Into the Triple Digits

“Louisiana in September was like an obscene phone call from nature. The air – moist, sultry, secretive, and far from fresh – felt as if it were being exhaled into one’s face. Sometimes it even sounded like heavy breathing.”

― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

My vintage Cannondale Commuter Bike

As I said last week (when I went to see the movie I’m still thinking about all the time) we are a car short and I am riding my bike to work (5 miles each way) partly out of necessity, partly out of the need for exercise.

And now the temperature has climbed into the triple digits (102 Fahrenheit today – in Centigrade that’s… too damn hot) making it a real challenge.

I was up before six this morning and ready to go at six-thirty, as the sun was barely rising. That was actually pretty nice – not too hot – not too much wind – not a lot of traffic – at that ungodly time of morning. I carry a change of clothes in a garment folder and change into my business attire once I’ve sat at my desk long enough to stop sweating.

The trip home was a beating. It wasn’t so much the heat – I was worn out – I’m too old for this – and the south wind was strong and hot. There was some unexpected construction along my route and that added another mile to the ride.

When I made it home I was exhausted. So I’ll leave all you fine folks and go off to sleep now.

Have to be on the road by six thirty, after all.

Sparks

Some might find me borderline attractive from afar

But afar is not where I can stay and there you are

—-Sparks, Johnny Delusional
Sparks, Propaganda album cover.

There are so many thousands of streaming choices, yet it is so hard to find something to watch.

For some reason I chose the documentary The Sparks Brothers on Netflix. The title is a joke, of course, there are no Sparks Brothers. There are brothers – Russel (the good-looking heartthrob singer) and Ron (the odd-looking genius songwriter and keyboardist) Mael – and there is Sparks – a long running (25 albums and counting) and very odd band… but there are no Sparks Brothers nor Brothers Spark.

I have a little history of Sparks fandom. I missed their early years – we forget in this internet age how difficult it was to track oddball musical groups from Kansas and Nicaragua – no matter how interesting and good they were. I do think I saw them on Don Kersher’s Rock Concert in 1974 – but other than Ron’s Hitler mustache and strange demeanor – I didn’t remember much.

A decade later they re-invented themselves to fit in with the MTV generation and they had a hit song, Cool Places:

I hat a bit of a crush on Jane Wiedlen (at any rate, she was my favorite Go-Go) and I became a Sparks fan. My roommate was also a fan (and a more accomplished student of popular music than I) and we actually went to a concert at Tango – on lower Greenville – here in Dallas – probably in 1983 or 4. I remember the show and really enjoyed it – but Tango was my favorite spot in the world at the time (I was in my mid-to-late 20’s) and any concert there was a blast.

Not long after that I was married then with kids and any attempts at keeping up with alternative music was drowned out in a three decade long tsunami of art projects, soccer practice, and working my ass off to pay for everything.

Now, from watching the documentary, I discovered that the two brothers went through a number of dry spells – but kept reinventing their music and getting the occasional hit in the occasional country and have survived until this day. I think I’ll dial them up on Spotify and make up a playlist.

The fun thing about these documentaries that follow a band for decades is how you can watch and relate what the band was doing to your own life at that time. It actually manages to give a little more perspective on your time in this world of strife and pain.

I learned a few interesting things about the band. One, I had never appreciated their lyrics. Ron writes from the heart – and though the songs are often funny and quirky – they had a dark heart. I think I’ll copy some over, there might be something to learn, some inspiration in there somewhere. There sure are a lot of them.

Another tidbit is a live project they did – in 2007… at that time they had 20 albums out and were about to release their 21st… they performed all their albums in order, one per night, for 20 nights – culminating with their new album on the 21st. Think of how hard this would be – hundreds of songs – they rehearsed for months – how would you remember the songs from the 1st album while you were working on number 20?

Finally, I learned that Russell Mael had a brief affair with Jane Wiedlen back in the day. Lucky dog.

Here’s my current favorite Sparks song:

Reality Is Torn Down Around Us

“Civilised life, you know, is based on a huge number of illusions in which we all collaborate willingly. The trouble is we forget after a while that they are illusions and we are deeply shocked when reality is torn down around us.”
― J.G. Ballard

Margaret McDermott Bridge, Dallas, Texas

They Went That-A-Way

“Instead of the macho, trigger-happy man our culture has perversely wanted him to be, the cowboy is more apt to be convivial, quirky, and softhearted. To be “tough” on a ranch has nothing to do with conquests and displays of power. More often than not, circumstances – like the colt he’s riding or an unexpected blizzard – are overpowering him. It’s not toughness but “toughing it out” that counts. In other words, this macho, cultural artifact the cowboy has become is simply a man who possesses resilience, patience, and an instinct for survival. “Cowboys are just like a pile of rocks – everything happens to them. They get climbed on, kicked, rained and snowed on, scuffed up by wind. Their job is ‘just to take it,’ ” one old-timer told me.”

― Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces

Fair Park, Dallas, Texas

What Does the Beauty Of A Building Mean To Us Now?

“…Originally everything about a Greek or Christian building meant something, and in reference to a higher order of things. This atmosphere of inexhaustible meaningfulness hung about the building like a magic veil. Beauty entered the system only secondarily, impairing the basic feeling of uncanny sublimity, of sanctification by magic or the gods’ nearness. At the most, beauty tempered the dread – but this dread was the prerequisite everywhere. What does the beauty of a building mean to us now? The same as the beautiful face of a mindless woman: something masklike.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits

Downtown Dallas

Spirit of Communication

“By being published, any author’s words cease to be his own, but rather belong to his reader.”

― Andrew Crumey, D’Alembert’s Principle: A Novel in Three Panels

Spirit of Communication (Golden Boy), Dallas, Texas

From Wikipedia:

Spirit of Communication is the formal name for the statue by Evelyn Beatrice Longman originally called Genius of Telegraphy. The statue has been the symbol of AT&T (and also the former Western Electric) since their commission was completed in 1916. It is also known informally as the Golden Boy statue and formerly as Genius of Electricity.

Commissioned for 195 Broadway in New York City. the sculpture has followed AT&T to other sites in New York and New Jersey over the years. In 2009, the statue was relocated to AT&T’s current corporate headquarters in downtown Dallas, Texas, U.S. As of 2022, the statue is located outside in the AT&T Discovery District in Downtown Dallas.

A Morning Row

“How often have I watched, and longed to imitate when I should be free to live as I chose, a rower who had slipped his oars and lay flat on his back in the bottom of the boat, letting it drift with the current, seeing nothing but the sky gliding slowly by above him, his face aglow with a foretaste of happiness and peace!”

― Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

Bachman Lake, Dallas, Texas

A Person Freed Of the Future Has Nothing To Fear

“What could I say? Maybe this: the man hunched over his motorcycle can focus only on the present instant of his flight; he is caught in a fragment of time cut off from both the past and the future; he is wrenched from the continuity of time; he is outside time; in other words, he is in a state of ecstasy; in that state he is unaware of his age, his wife, his children, his worries, and so he has no fear, because the source of fear is in the future, and a person freed of the future has nothing to fear.”

― Milan Kundera, Slowness

Bicycle Drag Race, Dallas, Texas