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the long way around

The living room is a forest of mic stands and cables. A cup of coffee, a large glass of water and a shallow shot of whiskey sit on the tiny white table. I alternate between them, making sure the guitar is in tune, trying to understand if the chair will creak when I lean my head back on the second chorus.  There is a hush in the room. I can hear my own heartbeat. The lyrics are printed out on a fresh piece of paper, large and thick so I can read them easily even though I sing with my eyes closed and will surely forget a handful of words no matter what I do.

The guitar sounds dry, perfect - even honest. I can play a simple D chord with a long strum, or the side of my thumb and it sounds so different. I record a few takes, barefoot in the bright room. I am going too fast in some parts, and my fingers are already sore from the chord changes.

And then all at once, I am thinking of a show I played in an old factory in Brooklyn, way back when I had just started writing songs almost twenty y…

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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