Charles Lloyd, William Lawrence, Nick Cobbett, & Graham Patzner are WHISKERMAN.
One morning I find my car unlocked and an Oakland Athletics baseball cap in the passenger seat. I have had perhaps one passenger in the last month – a good friend who only recently found it possible, without it being a point of embarrassment, to wear flat shoes, and who, all days except maybe two or three out of the year, goes about barelegged. This is a kind of startlingly blue-eyed girl, quite invested in a specific kind of what we might call girlishness. I have never seen her in a baseball cap and I don’t know that I ever will. It follows, then, that a stranger has been inside the vehicle.
In general one learns not to leave things where people can see them. In some places there are specific stretches terminally littered with black and aquamarine, and one begins a little uncharitably to judge those people that still park on streets they’ve never seen clear of crushed windows. What doesn’t occur is the thought that someone might break into a car without the thieveing or joyriding that makes the trouble actually worthwile. I suppose nothing in mine is worth stealing.
In one of the dash compartments:
• a set list from an ex-bandmate’s show, for one of his projects, a date sometime before the split but after I started feeling like we were just killing time before the end.
• a 4x6 print of a photograph of three friends in the process of recording their first album, placed and forgotten for some off-hand reason in the driver’s side visor, then recovered on a particularly blinding day.
In the glove compartment:
• a defunct ipod, destroyed in a leaky purse debacle in the parking lot of Lake Del Valle last year, an 80gig ghost of music I have somehow not found the time to throw out. When it broke I felt an overwhelming sense of relief, not because I felt I was made free of it, but because I felt no real sense of loss and I’d rather begun to worry I was too attached to my things. But you can’t keep something around as a material reminder of a single moment freer than most of your material drives.
• receipts I keep stuffing in there when I know I’ll have a passenger and I’m ashamed of how much crap there is in the footwell.
• an empty eyeglass case
between the seats:
• high school student identification cards, not of any real sentimental value. Saved from disposal by the occasional surprise they inspire in first time passengers
• a small photograph of my sister and her date at a Sadie Hawkins dance, from over a decade ago. They are wearing jeans and chucks and those soft-punk metal ball necklaces the aughties loved so much. Her black T-shirt reads: I dig scrawny pale guys. Her date is pale and blonde and bespectacled and his shirt reads: Chicks dig scrawny pale guys. In those days we lived in the Silicon Valley suburbs and novelty shops at the mall were pretty much the most exciting thing a lot of young people had access to.
• a picture of myself and a bunch of other kids, homecoming dance, freshman year. The airbrushed background is not wide enough for all of us. I don’t remember most of the names. I don’t remember most of what we did together. I assume the thing will someday just disappear on its own
• pistachio shells
in the trunk:
• really quite a lot of extension cords
It surprises me how little time I spend feeling off-key and unbalanced by the knowledge that someone has been and gone and left me a message; the transmission whines its usual whine and I roll the windows down and throw the baseball cap out. A few nights later I mention the incident to Mateo, almost as a funny aside, at the tail end of the pre-sleep ramble, and in response to his shock and unease I find myself flirting with a defense of the intruder.
This is, I suppose, a thing you can do to make yourself feel safe: ascribe benevolence to something you have no real means of proving benevolent.
The weather has turned and I begin to take more walks. A few blocks to the east there is a footbridge over the highway and one afternoon I stand there for a few minutes and try to intuit from the appearance and the behaviour of the vehicles what is inside them. There’s a grimy looking hamburger joint in the 76 gas station at the bottom of the hill and I wonder if whoever broke into my car is a person who’d hold up a gas station in a real crunch or a person who might buy a burger there or a person who wouldn’t imagine doing either of those things, as if this is the spectrum along which we find ourselves. I don’t spend too much time debating how much of life is down to other people’s whims, be they cruel or kind, but when I find my car unlocked again a few weeks later the urge does present itself. In the passenger seat is a brand new pair of men’s sunglasses, completely unfamiliar to me, drugstore tag still attached.
Hey everyone, here’s a premiere track from the new Diamond Dogs cover album I’m doing.
I’m a Bowie obsessive and Diamond Dogs has always fascinated me. It’s often overlooked among fans and it’s very hard to place in his 70s output. I think it’s a drugged out masterpiece, an abandoned Orwellian concept album that has the most playing Bowie ever did on one of his records.
The best moments on this record are heartbreaking. I was not deferent to Bowie: I translated lyrics into German, chopped verses, moved bridges, changed chords, and otherwise ran roughshod over this beast.
I’m releasing it as an audiophile 200g vinyl pressing, limited to 500. It’s also bundled with my new album, Dagger Beach. Both are available for pre-order on my Kickstarter.