Play this whilst reading.

8 11 2011 8 54 PM by Reid May

Monday, July 1, 2013

Big Trucks, Low Morale, and High Speed Limits

Listen here, or read below...

Part I

Music is cut like a grid of urban streets – connected, unmoving, and planned by researchers who study the past and future practices. Why is this when mountains and rivers are cut and shaped at random, never to duplicate. Somehow they all fit together in one giant sphere while interacting, colliding, conducting science experiments on each other constantly for those who choose to observe. Non-stop Chemical reactions; wreaking havoc, all the while perpetuating serenity and perfection; and life for all will continue, so long as the law of conservation applies.

Rappahannock, Blue Ridge, Northern Neck, Appalachian, Accotink, Mount Vernon, Luray Caverns Chincoteague, Sandbridge, Great Falls, nor-easter,  Hurricane Sandy, T-Storms, that big river that runs through the capitol and out to the Atlantic. And so, “The Sun Also Rises.”

Part II

Your spring Saturdays were spent pulling sheets of plastic over thick metal wires that arched over beds of sweet potato plants in need of incubation.  You had to wrap your fingers around it, digging your knuckles into the wet sand that stuck on its surface, because the plastic created a giant sail against the stormy wind that wanted to lift up with the work you already completed.  You had to hold tight, keep it down low, and sandwich it between the ground and a thirty pound sandbag to secure it.

Summers were spent walking up and down the rows of plants in the hundred degree heat looking for weeds to pull.  Once in a while, if your older brother was able to get out of going to the farm with an excuse of having a church, school, or scout activity, you would be in charge of managing the irrigation.  You learned how to bleed water into the furrows by starting hand-pumped siphon pipes that curved over the side-mounds of irrigation ditches they drew from.  While you waited for the water to flood the length of the field so you could move the pipes to the next set of rows, you could take a nap in the shade of the large wheel on the tractor.  Or if the plant canopy was wide enough, you could lay down just underneath the leaves in a dry furrow until the alarm you set on your watch went off.

After harvest, the crop would be taken to the packing shed, where there wasn't much for you to do except watch the workers sort the produce, listen to the holiday music playing over loudspeakers, and stay out of the swerving forklift's way.  The railroad tracks ran behind the facility, and you and your brothers would find pennies in the ashtray of your father's truck, lay them across the track, and scour the surrounding rocks trying to find the flattened coins after the train, blasting its horn, rolled over them.  At the end of the week, a few large wooden bins filled with sweet potatoes, too small or blemished for the market and not spoiled enough for livestock feed, would be loaded into the bed of your father's truck for delivery to church on Sunday.  After the services, families would crowd around the truck and fill their bags with as many sweet potatoes as possible, shake your hand, thank you and your family, and for weeks to come, tell you how delicious they were.

Some consider Fresno the heart of agriculture in California, midway of four hundred miles between the metropolises, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and hugged by giant Sequoias to the east and the salty-cold Pacific beaches.  Growing up in a farming family, you used to think you wanted your future to have nothing to do with agriculture.  Sometimes when you are sitting at a desk in a cubicle, staring at a computer screen, you want go back.

Part III

When you finally went back to visit your hometown you couldn’t help but feel disconnected, and the way things were made less sense to you than they did when you lived there.

For example: You planned to meet a colleague for coffee at 7:30 a.m. at a place across town from where you were staying. As a dedicated pedestrian you decided you would put what you remembered as an often trampled bus system to use. In your twenties you bicycled the same distance in less than an hour, and could easily drive it in ten minutes. You figured if you left your host’s house by 6:30 a.m., you should make it on time. Good thing you examined the bus system’s website the night before. The closest stop operating that early in the morning was three miles away, and the schedule’s timetable said it would take an hour to get across town.

So you got up early and left at 5:15 a.m., jogged the first half of the distance to the bus stop, and walked the rest of the way, getting there ten minutes early. You were the first passenger to board the public limousine, and as you climbed the red carpet steps you made eye contact and solemnly exchanged “hellos” with the driver and dropped your exact dollar-twenty-five fare in the mounted mechanical piggy-bank. About ten other passengers were collected through the duration of the trip from different stops, where the driver was presumably ahead of schedule because after the passengers boarded, he would pull out the sports section of the local rag and read in three to four minute segments before rolling it back up and putting the vessel back in motion. These pauses allowed you to take notice of how peaceful the town’s main drag seemed at that hour, and how well the sound of fingernails being clipped travels from the back of the bus, and how furious Coltrane can make the color blue when you finally attached your headphones.

You made it to your stop after a forty minute ride, twenty minutes ahead of schedule, and hiked your final mile to the café and arrived with another glorious ten minutes to spare! Using this free time you realized that it didn’t matter that things didn’t make sense to you because you didn’t live there anymore. Miles Davis left what one might perceive as mistakes on his recordings, but you call those moments “personality, soul, human, and beautiful.”

Your Twitter is to you as my blog is to me, as  her photograph is to her, as his song is to him, as our painting is to us, as their movie is to them, as its book is to it.

You headed to the train station - on foot, of course - by way of some of the most desolate streets in the city. You always found them desolate getting to train stations. You and a man gave each other the right of way while passing on a sidewalk. He was wearing royal blue house-slippers whose color seemed exceptionally vibrant in the low angled sun’s morning light. The belt for his oversized gym shorts were his two hands, each clutching fistfuls of the synthetic and porous cloth at the base of his crotch. Your eye-contact and “what’s up” head nod made him turn his head away from you toward the other side of the street, as if something had just then called for his full attention.

You finally caught up to who you speculated was the bread-winner you had been trailing for a half-mile. He stopped walking at his public limousine stop and turned to face perpendicular to the street. He wore a generic back-pack over one shoulder of his security guard uniform. As you approached him, you fantasized one of those great, old-fashioned, early morning greetings you’ve heard legends about. So you encouraged out loud, “good morning!” The worker bee made no movement except for his neck as it slowly pivoted his head, allowing his laser beam eyes to penetrate through his sunglasses’ lenses and follow your UV blockers as you continued walking by, willing to wait forever for that exchange.

Two talkative and tattooed ladies jumped into your foot-stream. You caught up to them when one stopped to remove a hitchhiking rock from her shoe. A little discouraged, you mumbled, “morning.’” The non-archaeologist of the pair quickly responded with a “Good Morning” as clear as you ever heard it in your life! All was right with the world! It was as if that reliable and consistent chain café popped up to spare you from having to drink train coffee, and they still sold bran muffins so you could finally get rid of that horrible case of traveler’s gut before you boarded the train with all the other princes and princesses and kings and queens of the valley. That train; for which you would still be ten glorious minutes early!

Friday, May 3, 2013


Listen to the audio here.

I realize by now that not publishing a creation quickly after its birth can have some problems. The writings from this chunk trouble me, and are compiled from the previous year. When I was putting them together, and especially after I read them out loud for the recording, a lot of it didn't make sense to me.
I suppose a person's terrestrial formulas can morph, adapt, recede; or just plain evolve over a year's time. Chances are, the state of the rest of society will likely wander about in the same amount of time. I'm not saying contemporary creations can't be relevant in the future. I am saying the strong winds of eternity blow the relevance boat quickly past the "now."
But knowing when something is done is another challenge.
(Apparently, all I needed this time was a preface!)

Here's something I don't want to give a chance to miss the boat:

Original thoughts.

I wont transcribe the rest of the readings at this time. It's too much work that feels weird to me, so listen to the audio if you like, which is also weird but I'll allow it in this context.

Special thanks to the film Howl - about Allen Ginsberg's writing of the same name - for the motivational spark. I'll go warm up the coffee and finish watching it now.

My Hand, My Grandmother, and a Spider

Monday, April 30, 2012

Before April is Gone

(Listen to audio here)

Mary took another job in retail.

Before her first day of work, she read online reviews of what current and past employees thought about their employment experience.  Common statements from female reviews said something along the lines of, "it's not the typical 'Boys Club.'"  A co-worker later told Mary how strange she thought it was that she made more money than anyone else at the store, and worked the least amount of hours.  She chortled as she said she was hired by a manager who loved women.  Another co-worker replied that she had heard about that.

Mary trained for one hour with a large male co-worker on the basics of stocking the milk gallon shelves.  After that, she only entered the cold storage room if a desperate customer wanted something that was not on the shelf.  Often, she didn't even have to go through the door because she was able to ask the male working in the section if he could see any back-stock of the item. And if it was a male customer asking, when Mary tells him she will go check if there is any back-stock, usually the man will tell her to not trouble herself.  She'd tell him it would be no trouble at all, and the man will insist she forgets about it.

She spent many of her mornings, early in her employment, training in managing the flowers that were for sale.  Her trainer was a small, middle-aged, and single mother named Linda, who wore modest amounts of makeup and kept a manicure.  Linda introduced Mary to the other employees who passed by the floral section.  After each introduction was over, and the passing employee stepped away, she would mutter a few words to Mary out of the sides of her unnaturally colored lips.  Usually, the comments were about which co-workers they were sleeping with.  Linda would say, "hands off him. He's dating So-and so."  Or, "don't worry about her, she acts like that to everyone.  She needs to get laid, if you ask me."  Or "forget about him.  He's a queer, and he's sleeping with the regional manager!  What's weird, is that he seems so normal..."  And, "why are the good looking ones always queer?"

Mary thought her floral trainer resented the other co-workers because during each introduction, the employee would say jokingly, "whatever you do, don't listen to Linda!"  Mary would always smile awkwardly, and glance back at Linda.  Linda would always respond by saying something like, "Oh, go to hell!"  Or, "Blow it out your ass!"  To Mary, Linda's tone always sounded like she was saying more swear words than she really was.

After not-too-long, Linda was able to spread the word to all the male employees that Mary was single, and had no children, and was definitely out of their leagues, so they could forget about asking her out.  They all started hitting on her any way.  She turned them all down.  Mary didn't understand why everybody else in the world only seemed to care about fucking everybody else.  She felt uncomfortable every day at the store, and when she thought about quitting, the thought of getting good health insurance and a 401k made her reluctant.  Then she remembered that she would have to wait five more months to get them because she would still be within the probationary period until after then.  She concluded that everybody will die sometime, with, or without health insurance, and retired, or not.  Mary quit her job.

Soon enough, Mary found another job in retail.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Green Room

(Listen to audio here)

He was in a green room for a show that wasn't his own.  Drinking the the six pack that belonged to the performing band, he realized each one of his friends was in love with his girlfriend.

The wind was stronger than the air conditioner.  A stronger urge to return home hovered over his consciousness.  At least as strong, it was, as the knowledge that home was ordinary and he would want to be somewhere else in a matter of weeks.  A few weeks, if he's lucky, only because the length of time he was away might have allowed a different season to approach and take residence, and allow an opportunity for a change of scenery.  Even if there was no change in the weather, he was headed back now, with no plans of drastic destination changes.  He simply checked in online for his return flight, including the midway connection flight.

He might just walk out of the layover airport because he had never visited the state before, except on previous occasions of layover.

He noticed it was a bit warmer at home than when he left, which meant the winter that everybody was holding out for, being late and possibly extremely snow-storm ridden, didn't happen, and probably wouldn't.
He went to his coffee house to read and drink amongst the other locals, but he had no friends there and could only have short conversations with the Baristas that knew how to answer simple greetings with words instead of blank stares.

So he thought about his feelings of music ownership, creation, and piracy.  These beliefs of his would rotate about every six months from thinking everything is free, to the complete opposite, and everywhere imaginable in between.

Currently, he was sick of the iPod experience, except for listening to albums he physically owned.  He like the idea of buying CD's and holding on to them... again.  Soon enough, he will give them away or sell them because they are merely objects, and replaceable.  This act helps him move on to new music; being forced to, because he doesn't have the option to pull up something familiar and nice.

And to the Barista's defense, the job must suck!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012


(Listen to audio here)

He asked his two coworkers what language they were speaking to each other with. They told him it was Hindi. Two hours later, he asked them in what countries people speak Hindi. They told him Pakistan and India. They were from India. He said he was jealous of their multilingual abilities. They told him to learn other languages by watching foreign films, and that a greeting in Hindi is “Namaste.”

As the end of the shift approached, he asked them if they knew if they were going to continue working after the holidays. One said she didn't know, and the other said they would put her on-call. He said he was going to be on-call too.

They taught him the Hindi word for goodbye. He repeated the word back to them, and forgot what it was five minutes later.

He carried his stuffed backpack up the steps to the train station when it was dark, went to the kiosk and slid in his traveler rewards card.  After the round-trip set of tickets printed, he grabbed them, and took a seat on what was his choice of long rows of wooden benches in the lobby.  He tried reading two different novels he brought along with him, but couldn't help being distracted by the voices of strangers, and the sounds of freight and commuter trains - mixing echoes off the brick walls, tiled floors, and high wood-beamed ceilings. Eventually, an hour passed.  The sun began to rise, and his train to New York was arriving.  He stepped outside to greet it.

He boarded the train early, and waited in his seat.  He noticed young men, dressed up to look like their fathers, except they wore headphones.  As soon as the last commuter's second foot hit the car's floor, the doors pinched shut.  The first stop was Washington D.C..  The train plowed into the sunrise between the high-rise buildings, and finally stopped, allowing the aspiring leaders of America to jump off.  He changed seats to one freshly vacated with a better window view.  He looked through the glass, excited to see the land he hadn't experienced yet.  As an attempt to mute the small talk and chit-chat from the surrounding passengers, he slipped in a set of ear plugs.

After a few more metropolitan stops, his car was nearly empty, and mostly quiet, save the crinkly sound of candy wrappers being opened, and his inner monologue asking himself whether or not he should purchase a coffee from the snack car.  He talked himself into waiting after when, and if, the conductor came around to collect his ticket.

The smell of leather was strong from all the belts, shoes, purses, suitcases, luggage, and coats.  The thought of department stores came into his mind, and how boring, yet pleasant they can be.  The simple content made his eyes grow heavy, and the slow rocking of the train, as it glided northward, put him to sleep, like a baby.

The metallic smell of hot electronics woke him up.  He found himself in Philadelphia with new passengers, with new problems, and new gadgets.  He felt the person behind him typing on their laptop, which was placed on the meal tray attached to the back of his seat.  This stole his attention while he held one of his books in his hands, reading only a few lines every few minutes.  In between the scholarly stints, he gazed at the passing landscape, and finally mustered up the determination to go get his cup of coffee.

He dreamed about going there all his life.  He finally got there, and found he was as lonely as ever.  He met a prostitute.  She showed him the town, and took him to all her favorite restaurants and clubs.  He bought her meals, and drinks, and love.  He finally passed out, and managed a few hours of sleep before she called him; hungry and bored.

He picked her up again, because he found he could not say, "no."  Then it was the same thing all over again.  Food, and drinks, and conversations over loud bands.

Somehow, he woke up again.  This time, he called her, because he didn't know if he could manage to get along otherwise.  She didn't answer the phone, so he found another prostitute, just as easily as he did the first one.  And it's the same.  It's always the same, but he did it any way.

Except this time, he didn't sleep.  He thought about this place, where he always wanted to go.  And this time, he woke up, and he was there.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Flight Experiences

(Listen to audio here)

From the bottom of the Yellow or Blue lines on the Metro, the track shoots out of an underground tunnel and up at least ten stories high as it twists around to the National Airport. You might catch glimpses of natural and man made flight experiences, with The Monument providing a background conversation piece.