Reassembled

by Lee Todd Lacks

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about

This project began with two boxes. One box contained printed copies of poems, short stories and monologues that I'd written during the previous 22 years. The other contained cassette tapes of electronic sounds that I’d recorded during the same span of time. One afternoon in December of 2008, while sorting through these boxes, I resolved to share their contents with the greater public. I thought about recording my spoken words, and I thought about archiving my electronic sounds, and then, I decided to compile an album that would simultaneously feature both. In the spirit of mashup, I selected some of my better-received text pieces and paired these with some of my better-conceived audio tracks. Through this process, I’ve sought to reassemble dozens of disparate parts into something more substantially whole.

credits

released February 5, 2010

Album Production: Tom Swafford, Lee Todd Lacks
Cover Photo: Matt Samolis
Graphic Design: Bennett Morris

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Track Name: The Track Unites Us All
Perhaps you live in the apartment building
bisected by the subway overpass,
nothing but a thin concrete wall separating
your private life from the collective stare of
the masses onboard the train.
Whereas I live at the other end of the line;
a station in the woods, which dispels
the grim isolation of this remote seaside town.

When I was young, I often dreamt about tunnels,
all of which led to my aunt’s basement;
huge, cluttered, common space,
and somehow, all the world’s basements and
subway stations and underground parking areas
became interconnected. My young mind
could not fathom the staggering possibility that
my aunt’s basement might in fact be
a gateway to the root system of
the metropolis; a system of
such remarkable size and intricacy,
no one really knows
its full extent anymore:
with its boilers and burners,
gas mains and water mains,
sump pumps and storage tanks,
furnaces and fuse boxes,
all linked by twenty thousand miles
of wire and pipe.

Before the advent of interstate highways,
can you imagine those places that got
the track but not the station?
How many people died trying to jump the trains?
Runaways, outlaws, vagabonds,
not one of them had a contingency plan!
What was there to think about?
You simply climbed to the top of the ridge,
waited for the telltale sound,
and if you timed it right,
you could kiss your past goodnight!
Track Name: Radio
My user switches me to life.
With my vinyl snout,
I draw succulent volts of electricity
From the energy feeder.

My user extends my steel nerve,
and I struggle to receive signals
from the Wavemakers.

I can translate all known languages
from AM or FM,
but the Wavemakers control my mind.
They put words into my mouth,
or they compel me to speak in music.

My user changes my mind.
He likes to hear me scream.
Track Name: You Think Too Much
You think too much.
Leave the thinking to us.
You think too much.
We have assumed control.
Look what you’ve done.
You sold out the state.
Look what you’ve done.
You sold us your soul.

Your phone is being tapped
Your mail is being read
Your mind is wired for sound
So we can hear the voices inside your head

We know who you are
We know where you go
We know what you think
We know who you know

Leave the thinking to us
You’ll thank us someday
Leave the thinking to us
You’ll be free and clear
Leave the thinking to us
Because if you don’t
Leave the thinking to us
We’ll make you disappear

Your phone is being tapped
Your mail is being read
Your mind is wired for sound
So we can hear the voices inside your head
We know who you are
We know where you go
We know what you think
We know who you know

We know who you are
We know where you go
We know what you think
We know who you know

In accordance with the Patriot Act
We will tell you what to think
Add your name to our blacklist
Slip some polonium in your drink

We know who you are
We know where you go
We know what you think
We know who you know
You think too much!
You think too much!
You think too much!
You think too much!
Track Name: Interstate 81
Driving down the road,
and we really wanna stop.
Yes, we really wanna stop,
but we just can’t stop.

We wanted to stop
two hundred miles ago,
three hours ago,
but we just can’t stop.

And we’re hoping the cops
will pull us over
‘cause then we can spend
the night in jail.

A night in jail’s no cause for weeping
compared to where we might be sleeping,
in our car, at a truck stop, without a gun
on Interstate 81!

At the Ramada Inn in Roanoke,
we wanted to stop, but we just couldn’t stop.
At the Ramada Inn in Roanoke,
We wanted to stop, but we just couldn’t stop.

There’s no room at any inn for miles around
‘cause there’s NASCAR racing in Bakerstown.
We really wanna stop,
but we just can’t stop!

And we’re not alone out here on the road.
There’s dozens of people just like us.
They really wanna stop,
but they just can’t stop.

So forget about the auto race on the oval track!
See the speedy cars going ‘round and ‘round!
The real auto race has already begun
on Interstate 81!

Now we’re racing for the exits.
Now we’re flying down the off ramp.
And now we’re looking for the big signs.
Holiday, Ramada, Comfort Inn.
We really wanna stop, but we just can’t stop!

Screeching to a halt in the parking lot.
People jumping out of moving cars.
Now we’re rushing for the front door.
Now we’re rushing for the front desk.

And now we’re pleading with the check-in girl.
Give us a room! Please give us a room!!
I’ll pay any price! Take my sister, my mother,
my daughter, my wife!

I’ll sleep in the mop closet!
I’ll sleep on the bar!
If we can’t sleep here,
we’ll have to sleep in the car!

Can’t drive anymore!
I’m finished! I’m done!
So please don’t make me
get back on Interstate 81!!
Track Name: Many Nights In '76
Had I been fully aware,
I surely might have crumbled,
but I was seven and resilient.
My frenetic mind deferred
the gravity of the loss,
transforming it
into a temporary fear
of poisoning by osmosis.

Had I been fully aware,
I surely might have crumbled,
but you refused to let the
tragic accident shatter me,
and that is why all I remember
about those late night car rides
is a nameless sense of urgency
and the songs we used to sing
on our way home from the hospital.
Track Name: Low Vision Biker Theme (Transistor Mix)
He arrives on the scene In a mindless rage
He screams, “Turn up the lights! Blow up the page!”
And he swears Sightey’s gonna pay for putting him down.

Some people won’t leave their homes at night
‘Cause some damn fool shot out all the street lights
Low Vision Biker’s gonna find that fool and set things right.

Low Vision Biker fell from grace long ago
He lost faith in the human race long ago
And now, he’s lost his mind!

Dark, dark as his view of the world
Dark, dark as the thoughts in his mind.
Dark, dark, dark as night.

Low Vision Biker fell from grace long ago
He lost faith in the human race long ago
And now, he’s lost his mind!

Go. Go. Go. Low Vision Biker.
Go. Go. Go. Low Vision Biker.
Go. Go. Go. Low Vision Biker.
No one knows where he’s going.

Some can’t be bothered to guide those in need.
Some have been blinded by ignorance and greed,
And some shortchange others who can’t see one from five.

He’s got no use for legislators and their scheming
He’ll beat them with his cane till they stop screaming.
And someday Sightey’s gonna pay for putting him down.

Low Vision Biker fell from grace long ago
He lost faith in the human race long ago
And now, he’s lost his mind!

Dark, dark as his view of the world
Dark, dark as the thoughts in his mind.
Dark, dark, dark as night.

Low Vision Biker fell from grace long ago
He lost faith in the human race long ago
And now, he’s lost his mind!

Go. Go. Go. Low Vision Biker.
Go. Go. Go. Low Vision Biker.
Go. Go. Go. Low Vision Biker.
No one knows where he’s going.

Dark, dark as his view of the world
Dark, dark as the thoughts in his mind.
Dark, dark, dark as night.

Low Vision Biker fell from grace long ago
He lost faith in the human race long ago
And now, he’s lost his mind!

Go. Go. Go. Low Vision Biker.
Go. Go. Go. Low Vision Biker.
Go. Go. Go. Low Vision Biker.
No one knows where he’s going.
Track Name: Holocaust Memorial
Like a number
etched in plexiglass.

Like a number
sewn into skin.

Like an ember
glowing in a furnace.

Like the woman
who never bore a child.

Like the child
who never grew to manhood.

Like the man
who might have learned the secret.

Of the virus
that afflicts the young body.

Of the child
whose father slaughtered millions.

Like the father
who watched his child dying.

From the virus
that shut the gates of Heaven.
Track Name: Late Night Ocean Dumping
Coursing through the North Atlantic,
the fish are dispersed by
the subsonic tremor of
the garbage barge as it
enervates their spawn
with phosphorescent waste.

Myriad microcosms lost in an instant.
The echoes of death
reach all of their brethren.
When nets are full of chunky poison,
we shall soon taste it.
Track Name: Your (so called) 'Music'
Tom,

At first, after listening to your (so called) ‘music’ on the 19th at
Consolidated Works I was upset that I’d wasted the time and the $15.00. But then I realized the value of hearing the worst example of composing (so called) (or improv or whatever) that I could imagine, because at least it makes me better appreciate actual/real composing. It was embarrassing to sit through it though and see people think they were actually listening to something and applauding. And it was also painful to see otherwise probably very good musicians being gullible enough to waste their time and respect (or dignity etc.) playing it. Other than sitting through a Junior High Concert once, that was the Absolute Worst music (so called) experience of my LIFE. Do yourself and other people a favor and do something else with your time. Otherwise all you are doing is degrading people’s music sensibility.

Brad


P.S.
I had gone to the concert there on the 12th with Karen Pollick (& Sokolov) and thought I’d discovered a sort of Gold Mine to hear (great!) music, but now I somewhat doubt I’ll ever go there again. The guy on the phone who gave me your address asked me if I’d heard the part with the drums and violin. I left before that. (I just couldn’t stand it anymore). But so what if that drums and violin part was good. It was probably nothing compared to the dullest part of the previous week’s concert, and no matter how it was, it would not have compensated for the previous hour of drudgery and ridiculousness.What was especially aggravating was the droning on and on of notes – such as that 1st thing with the accordion, flute, violin, bassoon and/or oboe etc. I was thinking “OK, so this first piece of ____ is a drag, I’m sure things will get more interesting." But then the next ‘piece’ is the same droning and droning (and also a lot of the clarinet and piano at the start of the 2nd half when I finally just left). Actually I think that’s sort of an arrogant thing to do to an audience – as if you’re some sort of Buddah (sic.) forcing everyone to endure this boring droning – as if it is somehow ‘meaningful’- AND IT IS NOTI don’t care how much of an audience might be duped into thinking it is. But even the fast stuff was not that interesting, at least not for me. (This letter is not about your own personal violin playing. For all I know you might be a very good violin player when playing actual/real music.)
Track Name: You Will Say
You will say grudge match
grudge match

You will say smackdown
smackdown

You will say bushwhack
bushwhack

You will say desert
desert

You will say righteous
tyrant

You will say bloodline
bloodline

You will say oil
oil

You will say pipeline
pipeline

You will say hash pipe
hash pipe

You will say dealer
dealer

You will say market
market

You will say hustle
boogie

You will say carpet
bombing

You will say pilot
Game Boy

You will say air raid
air raid

You will say slaughter
sausage

You will say sausage
grandma

You will say grandma
sausage

You will say sausage
grandma

You will say welcome
bullet

You will say freedom
righteous

You will say rescue
rescue

You will say joyful
looter

You will say priceless
statue

You will say market
market

You will say dealer
dealer

You will say hustle
boogie

You will say order
silly

You will say Starbuck’s
latte

You will say resort
Vegas

You will say nightclub
nightclub

You will say hustle
boogie

You will say burqua
burqua

You will say market
market

You will say strip mall
strip mall

You will say slit skirt
slit skirt

You will say strip club
strip club

You will say motel
motel

You will say annex
annex

You will say statehood
statehood

You will say mission
accomplished
Track Name: Free To Speak Easy
There once was a theater on the west side of town,
Where pretty young ladies let their stockings down.
Where I once sang lewd verses and danced like a clown,
Where we all were free to speak easy.

Then one day the enemy threatened to invade,
And all the townspeople grew sad and afraid.
They forgot all the silly love songs they once played,
They stopped drinkin’ and dancin’ and started to pray.

Well, the people grew somber and dressed all in black.
They hid in their houses and braced for attack.
Though the enemy seemed fierce, they vowed to fight back
And move on.

I realized that something was terribly wrong
When I walked past the theater but could hear no song.
So I picked up my banjo, and I played all night long,
Daring the enemy to seize me.

And I wandered the streets till the church bell tolled three
Till I stopped by the house of my friend Tom McGee,
And I stood on his lawn, and I sang out of key
Till old Tom stormed out just as mad as could be!

He said, “How can you sing when we’re goin’ to war?!
Put down your damn banjo, please don’t play no more!
Your singin’ will lead them right to our front door,
So, be gone!”

Tom, I’d rather die than live one day in fear,
So I’ll be at the burlesque if the enemy draws near.
Or I’ll be at the bar drinkin’ whiskey and beer.
Where we’re all free to speak easy.

My nonchalant manner may cause you distress.
You may call me a fool when I drink to excess,
But I won’t let no man deny my happiness.
I’ll sing as loud as I like and speak easy.

So let’s go to the bar, and we’ll raise up our glasses
To eager young laddies and buxom young lasses,
And if we feel tempted, we’ll smack their sweet asses,
Where we’re all free to speak easy.
Track Name: The Wild Boar of Normandy
In the summer of 1994, my family and I traveled to France. While there, we visited the World War II memorial at Omaha Beach. The Omaha Beach war memorial consists of a large cemetery, where the Allied soldiers who fought and died in the Battle of Normandy have been laid to rest. If you visit the site, you can see the beach from the top of a steep hill, which overlooks the English Channel. Visitors are permitted to walk down to the beach. There is a narrow footpath, which winds down the hill and eventually falls away in to the sea. The hill is covered with a variety of thick shoreline vegetation: weeds and grasses, shrubs and mosses.

My brothers and I were interested in walking down to the beach, and so we looked to see where the footpath began. We followed a stone wall, which ran along the top of the hill, until we came to a gate. The gate was unlocked, however, fastened to it was a small sign which read in French, German, and English: “BEWARE OF WILD BOAR.” We found this sign to be most peculiar. On the one hand, we couldn’t understand why a wild boar would choose to roam in an area which attracted such a large tourist population. On the other hand, we couldn’t understand why the French government would allow a wild boar to run loose on the grounds of the one of the nation’s most revered historical sites.

As we stood in front of the gate, staring at the sign, a young boy came up behind us, clutching the hand of an elderly gentleman, who appeared to be the boy’s grandfather. Noticing the sign, the boy turned to his grandfather and said something in French. His grandfather responded in a voice which, to me, sounded quite solemn. I do not speak French, but my brother, Derek, is fluent in the language. My brothers and I let the boy and his grandfather go ahead of us, and after they had gone beyond hearing distance, I turned to Derek and asked, “What were they talking about?” My brother paused for a moment, appearing to be somewhat astonished. Finally, he began to explain.

“The boy had asked his grandfather about the boar. Now, I may have misunderstood, but I thought I heard the old man say that the boar has roamed this hill for the past fifty years, hunting the ghosts of the Nazi soldiers who died here. The spirits of the Nazis have been condemned to this place. They are seen only by the boar, which relentlessly pursues them for all eternity. No one has ever seen the boar, but many have heard it on dark, moonless nights, screaming its message of divine retribution; that all those who, in life, were consumed with hatred are now and forever consumed by it."
Track Name: Marie
Enchanting…
Daughters of stardust
Beckon us towards their fragile future.
Can you see it?
A wondrous light for none to keep.
Will we bear witness till
our blood glows heavy?

Yes, once we reduce
rare earth to essence,
Apocalypse whispers in our pockets.
Can you hear it?

This whisper put an end to the war.
This whisper put an end to the world.

The century dawns so bright.
Why deplete ourselves in vain pursuit?
We can delve beyond the flesh,
to the bone, to the marrow,
to the clockwork of stars!

Must you leave so soon, my love?
Agendas and wayward carts might
rend you from my life,
but I swear, they shall not
rend me from our work!

I’ll catch infinitesimal traces
of unearthly power,
blessings that can’t be counted till
our thrill numbs our dread,
curses that can’t be lifted till
every half-life’s spent and
nothing’s left but lead!

Listen...

This whisper put an end to the war.
This whisper put an end to the world.
This whisper put an end to me.