The namesake of today’s entry steals from the moody refuge of Mazzy Star. It does bother me a bit the way that Miss Del Rey seemingly gets credit for birthing a sound that’s decades-old, and one that was in utero during California’s Paisley Underground period of music psychedelia. I listened to Black Flag in the 90’s, but I also listened to Hope Sandoval (Mazzy’s Vocalist) sing me sweetly off the ledge in a more gentle way when it appealed, and I know I’m not the only one who’s musical grab-bag reflects this same dichotomy. I’ve lost a dozen and a half friends and lovers since that time, most of them to suicide and various addictions, and most of them within the past decade. I probably listened to Mazzy’s 1993 breakthrough EP “So Tonight That I Might See” with most of them, but it was this song, in later years, that seemed to best translate what our ideas of departure reflected most…whether we followed through or not, it’s still more acutely accurate than I’d like it to be. Have a listen: Look On Down From The Bridge
The novel that I’m working on deals with this type of grief navigation by way of an uncommon approach. It’s best described on my Patreon page here: The Ghost of Hudson Valley Patreon
One of several main characters in the book has a penchant for writing letters to the deceased, that is until she finds someone earthly to receive them. Since I’ve been finding it hard to maintain a blog, a patreon account, a photography page, my own sanity, and work on my novel all at the same time, I’ve decided to dedicate this blog to an unedited excerpt from the book. Below you’ll find a work in progress of a letter that’s exchanged between two characters. The letter is unfinished but it’s still a protected piece of writing. Enjoy, and if you’re interested in contributing to supporting my efforts, consider doing so via Patreon. Thanks.
I’ve been thinking mostly of Gus today. October was the last I’d heard from him before I heard about him. Like all of them, I find myself wondering, was there that moment? That thing that I missed?
One night, we lay on my living room floor listening to Fado records. He always stretched out in front of me like a cat, with his eyes shut, while I followed the frantic movement that flickered behind his closed lids, and under the soft light of the dimmed chandelier. I can’t describe the tragic loneliness of Fado in words. I think I’ll really know that I’ve made it as a writer when I can.
One day, though, I sat at my window as I read a book. Across the street from me lived a very old man, perhaps in his 90s. His house was a modest, single-family dwelling with exactly three steps leading up to the front door. He dropped his keys on the second step. He began to bend down and reach for them. I sat suddenly paralyzed by his plight of which I now bore witness to. I counted. One, two, three… four. Still not there. I sensed the joy and pain of ten lifetimes fighting for their due place in his dilatory reach. It seemed to be ages before his bone-bare fingers found their simple target. I remember thinking that he would be so much happier if he were dead. Surely, it doesn’t end this way, does it? Surely, there must be so much more… Three days later, the County Coroner came for his body. That is what this haunting, Portuguese orchestration of notes that the world calls Fado feels like. It’s not the type of music whose Sound you describe for another. To describe Fado is to capture its Feeling and pass it quietly to the deserving.
Gus and I liked to do this together, and we often did so without words. We just listened, until one day, he donned that far-away gaze that I know all too well. I’ve made that face. I’ve conjured that pain. Why do I feel so close to them when they are so far away from me, Johnny? Like with you. I can’t reach out to touch you, but you’re here with me always.
From his far-away place, he’d say, “I meet girls that don’t do anything.” I’d ask what he meant and he’d just say, “When I ask what they do, they just say that they like hanging out with their friends at the mall, going to parties, that sorta thing. And I just keep saying, ‘No, but what do you do?’”
When I asked what types of answers he was hoping for, he’d say that he wanted to meet a girl whose feet never touched the ground because she was too busy reaching for the heavens. He wanted a girl who read books that made her cry; a girl in love with the unholy sanctity of Virginia Woolf’s demise. She showed up late because she followed strange trails, and she knew that she could change the world. He wanted someone who bought plane tickets just to watch the sun rise over the ocean instead of set on it. They’d survive the vicissitudes of life tethered to each other’s souls, their free spirits coasting listlessly on the winds of discontent together, rather than alone, if only he could find her. He said that when he finally did, only then could he die happy. But he didn’t find her, and he didn’t die happy.
Do we ever really know when we find her, Johnny? And when we do, is it so terrifying that we nearly always flee? I do believe that the horror of something so perfectly flawed, so endlessly beautiful, is enough to move mountains; enough to kill a man. That’s what killed Gus. I think that he knew when he finally found her that the immensity of it would break his heart a thousand times. It breaks mine to know that he never got to feel even the smallest tremor from the first quake. I know he would’ve shined in the aftermath.
Endless love to you,