Once upon a time it’s December 2012. I’ve just interviewed for a teaching position in Ohio, unloading most of my savings on a last-minute return ticket from San José, an hour in the Men’s department at the Macy’s in the Danbury mall and a hearty dinner consisting of buffalo chicken in a pita wrap with a side of tater tots and about 4 cans of Carling Black Label to wash it down. Call it nostalgia, but when I was in college, I lived off that shit, proving that a decade a go, my stomach had less refined tastes and an iron constitution. In your thirties, not so much – let that be a lesson, kids. Back to the story. For those not aware, academic interviews are long – like 6 hours of nonstop meet and greets that you hammer through, with a lecture somewhere in the middle and several dozen questions presented by every party, if only to make sure everyone’s on the level. For those looking to one day go down this path, wear comfortable, yet formal shoes and bring chap-stick – you’ll need both to slog through the day. After said slogging, I, with chapped lips and aching feet was deposited at the airport for a mad-dash to the gate and a flight back to New York. I was exhausted. I was delirious. I was triumphant? And in the moment, also slightly foolish, since I neglected to purchase the additional frequent flyer miles that would put me over the top of my mileage quota and would buy me a ticket back to Costa Rica on the cheap. My flight out was direct via Philadelphia, with a turboprop transfer from Albany, so it did’t make sense to buy them at the beginning, but my flight back was a hub-hopping nightmare that sent me from Cleveland to New York by way of Chicago; which somehow makes sense to the airlines in spite of what common sense would dictate. Mid-flight, I realized my mistake. Shortly afterwards, I also realized that Chicago is an hour behind Cleveland, so my 30 minute hop was actually an hour and a half, giving me ample time to think long and hard about what I forgot to do. Deciding to rectify the situation, I asked a friendly United representative at the gate if I could buy them retroactively – his response, “You had yo chance.” Love me that Chicago nice.
So, December 2012, broke, needing to get south for a major art show and my own wedding – and 300 miles short of a ticket home. What to do? Consult the oracle and see if some nice person on the social network would lend a hand, potentially in retribution for some service rendered of equitable value. Some would call this whoring yourself out, but hey, to me, it could also be construed as effective bartering, progressive industry and the goodness of human nature. After all, twas the holidays. 45 minutes later, miles were transferred and 3 days later, on Christmas Eve, a ticket was purchased, much to the delight of my stunning wife-to-be. In return for this trade, I offered to build a synth to show my gratitude – after all, that’s apparently what I do. The problem is, being mildly misanthropic and it being the holidays, acquiring materials posed a challenge. So, once again, I consulted my parents’ basement, which, over the past decade has become an archeological museum that could be titled “Little Travis Learns to Solder” or something equally Herzog-ian. The patchbay of pulse oscillators was formed from parts assembled during my time in Colorado, originally soldered using an inverter hooked to a car battery, in a yurt in arctic temperatures. For the filter section, I opted to use a Number 24 circuit, figuring some dirty fuzz would be perfect to amplify transistor chirps. I had to nab the case from the local mall – never a good thing, but thankfully Radio Shack presents were either already nabbed or simply not that popular, so other than parking and wading through a sea of Upstate New York hill-people, mission accomplished. Painting posed a problem – given the choice between gassing yourself or waiting extended periods of time for paint to dry in single-digit temperatures, which do you choose. I finished it on New Years Day. On the second, I mailed it to Los Angels. On the third, I flew to Costa Rica. Eric K.M. Clark, here’s to you, mate!