Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 35 (Taylor Brady)


Microclimates
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Brady, Taylor
Microclimates


Taylor Brady and his wife Tanya Hollis were my first friends in Buffalo. They lived in a big apartment on the second floor of a bright green house on Park St. Park is a beautiful little tree-lined block that seems to mostly have been built in the years surrounding the Civil War. Taylor had an enormous library and a CD collection to die for. He also had an incredibly complex way of listening to his CD's, which required the use of several multi-sided and oddly shaped dice normally used for playing Dungeons and Dragons. When it came time to fill the 10 CD changer, he would roll these dice and use the numbers to determine which CDs to pull off the shelf. I can't remember if he actually programmed the order of the songs based on the rolls or if he let the shuffle button do the work for him. I think he liked the element of surprise this created, keeping the music as it did fresh and somewhat free of comfortable listening habits. 

(When I read in Taylor and Tanya's SF abode in 2007, I was happy to see that Taylor still had the same dice, albeit it in a state of visible decay, and still used them despite the advent of the iPod age. It was a strange coincidence that the day before Lori and I had visited the Museum of Jurassic technology in LA, where they had display room filled with decaying dice!)

Taylor was also at the time (1997-8) way ahead of the curve on most poets in that he had already taught himself quite a lot about computers and computer languages (in fact, I think the construction of Microclimates is based in some fashion on the binary number system upon which computing is built). Taylor and Joel Kuszai, who together had started the Small Press Collective the previous year had the idea to create a collective of autonomous literary editors working on publication in virtual space (one of Taylor's favorite pastimes is collectivization, cf., nonsite collective in SF, his current home).

They went about this by getting a group of fellow students together in a computer lab at the university and teaching us all the basics of html coding. Within a short period of time myself, Taylor, Graham Foust, and Brent Cunningham were all editing mostly short-lived online literary ventures. It was an amazingly useful intervention whose usefulness certainly lives on in this writer's life.

More random recollections from that year:

Taylor had a weird picture of Gertrude Stein's face repeated a hundred times as the wallpaper on his computer desktop.

All of the bookshelves in the apartment had been constructed by Taylor.

I watched South Park for the first time at Taylor's apartment.

Taylor often read or wrote on the couch while Tanya and I watched television.

I have a vivid recollection of sitting in The Towne Restaurant in Buffalo, sharing our poems with one another. I was often in awe of the way Taylor's mind worked in terms of his desire to create systems and networks out of pretty much everything. On this occasion, Taylor showed me some sonnets he was working on that were all interconnected by a series of intersecting crosses worked out in complex mathematical patterns.

We were both relatively new to the poetry world and I remember we often referred to visiting poets by their first names, which I guess made us feel like we were a little closer to the actual poetry world than we were at that point in our lives. We would often begin sentences by saying things like, "When Barry was here..." or "Lyn said to me..." or "Do you remember when Jackson..." etc.

My mother had just moved to Sarasota, FL before I arrived in B'lo, and it turned out that Taylor and Tanya were both from FL, Tanya from, I think, Jupiter, and Taylor from near Tampa. At Christmas we drove from Buffalo to Florida together. Taylor, ever ahead of the technology curve, had discovered the newly-invented Map Quest--or some such program--and had the whole trip mapped out minute by minute on a printout. This seemed really cool at first, but as we got closer to Florida, it got a little scary. Taylor's eyes grew crazed with an Ahab-like determination to arrive more quickly than the computer had predicted. We drove for something like twenty-four hours without stopping and arrived in FL about an hour before the printout said we would. Taylor was visibly pleased with his accomplishment.

From Microclimates:

I had become, in the course of taking on this sweet and sticky ballast, the kind of kid who wrote letters to men doing time, and who heard trees whispering his name in answer as he passed through the over-irrigated landscape, still unable to speak how straight my head had got it all.

"Hey kid," one of them said to me in a tone of insinuation and minor threat, "that thumb is just the tip of a universal iceberg, unrelated to the scale of your own remaining years," -- which I ticked off in advance with a pen knife in the thick bark that screamed but never suggested that I stop. Information fell through waxy leaves onto my tongue the same as ever, but gradually less and less. I understood then, hearing the slow voice inside the wood, that this particular oak traveled great distances to tell me it was dead, and that people live inside things like iron filings in food, a fairly serious irritant--and that this would make a tiny root pierce my heart and a bare, milled trunk erupt from my body, wires strung from its top calling out to all the others who were likewise consumed and paralyzed while the trees went around hopping mad like Mom when she stubbed her toe, trying to extract the splinter people embedded in their sensitive pulp, and we wondered whether these prisoners were all growing tiny phone poles of their own. Each nest of wires nestles other tangles, and the distributions of town and country grew from the tingle and flow of that brain damaging electromagnetic field.

1 comment:

tyrone said...

Taylor has a mind to kill for, as Microclimates demonstrates.