semi-trustworthy gent told me this has been out for eons. That may be the case. It’s only found my dying car stereo of late. The back right speaker is going quick, too, and this fucker slams like a horny bumper car, leaving my shitmobile shaking and intermittently rattling, which makes for good, garish looks when I finally hobble into “town” and get the eagle-eyed gawk. So, yeah, it’s been rolling during the commute, which means that it’s either too early for something formal, or too late for anything that I could ever hope to sing along to. It resides in that deep, crepuscular gray, crumpled like a spider in a wood crack, coming to life when you had just convinced yourself that the thing was doornail dead. The program stutters off half-dead, or dead alive; a fritzing last gasp for the living, or a pigeon-toed zombie walk, arms outstretched and hands frowning down like so much wax taken to a fidgety flame.
Crowd noise combines with dub’s skeleton. Tinkling bones grow into scabbed, flaky flesh, bruises burnt into it like cattle brands, thick fuchsia smoke coming off in wandering, faltering symbols that convey nothing so much. They float around the beat’s periphery, wails falling like liquefied junk cars through the writhing body of the din. Chimes drop soundly and softly drizzle, diamonds shat from flocks of corrugated steel geese. Voices snort and sneer and catcall; fuck if I know what’s being said or sung or whatever. It’s more like pointless cries for help in one of those en vogue torture flicks with CGI TNA, buckets of sticky stage blood. And just when it all begins to come together, it teases—calling bullshit on the union—and falls away: a tight, purple shriek suffocating in a paste white plastic sack.
Try waiting in line at a drive-thru liquor store with side two of this fucker pounding out of your doors. I’ve done it more than a few times already this week. Time’s got a funny way of sliding into irrelevancy when this shit’s on. Place markers, landscapes, people, signs, ambient sound—none of this means anything. Fifteen minutes feels like five hours and vice versa. I get out of the car, trudge past five huffing Tundras and introduce knuckles to window. The clerk, female, poured into electric blue clothing that could’ve doubled as a hand warmer, wants no part of it; Excepter whinnies and haws in the background, an electronic slaughterhouse tied to four, worn wheels. I finally get my bottle; it feels like hours have elapsed. The clerk, for the record, had a nice glob of “body glitter” smeared on her cleavage.
I couldn’t get that out of my head on the drive home. So I thought about water and mountains and that roe in a tube and how I’ll never finish Ezra Pound’s Cantos. I thought about a friend of mine who happens to be in advertising. I play him Tank Tapes. We talk about it. He’s got issues with forthrightness; I don’t blame him. Describe this shit, I said. He paces. He sighs. He begins to protest. And while he protests, he starts rambling on about how he has a spiritual relationship with advertising. He believes that a good—even great advertisement—should at all costs posit a window from which the consumer(s) may intuit the use(s) of the product, service, etc.
He believes this window to be spiritual in nature and that grasping the importance of owning/utilizing the product/service advertised is not entirely dissimilar from, say, experience of the ethereal, in a pan-religious sense, all fucking beatific and preternatural. He’s wringing his hands out like a beach towel while he’s saying this. He’s looking troubled and anxious, and I can’t help but think about Excepter in these terms: What can the listener intuit from this? What exactly is the product here? What’s the service offered? Is there a service offered? What’s the importance of it? And could it ever hope to give me an idea of what the “holy” consists in? Oh, fuck no. But he goes on and on, jabbering like a Kong Dong Vibe, turning me into a broken down bedroom suit inhabited by lemurs, insects, vermin. He continues to ramble—caffeinated, barren, wasted.
And then he tells me this story about a family vacationing in Delhi. Ten years ago they encountered these Punjabi folks that ran a sort of bed-and-breakfast—a not-so-clean place this family chose at random. It was only for a few days, and they were on their way to the Ganges. They were going to the Ganges to witness the nearly five-hundred thousand Hindus that ceremoniously wash themselves in the polluted water in observance of the three-hundred and thirty million gods and goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. The story takes off, as it were, at the proprietor’s urging for the family to walk with him into the garden, which catches the family off guard and generally confuses them, and has them exchanging looks with one another that sort of co-joins them in the event. Tank Tapes is still bumping. It’s careening across my face, and I’m suddenly wondering why I feel like I’ve got three or four competing voices in my head, locked in like a methhead in a doorless shitter.
With the proprietor, Amandeep Pahlavan, he says, pacing, fucking pacing back and forth wringing his hands as if they’ll give off wine, they descend into this miasma of a garden, which turns out to be a rectangular open-air sitting area, adjacent to the front desk, which sees an extraordinary amount of traffic—mostly odorous Americans in their late teens or early twenties, dressed in traditional clothing, smelling of opium and various oils, and when the family steps over the threshold and out into the entropic a.m. Delhi sun, onto the fragmented red brick walkway, Amandeep smiles, huge ivory bicuspids peeling back cinnamon lips. The fetid air greets them. Flies and other unidentifiable insects swarm their faces and hands and legs. Terribly horrific odors of decay, he says, coughing, grimacing, his cheeks sucking themselves into tight meaty rolls.
One of the kids discreetly points out a dead dog in the far right hand corner of the garden, where three veiled Punjabi women are taking tea, oblivious to the putrefaction. The dog is in five or six different pieces. Its coat is worn away from its skin and the ribcage pulses with maggots. Insects skitter out of its snout; eyes are broken from their sockets like yolks, running around the “garden” floor, confusions of bugs congregating in their colorless gore. A leg rests at one of the Punjabi women’s feet, its paw extended, frozen. Amandeep grasps their hands and leads them to a six by twelve foot concavity of sclerotic soil and weeds and garbage. There is garbage everywhere and the family covers their mouths to keep from gagging, the stench is that potent, and Amandeep points a long, brown rhododendron out to the father and tells him that something very special happened there.
What, the family asks, through the screens of five digits. Krishna came in the form of a bumble bee, and rested upon the apex of this flower, he says. This flower that is unequivocally in a state of decrepitude, and scatologically brown, and essentially a headstone for the other dead and buried foliage that might have once held a modicum of verdigris, thinks the family with its hive mind, the children now vomiting in stuttered grunts and broken cries. Amandeep smiles and laughs and then agrees to take them to their rooms. It is simple. It is concise.
That’s what I want, man, he says, turning Tank Tapes off. But I can still hear it in my head. I can still hear the screams and beats and hot, plastic sound. I want people to believe in these products, these services, he’s saying and I’m wondering why I ever played it for him. I want them to think and truly believe that they can interact with them and that they’ll mean something, more than something—the most to them, he says, his words stilted and annoyingly precious. These interactions will shape their lives, their psyches, their offspring, for generations into perpetuity. Form instantiated in matter; that’s what the fuck I’m talking about.
But what the fuck does this have to do with Excepter? And why did you turn the fucking tape off?