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the letter reader

It is the third time I sit down to record The Letter Reader. The laundry rack has been pushed back, the lights dimmed. There is a flat grey sky outside the windows. The song has changed key three times. I even tried it a capella, the guitar just resting on my knee. The words felt hollow and empty when I heard them playing back. Unlistenable. The struggle is a familiar one - between the glowing idea of something butting up against the reality is presents as it enters the world. We are all famous in our own minds - heroes, geniuses, rock stars and saints. In the real world, we are flabby, and fallible. We are painfully human, and no angels. How to align all of this? How to put yourself in front of a microphone, or an empty piece of paper, an open road, a classroom full of children, an office?

Maybe there are glimpses of greatness. Maybe there are little cracks of something magical, if you wait for them, if you nurture them, if you struggle for them. I often find myself yelling at tv sc…

pink houses (I have been here before)




It is downright silly, that path in the woods I never followed. Maybe that is why I resisted, stuck listening to the snicker in the back of my head - the eternal 13 year old we never get rid of. All the same, on Saturday I trudged through the snow, crossed a tiny bridge and wandered through the forest. Families with babies in carriages made their way along narrow paths. Old people moved slowly, eyeing me as I passed them. The camera was tucked under my jacket, to keep the film from snapping in the cold and to avoid being suspicious. And then, the path that leads up, a small gate, a curve of the road and I do not know what is behind it.

It is a pair of tall apartment buildings. I have taken so many pictures of them, and I even shot a scene from Blackbetty in one, and did not realize this was the same building. I have been here before. The streets are empty. A basketball court is covered in snow. A playground is completely still. There are great shiny pipes that snake their way along the sidewalk, taking 90 degree turns above entrances, a tangle of galvanized steel. The streets lead to dead ends, a tiny pink building with no one inside. There are clumps of icicles, like long hands by the sides of buildings. There is a warm spot of earth where there is no snow, as steam coughs from a dark hole. I follow ever alley, peeking through fences at a garbage dump, at the rusting carcasses of old cars. A quiet wave of satisfaction moves across my chest. A secret corner of the city opens up. There are stories to be told here.







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