“The best part of my day?”
My brother paused either for dramatic effect or for a moment of silent reflection.
“The two-hour drive in the Runner from Maine to New Hampshire, a fresh lip in…just cruising.”
I liked that. Amid holiday parties and nights out there could be a moment of total ease, with the wheels rolling and a tobacco buzz humming. The feeling that even though you’re on your way somewhere, you’re not really in any hurry. You’ll get there when you get there. Things will happen as they do.
Contentment implies a certain smugness. You’ve figured it out. No, it’s not that. It’s just that the Runner sounds good. The scenery is nice. It’s warm inside – cold outside.
If I had to guess – and certainly this is a guess, I imagine it felt something like Texas Sun.
Yes. Put on repeat. Do it. Trust me. Just do it.
“In order not to leave any traces, when you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind; you should be concentrated on what you do. You should do it completely, like a good bonfire. You should not be a smoky fire. You should burn yourself completely. If you do not burn yourself completely, a trace of yourself will be left in what you do. You will have something remaining which is not completely burned out. Zen activity is activity which is completely burned out, with nothing remaining but ashes. This is the goal of our practice.” – Shunryū Suzuki
This is one of the best times of the year.
No, not because of the holidays. Not because of reunions with friends and family. Not because everyone starts feelin’ that warm, holiday cheer. Those things are all fantastic, of course, but not what I’m talking about.
It’s ski hype season.
We start looking at snow reports – acting like we know anything about deciphering storm patterns. Who’s getting in those early turns? Who’s gonna score big this year?
The boys are talkin’ trips. Utah or Colorado – can we do both? Big Sky is a must. Anyone been to Revelstoke? Need to recruit more to Tahoe!
We start watching this year’s ski films and edits, drooling over Japow face shots we can only dream about.
The build up to ski season is fucking great. And with that, here’s the song of the winter.
“Take it all off,” I said, making a lazy motion to the top of my head. This was my third time with Cait. We were starting to get to know each other. She knew what I liked, but this time I wanted something different.
“So, the clippers?” she asked, brandishing them like a samurai sword.
Cait has curly hair and considers herself to be an anarchist. She lives in the Tenderloin, the bleeding heart of San Francisco, and one day she wants to open her own therapy practice.
I said yes and stared back at myself in the mirror, trying to imagine a new, tougher me. I was angry. Angry at happy couples. Angry at ads on TV. Angry at fucking anything I wanted to be angry at! And for some reason getting rid of my hair felt like the best way to shed all that.
Cait started with the buzzer at four, just in case I changed my mind. We started chatting about her recent breakup – an engineer who made a lot of money and never talked about his feelings. They’d done couples therapy for a year and then one day he just proclaimed it was over. Shit is fucked, I said.
“Amy is going through the same thing,” she said, pointing the buzzer in the direction of a woman standing above the other chair. Amy is tatted and wears Red Wings. Her hair is long and braided, and hangs beneath a fisherman’s beanie perched on top of her head.
“She came in this morning and wanted to shave her head.” Amy nodded. I pictured two braids being swept off the floor.
Cait told me that hair had energy. She told me she was glad she got the apartment. She might have to find a roommate. Her mom was threatening to visit for Thanksgiving. And then she told me she was going to use scissors for the top, and if I woke up in the morning and really wanted it all gone, she’d do it for free.
Something I love about music is the beautiful pairings that exist between landscape and music. Creedence matches with an open highway, Bon Iver is meant for a cozy cabin, Real Estate is best suited for a sunny, coastal cruise. These things just feel natural.
For some time now, I’ve found that the desert and electronic music are a natural fit, and as I was driving around New Mexico recently, I pondered why.
It could be that most highways in the desert have speed limits of 75 or more; electronic beats serve as a good backdrop to high speeds.
It could be that Joshua Tree trip last year, of which the unofficial sponsor was cigarettes and EDM. Petey with the sticks, it felt like the only option.
It could be the influence of Burning Man. Shit, whether you’ve been or not, perhaps the magnetic allure of the event has subconsciously instilled in us this alignment of electronic music and the desert.
But ultimately, I think this happy marriage is explained quite simply: the desert is a fucking weird place. When you move through strange, barren and endless landscapes, there’s something that naturally broadens your thoughts, opens up the mind. And while the vast desert stimulates your senses, electronic music just feels right.
Here are a few cruisers – some new, some old – that opened things up in New Mex.
“I wrote a poem today,” said my good friend, who I’m pretty sure had never written a poem. We were smoking a joint – leaving the real world behind. I asked if he would read it out loud. He said yes, so we sat down on a park bench, smoked the rest of the joint, and once we were both feeling jittery and nervous, he launched into it.