Satellite of Love

I’m sitting in a parking lot and should be entering a restaurant. Instead I can’t stop writing in my head. About Lou Reed, whose music I adored for so much of my life, for bad times and good, who died today and whose death was expected. I was dreading his death for certain selfish, self-involved reasons. Lou being alive meant certain moments were still extant, insulated and isolated and intact. Certain people evoke Lou for me. They always did, forever will. Everyone supposedly has a “type” of desirable look in a romantic prospect. For me it was the swagger and angularity and dark bubbling coral reef of hair and aviators and razor smarts of Lou Reed. Always did it for me. The importance transcends appearance and in fact I’m minimizing the reality that Lou Reed’s death made me cry today. I don’t cry often. There are people in my life who are gone or on the brink of permanent bye-bye. Who for certain reasons of ill health and sad choices are not really here any more. I miss them now. I miss the Lou that was. There are dead people who can perhaps return. I feel hope for the life and health of certain friends. Then I think of Lou’s “Romeo Had Juliette” from the brilliant and I think underrated political album New York, and I focus on the hope stored near my collarbone. Lou wrote: “And something flickered for a minute / And then it vanished and was gone.” Hope goes, memory stays. I can see the smudges on aviator lenses, hear leaves crunching in Oberlin, Ohio, feel the sweaty wax of my friend’s pumpkin candle, smell leather and mildew and love.

Rothko's Rolodex

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the sky photography of experimental geographer and scholar of classified satellites, Trevor Paglen. Paglen documents stealth military installations, a dark world of covert domes and fortified fences he shoots from great distances, often with cameras meant for astronomy. He does gorgeous work and is clearly smart as hell.

If Don DeLillo and Bruce Nauman decided to hook up and have, somehow, a biological child, well, that spawn would be Paglen.

The deliberate, slow passage of a satellite is one of my favorite things to see here in So Cal, out in the desert, where the Milky Way doesn’t hide and the zodiacal light — a cone in the sky — shows itself if you know where to look.

According to San Diego astronomer Dennis Mammana, who showed me the zodiacal cone on the night of my 45th birthday, on a dry lake bed…

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About Me

“Grace to be born / And live as variously as possible.” Frank O’Hara


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