Legion. An amalgamated journal.

The gaunt life

The former Agnes Aspinall Starr, now Dorothea Agnes Zhouave-Michaelmas Charnay after two divorces and thirty-six minutes with the renowned clairvoyant Mme. Trairieux of Potzdam Place, has consulted me for advice on her upcoming album. I take this to indicate her pleasure with my minor contribution to last year’s ornate electronic remixing of her “Morton Salt Girl” by the carrion-loving new-wave troupe Gristl, although I must admit that this reworking was so saturated in gorgeous polyphonic noise that to isolate my own work in it is difficult even for those who know me well. I will receive her, as I receive all of my friends who or whom I first met in the period between the death of the last Memoist and the first broadcasts of Peer Gunnt, in the small underground bar behind my apartment. I do not now and will not then remember this bar’s name, or the name of the owner, who is notable only for being extraordinarily fat and still weightless.

I will apologize to Dorothea for my forgetfulness, and she will laugh, because she will know the bar’s name, just as she knows the name of every bar in this city, which is to say in the same way as she knows the name of every brand of cinnamon and every of my friends’ mothers. It was during the “Morton Salt Girl” sessions that I first noticed this phenomenon. It is especially disconcerting because of the way she pronounces the third largest cinnamon manufacturer: “Talon” with an inverted emphasis, so that it rhymes with “salon.” As I am only of stable means, it upsets me to have the fixities of life interrupted in this way.

She will say: “Alan, you don’t know how to match colors. And you never have.” She will be wrong in this, because I have made a career of matching sounds, and the difference between this job and the job of putting on shirts is not so far off as she thinks.

A pigeon flying above will accidentally drop a bottle-cap, a tragic accident on account of the precious value the pigeon has assigned to the it, some feet from us. This will subtly disturb her, as if she has read of such things happening but cannot determine where.

“I think that you shouldn’t use so many banjos in this album,” I will offer to her once we have both had something to drink. “I think that they are a second-rate instrument. There are so many stringed instruments with that same obscure pretension to choose from: mandolins, autoharps, zithers.”

She will accuse me at this point of an unwielding genericism, although I will think she is accusing me of dilletantism, and she will think she is accusing me of coldness. The point of the meeting will be broken by this turn of events, and we will run out the clock talking about whether it is better to feel too constricted or too unrestrained in your clothes. Her cousin will pick her up on the corner outside of the bar whose name I still will not recall. Her cousin’s car will have a false European license plate on the front, and this will irritate me, although I will make a joke about stealing cars and shipping them across the Atlantic.

The pigeon will return home to the statue of Admiral Farragut, and the three—pigeon, wife, and Admiral Farragut—will wallow in disappointment.

Garrett Dash Nelson

March 3rd, 2008 at 11:11 am

But perhaps you disagree

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The room is, as yet, filled with smoke and apprehension.