In a class, viewing the Bay Area from above, but east to west. Much drier than before now that I can identify the isolated patches of tree life — much different than it’s Gold Rush era settlement. Along the California coast there’s a strip of Greek ruins, from another dream I’ve had (also with a theme of education).
During a long break in class, I’m playing music. Someone enamored of the strange patterns asks me what it is, and I answer that it’s a track I found called (approximately) “1912 Palm Desert Housewifes”. It’s like an updated waltz, related somehow to Rimsky-Korsakov or Stravinsky.
A topless older girl, perhaps early 40s, announces that class is about to resume and she’ll begin. I watch her as she walks over to a metal cabinet, like the one for my wife’s clothes in our bedroom, and I learn that it was free brunch this whole break. I lament how I wish they’d announce these things as I can never keep track.
Meanwhile, a fellow classmate sits on the lounging bed next to me facing away. Her skirt, more of a tiny belly-dancing wrap, has ridden up. She starts making out (or something even more intense), and I get to sit right behind her — even smell her. This seems prurient, as I’m really enjoying the proximity, but no one else seems to be aware that it’s something that could be sexual (or vicariously enjoyed).
Miami from above, underwater. Turquoise blue water. People swimming in warm ocean just off main road, near submerged palm tree and beach house.
Belle Delphine invites me to her concert, from a corner balcony at the edge of the venue. She seems really nice and I’m even considering joining her Patreon/Onlyfans for $5. Held inside walled-in park grounds that usually hosts metal shows, once I’m inside I’m not surprised the crowd is mostly guys. It’s a pretty good concert for someone not otherwise known as a singer/musician.
Random piles of cool little toy skulls can be found in stacks, many different shapes & colors. I collect as many kinds as I can. In a confined screened-off space I come across a squat bulky machine totally covered in controls and meters, like Dalek steampunk art or fused-together antique medical devices. But my boating friend Marc Roper comments that to him it “doesn’t look like they’re just kludges” (a.k.a. greeblies, that is to say not just for show). Chicken John does an explanatory bit in the middle of the show for Belle in order to explain the machine: we are to drop the skulls into the top of the device to collect a variety of corresponding prizes. I’m happy that I’m set to collect a lot.
It’s now very crowded with fans behind the machine, among some open-air shelves. Crouched in a small ball near a top shelf, I try to cheer up a sad withdrawn little Triceratops (like Sarah from The Land Before Time).
Part of the show involves an experiment where the crowd is allowed to feel Belle’s outstretched leg. This seems to go well; perhaps something of the peer pressure of not wanting to be the guy that caused the fun to stop. She’s really engaged with her audience and seems to interact on the same level. Soon she is milling among the crowd after the performance and personally thanks me, using my name. I question aloud how she could’ve known my name, and my friends parrot back, perhaps mockingly, “I dunno Orin, how did she know your name?”
Driving a junker car through dusty parts of my hometown. As I drive along, alone, I chuck my signature ping-pong balls with skulls melted into them in the backseat. I’m listening to the radio (AM 1205?) because I don’t have my usual phone transmitter. Only just make a yellow light at a large intersection against a long line of cars going the perpendicular direction — while crossing, I maintain my eyeline on the tall tamarisk trees on the opposite corner.
From memory, I park in the driveway of the address I think I’m headed — 1284 — next to a woman parked in a car there already (it’s a long driveway so there’s room for me to pull right beside her, then back up). If this is the wrong address, I figure she’ll just have a close encounter and nothing will come of it.
A spaceship rests inside a bubble of gauzy red fluidic space. Lines draw outward in all directions, tracing paths of movement and attack and probability and a thousand other vectors. It can, when needed, enter normal space to engage in combat but is terribly inefficient then — even boring.
While I imagine listening to a tight, slick, silly song by the band Tenacious D, I realize a sudden visual insight into the natural curve of the human face. I see it as a contoured path that our eyes follow on all people, but especially pretty faces, a shallow S-shape which I can perceive as line of small letter s’s. Odd, but I can’t tell if I fell asleep in the morning after the first dream or if I successfully remembered an earlier one.
Red baby rats lined up to be picked out, males and females unseparated. Some turn in to guinea pigs, oddly. Those not picked will actually grow up to be deer, and future breeding stock. I pick them out in front of a girl with short hair, who reminds me of Allie (a rival of my wife who I recently accidentally matched on OkCupid).
I use the word “Dlv’je’DOY” in some kind of encoding, in French. I consider typing it out phonetically so only native speakers will get it as no automatic translation could hope to parse this double-encoding.
An improvised jam band challenge. Several instrumentalists sitting around playing what would appear to be incidentally placed instruments. Playing an OMFO mix. A double-reed single-spiral conical horn, ancient Arabic-looking instrument — a guy plays the first bar of his solo, quickly whips out a clanging metal belt and uses lubricant on the aluminum. Meanwhile the more traditional single-reed guy next to him covers this interruption. He excalims, inexplicably but with great gusto, “Bulpas!”
A desert tortoise is nesting in the front yard of my neighbor’s house across the street from my childhood home in Cathedral City. It’s dug quite a dirty, poopy-colored crater gash in the lawn.
I go inside a Middle Eastern music store just where their house was, and ask for Maral Ibragimova. He not only has her, but the guy and I listen to a pretty good remix together. I nod my head as I make eye contact. I then take the first opportunity to leave as he helps another customer, to avoid the intensity or awkwardness (though I feel embarrassed about not buying anything).
Getting ready for school and I think I have 45 minutes to make it… it’s like 6:45 or 7:45. Turns out it’s actually the afternoon, but it’s also not a school day.
While out on the lawn, I notice my faded green striped belt that’s faded significantly over time (and which I incidentally saw a photo of yesterday) has been redyed.I feel like I was having this exact thought in front of my computer only 12 hours ago perhaps.
In the state of Iowa, with a pickup truck. There’s an official state urn or statue memorial, a concrete cup with words ringing it, “Mayor Of City Of Los Angeles”, referencing some historical event (sounds like a ship name to me). Thinking about how California tends to draw in outsiders, how it’s good at it, how there are increasingly two countries now in America.
I visit my brother Chris who is working front desk of a nice wellness office out of state. I try to float through the front desk’s window counter to say hi to him, playfully annoy him a little. The gap is too small though and I don’t fit. I float over the waist high office gate, asking a little girl walking passed why she doesn’t float or fly herself. She claims she’s scared, or not allowed to, or doesn’t have enough practice. Interestingly and curiously evasive.
I slip into a cryotherapy bed, something new in their facility that my brother wants me to test. It is both thrilling and relaxing, oddly so, and I don’t remember much of being in there though I remember being inside for a long while. The angled plastic top has built up a lot of condensation while I’m in there. I find a bogus parking ticket for my truck, despite having parked legally, in the wellness centers parking lot, per instructions and with permission, in a place where they can’t take it unless they’re called. I know I can fight it, but am still annoyed at the gall.
A summer camp for diver’s training in underwater oil recovery. Mixed co-ed group of youngish people, high sexual tension but everyone is working too hard to do anything about it. A girl I know from the PacTrades hostel, Adrienne F*nger, is climbing the rope ladder to our next task area and stops to masturbate — something I remember her liking in the past.
Karma Raya is the name for the communal ranch house some of us stay in. A low wall separates our small sleeping rooms from a main activity area. The place looks like an architectural cutaway model that someone actually made a building of.
My school friend Vince Saunders is playing piano there. Well, anyways there’s a piano in the same room. I slide down the wall, over the edge, and land on the piano bench facing away from him. It’s a silly, classy move.
Walking back from somewhere, I stop in at a store on 24th street (near my home) that sells music equipment. It has a spare layout, isolated displays in little clumps, floor models on display. With help from the staff I pick out a curious modern version of a traditional flute, with big playful colored buttons instead of finger holes. Taking it out of the bag to play on the way home, I discover that I’ve been given what is actually an absurd 11 foot long pipe — the one I picked out being most likely 11 inches. How did they not notice?! Rather amused, I know I’ll soon go back and exchange it, but play this more expensive monstrosity for fun in the meantime.
This record is weird and you’ll probably like it. Before I say anything else, I’ll give you the opportunity to trust my words and just go download it. I’ve long been an advocate of knowing nearly nothing about a song or album before listening to it so as not to sully the innate purity of one’s judgment. It saves you the trouble of being seduced by the idea of some kind of music only to later realize that, hey, this Brent Spiner album really sucks. But — since if I’m going to bother sharing some music I really ought to explain why — I’ll go ahead and give an idea of what “Silicon Valley,” by Raven Kane and Klaus Netzle, is like.
“Video Invasion” by Raven Kane & Klause Netzle
There’s no way you could find a record quite like this. It isn’t much like anything I’ve heard, although one can easily place it in the 1980s epoch. For me, the best thing about it has got to be the earnest, catchy, often absurd lyrics — with topics such as office equipment, video technology, and artificial intelligence. It’s very firmly in Neo-Luddite on all these issues. You will, in the course of listening, encounter a joyful cognitive dissonance if you ponder how many electronic instruments are used (although, to be fair, the album’s subject is enhanced by all those clicks and boops). Even though the electronics are a campy marvel of the 80s aesthetic, the lyrics are incredible. As an example, I’ve transcribed the lyrics of one of my favorites:
“The Robot” by Raven Kane & Klause Netzle
(lyrics to “The Robot”)
march of the intellect
invading the realm of man
(invading the realm of man)
Guard, defend, preserve humanity!
Guard, defend, preserve humanity!
Take caution at the hint
of a world where robots may replace
the entire human race (replace the entire human race…)
How can the passions of man be replaced by steel and artificial minds?
The spirit, fire and farts(?) of man cannot be replaced,
shall not be replaced.
Will they be replaced? (will they be replaced?)
By the ROBOT.
cold, dull & passive
indifferent to the world around it
capable of inhuman tasks
incapable of human emotions (incapable of human emotions)
frigid, hard, and cast of steel
modeled to move the impossible
impossible to stop the modeled robot
watch it move, watch it move
how does he think?
what does he think?
how does he think?
what does he think?
march of the intellect
invading the realm of man (invading the realm of man)
Guard, defend, preserve humanity! Guard, defend, preserve humanity! THE ROBOT
watch it move, watch it move
how does he think?
what does he think?
Man, it is fun to sing. I hope this doesn’t spoil it. I was actually hoping to do more research on this album before publishing, but guess what? There isn’t that much actual information on this record. I can’t find out why these two collaborated, what they were trying to accomplish, or what the reception was. I know that I’m happy to have found it. I know that it’s good to keep it alive. And I’m happy to help others find it, too. With no further ado, click these two techno-prophets for a Sharebee link:
I think I have good taste. In epic thrift store excavations, I’ve gone through hundreds of used records—probably thousands. More than I wanna think about it. There are a lot of bad ones. Mostly, one hopes that one may find something funny to share with one’s friends. Old stuff is weird (admit it). But oh, there are some gems, and usually they don’t fall out of the cracked wooden bin and yell “I’m worth buying off Ebay for $50! Here I am for ¢50!” It takes a trained eye to efficiently sift through the absolute junk at most places.
Or a trained ear. Finding an incredible record has a lot to do with knowing what you like in the first place—although for those wanting to take up the hobby, it’s perfectly reasonable to make it up as you go along. A good place to start? By all means, judge by their covers. Me, I happen to know that I like gypsy music. I pick up many records simply because they contain in their titles one of these: Gypsy, Roma, klezmer, or Bulgaria. In general I also recommend looking out for: home recording, demonstration, spectacular, incredible, “_____ and the [word intensifier]s,” Moog, olde tyme, fart, and dinosaur. It’s a wide net, a rough algorithm, but it get’s results.
Which is what brings me back to “gem.” I got one. I wasn’t able to actually play it until I found a new record player on the street (thank you, city of cannibals). Even after I discovered its magnificence I didn’t pick up the phone on the ol’ Share-The-Love hotline until a roommate suggested it. And then I had to fiddle with knobs and buttons and wires and other esoteric equipment, only to discover that no matter what I did, the digital transfers just didn’t measure up to my high standards. I’m a wizard with audio software… but there’s no way to get pristine audio from salvaged parts. Get what you pay for, I guess.
But wait, what was this musical masterpiece, I hear you say? Let’s listen to the first track:
Even through my peasant’s needle, you can hear the tambourine sparkle… the horns shimmer… the tubas thump… the piano tinkle… the flutes shriek. It’s exciting! It’s powerful! We’ve heard this song before, but not like this. Easy listening and exotica both seem to apply, but can’t measure the appeal of the real nifty fifties, big bang band, swank-ocracy. Mostly the album is made up of low-key low-tempo stuff, soothing music that might be played without irony on KWXY, which might very well bore you. The poppy ones sure do pop though. On all of them, the arrangement is top-notch and the production values are beyond reproach.
This makes sense considering that the arranger was none other than Hugo Winterhalter, musical director at RCA for more than a decade. This album is dated 1960. For the time, I’m sure, it was somewhat standard. It’s a formula: take a bunch of songs people know, ones that you can tie together with a theme, write them for ensemble, make it modern and “now!”; you have yourself an easy sell. It’s a formula, and it worked. Still does.
Some say stuff like this is more craftsmanship that artistry. It’s the carpenter’s work, not the sculptor’s. I had a music teacher who made the same comparison between Bach and Mozart. He said that while Mozart was a genius, transcended forms and gave the world beautiful music heard neither before nor since (etc., etc.), Bach was simply working within established convention—and when you wanted a fugue, he made the best. They were differently brilliant. Both men became immortal through their music. If you’re like me, though, you have to respect Bach a little bit more. It’s a clever mind that can conjure immortality working with someone else’s rules. I’m thinking that Mr. Winterhalter was a Bach fan.
Now I’m getting a little antsy thinking about how poor my equipment is, and how enjoyable some of the actual songs are, and how there’s hardly any CDs of Winterhalter available, and how it might be up to me to handle this guy’s continued existence. Then I remember the long tail, realize I’ve been praising the guy for seven paragraphs, and things are probably gonna be ok. I’m hesitant about uploading the good stuff (hand-restored LAME V2 mp3s) because I understand perfection, and I understand pragmatism, and I understand that they aren’t the best of friends. Let it be known across the land that I sadly consider these songs as “orphan works,” and hereby claim stewardship of them until someone better steps up. For goodness’ sake, even if you have a better record player step up. Here are the songs from “Hugo Winterhalter Goes… Gypsy!” that will thank you if you do:
Hungarian Dance No. 5 (2:53)
The Back of Her Head (3:08)
Hora Staccato (3:12)
Golden Earrings (3:46)
When a Gypsy Makes his Violin Cry (3:08)
Gypsy Don’t You Cry (3:53)
Gypsy Love Song (2:58)
Total playing time – 34:05
Without further ado, I give you the imperfect recording of my favorite thrift store record in the past year: