New York City. Sunset: 4:27pm. Cloudy skies and drizzle with temperatures in the thirties. Russia might invade Ukraine. The latest variant of the virus is spreading quickly, but its effects might not be too severe. There’s a shortage of cream cheese. More and more, the news sounds like the muttering of a madman, without any frame of reference or sense of plot. Last night a man set the Christmas tree at Fox News on fire, and now they’ll be howling about the war on Christmas until the end of time. Yesterday a Chinese rover spotted a cube on the moon, and it’s inching towards it for a closer look.

“Christ, I love Judge Judy,” said my cab driver. The judge was streaming on the dashboard, and I hadn’t seen the show before, but soon I was entirely absorbed in the proceedings while we inched across 23rd Street in the December gloom. I almost kept the meter running to find out if the defendants would need to return their landlord’s washer and dryer.

The driver was a thick man with a buzzcut, and he told me he’d been invited to appear on Judge Judy’s show when he sued his ex-girlfriend for the engagement ring he’d given her. “But we got back together,” he said. He told me all kinds of things. His father and grandfather were both drivers who made a good living, not like today with Uber and Lyft and algorithms. “My old man knew five different routes to every destination in the city,” he said, “but I don’t know how to get anywhere without using GPS.”

And somewhere high above us, that Chinese rover was navigating towards that cube. It will take two months to reach it, and it’ll probably just be an oddly shaped boulder. But what if it’s not? We’re exhausted down here, and thinking about something otherworldly would be nice.

Windy & Carl – The Same Moon and Stars

Songs for the Brokenhearted | Kranky, 2008 | Bandcamp