Sunday, July 26, 2009



by D.C. Berman

This time of year the light comes through the pines in flat beams and spark points, glancing off the frost that decorates the grounds of the light-studded medical cities. For a six-sided record I feel like I'm back in the haunted Piedmonts, a decorated major in the Japanese Inner Space Program, renewing my vow to bear down on the truth even if there is none for a hundredth time.

After the exodus of the Calm Reflectors I had started seeing the Scud Mountain Boys around town with their Baltimore haircuts, the guitarist's guitarist carrying his 1873 "trapdoor" Springfield rifle, the progeny of the muzzle-loading French Charleville muskets that had whacked so many Redcoats around these hills. I had heard it was the band's tradition to lay dinner on the table uncooked and then set the table on fire.

I was out for a walk with Mr. Fiddler the other night, when he turned to me and said, "this is the time of year when the region is at peace with itself." I turned to laugh in his face when the impulse subsided. He had been right of course. I'd already seen it happen in the slide projector's cone of lit dust: the November sky hovering over lives of dark employment like a televised clay bank, breech-loaders replacing muzzle-loaders, crows wired to the sky like marred pixels, portraits cubed into accordioned life while every single object of perception waited for us in the air conditioning. Yes, tennis crested in the seventies, killing Eddie Money and the last of the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, but how many times did we have to witness the L.A. fireplaces reflected in L.A. wineglasses before it ended?

You meet these suburban kids with Biblical names, but there are walls behind their eyes, strange mathematical mountains at whose base we sit playing our native keyboards and rinsing our teeth with digital snow. I'm starting to believe that the inscription above the portal describes this side, not the next.

Few people know that George Washington's favorite song was "The Darby Ram," or stop to think that before he was a statue he scratched his weld, got the hiccups, and danced alone in his room. All the "human things." He must have been scared when he fought in the woods, hiding in the dormant Christmas trees, his hand gripping the black walnut musket stock.

In those times and these we turn to the pacifics of a Gamelan orchestra for transport and release. We stand by the hind legs of a K car, listening to the new city cassettes, searching for some sign of human residence here beneath the justifiably uncelebrated Massachusetts sky.

This treasured early work brought calm forecasts and sad peace to our house. I hope you take it with you when you go.

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