Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I'm in Missouri, the show-me state. I've wondered what that means, since I was a little kid. I've spent time in Missouri on four occasions the past two years, and I still don't know. I'm here helping a musician friend, Val Kyrie, on a mini-tour, six gigs in three days, two days in St Joseph and one in Joplin.

We are camped outside St Joseph, at the AOK Campground LLC, on the point of a small creek-fed reservoir, next to Interstate 29. I asked Wayne the campground attendant how old the "lake" is. He harrumphed, smiling, "Don't know. Lot older than I am." He's about 70, with a mouth full of gold teeth he had installed back in '62, after a car accident knocked all the front ones out. He can't remember what he paid for them, but, "They had a plastic coating. Wore off in no time. Gold's still the same, though." Val commented that she wished she had gold instead of mercury fillings. Me too. Makes sense. But then, why use gold for something useful when it makes such fine ornament? All those folks with poison in their mouth, planted before they had a say-so about it. All those folks with fancy bling, for the sake of gratifying a desire for fancy bling, a desire more empty than Wayne's mouth before he had this second set of teeth made.

Last night the humidity was somewhere around 100%, the temperature in the high eighties well after dark, something like a heat index in the tent of about 115. Sleep was not really an option. Normally, the frogs and crickets, in raucous abundance, would reverberate through me in a pleasant way and calm me to slumber. More penetrating was the higher pitch of rubber on asphalt at 75 mph, particularly the eighteen-wheel truck and trailer, especially when their drivers drifted off the lane and 9 wheels rolled across the rumble strip. Incessantly, all night. Good Goddess, the insatiability.

Thankfully a thunderstorm dropped an inch of rain, and the temperature and humidity enough degrees to require a bedsheet. The beat of the rain, the rush of the wind and the pounding of thunder managed to drown out the rip-whine of automobiles. It would have been better for my friend had that storm rushed through at about 10 pm instead of 3 am. Val had a 10 am gig this morning.

More penetrating than the frogs, crickets, automobiles, thunderstorm or the heat, were the cicadas. We have cicadas in Minnesota, but not like these. So many, calling together into the twilight, a rhythm, a pulse to which I danced at the edge of the water, to this side of a waxing half moon. A tymbal reverberation quickening to the core, a sound hardly changed these last few hundred million years. Who out there can feel it? Who out there cares to remember?

I can only speculate as to the affect of those two cellular towers, flashing blue just below the tree line across the lake. There is no affect, say the techno-fundamentalists. Right. The affect won't be apparent as long as cellular towers function, as long as there are Interstate highways. The affect will be abundantly apparent, as soon as they are gone. Which is why I reverberate to the tone of cicadas.

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