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Nights of Carlotta

Woke up to “Punk Rock” by Mogwai this morning, the first time I had heard their album Come On Die Young (1999). It opens with a quote from Iggy Pop, from an interview on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television, March 11, 1977. In the interview he’s talking to the “90 Minutes Live” show host Peter Gzowski.

I’ll tell you about punk rock: punk rock is a word used by dilettantes and, uh… and, uh… heartless manipulators, about music… that takes up the energies, and the bodies, and the hearts and the souls and the time and the minds, of young men, who give what they have to it, and give everything they have to it. And it’s a… it’s a term that’s based on contempt; it’s a term that’s based on fashion, style, elitism, satanism, and, everything that’s rotten about rock ‘n’ roll…

I don’t know Johnny Rotten… but I’m sure, I’m sure he puts as much blood and sweat into what he does as Sigmund Freud did. You see, what, what sounds to you like a big load of trashy old noise… is in fact… the brilliant music of a genius… myself. And that music is so powerful, that it’s quite beyond my control. And, ah… when I’m in the grips of it, I don’t feel pleasure and I don’t feel pain, either physically or emotionally. Do you understand what I’m talking about? Have you ever, have you ever felt like that? When you just, when you just, you couldn’t feel anything, and you didn’t want to either. You know, like that? Do you understand what I’m saying, sir?

Last night I went to Carlotta Street near LSU to watch the spectacle of teeming youth and desperate insanity of a Halloween weekend in Baton Rouge. My anthropology is camouflaged. I’m a raver cowboy in my best duds, pearl buttoned shirt, Stetson, and orange cargo pants. It’s all a mask though. I just want to push myself out of my room and be around other people.

Earlier, on the open porch scene of Spanishtown, I made some friends of some drifting youth here in Baton Rouge. Their goal in life? to work, go to rehab and eventually get custody back of their child. The two of them are with me now, in my car, driving the breezy night, parking in a sketchy parking lot. Just the three of us, two being on anti-depressants, and we’re asked repeatedly to help buy vodka at the local Circle K for these three 17 year old girls, dressed as faeries, one faery with a cellphone tucked in her bra. As what seems to be thousands of students dressed in their terrible and amazing costumes brush by me, I wonder how I can feel so dissociated in this overwhelming crowd. I don’t know whether it’s the consequence of over-stimulus or whether I’ve just developed some mental barrier against joining into the fullness of this horde. I wonder whether this is a problem for the 17 year old girls too and maybe that’s why they’re asking me to help them get a fifth of the local vodka brand, Taaka, from the Circle K to mix with their blue Powerade. I went to Carlotta in the hopes of finding in the mass the one woman who told me to come out last night. “Hey Aharon, you should really come out to Carlotta, I’ll be on Ivanhoe later on.” Sweet crazy girl. I am loneliness in this mass.

The three of us make our way back to my car, and I play for my new friends “Philip Glass”, the homage by Colourbox, as I speed us back to the nooks and crannies from whence we came.

I don’t why this all puts me in mind of Rothko, both the artist and the ambient music project. Here’s there homage to the ambient composer, Harold Budd.

About Aharon N. Varady


Aharon's Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, the Yiddish Forverts, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words. If you find his work helpful to your own or you'd simply like to support him, please consider donating via his Patreon account.

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