The Case for Not Knowing

I’ve been wrestling with an idea for a while now and can’t shake it. Our lives have become detached from unbiased experiences.

Yelp tells us if we should expect a good meal, Rotten Tomatoes dictates our viewing choices, Airbnb photo galleries are the basis of lodging selection, dating apps remove any mystery around meeting someone, and Instagram gives us utopian expectations of vacation destinations long before we step on the plane. The list goes on.

Put simply, we actively avoid going into things blindly. And this is a problem. Our bodies and minds need elements of the unexpected and unprejudiced; of this I am certain. Without them, how do we stay sharp. How do we remain curious. How do we feel alive.

Think on this, and dive blindly into the sounds of Volta Jazz. Let it take you wherever it takes you.

Volta h/t Tommy

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3 is my guess

“Three is my guess. Three or three-thirty,” said the man in a bright yellow polo tucked into khaki shorts. He drifted by our window, circled his car and stopped to lean against the guard rail. Two older women sat inside — one with a Tom Clancy novel spread across her lap, the other eating a bag of tortilla chips as she searched for a cooler of beer.

“Think they’ll be cold?” said the woman.

The man laughed. “Not a chance.”

Two miles up 1-80, a car was on fire. Behind us, were two more accidents. “That’s what happens when people slam the brakes on a two-lane highway,” said the man to no one in particular.

Beyond the guard rail was a drop off, a steep ravine lined with pine trees bending up to the clear, blue sky. I kicked off my shoes. The hot cement felt good pressed against the arches of my feet.

A car door slammed. A family of three jogged by — sweating. The woman in front of us let out a shrill yelp, tipping a beer can back, frothy liquid dribbling down her cheeks.

“Time to go!!” she shrieked.

Saltwater Sun

I like this band. They’ve got something going on. And it’s not just because they’re #1 on Hype Machine right now. I promise.

We’ve been a bit wordy as of late, so I’ll try to cut to the chase. Saltwater Sun is a British band that combines the elegance of Elder Island with the grittiness of DIIV. Lofty guitar riffs create a thrashing tension that seems to stretch as far back as it rushes forward.

Feels good doesn’t it?

Cafe Disco

Fans of The Office love the show for the jaw clenching moments of missed social cues and over the top irreverence. Ironically, the greatest perpetrator is the boss himself. Self-centered and clueless, Michael Scott gives us a million reasons to roll our eyes.

Despite his antics, Michael is able to gain the loyalty of his subordinates. While his corporate peers try to wrangle profits, Michael focuses his attention on birthday celebrations and recreational non sequitors, like Cafe Disco.

In Season 5 Michael uses a vacant space directly beneath Dunder Mifflin to play disco and iron out his awkward dance moves. He outfits the space with an espresso machine and a set of portable speakers. When the new receptionist goes looking for Michael, she finds him caffeinated and flailing.

Cafe Disco.gif

With shots of espresso and Everybody Dance Now blaring through an air-vac, Michael tries to lure the rest of his co-workers out of their desk chairs, but despite a few tapping toes, they’re hesitant to cut loose. Just as Michael is on the verge of giving up, his caffeine buzz lapsing, he hears the muffled tones of a disco beat and rushes downstairs to see Cafe Disco in full swing.

Anyone who’s sat stoically in a dry meeting has at one time or another, fantasized about Cafe Disco. Maybe not exactly to Michael’s specs — espresso and dance music — but a brief reprieve from the safe harbors of marinating on a few action items, for something more fabulous.

Which got me going on a Cafe Disco playlist featuring a track from a Nightmares on Wax Boiler Room set, a Deliceuse Musique premier and a little something jacked from WalterCronkTight’s DJ playlist.

Watching the River Freeze

I moved in August to a little apartment alongside the river. The river is wide and fast flowing. It’s the vein through which industry and pride pumps into and out of this region, from the time of trappers and traders to battleships and cruise vessels.

My new apartment has a big glass door that faces the river, unobstructed. Best damn view in the city said the elderly homeowner before me, boxing his model trains.

And so, day in and day out, I watch the river. In late summer, full of boats. In fall, reflecting the colorful canopy of its bank. And now, in winter, I’m watching it freeze.

Being a wide and fast river, it will not freeze easily. It will take a fearsome cold, months of fearsome cold. But winters here can be fearsomely cold. To watch a river freeze is to watch elements wage war. Ice conquers water from the shore, near and distant, while that fire in the sky liberates.

The freeze weaponizes night. It wins territory while the sun is hiding somewhere beneath the horizon, resting before tomorrow’s thaw. Day arrives and the sun fights back. It’s tenacious, the sun, even during the coldest of months. The freeze is relentless; however, and by December, ice that was once wafer thin and broke like fine china condenses into ranks of hard purple. But this beginning is merely a skirmish, launched by an icy vanguard, and at the turn of the new year begins the all-out assault.

For ten days the temperature doesn’t rise above -10° at night or above freezing by day, the longest cold streak in forty years. The sun hangs perilously low in the sky, bleeding dull warmth, gasping last gasps. The ice fortifies its position on both shorelines and charges across, clamoring to meet in the middle. By the tenth day, a ribbon of blue, no more than a few yards wide, traces a line between sheets of white. A last stand.

And then the gods intervene.

The USCGC Penobscot Bay, an 140’ icebreaking behemoth, with a kettle black hull capable of cracking ice 30 inches thick, steams upriver, past my glass door. I run outside, overcome with excitement, crushed by disappointment. I don’t know which. The tug claws through the ice and around a nearby bend, out of view, onward to the river’s source.

That afternoon the carnage floats downriver. Goliath icebergs, shattered and drowning, exhausted from months of battle. The survivors will be dragged until the salty, temperate waters of Casco Bay melt them like hubris into humility.