Making stuff as a founder of Avocado. Former music-maker. Tuna melt advocate. Started Google Reader. (But smarter people made it great.)

Chicago or I Am David Lean's Overwhelmed Lady

Our salvation lay in a pool of Mutter Paneer.

It crept on us, this stimulation deprivation. The side effects of touring with Citizens. Day after day of a similarly blurry mid-western view from beyond the van's windows while we listened to the same CDs and played the same songs and ate the same kinds of foods - the endurance of so much repetitive stimuli had worn away at our interest like hard-soil erosion. We were lessened without our knowledge.

But it came back in a flood during a visit to a tiny Indian buffet around the corner from The Bottom Lounge in Chicago. We engaged our meals like Zulus to Michael Caine. And strode around the Wicker Park neighborhood in a fuzzy sort of ecstacy, overwhelmed by the high-level stimulation (trains! taxis! honk! honk!) that is a constant presence at home.

For my part, I found re-entry into a major metropolitan area sensually engaging. I suspect this kind of travel euphoria is common; where periods of low-stimulus are followed by an exotic over-stimulus giving the traveler a psychological version of the bends.
And I understood Miss Quested and her swoon-heard-round-the-world a smidgen more personally than before.

And I found Miss Quested and her swoon-heard-round-the-world a couple of inches closer to my heart...

And I became Miss Quested...
There's this movie (and novel) that captures the idea I have of travel euphoria. It's David Lean's adaptation of A Passage To India, based on E.M. Forster's story about a young woman who travels to India whose interactions culminate in a court trial that, fictionally speaking, marks the beginning of popular uprising against British rule.

It's a challenging piece partly because the viewer has to buy into the idea that someone can be so overtaken by a country or a people en masse that their sense of reality blurs. During her travels poor Miss Quested finds India so sensually diverting (we have to accept that it can work on her psyche like foreplay) that during one hot day after increasing moments of intimate conversation with her guide Aziz, she swoons and conflates her image of Aziz's searching for her (who, concerned, follows her into a cave) to sexual assault.

I haven't yet conflated the door person's collecting our guest list to rape ... but if you give us a few more hours in Chicago - what I'm saying is I think it could happen. :)

We were able to function in un-Quested-like fashion, though. With great thanks to the Bottom Lounge (and Andrew). However ... I think the euphoria kept going, at least for Dan and I. We were at our merch table when Camera began to play and we both stopped talking (not easy to do as we were knee-deep in a conversation about aesthetics and iconography) and were drawn to the sound from the stage. From a group called Camera.

Camera were great, a powerful and creative band. Yes you, you mustached warrior! And the amazing thing was .... each new song kept us from leaving, and we were tired! It was that nice place in my head ... where each note sounded simultaneously inevitable and unexpected. And, amazingly, they performed an unannounced cover of This Monkey's Gone To Heaven (jeez, overdone) and played it straight (dangerous territory) and ... nailed it. (wow) They'll probably take over the world.

It was a good night. And I very much enjoyed my little travel narcotic. But I think I'll lay off the Mutter Paneer for now. least until NYC.

(Dan has less pedals than before Chicago. If you're a Chicagoan reading this and you have some new ones that aren't yours...please email us. Update: Camera had 'em. Thanks for getting in touch with us.)
posted at April 24, 2004, 8:47 AM