Street music #1

Friday November 24, 5:37 pm: I’m following a long line of red tail lights up Laurel Canyon from Hollywood. The night is alive with ions and twinkles and plans for the weekend, but it’s still way too soon for me to get used to the early dark. On the CD player, the long somnambulant intro to “Cortez the Killer,” from Neil Young’s Zuma. Starting at the Canyon Store it wraps me in a blanket of uncommon patience for the slow wind through the potholes and roadside construction that has gone on forever. Maybe I even remember it from hitchhiking in the opposite direction forty years ago, to walk the Strip in all seasons, just to be there for the birth pangs of my generation. And now Neil begins to sing: “He came dancing across the water, with his galleons and guns, looking for a new world and a palace in the sun ...” The election is almost a month behind us and maybe, just maybe, a glimpse of a new world is on the horizon. Probably not. Already the residue of the electoral orgasm is fading fast. But you know what they say: If you drive from LA to NY in the dark, you can only see what’s in your headlights. But if you keep following the road, you’ll get there. We can only be where we are, keeping in mind where we want to be. This is helpful advice for writers, too, lost in their prose, trying to keep the overview in mind but only able to see what's swirling in our heads, squeezing out of our fingertips, sometimes like blood from a stone. Life's that way, too, I guess. Keep the faith and you get there, even if faith is a joke ... Man, some crazy shit happens when you drive alone ... And now, almost on cue, the quiet apocalypse of “Cortez” ends, and on the final cut Young is joined by Nash, Stills and Crosby for the ethereal and hopeful “Through My Sails. As I crest Mulholland, I open all the windows and the sunroof, feel the wind on my face and at my back, race for the bottom, and head for home.

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