed science-fictive vigor.
By the end of All Tomorrow’s Parties, which was my sixth novel, I was starting to be haunted by a feeling that the world itself was so weird and so rich in cognitive dissonance, for me, that I had lost the capacity to measure just how weird it was.
Without a sense of how weird the present is — how potentially weird the present is — it became impossible for me to judge how much weirder I should try to make an imagined future. And so those last three books were — whatever else they were — were me building myself a new yardstick for the weirdness of the decade we’ve gone through while I was writing those books. And to judge by the book I’m writing now, for my purposes, I was successful because I now find myself able to extrapolate from this weirdness into another level of imaginary weirdness entirely….
So, in conclusion,don’t worry, I’m making the most out of my time in California and I’ll see you in two weeks.
Post Script: At the time that I write this, the Alan Parsons Project has gone full on Stockhausen, atonal and dissonant, rhythmically formless choirs wail as strings and flutes stab with a creepy and creeping urgency.
Ok now it’s gurgling deep analog synth drone.