Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harris K. Tellemacher

Have you seen the movie L.A. Story, in which Steve Martin plays Harris K. Tellemacher, a hapless weatherman who gets caught in a weird love-rhombus with Victoria Tennant, a (very) pre-Sex in the City Sarah Jessica Parker, and Richard E. Grant? Ring a bell?

There's a scene in which Harris' mood, Harris' desire (it would seem) is directly connected to the weather, and either causes a storm or is reflected in it. I'm going to go with "causes" for the purposes of this blog. One of the things I like about the movie is that it presents mysterious, even outright improbable to impossible events as fact... sort of a magical realism trick. A prescient talking illuminated traffic billboard, for instance.

Because the thing is... the mysterious happens all the time in life... unexplained coincidences... chance occurances... weird feelings... strange sensations... talking animals. Okay, I made that last one up.

But you know what I mean. Things happen that make you scratch your head... people know things that have no way of knowing... experiences (both good and bad) seem to suggest something outside of what we perceive, something inexplicable...

I, for instance, have a knack for blowing out streetlights with my presence. This has been going on for as long as I can remember. I walk by a streetlight, the bulb flickers and dies. Over and over and over it happens. I've also noticed that I have the tendency to write songs that predict the future.

As time passes and each new present helps crystalize a past... lyrics that were mysterious to me, words I wrote without a full understanding of why... words I was inordinantly attracted to... Well: they just make sense. They reveal a truth I wasn't fully aware of (if at all) at the time.

Since I've realized this, I've been paying closer attention to how I write and what I write. Sounds silly to put it that way. What I mean is that I've tried to become more aware of certain unexplained lyrics I'm attracted to and (1) not ignore them, and (2) try to use them to help me decode my own feelings. My feelings.

Which brings us back to the weather and Mr. Tellemacher. This summer, the big storms we've had in the Chicago area have coincided almost too perfectly with stormy personal events of mine. One of these storms caused flooding localized to my neighborhood and put two feet of water in my basement and about 1000 other basements in my immediate vicinity...

Tonight, after plodding through a day when work trials compounded with health issues and impending personal disturbances resulted in me leaving the office almost two hours after I intended... I walked into an atmosphere that clung to my skin, that felt ready to explode... and explode it did.

It all felt apocalyptic.

I made it home and stood in my backyard and watched my storm build and build... I watched the lightening strike inside my eyes... I heard the thunder echo in the spaces in my chest... I nervously watched the basement door for signs of flooding but none came...

I let the rain soak my hair and run off my face onto the ground as if it were my own tears given to the earth. The streetlight in the alley flared out. I climbed the stairs and a nervous dog met me at the door. 

The rain slowed but the lightening intensified and the thunder followed like an obedient child. I sat in my house looking out the window at the storm, which is supposed to continue through the night.

I wonder if it is my creation I wonder if my songs are the prescient talking illuminated traffic billboards of my life.

I wonder how much money I've cost the city in lightbulbs.


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