clap clap blog: we have moved

Saturday, September 11, 2004
Walking home from the subway last night in Washington Heights, the sidewalk on one side of 177th street was blocked off with garbage bags from the elementary school. I could have squeezed by if kids hadn't roped it off by running unspooled casette tape between the poles of the scaffolding there. (The kids love that scaffolding--usually when I'm walking by there's a group of them hanging off the bars, ducking back and forth and trying to catch each other.) I cut through the street instead. When I reached the other side, it became apparent that the school had cleaned out their library, and, what's worse, I hadn't known, because if I had, I surely would have scavenged the educational records and filmstrips and outdated posters before they could be carelessly, and OK sensibly, tossed. (I'd done this four years ago with a school library upstate and came up with, among other things--I actually made an album in the library that summer with my four-track and manipulated media--these old issues of a magazine meant to promote Soviet Russia in the US. Awesome!) For a moment there, before I remembered again the densely-packed state of my apartment, I was filled with a sense of missed opportunity when I saw the broken LPs and tape boxes. Oh, the samples I could have grabbed! Oh, the collages I could have made! But then I remembered that, eh, I probably wouldn't have anyway. I almost did scavenge, but I'm a little leery of filth these days given the invasion of roaches we're currently experiencing in Miss Clap's abode, and I wasn't entirely sure what was in those garbage bags besides mixed media.

As I approached the corner, I saw that the kids had gone a little Halloween with the magnetic tape, breaking open the plastic cases and throwing it over wires, around poles, and in the barren, stunted trees beside the street. I wished that I had a machine that I could run over these tapes as they lay exposed and hear what was on them, run them back and forth like a needle or a scanner and play as they lay, at whatever pace their arrangement allowed. I wondered, too, what other magnetic fields it would pick up and what those would sound like mixed in with the narration of the pioneers' progress, what tones the power lines overhead would produce, what countermelody the cars' electronic guts would play against their bassy chuff as they sped by, whether cell phone interference would play out as a pleasing drone or simply a cacaphonous din, and if the voices would be intelligable or manifest as something else.

I am tripped up by these wires in their loveliness, by the bits of beauty in this mess. I don't know what to do with them; I can't catch them and keep them, I can't really even explain them. So I move on and go home and do what I usually do, and that's OK too.