Happy Yom Kippur
I took the day off to sit on a chilly length of Ocean Beach, meditating on not eating and absolving all the sins I spent the other 364 days accumulating. Everything else seemed to be proceeding as normal. The 38 still chugged down Geary like a tired worm, its windows perpetually crammed with shriveled Chinese men and painted Russian babushkas. The prickly odors of pork dumplings and sweet buns still lunged at me from dingy storefronts. The homeless men still flashed their battered-window grins and the twelve-year-old skateboard pseudopunks still snaked through ever-coming traffic. I waited for wisdom to arrive on my sandy perch, some heady aphorism to get me through October. But mostly I felt hungry and tired and cold. I've never been religious so I guess the best bits of enlightenment go to the old, back-bent men first anyway. The ones who've suffered, who've faithfully kept weekly appointments at temples, who've fulfilled minyans and can grace moments with the throaty poetry of Hebrew at will. That's not me.
So I turned to my headphones instead, where I've always found refuge. In the burn-it-down DIY ethos of punk, I discovered the power of self-definition. Among the epic wilderness of Radiohead and Modest Mouse, I found solace in their existential confusion. And just try telling me that you can't find a healthy dollop of rapture in vintage James Brown. Scrolling through my MP3s today though, I stopped on Portland duo Talkdemonic's Beat Romantic. There seemed something right about instrumental music, a spareness that fit the occasion. It's an album that's moved me tremendously since I first heard it, but it felt even more powerful today. I let it serve as my soundtrack for atonement, but it was so much more simultaneously.
It was an altar of longing, a temple of hope, a monument of emotion. It was the old world of the violin and the new world of electronics, the windswept stretch of beach and the flustering city behind it. And it was holy too. Maybe not holy in the way of black-draped men with bushy beards and spiraling payot or millennia-old teachings encased in dusty volumes, but it was as close as I could get. It was art as salvation and I was happy to worship.
* MP3: "Vérité" - Talkdemonic from Beat Romantic [Buy it]
* Band Website: Talkdemonic