Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Screaming Trucks and Juno

Juneau not Juno

Last night there was a ten second bit of the radio I heard before the noise of a semi truck's tires screaming brought me back to reality. If you are working on the road, and you hear the sound of a semi truck's tires screaming then you really have to start thinking about geography rather than music. I always park my truck so anytime I can use it as a shield from traffic it's there. I try to do as much of my job with some sort of positive barrier between me and those things that go crash in the night. I've trained contractors to do the same, and at times it resembles those Western movies where the wagons have been circled in a line.

Back to the screaming…


Truck drivers are as susceptible to distraction as anyone else, but they have bigger mistakes to make. This one got to watching the welder's sparks and then noticed the car ahead of him had nearly stopped to watch the pretty fireworks. I'm a Jumper. At the first sign of weirdness, I'm moving. I try to have an exit, some place more safe than where I am in case something happens, and in this case, two of the five men on the ground were right behind me. The welder and his helpers, who were on the scaffolding in the back of a dump truck, had nowhere to go. The car with the sightseers did the only smart thing he could have done and floored it. The truck skidded to a halt, the car took off, and everyone on the ground practiced cursing bad drivers.

It hasn't worked yet, mind you, but the obligation exists. We have to curse bad drivers just in case one day the ghost of Henry Ford can be enjoined to haunt someone rubbernecking at a construction site. And you, yes you, if some night dark and dreary, the specter of a nineteenth century industrialist shows up at the foot of your bed, pointing a bony finger at you, then call me, and I can explain why he's there.

You will not like what I have to say. Deal with Henry. You earned it.


Weren't we discussing music? See how my mind works after midnight? There I was, getting some snippet of music from my truck then all hell breaks loose, there is running, smoke, cursing, ghosts, and lost in all this is the music. But isn't that the way life is? The arts are always the first casualty of any sort of human upheaval even as such calamity inspires art. Without the sparks, without the rubberneckers, without the brakes and the smoke, you would never have read this, and lost in your life would be the story of music!

Anyway, someone on the radio was speaking to Ellen Page who is singing in an opera, "Love Never Dies" and it struck me as really strange Ellen Page, who played in the movie, "Juno" would take up opera. I didn't know the woman could sing, but she is Canadian, and I've got a very long list of female vocalists from the Great White North who can crank out the tunes. Yet for Page to get involved in an opera, I just assumed it was going to be some weirdness involved, even though I must confess I never saw, "Juno". As an aside, opera is more or less the only real singing being done. You have to have talent not looks to sing opera, and most popular music is set on how the singer looks and not sings. This isn't to say all popular music is inhabited by silicone implanted bleach blonde anorexic lip synching advertisements for contrived music, well, yeah, actually, that is more or less exactly what I am saying.

I get home and start breakfast and the lumberjacks begin wandering in. They are still cutting timber on my neighbor's land, so I go to bed as they are just getting started. I cannot sleep anyway, so I look up Ellen Page, and discover there is also a…
Elaine Paige. Paige is an opera singer, by the way, who has never played the part of a knocked up teenager.


Art is as subjective as the last person who really rocked you in bed. If Brittany Spears makes your soul sing then there is no discernable difference between that and what I feel when I listen to Glazunov. The argument can be made Spears' music does little but shorten your attention span, damage your hearing, and does nothing to expand your appreciate for another culture, but that judgment is little more than someone telling you your wife isn't pretty. Whatever does it for you, does it for you, and there will always be someone out there who doesn't get it. In my opinion, there isn't anyone on commercial radio worth spending time or money on, but when it gets right down to it, happiness is happiness, pleasure is pleasure, and if someone can dance and sing naked in their living room to some obscure one hit wonder then there is totally no difference to be doing the same to Adia.

Oh, and that argument about not being able to understand the lyrics? I don't speak a word of Italian.


Opera is an acquired taste, but then again what isn't? Unless you grew up making your own music then almost everything you love came from the people around you, or in my case, striking out to discover why other people liked one piece of music or another so much. I discovered Mozart long before Amadeus. I found the Ninth, the glorious ninth, in a bargain bin. I found Night On Bald Mountain at a yard sale, still unwrapped. Yet I also discovered by accident The Rainbirds, The Swimming Pool Ques, and Alex Parks.


It might be a screaming truck, it might be some spark, it might be the dead of night that takes me away from this life, but something will. Gone with me will be all my lovers, or the reason they were, and gone with me will be all the art I loved, and why. Everyone will go and take their art with them, and the only hope we truly have, is to rock someone's world, so they take a piece of it forward with them.


Take Care,


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