Whenever I get into a car, I want to point it toward the Mojave desert. I don’t think any photograph can capture the sensation of speeding down a desert road, the way all that blank land sends your thoughts cascading into rare spaces that blur the sacred with the profane. Maybe it’s the combination of so much spiritualized space dotted with motels that advertise color television and diners with fritzing neon that you can hear.

I once read the Ten Commandments taped to the side of a truck in front of an unauthorized Bon Jovi tribute concert near the Imperial dunes. “Everything’s a mystery and I’m just another small part of it,” said a woman at a gas station in Barstow. “Maybe that’s all I need to know.” Tonight her words echo in the same register as this maxim from Matisse: “The essential thing is to work in a state that approaches prayer.”

The desert feels like my future. When I imagine my life as an old man, I see myself searching the sky for saucers while listening to static at the outer margins of AM radio. A few years ago, I’d fall asleep thinking about Antarctica. Then came the Year of Lake Superior. These are the Nights of Slab City.

Mojave 3 – My Life in Art

Excuses for Travelers |4AD, 2000 | More

A desert ballad from an iteration of Slowdive that has one of my favorite lines: “She stares so hard at those neon lights I swear to god she’s gonna bust them up.” And some notes from my first visit to Slab City, seven years ago.