Gas

Somewhere in Kentucky

Powerball

May 13, 2019

My screen delivers footage of strangled sea turtles and disoriented walruses plummeting off a cliff. The United Nations says we’re on track to extinguish one million species from the planet. Meanwhile we worry about the health of the stock market. Wall Street’s anxieties dominate the news after the president tweeted his way into a pyrrhic trade war with China. I keep scrolling, fighting the urge to click a headline that says “Ten things you’re doing wrong at restaurants.”

I stand in an Econo Lodge parking lot in the hour of the wolf, bronzed by the glow of the Walmart and Waffle House logos across the street. The only noise tonight is the highway and it sounds like the sea. I’m fantasizing about the desert again, a place for transforming a messy life into myth. One of these days I’ll point the car west. An hour ago I stood in line at the Gas ‘n Go behind a furious man with a pistol tucked into the elastic waistband of his sweatpants, yelling that the cashier only gave him three Powerball tickets when he should’ve gotten four. I bowed my head and thought about patience and chance. The manager intervened and everybody narrowly avoided getting shot.

Near pump number nine, a woman in the passenger seat of a jumbo pickup truck wiped away some tears. She caught me looking and I turned away and began fiddling with the radio. A chipper advertisement encouraged me to order nutrients harvested from jellyfish. A news report at the top of the hour told me that we’re still arguing about whether guns kill people and kicking around new ways to hurt the poor. Standing in the grass near every highway ramp, there is a man holding a cardboard sign. Sometimes it says veteran, sometimes it says father, but it always says hungry. Sometimes I give him a dollar, sometimes I look the other way. I hate these moments when my nation not only feels ugly and cruel, it looks like a mirror. I stand in the Econo Lodge parking lot and think about what to do next.

The Detroit Escalator Co. — Shifting Gears

from Soundtrack [313] | Ferox, 1996 | Spotify

A selection from Neil Ollivierra’s gorgeous slow-motion score for post-industrial introspection. Motored by quietly churning machines, Soundtrack [313] rides a rare line between the plaintive and the hopeful. There’s an excellent in-depth interview with Ollivierra at Ambient Music Guide.

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