Hey there 👋
Long time no chat, I've been a busy boy! I've been gallivanting around NYC for the past two weeks remembering what it was like to be a youth in those streets (I say ironically as I'm still only 27). What started as a work trip back to New York quickly transformed into a full blown spirit quest, the mission being: re-self-actualize in the city that built you. The question: if you could do it all again, would you?
If you could do it all again
This time with style
That's a hint for the Song To Study btw.
I spent two weeks tracing my ghost through familiar streets recently transformed by time and trend. I saw myself there, walking beyond the trees at Millburn Train Station in New Jersey on my way up the Sagamore Hill to my old home. I saw myself there, sitting window seat, on the NJ Transit watching the blue nights turn black as we hurtled quickly towards Penn Station. I saw myself there, looking up at the clock tower in Madison Square Park and there again walking under the arch in Washington Square. I caught a glimpse of my younger self riding the G train from Nassau to Carroll Street, a stop I once found domicile in. But, for as many places as I saw my ghost lingering, I found a newer shade of myself in halls unfamiliar.
I left that city a boy, at the time barely scraping by, but I returned as one wisened by time and fortified with resource and resolve. It astonished me how one can live in a place for so long only to one day return and find it feeling like a new city entirely, even though the only thing that changed was the prescription on the viewer. The feet that carried me down Bleecker were the very same, but yet they felt so much less encumbered, so much more free to flit. To my gratitude, it turns out working hard rewards you in meaningful ways if you let it. It was here I realized recent successes in life had unlocked this familiar land and opened doors that always remained shut. I had only ever experienced NYC as a bystander, a passer by in the icy night staring through frosted glass at the beaming smiles within. I always wished to taste the food they ate, to sip their wine, and feel the confidence that came with good decisions and fortune. You can imagine my disbelief when I returned home this time and found myself to be on the other-side of that fragile pane. What a sensation that was, such vitality did it spur realizing the magnanimous nature of my days.
I left New York four and a half years ago in search of stillness, I figured I would find it in California, and I did. I found it wedged between my stereo set-up, amongst the Redwoods of Sequoia, at the base of monolithic granite cliffs in Yosemite, and 15 feet under the waves free-diving with the Garibaldi and Sheepshead of Laguna. I have admittedly, struggled finding it in less grand environments here in Los Angeles. So, when I found it sitting in the cold on a bench in McCarren Park, I was naturally surprised. I'm not sure what to make of that, I think it was an indicator of growth. Sometimes you have to take the scenic route back home, I guess.
If you could do it all again
Yeah, without a second thought
I don't like leaving
The door shut
That's another hint.
Now for the tunes.
🎧 A Song to Study
If you would've googled the lyrics pasted above as hints you would've found yourself treading down a different Thom Yorke rabbit-hole, so I guess my hint was a bit of a redirect, but you can scroll down to the bonus section to satiate your curiosity nonetheless. Admittedly, I'm a noob when it comes to the adventures of Thom Yorke! I know Radiohead is (allegedly) one of the most important bands of all time but I actually have never listened to an album of theirs. I'll try to start chipping away at that blaspheme this week. Anyways, I stumbled upon this track on Puma Blue's Blueish Radio earlier this year and it has been a bit of a revelation.
Every night in New York I had a 30-40 minute walk home from the West Village down to the Financial District and I would fill it with the most nocturnal, brooding, and metallic sounds I could find. Nose Grows Some stood out for its alien, almost lunar atmosphere, I found a peaceful respite in loneliness here. Being this song is a recent discovery I don't have much more to say about this than that. I like what I like 🤷♂️. Genius says this about the meaning:
The song depicts a confrontation between two (potential/former/current) lovers, where the narrator distrusts the subject, who is accused by the narrator of bending the truth to protect his feelings.
I didn't get that, but alright!
🏡 An Album to Live In
This album is an absolute treasure for the wandering mind. I can't recall just how I discovered this record but when it came to my attention I became obsessed and remember being particularly peeved that the one vinyl pressing of this album was long out of print and flipping for hundreds on the secondary market. This is also a rare case where the album name, A Plane Over Woods, really matches and enhances the experience within. The gentle piano pieces found hidden beneath the gorgeous collaged album art instill a feeling of weightlessness, like you're staring out of a window looking down from 30,000 feet. Up there your problems get put on pause momentarily, you exist in a liminal space between what was and what will be, where you were and where you're going. Up there you have very few options in regards to how to approach the next moment, you can stare out the window and embrace the novelty of the experience and reap presence as a reward, you can sleep, or you can fidget. The smart man does all three. Enjoy!
P.S, this is an incredible album to fall asleep to. Thank me later.
To bring the hints full circle, I will leave you with this. Before going to sleep last night I decided to say what the hell and watch Anima, Thom Yorke and Paul Thomas Anderson's film collaboration, on Netflix. It's one of the most enthralling 11 minutes of musical choreography I've witnessed and deeply stirring, stirring enough to inspire a whole train of thought for today's newsletter. Check out this snippet of the song Dawn Chorus above and then go watch the full piece on Netflix. Then we can discuss.
👋 Until next time...
I understand how sacred privacy is in our day and I feel tremendously honored when someone trusts me enough to let me into their inbox week after week. Thanks for being here ❤️.