The Fate of the Earth

The following is a transcript (translated into English) of an audio file documenting a meeting of the… let’s call it the “Interplanetary Council,” since the actual name is so hard to render into any language spoken by human beings.

I have taken the liberty of replacing the names of the participants with those familiar to English speakers. The real name of “Linda,” for instance,

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Check the Time. Bob Dylan, Steve Martin, Britney Spears, Steve Miller, Elvis Presley, Björk, Davey Jones, and Guided By Voices meet the Beatles.

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Is There a Beat Generation? A mashup I made in which Jack Kerouach meets Beck, Bjork, the Breeders, The Temptations, Wilco, Miles Davis, et. al. “Don’t comb your hair!”

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Dinner at Og’s

It was 10,000 B.C. On what is now Manhattan, a powefully built man named Og stood over a large boar—actually, a peccary.

He had killed the beast after much effort. The blood on his spear’s chert-stone tip was the same as the blood gushing out of the creature’s neck.

Just then Og heard a stirring in the bushes. He turned around, on his guard. Through the vegetation came someone who was known to Og. It was a skinny man called Ak.

Ak looked at Og with an expression that seemed to say, “Nice peccary.” Then Ak’s expression softened, as if to say, “I have had no hunting luck this morning.”

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Reverse Crank Call #6 (The Con Edison Bill). Who is responsible for the Con Edison bill?

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Reverse Crank Call #5 (Amish Country Gazebos)

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Reverse Crank Call #4 (My Name Is Megan). Megan has an offer. I am not really that interested.

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Reverse Crank Call #3 (Diner’s Club). A man calls with a credit-card offer. Another man hits record.

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Reverse Crank Call #2 (White Teeth!). A new dentist has an offer. Then Grandma gets on the phone.

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Reverse Crank Call #1 (Central Research). Remember, you called me.

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Dylan’s Last Hit

Oh I would guess it was some time in 1971. Bob Dylan was driving around, somewhere in Arizona, on those twisting roads. He had been out of touch a while and he heard it on the car radio, “Heart of Gold,” the Neil Young song, a big hit single from all those years ago, and if I remember the story right, Bob Dylan had to pull over, because the song affected him so strongly. In a way, it got on his nerves. It seemed like a ripoff. “Shit, that’s me.” But he also rebuked himself when he heard it – “If it sounds like me, it should be me” – because it was now clear and stark, to him, how far he had drifted from the path.

I can only laugh when people hate the hit single. Give me Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” over “Scentless Apprentice.” But you want to prove your love to a band or an author and so you decide, “I hate the hit.” There are Charles Portis fans who deny the greatness of “True Grit” merely for the

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Here’s a new Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin music video.
We filmed it on tour in Japan.

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A Skyport Stop

I flew to Europe and was glad to see — I hadn’t read about it — that the Skyports were open high above Greenland. Our plane refueled up there, which seemed a lot better than how it used to be, when pilots had to race against the clock (and the gas) to get to Golden Bay, where they did the refuels in the years when the Skyports were closed. I got out of the plane and even looked over the edge during our stop (had to pay $15 to rent the suit for 30 minutes but figured it was worth it). It hit me, too, the strange temptation to leap into the blue and “go to cinder” but not too strong. There were about a dozen signs filled with anti-suicide warnings in many languages and a guard rail — but thank God no high fence that would have blocked the view. An old man told me that the exact same number of people die each year jumping off Skyports as died in the days of the occasional jumbo jet’s not quite making it and crashing in those awful fields near Golden Bay. So the people who run things figured it was better to have the Skyports open again and allow people who want to go to cinder to go to cinder than to have more of those poor crash victims who had no deathwishes, and I guess I would agree with that. Now and then we get things right. A minute or two after he told me I saw the flash of a body going over the rail. I looked over the side and saw (must have been a thousand feet down) the body go bright and then go crisp and then flutter upward as an ash flake.

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Went on the bike this morning to City Island, The Bronx. There’s a Dept. of Correction sign attached to the high fence because this is the dock where Riker’s Island prisoners — under the watch of Dept. of Correction officers — shove off for Hart Island, which is close by, in the New York City portion of the Long Island Sound. The prisoners go to Hart Island to bury unclaimed bodies, or else the corpses of those whose families cannot afford funerals, in the large potter’s field. It amounts to roughly 1,500 bodies a year. And also — all the limbs amputated in city hospitals are buried there, too. For more on this, check out the terrific “The Other Islands of New York City” by Sharon Seitz and Stuart Miller.

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