Notes From The Ant Empire: The Sun, The Soul, The Song That Made The Stoic Man Cry

I recently went on a date with the wife for Thai food in Thai Town followed up with Okkervil River at the Henry Fonda. We spotted Will Sheff out on the patio before the show, underneath the holiday lights and projection of the opening band on the outdoor wall. He was taller and skinnier then I unexpected, but then again, everyone is decompressed on Youtube.

Look at these clowns run around a ping pong table like kids born in the 70’s. Youtube, the video immolation of America.

If you took the opposite of the Tibetan Book of the Dead you come up with the American Book of the Living. And that book is cooked like a dishonest bookie’s. We’re not living anymore but fleeing from one entertainment source to the next, the pleasure feast paid for by credit, and we know how that goes.


I was born in Southern California and I love it. You may hate Bush but you’re still a Yankee when you’re abroad. I’m a Californian first though. I go down to the pier at the end of Washington Blvd. and reflect on the city behind me, stare at the ocean and then go drink a beer on the 2nd floor sundeck of the restaurant that’s changed names so many times I’ve lost count. After the sun goes down people start lining up for tables at C&O across the street and the bike path is abandoned to shadowy individuals and waiters take orders while firing up the heating lamps. The sun is extinguished in the waters of the Pacific, somewhere between here and China. After three Stella Artois, fascism never tasted sweeter.


Although I don’t believe in much, I believe in the soul. I don’t believe it goes anywhere when our lives are done, but while we’re alive it exists. After that, it’s only eternal existence is in the memories of those we’ve touched, but once they’re gone as well, that’s it — which, in its own intimate and valuable way is divinely magical — but still, the whole thing is temporal and meaningless. Not to be too unabashedly crestfallen, but we’re flies on the window screen of life, trying to make sense of ourselves, pooping all over the place.

Not to be too melodramatic, or emo, but our souls exist in certain bends of the violin bow. The smell of outfield grass in spring. The care put into perfect clay oven tandoori chicken. The moisture left behind from a lover’s kiss.

The way I look at it, some of the most sacred and soulful artifacts are crossword puzzle eraser shavings. You can have your steeples and sermons I’ll take the Sunday Times in bed with a steaming, fog-lifting cup of coffee.


I don’t trust people who say they don’t listen to music. If you have a soul, you listen to music.

When I worked at Trader Joe’s back in 2003, one of the customers was a squirrelly, diminutive man with a bushy mustache, floppy ballcap, and the exuberant compulsion to sell people bumper stickers that said DRUM MACHINES HAVE NO SOUL.

I don’t fully agree with the sentiment but I admired his quixotic mission, this was not an economic enterprise. The guy was hardly rolling in the Mochi. I see the stickers affixed to bumpers once in awhile in traffic, so his message is reaching some people, either that or it’s a sign of hipster’s affinity for irony.

Still… he needs to listen to DJ Shadow. Some drum machines do have souls, I tell ya.

Every culture on Earth cherishes music except those small, deranged subgroups of humans with a tendency to blow things up. Just something to think about.

I catered weddings back in my younger years. With more hair on my head, epaulets on my shoulders, because we were on yachts, and a tray of hors dourves in my hand I came upon an older, gently-stooped, stoic man leaning on a cane. A calypso band was playing a Bob Marley tune, complete with steel drums and female backup singers. I think it was a wedding. He smiled and waved off my offer of bruschetta when I spied a tear on his leathery cheek. I asked him if he were alright, if he needed anything and he blushed and confessed that he was more than alright, he was moved. He found the music to be enchanting. Divine. Those were his words, not an edited embellishment on my part, in fact, the only thing that makes this story even slightly interesting is that it’s absolutely true, and I can’t figure out if I have had a boring life, or if I have a boring version of what’s interesting.

It’s just how my soul is built I guess.

The song was No Woman No Cry. The wedding band’s version was absolutely awful, but the man leaning on the cane felt otherwise, his soul was touched and who was I to ruin his moment.


Star or satellite, which is that I see tonight?


2 thoughts on “Notes From The Ant Empire: The Sun, The Soul, The Song That Made The Stoic Man Cry

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