Cigarette Machine at The Continental Club © Jay Sennett, 2019
Ms. G and I spent four days in Austin, Texas in March. People rave about the food but Town/Lady Bird Lake wins on all accounts. Several miles of trails surround the lake and the hot springs swimming area. We took a bike tour our first day there and instantly fell in love. Having lived through a terribly cold winter here in Michigan (-40F) biking in 75 degree weather in March lifted our spirits well into the stratosphere. Of course we learned how to two-step at The Whitehorse and saw a no-cover charge show at The Continental Club.
People brag about music in Austin and they have every right to. I admit to being biased. I love Western swing and Texas jump blues. The Saddle Sores at The Whitehorse were loads of fun to dance to (two-stepping, of course!). The Continental Club (showcasing Austin’s finest musicians since 1955) hosted The Blues Specialists. They were one of the no-cover best bands I’ve ever seen.
I resisted traveling to Austin because it’s in Texas. I won’t lie about that. And being in Texas I believed it would probably sort of suck. Boy how wrong was I. The people were polite and kind and great to talk to. They seemed really proud of their city and it showed. I mean even the airport food was off-the-charts fantastic. How often does that happen? Certainly not in Detroit.
Back at home I tucked into the final chapters of W. G. Sebald’s “The Rings of Saturn” (public) He begins his final chapter with a lengthy discussion of Sir Thomas Browne, a man who wrote about a book he never actually wrote, a sort of imaginary book he might have written. In this not-book, Browne referenced several methods of human torture, including flaying of the skin.
This sound morbid. But I’ve returned to an essay I’ve been working on for more than ten years (!) about surgeries and being a transsexual. Always on the hunt for new metaphors to describe living as a transsexual, I did a little interwebz research and discovered a fascinating article on Lapham’s Quarterly written by Pablo Maurette, “The Living Envelope.”
But the skin, perceived as the physical border between an individual’s insides and the outside world, possesses a liminal quality that eventually transcends biology. In the minds of many early modern intellectuals, a study of its complex physiology involved metaphysical implications that eventually led to a new set of revelations concerning the relationship between body and soul, matter and spirit, and even between the human and the divine.
Thanks for reading.