Throwaway Style is a weekly column dedicated to examining all aspects of the Northwest music scene. Whether it’s a new artist making waves, headlines affecting local talent, or reflecting on some of the music that’s been a foundation in our region; this space celebrates everything happening in the Northwest region, every Thursday on the KEXP Blog.
Music thumps through the walls while I refill a bag with coins; a much, much bigger bag than before. It looks like it weighs 400 pounds but is easy to lift. Loud guitar blasts compete with thumping 808s, a singer wails a tune incongruent with everything else going on. Daryl waves his hands above his head and sways to a love song he has distinguished from the morass of melody swirling and bubbling in this noise stew. He smells like pot and Lacoste cologne, I smell like a pine tree (and not in a metaphorical way). Instead of trying to figure out why a cat would feel the need to poorly cover up weed smell on their clothes, I continue to fill the bag.
The sack is full enough for me to be able to sling it over my shoulder, so I do just that. Daryl hobbles after me as I make my way for the door on the far end of the black room.
The ceilings in this cathedral are so high you can see clouds forming near its painted corners. Daryl and I are admiring stained glass paintings of saints we’ve never heard of; he runs his black and white paw across the colors. I’m sitting on the bag of coins, glowing so brightly I can almost see them through the heavy canvas. I carry them far enough to have another place to sit when the weight gets to be too much. There’s a children’s choir practicing downstairs.
I stand up to stretch and trek a few more hundred yards before my next break.
“What’s in the bag?”
A very familiar voice greets me; as soon as I hear it, I whip my neck to find the direction from where it came. Que Linda is walking toward me, long black dress gliding across the hardwood floor. When she gets within tattooed arm’s distance, she reaches past me to look inside the bag, face glowing. She doesn’t say anything, just wordlessly acknowledges the coins with a couple of raised eyebrows. Que Linda has a seat in the pew closest to us; I sit next to her and Daryl takes a seat on the bag. He takes a coin out and tries in vain to bite through it.
The light from the coin shimmers along the edges of the room, Que Linda eyes that light curiously while we talk about death and past lives. She’s been dead for almost seven years and still visits. She believed in the latter concept in life and is agnostic to it in death, feeling like it’s taking too long for her to get to the next life. She feels like all she does is amble around and visit the dreams of the people she loved prior to her afterlife; she feels like she’s been dead a hundred years already and expects her new assignment on Earth to be the culmination of a gestation period where all that she loves will die and she’ll have no dreams where they can visit her.
She stands up, takes a coin, stuffs it in her bra, and walks out of the cathedral to the sound of children laughing and playing in the rain outside.
We managed to find each other on an iridescent platform, a floating bridge of sorts, surrounded by stars. Que Linda is wearing a white dress and Daryl tugs away at it, trying to get her attention. He climbs on her shoulder and she pets him while admiring the shimmer of the stars and the colors of the structure we’re standing on. We light a joint to enjoy the view and everything starts to move in a crawling motion. She laughs and wonders if we’re in front of a green screen with CGI going off in real time. Stars glisten and shoot from one corner of our view to the other, the platform changes from purple to blue to green in a slow bloom.
Flashing and rotating images interrupted our ruminative and majestic viewing period. They were all of the two of us. Sitting on the floor, crushing beer cans and trying to shoot them into the wastebasket in my bedroom; dancing in the kitchen; reading in bed; shrouded in blankets and crying, either one or both of us. By the time we were brought back to this interstellar observation deck, her head is on my shoulder and the tear running down the side of her face shines like a diamond in the stars.
A constellation was formed into the shape of an alarm clock; a second hand moved backward as it apparently counted us down. Daryl fell asleep waiting for it to run out.
When it did, everything went black.
I’m sitting in a rocking chair in a wooden cabin, its panels a weatherbeaten medium brown, the distance of the room away from myself and Que Linda wrapped in each other’s limbs in bed, both years younger than where my life leaves me now and hers left permanently. The Dominican flag tattooed on her leg flaps in the non-existent breeze. Daryl, childlike in his sweetness, sleeps ageless on a rug next to the bed. A wood-burning stove sits like a monolith in the tiny kitchen nook, its black steel threatening to shadow the entire room. Two floppy pieces of fish, left behind at room temperature while the rest are likely drenched in stomach acid. Fish fry all over the counter and the floor, with a footpath which leads right to where Daryl is sleeping.
The images which flashed before my eyes in the stars are in framed, moving photos on the wall. And more; there are thousands of cycling images hung on the wall. They’re all up there. Hot summer days of us sleeping with a fan pushed up against the edge of the bed. Many, many of us drinking through the day. Standing, walking, dancing, kissing, mixing sake with Sprite in a cul de sac. Me tracing circles over her tattooed limbs. Her drawing hearts on things I own. Things I’ve buried under other things, even the memories that were first to go were on that wall. Younger me and Younger Que Linda, sleeping like toddlers, looking like kids compared to the way I look now; I haven’t aged much but my hair is frosted in salt and pepper as a direct cause of grief and grown man stress. This small room, smelling like fried fish and soggy wood and the rosy, preserved memories of a person I loved who is not here anymore, being heated by the warmth of two people who care deeply for each other sleeping in one tangled heap.
This Year's Seattle Critics Poll Results Have Been Revealed
With the vaunted Pazz & Jop critics poll being discontinued in the wake of the Village Voice shutting down, a few places, including The Seattle Times, are trying to fill the void. Spearheaded by the paper's music writer Michael Rietmulder, local music media personalities were invited to make their picks for the best local album of the year. "Local" usually ends up meaning something different to everyone, so in this circumstance, local music qualifies as any music released this year by an artist who lived in Washington State when the album was recorded and/or released.
As we celebrate the life of Elliott Smith, who left the world fifteen years ago, Martin Douglas shares a personal story of bonding over his final released collection of songs.
Music is more often than not the soundtrack to – and relief from – some of the hardest moments in our lives. Martin Douglas describes how listening to Grouper got him through a very tough decade.