The Friday Morning Listen: Pat Metheny – Imaginary Day (1997)

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by Mark Saleski

I’ve been reading bits and pieces of Henry Miller’s The Air-Conditioned Nightmare, Miller’s collection of essays about his travels around the United States. The expatriate writer had wanted to see what his homeland had become, to get to the core of it all. As with all of his work, Miller pulled no punches — there were parts of the country that disgusted him (Boston and New York), while other places inspired. It’s interesting to read his summation of where “modern” society was headed, mostly because it mirrors many of today’s sentiments. Apparently, we’ve always been on the road to hell.

I’m not much for travel, but I’d be up for such a trip — except that I’d like to be able to go back in time to find out what happened to the people and things that I’d left behind years ago. There are so many things to wonder about:

  • That candlepin bowling alley we used to go to, in the basement of that old mill building? Was there really a single tenpin lane up on the third floor?
  • I spray painted somebody’s initials on some rocks below a bridge near the river. Are they still there?
  • Whatever happened to Miss Libby?
  • My old grade school was turned into a bunch of condos. Do you think the floors squeak in them just like our classrooms?
  • I had an Underwood typewriter that I used to write with back in the early 70’s. I’d like it back. That exact same machine. Dang, it was heavy.
  • Nobody ever told me about encores, so I missed “Don’t Fear The Reaper” at that Blue Oyster Cult show, my first real concert.
  • What happened to that plan to go to culinary arts school? Who chose engineering? Not me!
  • The girl in the stairwell during that party? What was her name? She never told me.
  • That band we saw in the gym for ten bucks? I wonder if they made it. Oh, that was R.E.M. Never mind.
  • It still amazes me that my 5th grade class went to see 2001, A Space Odyssey on a field trip.

There were a lot of people and places that were not to Henry Miller’s liking. The Grand Canyon though, that really got to him: It’s mad, completely mad, and at the same time so grandiose, so sublime, so illusory, that when you come upon it for the first time you break down and weep for joy. I did, at least.

I feel the same way about ordinary things. At any moment something can strike me as particularly moving. That’s why I’d like to go back and see some of these things with adult eyes. Maybe I’ll get some answers. Or maybe I’ll learn that it was all as brilliantly golden as I remember it.

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at [email protected]
Mark Saleski
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