I just started downloading a truckload of tracks from Recycle: Joy Division & New Order, The Factory Years , a link I discovered through my new favorite blog of all time Dangerous Minds .
If you read this and it’s Saturday afternoon and you’re in Albuquerque I will probably be broadcasting these tracks most of the day… tune in at 103.7FM.
The image above is of my ELF (Extra Low Frequency) receiver… laid on the ground and connected through a Zoom digital recorder… in the middle of one of the many bulldozed dirt roads near the 1/4 acre plot or so that makes up the epicenter of the PLAND residency.
The ELF receiver is something I got as a present a couple of years ago and …. (being the metropolitan sort that I am)…. I never managed to find all the cool sounds that it’s possible to hear because I never got far enough away from power lines and the like.
My visit to PLAND was my first time using the receiver effectively, and the results were fun and interesting if a little underwhelming. Frankly, I had forgotten that dawn was the best time to hear the elusive “whistler” or the “dawn chorus” and so the results were pretty basic … the crackling static of lightning.
What you will hear in the 2 recordings I will feature here are the sounds of lightning storms recorded in the daytime and the night. In the night recording you will hear the wind, as well. That recording was made as thunder and lightning actually circled the area, though I suspect the immediate lightening storms had a negligible effect on the sound if they had any effect at all other than the sound of wind.
afternoon lightning storms hundreds of miles away
evening lightning storms not necessarily so far away
The afternoon recordings are the sound I was monitoring as I sat in the middle of the bulldozed road in the glaring sunlight with my dog Skyla at my side, re-reading Samuel Delaney’s “Empire Star”…. in fact, I was finishing the novel for the second time [spoiler alert] and was at the part where the circuitousness and self reflexivity of the text is becoming most apparent, the part where it seems that all the characters are simply different versions of the same subset of characters that you meet in the first pages of the novel, characters begin to meet themselves… you start to believe the book you are reading is a container for a world in a way that only the best writers can do. With this novel there is little need for the suspension of disbelief as the language and the author’s logic casually and artfully develop a new cosmology.
So.. with that bouncing in my head…. I listened to lightening storms that were exciting the lower depths of the electromagnetic spectrum from either the other side of the world or the other side of the mountain. The distance makes little difference to the aesthetic quality of the sound. When waves are traveling at or near the speed of light … distance is flattened… and..in a way… so is time.
It was interesting to explore this notion of time as I sat out in this “off the grid” land.
Recently I re-watched the movie “Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa” which may or may not have included a cameo by a man who recently lived near where we were staying….a man who…. under circumstances rife with much speculation, passed away…. shortly before we arrived. In the opening shots of this documentary, one of the men interviewed reflects on the fact that when you live as off the grid , as these people do, there is no need to know what day of the week it is, or what the day of the month is….and there is something to that in one’s experience of the place……even if we only stayed there 2 nights this time.
I was at PLAND with my collaborators in the Topographia collective..a new and unusual endeavor that is leading me to explore areas of artistic practice that are fairly foreign to me. We have given ourselves the task of documenting this strange place where the land is subdivided like a post-apocalyptic suburb (interesting that our fellow resident Sophie Mellor was reading Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” while we were there)… but, in fact, this is a very much pre-apocalyptic suburb. It never got made… it never had services… no power… no water..no waste facility..no public park… just a whole bunch of 1/4 acre plots that keep changing hands for small sums of money. Many just sit waiting to fall into the state’s hands so they can be auctioned off to folks who (by the looks of it) just wanna get away… the land seems like many “idyllic” communities we have all visited at on time or another, and because of our experience of the inexorable march of capitalism…. it is hard to fathom that this community grid we are in the middle of just stopped developing after they bulldozed trails through the place at about the location of a suburban housing block. Unlike my friends Jon and Sarah who started d-flux in the re-wilding suburbs of Detroit, the women of PLAND have started their residency on the simply wild land of the Taos Mesas. It’s a suburb, but one that only a very dedicated or very desperate person would want to… or even be able to … live on. A very different and unintentional kind of suburb. Wild in many ways, even if our most immediate neighbor pretty obviously had a working TV set in his parked RV.
In a way similar to those around us on this land… the four of us in the collective got away… While there, we surveyed the land with our paces, we doused for water, we videotaped the perimeter, and I recorded the sounds the earth was making at that moment ….. while I sat in the middle of a road that passed by a mobile home with a flag draped cross in front of it…. and that mobile home sat several 100 feet off the road…. That guy’s nearest neighbor…was maybe us…and he was 300 paces up the road,and probably 100 or 200 paces off the road. I sat quietly as I still feared disturbing our neighbor…. I read Samuel Delaney… I scolded our dog Skyla when she barked at the occupant of the house as he walked to his 4×4 and left…. and I heard lightning that crackled at some very far and some not so far distance away.
Back form PLAND and still kinda processing it… but felt inclined to comment immediately on Judge Walker’s recent announcement about the stay on his denial of the constitutionality of Prop 8. He has lifted the stay he originally placed, or at least plans to come August 18th. This is apparently to let supporters of Prop 8 have time to submit an appeal to the 9th circuit court. At first that scared me a bit… made me and perhaps a few others fear that Judge Walker was just punting this one over to the 9th circuit. Which he kind of is.
But he does so with the expectation that the fact that the plaintiffs do not have the support of the governor or the attorney general they will have no grounds for an appeal and certainly no grounds to suggest the stay be continued
Proponents’ intervention in the district court does not provide them with standing to appeal….
As it appears at least doubtful that proponents will be able to proceed with their appeal without a state defendant, it remains unclear whether the court of appeals will be able to reach the merits of proponents’ appeal. In light of those concerns, proponents may have little choice but to attempt to convince either the Governor or the Attorney General to file an appeal to ensure appellate jurisdiction. As regards the stay, however, the uncertainty surrounding proponents’ standing weighs heavily against the likelihood of their success.
I like that line… As regards the stay, however, the uncertainty surrounding proponents’ standing weighs heavily against the likelihood of their success. He follows up with:
Proponents also point to harm resulting from “a cloud of uncertainty” surrounding the validity of marriages performed after judgment is entered but before proponents’ appeal is resolved…. Proponents have not, however, alleged that any of them seek to wed a same-sex spouse.
I like this Judge Walker, after all… even if he was appointed by Ronald Reagan. If his calculations are correct… looks like this one may be pretty well over, and instead of waiting forever for the stay to be lifted, Prop 8 supporters are going to need to do a whole lot of praying and fundraising to get much to happen on this one.
At least that’s what I hope…. and I’m no lawyer.
I just started this blog yesterday and already I’m about to abandon it for a couple of days.
This weekend marks the beginning of a collaborative residency I am doing with my fiancee Jessamyn Lovell, and my colleagues at UNM Mary Tsiongas and Catherine Harris. We are calling ourselves the Topographia Collective and will be visiting the small plot of land near Taos occupied by PLAND several times in the coming months. I expect I’ll have plenty I want to write about once I get back.
I also hope to have some interesting sounds and images… I am taking my ELF receiver and a 5/8 wave antenna during the New Mexico monsoon season. I hope to have some fun recordings of the sound of lightening and who knows what else.
So.. have a nice weekend.. and check back next week.
I have been spending the summer building a new web site for myself, and I have known for some time that I wanted to have a blog where I could mix my artistic interests, personal interests, and my politics. So… figuring out what the first post for the blog on my new site would be was starting to feel daunting.
Well, I feel like I’ve got the basic site up and running. It definitely needs a few kinks worked out, and there will be significant expansion from here, but it’s done enough that I feel like I can go public. And sure enough… the minute I start feeling close to done… facebook explodes and tells me that Judge Vaughn Walker has (in what seems to be quite dramatic and scathing language for a judge) declared Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban in California, unconstitutional.
People are understandably happy, and currently the most quoted section (based on my informal analysis) is as follows:
“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.
Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”
It is thankfully unequivocal, and I would say it’s refreshingly partisan, except…. this…. more than almost any issue being discussed right now, is one where I don’t see partisan distinction. I see bigots versus the rest of us, and the fact that we even need to wade through the interminable appeals process that I am certain we have to look forward to, seems silly at best and infuriating at worst. By virtue of the tyranny of a majority of voters (meaning those who actually went to the polls), those opposed to gay marriage have essentially institutionalized exactly the discrimination that Judge Walker describes in his opinion.
It’s for this reason that I am naively perplexed by the judges subsequent announcement of a stay on the decision, which effectively keeps Prop 8 in place until the appeals process has been exhausted. If Judge Walker truly believes in the equivalence between the predicament of slaves and that of homosexual couples in California, as evidenced in this statement:
”Because slaves were considered property of others at the time, they lacked the legal capacity to consent and were thus unable to marry. After emancipation, former slaves viewed their ability to marry as one of the most important new rights they had gained.”
Then.. what is the point of staying the ruling?
Here… is where the equivocation has happened, and here is where I worry for the future of this decision. If this case goes to the Supreme Court as the court exists now…. I do not feel certain that Justice Roberts’ court values the rights of individuals as much as this ruling requires. Perhaps if there was such a thing as marriage between gay corporations…..
Thanks to Dangerous Minds