screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Category: Dismay & Regrets

A Dried Up Pond, and What Has Been Lost

Bellevue Pond in Middlesex Fells Reservation, in happier days - circa 1994.

Bellevue Pond in Middlesex Fells Reservation, in happier days – circa 1994.

On one of the last Saturdays of summer, I drove us to the pond at Middlesex Fells. It was something familiar, in a sea of uncertainty, where I thought we could reconnect with our essence and remember when we were happy and full of joy.

The small parking area was full, so we drove down the border road in search of another spot. I periodically pulled over to let angry vehicles storm past.

I grew disheartened, yet on the way back to the highway, figured I would try one more time. I pulled into the narrow drive and paused. Seeing no one behind me, I closed my eyes to summon the quietness and ask for the parking gods to assist me. The indigenous people of this land had their gods of the harvest—modern Bostonians have gods of parking. Miraculously, they answered my prayer with a car that suddenly pulled out, which we gratefully accepted.

As we approached by foot, I could see that the pond, once a glistening oasis teeming with life, had completely dried up. Tall weeds and grasses had taken over, but there was still a barrenness. No birds, no frogs, not a sound. I felt deeply saddened, but still we walked the perimeter, as we had done so many times before, when I lived in town and we were close neighbors and lovers.

“Do you remember?” I asked. You did not.

“Do you remember the concrete steps which led down in places to an inner trail and then the pond?” The steps were still there, but not the soothing, slightly rippling water which once beckoned.

We continued to walk, our steps uncertain, over uneven ground littered with rocks, the once idyllic and pristine trail now dotted with giant felled trees from recent storms, which have grown more violent over the years. They lay around like the fossils of proud dinosaurs, a sad reminder of what once had been.

“Do you remember the stone walls?” They were still there — brief segments of stones with pieces jutting up as if to say, “We will protect this place from the ravages of mankind.” But in the end, they could not.

“Do you remember the long wall at the end? And the island in the middle, where we once saw a very large, exotic bird?”

“Oh. King something…” You were starting to remember! I pondered this as we stood at the end wall looking out over the expanse, once filled with clear water. The lone picnic table was still there as well, bearing witness and awaiting my memory to return.

The beauty of the stone wall and pond, as it once was. - circa 1994.

The beauty of the stone wall and pond, as it once was. – circa 1994.

“King Fisher!” I proudly exclaimed. “Yeah, king fisher,” you agreed.

And we tried to transport ourselves back to that day, so long ago. He stood proud, on that little island, a beacon of serenity and purpose, and a conduit that seemed to join centuries together in a single moment.

That wall steadied my fearful heart, though I saw that there was now graffiti and some refuse thrown around, signaling a lack of respect.

From there, we walked around the other side, where more remembrances flooded in. There were the tiny frogs on the inner path that registered their surprise as we came upon them with a startled “eep!” which made us laugh. We would see red-winged blackbirds flying overhead, which you typically only saw in wooded areas. There were the bullfrogs that spoke to us with their characteristic “Boink!” from out in the pond. You came upon a snake one day, joyfully, on a circular stone structure that jutted out into the water.

You were remembering it all now, as was I, as we shared these stories with each other like lost treasures.

I recalled a trail that led up to an old tower. I was fairly certain of this memory, and we attempted to traverse a path that climbed up towards large boulders. I could hear the roar of the nearby highway. We were both a bit unsteady, navigating fallen trees and rocks in our sneakers. I went up ahead, and then recalled a different path, closer to the entrance – or perhaps just further than I recalled. That would have to wait for another day.

We then ventured, I with some trepidation, out into what had once been the pond. It was eerie, with a lingering smell of moisture and decay, though the ground was dry. You went further out, showing me a tiny residual of life in the mud under your feet.

“Eww,” you exclaimed at some low, broad leaves on the pond bed. I examined them. “I know what these are,” I said slowly, sadness engulfing me. “They’re dried up water lilies.” “You’re right,” you said. We remembered together the serene water lilies, bursting with life, lifting happily from their aqueous roots. This is where the frogs, which you adored, would be. I felt my eyes fill with tears and you embraced me.

“Where do they go?” you wondered. I did not know. “If the situation improves, do they just come back?” Bereft, I could not answer.

If we can bring back the sweet earth to its former glory, will everything return as it was, or are certain things lost forever?

The deep, uplifting blue autumn sky had made a welcome reappearance the previous day, after the smoke from the unprecedented West Coast wildfires had gone up into the atmosphere and drifted over the East Coast, turning the skies an ominous green-gray. In those days, the sun only appeared as a small, light yellow ball. But there were small patches of the deep, unfathomable blue skies that I longed for and rays of sunlight, for a brief window of time, as I picked the fruit off my two dwarf apple trees. And the birds had returned, pecking at the fruit and sharing in the bounty.

This heartened us and I felt my heavy spirit lift. Perhaps, if we act quickly, there is still time.

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Introducing… Fakers (but you know a few of them already)

photo by Amanda Paganini (of Kissing Cousins), courtesy of Free Bike Valet

photo by Amanda Paganini (of Kissing Cousins), courtesy of Free Bike Valet

If you’re a faithful reader of musings from boston, you’ll already know 3/5 of Fakers. That would be the Siara brothers (Andy and Joey — the latter of whom has obviously had quite enough of Harvard and Boston’s infamous winters), who won our hearts with the beloved and dearly missed Henry Clay People, and Ben Heywood, who I think continues to be in Summer Darling, yet another brilliant east side L.A. band whom we’ve covered here. Then there’s Travis Shettel (Piebald) and Cameron Dmytryk (Vanaprasta), and what you have is a virtual “supergroup” (though I’m sure they would roll their collective eyes at that moniker). They describe themselves thusly: “2 rock and roll muppets with long hair, 2 tightly wound brothers with varying degrees of social anxiety, and a fatalistic drummer who drinks like a fish.”

Oh yeah, and supposedly they’re quite loud. If that sounds like a good time to you (it certainly does to me), then have a listen to their first single, “$600,” which bemoans the rising cost of living (among other things).

We don’t typically like to compare bands to other bands, so I’ll just say this: those of you who are at all wistful about the loss of the Henry Clay Peeps will have your hearts sufficiently warmed. That is all. The band’s first single, “Personality Voices,” will coincidentally be the first release from brand new label Chain Letter, owned by Heywood and his wife Heather. If you preorder the Fakers 7″ now, you’ll get two bonus songs digitally. The single is available digitally or as a limited edition vinyl 7″ with artwork by Jessica Tosoc. The music was recorded and mixed by S. Foye.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the L.A. area for the Fakers’ August residency every Monday night at the Echo, you can pick up your pre-order there. Otherwise, they’ll be happy to send it to you, and you can then listen to it while you cry pathetically over your geographical misfortune. Their first show will also be featuring Vs Colour, Afternoons (!), Barrows and DJ Chris Ziegler (L.A. Record). Expect an all-star supporting line-up as well. There’s a rumor that the August 31 show will include The Pretty Flowers, Happy Hollows and Western Lows. That’ll teach me for living on the East Coast.


While we’re waiting for the single release (and for Fakers to bring their classy selves East), let’s have a listen to the single’s b-side, “Gold Room.”

facebook | twitter | free bike valet interview with joey | chain letter soundcloud

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Apologies and I.O.U.s

Airborne sans symphony will be performing at Boston Calling tomorrow (photo: Costa Mesa, CA 8/23/13)

Airborne sans symphony will be performing at Boston Calling tomorrow (photo: Costa Mesa, CA 8/23/13)

So I had thought that most certainly by now I would have checked in with at least Part I of my “L.A. Phantasmagorical” report (which looks to be a whopping 12-parter — plus a short story, when it happens, and which may come with a different title, if no one gets the joke). Or perhaps my “review” of The Airborne Toxic Event’s dramatic performance with a really big symphony orchestra in Costa Mesa, California. However, work and general madness ensued (and not the fun sort of madness either). So to commemorate Airborne’s appearance tomorrow at Boston Calling, I present to you… an I.O.U. For now, here’s a few photos of an evening under the stars with a spectacular rock ‘n’ roll band, a stunning orchestra and a lot of inebriated people.

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On fixing what is broken

It felt like I was from another time, walking into that dealership. Overly large, overly bright, and overly shiny. Against a backdrop of brand new Harleys, modern and soulless; racks of unworn leather jackets, unused parts and accessories… I felt like a curious relic. There was something about that spacious, immaculate showroom that didn’t quite square with my rebellious sensibility. I made my way with uncertainty to the front counter, feeling like I was operating on a different frequency, in some sort of warped alternate universe.

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Holiday and Charity Shows in L.A. 2009

Why do I torment myself? Because it’s fun. I can’t go to these, but if you’re anywhere – and I mean anywhere – in the area, I highly recommend that you do.

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Sometimes You’re Just Doomed – The xx @ Newbury Comics and with Friendly Fires @ The Paradise, 12/4/09

The xx at their in-store appearance at Newbury Comics, Newbury Street, Boston

The xx at their in-store appearance at Newbury Comics, Newbury Street, Boston

The day started out innocently enough. Well, apart from only just having breakfast at noon, but that’s become standard operating procedure with my middle of the night paying job. I went into town to see my friend Mary who had come in from Washington, D.C. to see The xx at a Newbury Comics in-store, and to cover their show with Friendly Fires at the Paradise for There Goes the Fear and PopWreckoning.

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not a good day…

transcendental meditation, crystals, sun salutations, i-ching, tarot cards, past life regressions. crying, screaming, dancing. consultations with psychics, with astrologers, with psychologists, with charlatans. clean diet, exercise, qigong, drugs, drinking, no drugs, no drinking. live music, bird-watching, getting lost in the woods, getting lost in a book. self-analysis, mindlink, manic mind, empty mind. gardening, ouija boards, going to the movies, long drives, walking around in a crowded city, sitting in a darkened room. i have a home depot full of fancy tools, and sometimes i can’t hammer a fucking nail into a board.

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Carnival Ducks

The pursuit of happiness feels to me like a game in a carnival. So difficult. So random. So elusive. All those endless floating ducks circling past you, and you know that one – only one – has your dreams, your desires, your hopes, casually revealed on its bottom. So you put your money down, and pluck one up. Nope, not that one. And more money, and again. No. And still more money, more effort, as time slips by, the hours, the days, the years. You try to concentrate, you try not to concentrate. To focus, to not focus. To clear the mind, to meditate, to approach the matter in a Zen-like, irreverent fashion. They’re not ducks, they’re grains of sand, or toy soldiers, or jellybeans. And this isn’t important, this isn’t your happiness at stake, not the purpose of your life, but a child’s fancy. Let it go, release the expectations, release the fears, release the sense of struggle, the sense of anything. But in trying not to try, you’re caught up in that eternal riddle.

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Bailing out a sinking boat (an excerpt)

The most serious disillusionment in my life (apart from the false promise of young love) occurred when I was a student at the University of South Florida. It was during that year or two that I somewhat miraculously stumbled upon the notion that I wanted to be a writer. Only a sophomore and with a brand new major (having selected, then rejected, anthropology, philosophy, and psychology), I had somehow slipped by the guidance counselors and had enrolled in a senior’s creative writing workshop. I suppose because it sounded far more enlightening than Composition 101. It was in that casual setting that I came face-to-face, in the most humbling, shocking way, with some truly brilliant young writers. I especially remember a young woman, rather unattractive with frizzy hair and a dumpy appearance, who was already being regularly published in the school’s literary magazines, and whose work elicited gasps of appreciation from the others whenever she stood to share her latest musings. I was as in awe of her poetic solitude as everyone else, yet I bravely followed these future poets and novelists with my shaky and disjointed broken prose. On occasion, I was ok; more often I was just young. A month or two into the class, that the teacher took me aside and said that although I showed promise, I had no business being in a senior workshop, having only just that year declared the major. He couldn’t understand how I was even allowed to enroll, yet I do recall he was trying very hard to be gentle. He explained the necessary prerequisites, and told me that he looked forward to seeing me again, after I had completed them. He didn’t want to discourage me, yet with my fragile opinion of myself, discouraged I was, and I didn’t write again (except for required class papers) for some six or seven years. When I did, it was for the silliest of endeavors, as editor and publisher of a David Bowie newsletter.

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