My Life As a Musical – Blue Angels
I left the house in quintessential Rango style today, in a hurry and missing something. Today it was neither keys nor phone, but in fact the power adapter to my trusty Sony camcorder, the little gizmo with the built-in projector that I’ve used to shoot all the Operation Rango videos. So I came back and got a replacement, the bulkier Panasonic with the nice color translation, but in fact forgot the memory card. That’s just how we roll here in the Rangosphere. It’s not that I’m disorganized, it’s that I have too much to organize successfully and consequently fail at random tasks. I’m ambitious to a fault, I’ll grant you that.
So resigned to actually experiencing the moment in the 1st person with no way to put on Facebook, I high-tailed it down I-405 to Kirkland and grabbed a table near the Lake Washington shore. The drive offered spectacular vistas today, with blue skies cover-to-cover and mountains everywhere you look. This truly is the Emerald City when the sun comes out, and writing this now, I’m really regretting not getting it on video. The wind was blowing just a bit, and my view of the lake was obscured by two buildings with an American flag hanging between them. It reminded me of September 11th and the questions my daughter was asking about the war the other night. The arc of the flag was complimented by seabirds behind it caught in the same draft, and that’s the direction the noise was coming from.
A distant rumble belied the story of two more seabirds arcing up in the distance, but sharply, not like the others. They exploded in size in freeze-frame time, quickly disavowing my brain of the notion the were birds at all, revealing themselves instead to be two A-10 Warthogs, tank killers on a strafing run that was paradoxically deliberately slow and unbelievably fast. In a thousand frames a second my brain elucidated a story of fear and carnage imagining what it would be like to on the wrong side of a war with us and having those machines reap death on my town, blazing fury out of their nose and the roar of engines screaming with overtones. They kill tanks, I’m sure my Matrix wouldn’t afford much protection.
They repeated this process three times, and each time the anticipation was tangible and each time I was out of my chair, arms up in a V. The Doppler effect was in full glory and the unique harmonics in the jet engines made for a rare listening opportunity. Listening is a skill that musicians practice, but some people have an uncanny natural ability. I’m not one such person, but over the years I’ve had teachers tell me what to listen for and eventually learned to hear what I missing previously. What you need more than anything is to practice. This noise started in the gut, at a range you can’t hear but you can feel, and was full of metal and blue flames.
It was inspiring at a level that’s hard to pin down with words. Rare, perhaps, a surge of patriotism and pride. Notably absent: fear. Those jets are the pinnacle of human engineering and the people that fly them are unique among us in their intelligence, skill and courage. They’ve got an amazing and difficult job, the kind that just makes me shake my head and say “no way man, you do it”.
I left Kirkland with a well of mojo swirling in my gut and hit the guitar store on the way home. Time to make a decision about the dobro. I wrote this on my Facebook page:
She’s regal and blonde, with silver coils that resonate around a long, graceful neck. She’s small but heavier than you’d expect with elegant curves, and just the feeling of her on my lap is comforting and immediately familiar. It feels like love, what can I say. And even talking about it making me feel childishly optimistic.
She’s not perfect. Perfect for me maybe, except for the timing of
PLAGUS: I’ll get right on that.
RANGO: Wait for it…\m/ (-.-) \m/