If you had to brag about yourself:
I’ve refrained from shouting at the horn-player playing the same brassy symphonic bars across the alley for days (or from writing a second note, more about that in a minute), trying to be philosophical, in favor of instrumental practice (however invasive) and textured city soundscapes, believing this musician will improve or maybe is very sad and this instrument is their only comfort. It’s partly the music: I’d be less annoyed if this was a dedicated noise musician, someone aiming, as Russolo suggests in “The Art of Noise,” to show that “the rhythmic movements of a noise are infinite” and to claim “the total conquest of the enharmonic system.” But this seems to just be some college student with a band elective and a lot of time.
Your writer crush:
“Either everything is music or nothing is” (Revell)
Any place in the world:
See, favorite space to write.
Favorite online places right now:
Honestly trying to have a stack of library books on hand for spare moments, to read paragraphs from here and there, rather than the stack of tabs (like those listed above) and that social mediated space in which every utterance is equivalent to position or news.
Your rituals (writing or not):
Put milk in the cup first, let the pouring coffee stir it (I use a Moka pot). Add the smallest pinch of sugar, don’t stir, so it settles, sweetens the last cold sip.
Least impressive thing about you:
Of course, I’ve been researching noise ordinances. In our city, “it is not permitted to make unreasonably loud or disturbing noise (by voice, musical instrument, amplification, television, etc.) of such intensity as to disturb the neighbors. This constitutes disorderly conduct when the sound is plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet from the building, structure or vehicle from where it is emanating between the hours of 9:00 pm and 7:00 am; or at a distance of 100 feet between 7:00 am and 9:00 pm.” The problem for my case is that this musician practices during the permissible hours and our alley is only about twenty feet wide. I consider writing a second note, meaner than my first one (which began, politely, “To the musician”) asking them to consider how many minutes of pleasure their playing brings others each month, compared to how many minutes it needles me, which I have recorded in a small red book. Or I could leave a really legalistic one, imposing letterhead. It’s a big building, so I don’t know who it is, which window, even. I think about all the books they aren’t reading. Maybe the instrument belonged to someone who died and they are practicing to grieve and recreate a concert the dead person never got to play? Or maybe this is a kid playing, at home with a single, college-age parent after a divorce? Is this who I am, fuming crank of neighborhood watch? Didn’t I use to be cool and play in bands and whatnot and sure we happened to have shifty barns and distant practice spaces, but still. It probably annoyed a lot of people (especially at our shows?). I can hear it with other music on, through earphones, through the industrial ear-protecting headphones I’ve bought. I think of the ethical problem posed by Michael Palmer in Sun and consider printing the passage for this musician:
A man undergoes pain sitting at a piano
knowing thousands will die while he is playing
He has two thoughts about this
If he should stop they would be free of pain
If he could get the notes right he would be free of pain
In the second case the first thought would be erased
Favorite space to write:
Driving in a blizzard, there’s a motel next to a restaurant called Restaurant.
What should we know:
In Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang & Beyond, Hillel Schwartz notes that some theorists of urban life “went so far as to theorize that noise could be a protective presence. Take for example the ease of reading inside a railroad car while surrounded by ‘the measured rattle and bumping of the car wheels, the hoarse whistle from the engine, the groaning and gasping of starting’…Wasn’t there some consolation in realizing that in these days ‘of [an] alleged progressive demoralization of the nerves,’ noise itself could form ‘what may be conceived of as a sort of enveloping enclosure of sound’?”
Guilty literary pleasure:
Mostly to make my sentimental attachment to the Pacific Northwest swell up (Richard Hugo’s poetry, Charles Mudede’s columns in The Stranger, Unwound lyrics).
Best book nobody talks about:
I’ve recently been giving/recommending to friends David Bartone’s Practice on Mountains, Anna Moschovakis’s You and We Will Get into Trouble for This, Lauren Haldeman’s Instead of Dying, Eleni Vakalo’s Before Lyricism (trans. Emmerich), and, apparently, Michael Palmer’s Sun.
Character (TV, book, movie) you most identify with:
I don’t know about identifying with characters, but I sometimes take on the speech patterns of podcasters, now asking a question with the phrasal cadences of Preet Bharara, now exclaiming like Matt from Chapo Trap House.
Last time you lied:
Just spent too long thinking about what constitutes a lie to oneself.
While spending too long thinking about what constitutes a lie to oneself, I burned the tahini honey yogurt cake I am baking. It may have improved it.
Question you secretly want to be asked:
What will I do if I meet that horn-played coming out of their building carrying their instrument?
Here’s a 1,000-page essay in the form of every thought interrupted by their playing.