Thursday, March 18, 2004

drive my car

we are in the clutches of an inversion layer, and thus there is what you can only call fog. which is a fairly rare situation in l.a., and so worth savoring, although i hate feeling that dampness clinging to my skin and burrowing into my toes and fingers and nose.

but in the car the fog is glorious, the city turned into a hazy fairy world, especially at night. i drive a vintage convertible, a muscle car that i love probably more than any other possession. i like to play music and accelerate. i get stuck on certain tunes, or, thanks to CDs, sequences of tunes. when it is night, and hazy like that, and the streets are so close to empty, driving is like flying or floating, and the soft-focus mistiness makes the silver lake reservoir an enchanted black pond, hollywood boulevard a blinking blade runner world, and the canyon an exotic wilderland.

and when the road locks into the song, it's fucking incredible. when i was driving to the gallery to see fleener's show, i took olympic blvd. and listened to moby's play. that album flows through so many moods, from mellow to aggressive, and melds sinuous hendrix-y guitar licks with old blues field recordings and walls o' strings, and tumbling piano riffs, and wriggling electronic beats, yearning gospel-y vocals, rapped bits, anthemic singing -- it all makes for an incredible moving-pictures experiences. but when the music clicks like that, it isn't just what you see when you're driving along ... it is the rhythm of the music merging with the speed of the car and the visual repetition of driving in the city -- the streetlights, the trees, signs, crosswalks, minimalls ... there are patterns, some kind of order as you pass things by ... maybe even chordage.

the road itself provides a path, and the music is another kind of path. when they meet it gives me the most incredible rush; my heart beats faster and i feel more alert, not only like i can drive really well but also as if i have somehow entered the fabric of the city. it's a weird kind of l.a. zen, i guess, feeling at one with the city while in my little automobile bubble -- maybe a false zen. (which, ha ha, would be soooo l.a.) but i like it. los angeles at night is beautiful -- well, darling, it is all about flattering light, after all -- and i have sole, split-second control of a gorgeous vehicle of much horsepower, and i am hearing music that is filling my soul with intense emotion of some sort. all at once. super sonic synesthesia.

what music sends me to that place is largely a matter of mood, so the emotions vary, and so also the sensations. but i find electronica or synthy things bring out a certain character of the city. the dandy warhols' welcome to the monkey house makes so much sense when you're on the freeway, for example. yet also aggressive rock, like the pixies, or the rolling stones ... pj harvey's stories from the city, stories from the sea is a veritable glittering carpet on which to ride. they all put my mind into some between state where i'm hearing the music very sharply, while also being very heightened to driving.

it is especially sensational to have the top down, but it hasn't been warm enough at night for that, and i cannot really stand having it down during the day. (my beautiful vampire complexion must be preserved at all costs.) but the days are coming soon when i can have the top down at night and smell the air, the night-blooming jasmine and the eucalyptus. and look up at a red light and see stars, and drive along and see tops of palm trees, and billboards, and toxic sunsets, and hillsides dotted with thick clusters of homes, and all the things you can see so well when you don't have a roof on your car.

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