Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
He says profound things to me. David Strackany, this Paleo, makes a world of milk and honey happen in front of me after just having read about a world of milk and honey (was it California in the 60s?) in a book earlier in the day. It's a form of omnipotence. And this fashionable - though sincerely out-of-date idea of the milk and honey coming out of all the bushes, from the sky, out of hot, sticky springs in the forest or in fields every time a new fence post is dug is the epitome of the American dream for many - this fictitious fantasyland of openness, this boundless stretching out of immaculate blue and brown paint, and a shimmering, moveable swatch of pink, corduroy and more brown colors providing the entertainment across the middle of the view. It's the milk and honey - that ideal of it - that becomes the laughing stock of all stories though, simply because of the abusive twist that almost everyone decides to apply to the standard line.
The monies all get spent, the people and their once precocious and daredevil hearts break into smithereens, their excesses and confidences take the plunge into plunder. So nothing good lasts longer than a couple attention spans, than the contraction of an insect's heart anymore, maybe it never did. Though, nothing prohibits good things from lasting. Nothing necessarily prohibits people staying strong and lives that don't involve the milk going sour or spilling and the honey getting into your hair and attracting bears and bees. There used to be a time when a good job was the most sought after thing in the world. He's got a good job - pays well, etc. - leads to all those other things is what would be thought, nodded to appreciatively and enviously. It used to be enough to bring home bacon and to find a house with a white picket fence, a good-sized yard and all of that.
Strackany and his daily dilemma - though its become less of a burden since his 365-day Song Diary, as ambitious of a test of sanity, smarts and brainpower that was an affirming artistic expression, came to an end over one year ago - to figuratively work as a skinner - hanging the world up by a hind leg and taking a knife to the belly and letting all of the guts and entrails flop out onto the floor, before sewing it all back up and then charging the chest to make it all move again following the operation and observation - couldn't be more fascinating. Say that you're the people he's with, that he's hanging around. He could do this to you without you ever knowing that you'd been put out or put under. You'd have the scar - red and tender - passing like a train between your tits and you'd maybe even feel energized, like something had been fixed when you least expected it.
Everything could be just as it was and yet there would have been a removal, something extracted to just study and play around with for a little while. It's a darkened cobweb, a squirrel's nest of debatable worth, clutter that wouldn't be missed, that had been forgotten long before, a haunting that was just a distant memory now. As it's batted around and looked at, it seems so fragile and harmless and it gives off a powdery dust and a mothball-y smell - like old clothes and swimming pools. He looks them over - these parts of souls - and he treats them respectfully, just borrowing them for the time being. He'll give them back when asked and does so even when he's not questioned. While he holds them and talks with them - receiving their whispers - he moves in with them, pulls another chair up to the dinner table, brings flowers for the vases that sit by the sunny window. He romanticizes with the misery and from that gives it a flame, gives that a new meaning.
He uses a phrase, in describing his song "Dead Wings Beat" that seems so apt for the gravy that he wrings out of these moments in life that don't ever seem monumental at the time - until the milk and the honey have expired or dried up, when the lemons are on parade. Strackany thinks about many things as just part of the "insignificant sound and fury" and that's just a gorgeous way to think about all of the collateral damage that doesn't register until it adds up, until there's a trending. Paleo's music is a way to see ourselves in others - a better way than any other I can think of. You'll say, "That's me. That's me too," again and again until you stop hearing yourself talk. The listening to yourself is better. It's hearing it come back to you in a different voice that makes it resounding.
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