Z called me up around 4 and said Neil Young just decided to play a show tonight. I’m holding two, do you want one? Nnnnggh. He really is a compassionate punk of the highest ethical rank, but…
No. Thanks. I’m methodically turning my back on the reinventions of rock even when, admittedly, I’m culturally babying the bath water, it includes one or two picassos. At least I’m consistent.
Yes, but this is the authentic sound of now, Z reminds me. Sadly, everything is, I reply, due to instant access. You can wear any hairstyle to the show, or any pair of shoes, and you’ll hear every kind of sound. Everything is In.
So. A few nights later we’re driving by the venue on our way to another show and Z says that Jay took the ticket I declined. Of course. At a certain ascendent point in the show (and here I mentally slap my forehead), Jay pulls out his cell phone and dials his house. When the answering machine picks up, Jay places the cell phone on his sternum and continues to listen to the show.
Like a sony walkmanned baboon in a snow-covered hot spring? I ask.
Like that. Eyes closed. Small gesture. (It’s a small phone, I offer, but am waved away). Standing still. Upright.
And when he got home he checked his messages and listened to himself listening to neilyoungisgod?
Yes. And the image of long thin jay, alabaster skin and white blond hair, sepulchral and beatific, lodges in my mind in a perfectly ecclesiastical pose. He floats off the floor and through the ceiling and through the night sky to an incredibly vertical gothic niche in an incredibly vertical cathedral, anything, anything by Abbot Suger. You’ve seen these things, big giant monsters of stone that stun the mind with the volume of toil and belief they required. Upon turning a corner you see a portal sculpture that portrays very likely someone you know, you’re certain, you saw him on the train platform every day, but here they are, apparently standing as a model to an illiterate 15th century stone carver.
That’s Jay. His expression is Intimate. Prescient. Ambient. Streaming. He comes from the Future.
I’m chewing my lip as Z talks about how it is clunky but doable to do a wireless transmission to a remote hard drive. He mentions MIT which likely has flush gear to make it all smaller and easier to do, on board, device-independent. My experience, I say, could be broadcast as a media stream available from any net connection. And if you couldn’t go out for any reason, geography, physiology, lack of belief in 35-year old entertainment acts, or if you had succumbed to the cultural validation of voyeurism in any measure, you could jack into me for a while and see what I see. Mamet. Wetgate. A man pulling another man off the ground, blood pouring from his head. A car attempting to turn left from the right lane. A couple at cross purposes. My noon time trip to the library. My finger trailing the titles by Sontag, Benjamin, Macluhan, seeking inside the seek to understand the nature of.. seeking.
That may not be for everybody. But if you were at a sold-out show, you might have some subscribers.