I found a cassette tape at the bottom of a shoebox while cleaning the attic. The label said Jim Reeves Roast, June 1978. When my grandfather retired from Sears, his colleagues threw him a party. They roasted him in front of his coworkers and recorded it on a Sears cassette. Now that I own a tape player again, I can listen to it. Yet I’m wary of this unexpected field recording. What if I discover a terrible side to my grandfather? Late one night I punched the play button. Patches of conversation broke through: “And that’s how he made it out of the marketing department.” Laughter. “Last time he was ever given an expense account.” More laughter. The sound of silver dinging on glass, a call for attention:
“Do you remember New Orleans?”
“I always will,” said my grandfather.
“Boy, we got so drunk with them gals from—”
I stopped the tape. The New Orleans bit got caught in my delay pedal and made a nice loop which I paired with a bit of vinyl crackle, some rumbling feedback, and a pitched-down guitar from a dollar-bin record called Silva Y Villalba’s Antologia Musical Colombiana. The result is an eleven-minute track with some reverb, knob twiddling, and double-time delay at the end. Perhaps someday I’ll work up the nerve to give my grandfather’s roast a proper listen.
“They’ll challenge each other to walk five or ten miles into the Mojave or Death Valley without any supplies and then walk five or ten miles back. They wager money on it.”
“Last time he was ever given an expense account.” Overlapping voices. More laughter.
A busted loop of sludgy Coltrane with a shot of Connie Francis plus a wall of static and feedback.
“A tantalizing 21st Century cross between Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and On the Road, this remarkable and utterly original memoir heralds the arrival of a new and important American voice. The Road to Somewhere will take you places you will not easily forget.”
A man believed his only chance at justice was to take a hostage and march him downtown. An idealistic dancer packed the theater yet the city cast her out. A search for their ghosts continues beneath the city.
You’ve seen her before. She’s the old woman with her eyes closed on the bus, the one who sits alone on a bench for hours. At night she listens to the exhausted air conditioners that sound like the sea, tuning in to the city’s static like an old radio show.
The Former Desk of the First Office of the Bureau of Manufactured History was unveiled at a ceremony on the third of May and continues to appear in unexpected locations throughout Indianapolis.