Thursday, December 29, 2016
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Friday, November 25, 2016
I returned to Lyon a little less than two years later, staying for a few days with a lovely family on a beautiful old estate nestled into a hill on the west side of the two rivers. The last days of winter, with grey stone & sky scarcely distinguishable from one another. I retraced the steps of a favorite walk from the end of my time in France, north along the Saône to a quiet little area near Passerelle Saint-Vincent where rows of pastel buildings domino down from Fourvière to the riverbank below. Before falling asleep that night in a room that overlooked the edges of Presqu'île, I tried to place the feeling somehow missing from a still very pleasant return. Clouds filled balloon-like with stadium light rolled slowly by, projecting memory itself onto the walls & curtains. The time in time & place – the clamor & the swelter of a summer unrepeatable, its present become past.
Elle aspire comme chaque matin l’odeur puissante et humide de la rue St-Jean dont les pavés glissent légèrement. Elle voudrait rentrer dans cette boulangerie et acheter un pain au lait. Mais quelque chose file devant elle qu’elle doit saisir, c’est le moment elle le sait – sinon – elle tend le bras – sa vie s’écoule – elle ne l’atteint pas.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Suddenly the city was empty, its residents in mass holiday exodus. Green pharmacy crosses flashing all the more brightly for the lack of headlights on the boulevards below. The fountain at Place du Maréchal Lyautey burbling all the more clearly for the lack of early evening drinkers on the patios of bars nearby. And the sky over the chimneys of Croix-Rousse all the more otherworldly when seen alone in the south meadow of Parc de la Tête d'Or, the light fading and the summer darkening.
Prune passa sur le trottoir de droite, elle vit cet homme devant le Pont de la Feuillée, elle sut immédiatement qu’elle aurait pu partir avec lui, tailler des bâtons, vivre dans les Célèbes et ses bras, mais son bus arriva et elle leva la main.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
I had hoped that Fate would intervene and allow me to stay in Lyon beyond the summer. So there was a time when only the present moment was felt. A long time, or at least a profound moment, and one that happened to form around the equinox. Pink, blue, and bronze sunsets hung over Presqu'île for what seemed like eternity – the effect like that of an eclipse or the feeling when as a child I jumped off the roof of our house holding my father's umbrella and managed to land unharmed on the grass below. Strangeness, levitation.
Je ne peux pas me dire c’est ici que je suis né c’est ici que je mourrai infini des formes dans un fini des murs alors j’ai dû partir tout se reproduisait toujours mêmes visages mêmes feintes de corps j’ai dû partir et laisser derrière moi un écran mat et lourd quelques brumes.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
I'd walked right by Montée des Chazeaux countless times without noticing its many steep & crooked steps. Always rushing through Vieux Lyon, listening for sounds to record or looking for reflections in motorbike mirrors to photograph. It was a delayed reaction when half a block down I thought to backtrack and confirm the staircase glimpsed from the corner of my eye. A five-flight shortcut to Montée Saint-Barthélémy and Parc de Hauters, the steps were strangely empty despite lush views of the city offered from each landing. So I felt all the more like a traveller between worlds when I would traverse the stairs alone on brisk evening walks from the church to the city's summit & back. Over time I would discover that Lyon possessed many such passages. Having grown up in the plains and previously lived mainly in flat, grid-like cities like Chicago & Boston, stairs were until that summer all too often dour markers of duty – entryways to schools, libraries, and houses of worship. Lyon's secret staircases – pathways of wonder – were wholly free of such foot-slowing seriousness.
Julie passa une jambe par la fenêtre quand soudain la pluie.
Friday, November 18, 2016
In wandering years, parks were portals. In Korea, I would tell myself if I could just hike over the next ridge line, I would be home. As if parks were points of teleportation, all connected to the same grand spirit park. Hampstead Heath in London, Yogogi Park in Tokyo, Lincoln Park in Chicago, Boston Common, Griffith Park, Central Park, even little Marvin Grove in Lawrence, Kansas where my parents would take us on fall Saturdays – all connected. Parc de la Tête d'Or in Lyon was no different. On my first visit, I stayed past dark and thought I was losing my mind when I became frightened by the sounds of wild birds and animals. I didn't yet know that the park contained a zoo – the Jardín zoolólogic de Lyon – so I wondered if it was somehow a close spirit connection of a park in Africa. On my many subsequent visits I would stay late to hear the wildlife welcome the darkness and pretend that I had still not solved the mystery of the zoo.
Elle n’est jamais montée là-haut voir cette chose blanche et molle qui toujours la regarde et la suit, non. Elle ne la voit plus. Elle n’ira pas.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
When I was 22, I tried to move from Kansas to New York City. Only two months returned from a life-changing study abroad year in England, I was hell-bent on not losing the inner momentum – on keeping my eyes open to life and the experiences it unfolds to those who look. New York proved a brief stint -- half euphoria, half panic – and I bounced off the atmosphere. Back to Kansas, to Los Angeles, back to Kansas, to Chicago, back to Kansas, before finally finding relatively steady footing in Chicago. Transience-induced sleep trials bred a night reader, with Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer fast becoming a favorite. Not for its famed sexuality, but rather the ghostly passages in which Miller recalls wandering along the Seine in the middle of the night. In Lyon, I often shadowed the Rhône – from near Parc de la Tête d'Or to Pont Gallieni – sometimes wearily after an especially suffocating night in the attic of the church. At sunset, passing like a ghost through narrow riverboat bars and groups of summer revelers on the banks below, I would recall Miller's walks. An in-between state – a distant memory of another's walk along a river from within a walk along another river.
De la neige au-dessus de nous allongés comme ça sur la passerelle du Collège suspendue ou était-ce des paillettes, des cendres – des éclats de corps en tout cas nous étions là sol froid revêtement spongieux tous les deux tu étais venue de loin moi je vivais là nous nous étions croisés un peu plus tôt au bord de l’autre fleuve et souris et suivis, il y avait d’autres personnes avec nous disparues à présent, nous deux seuls allongés et la neige doucement s’était posée en minces cuillérées sur nous, bras écartés, à côté, riant soûls et libres, tout devant nous à peu près, on ne se touchait pas mais on savait que bientôt, et la neige sur nous et la nuit comme un drap, tu t’es tournée vers moi tes cheveux blonds sur le fleuve et tu m’as souri, et j’ai pensé quelle drôle de chose quand même que la vie.
Saturday, November 5, 2016
Prior to my time in Lyon, I lived in Seoul, Korea. Looking down from Gwanaksan – a mountain on whose doorstep I lived – I would survey in awe the city's almost unfathomable size & density. To explore such a place – to realize the impossibility of encountering even a fraction of its terrain, and to realize also that many such cities and impossibilities exist – is staggering. And to explore such a place without knowing the name of a single street is another thing altogether. Doing so at once magnifies the sense of dislocation and returns the gauzy air of childhood walks and bike rides measured not by street names but by landmarks. So when I arrived in Lyon and could read & remember the name of the street I first lived on – Rue Pierre Corneille – the effect was cosmic – simultaneously amusing, bewildering, and mind-bending. I soon became obsessed with learning the name of every street, bridge, square, park, and cathedral, and before falling asleep each night would joyfully retrace the day's explorations. A fleeting second childhood found in the naming of places & things.
Il l’avait pris par la main dans les rues piquetées de soleil. Il lui avait acheté une glace, ils marchent sur les quais. Il y a la couleur déjà fanée de l’enfance et son père se découpe nettement sur le plan. Je t’emmène voir Bogart il avait dit et ils étaient entrés dans cet étroit cinéma de la rue Pierre Corneille, la Fourmi. Tout était noir et rouge là-dedans. La brume avait enflé sur l’écran et le type était apparu, imperméable gris, une cigarette aux lèvres. Il y avait eu ensuite des histoires de guerre et d’avions, de femmes aussi. Ils étaient repartis dans l’été plein. Des années ont passé. Ils ont perdu la bobine.
Saturday, October 22, 2016
When I think back on Bellecour, I remember Ben Crouzet driving his Peugeot like a maniac, reversing us full speed up a narrow cobblestone street adjacent to the city's hallowed meeting place. Still Lyon, still in the summertime, but twelve years prior. Europe seen through teenage suburban American eyes – the beauty of it simply shocking – its dreamlike quality like the cyclist passerby in The Smiths' "Back to the Old House." Before London, before Prague, before Berlin, before Stockholm and every other city encountered in the wandering years that followed – Lyon awakening into dreams.
Il y a des noms sur toi que je voudrais mettre et ce sont ceux des amis chez qui j’ai frappé ce jour-là, le printemps débutait juste, on a ouvert des bières, Lyon frémissait en dessous, j’avais faim, tout commençait.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
I never photographed Place de la République. Paradoxically claustrophobic in open city spaces yet at ease in narrower confines, I preferred side street shadows to the many broader boulevards that converge to form PDLR's swirling center. So it was only while in motion that I took in its whimsical features – a glass carousel and expansive rectangular pool – typically when darting across the square on weekly espresso capsule runs. Safely back in the shoebox-sized attic of the church, I would imagine a more tranquil wintertime version of the scene, with brisk air and the carousel covered in holiday lights.
C’est en escaladant la montée de la Grande Côte qu’il avait très clairement compris le sens du mot incertain – chaque marche il comprenait que rien jamais sur lequel s’appuyer, pas un seul jour qui débouche naturellement sur un autre, pas une épaule, rien – un souffle seul et sans repos – la ville s’offrait en contrebas dans un glissement de lumières et il escaladait la Côte – rien, aucune surface plane sur laquelle compter pas même ces marches dont il connaît pourtant la moindre aspérité – mais il monte, essoufflé, vers le plateau et son amour, qui bientôt s’envolera, et il sourit.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
02. X of Swords
04. All the Same
08. Unknown Light (II)
10. In the Morning Light (II)
11. Last Leaves
12. Leaves (III)
14. Moon (II)
Featuring 5 previously unreleased recordings and 10 from the Japan edition of Slanting Rays of the Setting Sun (2014), Moon will be available at Bandcamp on the October 16 full moon.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
The front entrance of the Grand Temple de Lyon is located on Quai Victor Augagneur – a long & lovely street that runs along the Rhône from Pont Lafayette to Pont de la Guillotière. Around back on the much quieter Cours de la Liberté are the clergy's residential quarters. It was there that I – the atheist in the church's attic – would enter through a large wooden door and ascend a winding staircase to my living quarters. This ascent was a daily & dreaded demonstration of the thermodynamic principle that hot air rises, with cool street level air giving way to a reality-altering curtain of heat. Outside, activity in the neighborhood – the city's 3rd arrondissement – mirrored this principle of verticality. Calm, grey mornings that hosted more pigeons than people in little Square Jussieu would rise up into evenings that drew throngs to drink in riverbank bars under molten copper sunsets – a ritual of altitude in reverse, tracked through a fever gaze.
Son rêve d’Hollywood et d’un rôle de princesse scandinave rescapée des flots lui revint brusquement en tête au moment d’entrer dans le passage bruissant, qui l’avala.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Atop Lyon sits La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière – a 19th century cathedral of white marble and stained glass. More magical than even views from its terrace that on a clear day reach the Alps beyond Lyon's edges is the tumble of subtle wonders from the basilica down to the Saône. A long road winds around Parc des Hauters and the Jardin de Rosaire, offering glimpses of city lights through the branches of trees. Slopes of stone descend to narrow cobblestone streets that flow away from Place St. Jean, spilling out onto Quai Romaine Rolland and its curve along the river. An ethereal cascade, unfurling sight upon sight from the tallest spire.
À l’angle de la place Edgar Quinet, beaucoup de nuit dans l’œil de l’enfant aux genoux écorchés.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Caught between conspicuous Americanness and a kind of stateless ghostliness, I almost never experienced Lyon as the Lyonnaise do. Tantalizing glimpses down the narrow & lively streets of Presqu'île reflected back a vague sense that entire worlds were going unexplored. Until one June night when a chance invitation to a garden party in the city's suburbs would ultimately bring about my sole encounter with its center. I was living, for a few weeks, in a kind of dormitory for international students and travelers. Self-conscious of my limited French language skills and ever at-ease with solitude, I mostly kept to myself. So when a Spaniard across the hall named Sam asked me if I wanted to go to a party, I was surprised to hear myself reply, "...uh...yeah...Qui...sure...uh...thank you...Merci." I ended up pinballing from the 5th arrondissement out to the suburbs back to a birthday party in Les Terreaux to a Jamaican bar to a jazz club in a vaulted ceiling basement to a sweaty discotheque on one of the very Presqu'île streets I thought I'd never set foot down. It rained at sunrise, and I was the only soul crossing the Rhône on Pont Lafayette.
C’est le corps de la ville que j’ausculte passionnément.
Friday, September 2, 2016
The heat in the attic would drive me out of one church on the east side of the Rhône & Saône, and into another on the west. Cool, damp, dim, and with the sound of a fountain blooming in the square outside, Cathédrale Saint Jean-Baptiste fast became a favorite destination to regroup at. When the square outside was especially bustling, I would attempt to go unnoticed while drawing out a field recording microphone I'd carefully wrapped in an old t-shirt from a leather motorcycle satchel and capture voices, violin, rushing water, and foot traffic over cobblestones. On the way to & from, I loved to stop on the middle of Passarelle du Palais de Justice – a narrow red suspension bridge that connects Vieux Lyon to Place des Jacobins – and watch the light shimmer on the Saône.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
"Voyage to Scorpion Island" will be featured on one of my all-time favorite radio shows -- The Retro Cocktail Hour -- tonight around 7:30pm CST (and forever in archive #721 starting at 31:30). Download to Donate to the Lawrence Humane Society and help animals like William the Bunny.
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Years later I would conjure the intricacies of walking routes across the two rivers and up leafy passages to Lyon’s summit. Life brought me to many places, including London. I lived in small confines on Gower Street, where chimneys cap the row of flats ranging from Euston Road to Great Russell Street, and where during the day the endless stream of red double-decker busses and black cabs produces enough exhaust to make Gower Street itself a chimney. While all the grey & smoke at times lended a romantic quality to everyday life, it produced, at others, a weariness. So at night I would sit & play music by a window that faced University College London's Bonham Carter House, dazed from the pace & price of the city, and sometimes drifting off to pastoral spaces. I once spent a summer crashing on the floor of my oldest friend, reading books, playing piano in mornings & evenings at the university, and searching for fireflies on walks at night. My time in Lyon bore that same hideaway spirit – a simple season and easy breath after tense times in harder cities.
Faudra-t-il toujours revenir sur ses pas, pensa-t-elle en dépassant le kiosque à journaux qui clignotait sous le bleu.
LYON-TRAILS-01- William's Song 1970's kitchen linoleum at sunrise, peering out into the meadow through the screen door, John Col...
LYON-TRAILS-05- Leaves (III) It was in Ohio where I became enamored with autumn, started measuring time by its approach or d...
This instrumental -- recorded in spring 2003 on a German pipe organ on the fifth floor of Murphy Hall in Lawrence -- was originally int...