A summer Saturday in November, bright and breezy with highs in the upper 70s. C. and I are trying to determine our best route to Vegas. There’s no way to avoid Indiana and Illinois, but St. Louis will present a crucial decision: Interstate 70 or Interstate 40. The former will take us through Kansas City, Topeka, Denver, Grand Junction, and the center of Utah before dipping through Cedar City and Mesquite. The latter offers Tulsa, the Texas panhandle, Albuquerque, and Flagstaff before swinging up through Bullhead City.

I considered the merits of each route while I went for a run through the woods, repeating the names of cities like a mantra. Denver versus Albuquerque. The mythic cadence of Bullhead City. Maybe we’ll decide in St. Louis.

Music is critical while I run; I need a wall of sound to block out my gasping and heaving. Today I soundtracked my run with 1970s motorik: Can, Neu!, Harmonia, Cluster, Amon Düül II—and Kosmischer Läufer, an uncanny distillation of the above with an elaborate backstory about a sound engineer tasked with composing training aids for athletes in East Germany’s Olympic program. Because the state owned the tapes, they languished in storage until 2013, when they finally saw daylight. None of this is true, but pairing music with fiction should be encouraged.

(And today I learned the term Ostalgie, a nostalgia for Communist East Germany that leads down a rabbit hole of reactionary narratives, irony, and kitsch, which brings to mind Milan Kundera’s definition of kitsch as fundamentally oppressive: “Kitsch causes two tears to flow in quick succession. The first tear says: How nice to see children running on the grass! The second tear says: How nice to be moved, together with all mankind, by children running on the grass!”)

The clocks roll back tonight, one of my favorite moments of the year. I love having more night.

Kosmischer Läufer – Sandtrommel

Volume One | Unknown Capability Recordings, 2013 | Bandcamp