Mojave desert, California

Twentynine Palms. Sunset: 6:00pm. Sunny with a high of 80 degrees and lows in the forties. The Mojave desert is my favorite place on the planet. For fifteen years, this landscape has pulled at my thoughts like a magnet. Maybe it’s the cadence: Groom Lake. Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range. Devil’s Hole. Mythic names that speak of salvation and redemption.

The desert is a land of religious vision, the home of desperate saints and ascetics dragging themselves across the sand in search of revelation. Airplane graveyards glint in the desert sun, perfectly preserved by the unoxidized air. I once heard about a woman who can tell your future by deciphering the contrails of experimental military aircraft. Driving out of the town of Mojave, there’s a sign that says, “If my people humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land.”

The desert offers a promise: drive a little further, keep racing through nothing and you might see something grand, something that will help you make sense of the world. A tragic ghost town. An abandoned gag shop that sold alien beef jerky during the UFO craze in the summer of ’71. A place in Death Valley where a woman performed an opera each night to empty seats. A historical marker where they detonated the first atomic bomb. And so much sky and land there’s nothing to think about except something resembling god.

SUSS – Kingman, AZ

Night Suite | Northern Spy, 2021 | Bandcamp

The new EP from SUSS is the perfect companion for night-driving through the desert.

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Doug Fort
Doug Fort
1 month ago

Whew! That’s a good one.