Yesterday C. and I took a break from our screens and drove into the Valley of Fire, a surreal stretch of geology an hour northeast of Vegas. From the passenger seat, C. told me this was where they filmed Total Recall, and our journey became a pilgrimage to a time when entertainment was fun and science fiction still felt far away.

Towers of red rock loomed over us like a beautiful threat. It was the first warm day of the season, and the trail was crowded. Shuffling through nature’s silence with strangers felt oddly intimate. Voices carry. Every lover’s whisper and family squabble. Every count to three for the camera. We spread ourselves across a sheet of red sandstone, two dozen clumps of humanity from all corners of the world, each searching for an untouched vista that felt like the movies.

Back in the parking lot, I admired a man slouched in a lawn chair on top of a battered Winnebago. He wore mirrorshades, had a gnarly beard, and smiled down upon us like someone who might cheerfully tell you the end of days were nigh. He seemed to have his priorities straight, like he’d made peace with something I was only beginning to grasp, and I thought about him while I drove home to check my inbox.

Nature is noisy tonight. The wind is howling with 70-mile-per-hour gusts, and the temperature is crashing. Flights have been grounded, and several roads are closed due to blowing dust. But I like to think that man in mirrorshades is still on top of his Winnebago, untouched and unruffled, the unmoved mover at the center of the storm.

Meanwhile, Erika of Ectomorph has delivered a much-awaited second album that functions as a perfect soundtrack for a midnight desert storm. Highly recommended.

Erika – Desert Red

Anevite Void | Interdimensional Transmissions, 2023 | Bandcamp