One of the things that does not suck about marrying someone from another country is spending the holidays in Nassau. Typically, when the semester is out, we’re also out!
As island folks, my spouse’s parents have a relationship with land very different from my own. When my father-in-law first saw the small backyard behind our house in Michigan, his eyes opened big, and he started naming all of the things we could grow. I came home the next day to find him digging up patches of dirt along the side of the house in preparation to plant. At the end of the week after we planted herbs, vegetables, and a blueberry and raspberry tree, I saw him quietly saying a prayer over each plant before putting away the spade.
There’s one cilantro plant that has grown back every year since. Never replanted. It just sprouts up every spring letting us know it’s still strong, still here.
Their own backyard in Nassau is full of delights. Below is a short tour, but not pictured is my favorite of all things: the sugar apple. They look like knobby toad skin hand grenades – not exactly appetizing – but inside: oh boy! I usually miss their season, but one hung around long and late enough for me this year.
Edibles aren’t the only goodies stashed around Nassau. I finally, finally managed to get into the record spot I’ve been eying. The hours aren’t exactly regular. Hurricane damage to records is a whole ‘nother level, so it looks like I’m going to have to ante up and get a record cleaning system, something I’ve managed to avoid up until now. These machines are no joke. Maybe more on those records after I clean them and hear what’s in the grooves.
A short tour around the backyard in Nassau.
Reading: I breezed through Tommy Orange’s There There last week, and – whew! What I didn’t expect coming into it was the similar narrative approach to Marlon James’s A Brief HIstory of Seven Killings, which I was finally able to finish just before There There. In both books, the story doesn’t belong to only one person. It belongs to many, and this bears out through who’s telling it. What makes that final, unfolding scene in There There bearable is only that Orange lets us in on what is to come by his meditation on bullets in motion here and there throughout the earlier chapters.
Listening: I’m on a long run into late 90s UK drum and bass, trip hop, etc. (You know these names get contentions!) I’m a regular listener to the Heat Rocks podcast, and the Saul Williams episode on Portishead’s “Dummy” sees Saul name checking all of these other UK groups that he hears in constellation with Portishead: Goldie, Morcheeba, Project 23, and more. I wasn’t tuned into any of this in the 90s because I was all tied up in Tunnel Bangers. +shrugs+ Esthero’s Breath from Another (1998) is one album from this lot I’ve been keeping on rotation the most. As an aside, the surprise verse from KRS, Redman, and other folks on these albums is a reminder of the cool cross-pond connections happening between scenes.
Writing: I’ve been writing through the concept of aural imaginary for a piece that comes from the community beatmaking work I do with youth in Pontiac. Roshanak Kheshti develops the concept in Modernity’s Ear, but I like this phrasing from her 2011 article in American Quarterly:
The aural imaginary theorizes a symbolic realm in which the listener engages in an imagined relation, often affective, with an other that is elicited in sound.
I’ve had to lose a lot in this piece to make way for the aural imaginary, but there might be room for those parts in a shorter Sounding Out! piece that I’ll need to tackle pronto once I send this one off.