Novembeat 2020 – Stories

Novembeat was a busy, but fun and rewarding time for me this year. Some jams felt great to make in the moment. Others were a total slog, but sounded pretty OK to me a day or two later. Some, well, we won’t talk about those…

But, throughout the month, I had a bonus layer of fun. My good friend, Ms. BC, listened to every one of my tracks and gave me a little blurb of the imagery that came to her while listening to the song. I tend to do that with other people’s music, so it tickled me that she did it too. Here are all the little stories and vignettes that she came up with. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

November 1 – Paddling Out

A surfer in San Diego is paddling out in the ocean at the exact moment right between darkness and light, just as the sun is starting to peek above the horizon. They are new to surfing and are slightly intimidated when looking out at the other bobbing bodies in the water, but they keep repeating to themselves, “I belong here too.” After many missed waves, they spot a new one and begin paddling furiously with their leaden arms. They catch the wave and as they stand up, they are no longer man or woman, just another animal in the water.

Novembeat 2 – Spinning Twinning

I saw two friends, separated by a continent, riding their respective Peloton bikes jamming out to some EDM on their rides. One gives the other a “high five” and all of a sudden they are transported to a warehouse where a huge dance party is happening. They look at each other and are like WTF, as they are both wearing their workout clothes. But, with a shrug, they stop caring and start dancing. The lights are changing colors, the mood is festive, everyone is happy and covid-free and as the song ends, they are transported back to their respective homes finishing up their bike ride…sweaty, happy and with some streamers stuck in their bike clips to remind them that it was real.

Novembeat 3 – Civil Servitude

Feet running, wheels spinning, hearts thudding. There is a warehouse where papers are being shuffled, ballots are being counted as they whirl through the machine, and the people working inside are buzzing from station to station. Outside the warehouse are people who are milling around, waiting to see who will win. There is noticeable tension and fear in the air. A man pulls out his violin and begins to play. The camera zooms out and we see this is happening in every state–one brightly lit center where each vote is being counted.

Novembeat 4 – Close Your Eyes and Breathe

Aerial and panoramic view of a farm…and then a quick zoom into two chickens eating, dancing and enjoying the day. The camera pans and there’s a mama cow licking her calf, dogs rounding up the sheep, and pigs frolicking in the mud. The corn fields are tall and ready to harvest. Kids are chasing each other through a homemade maze and a mom stands watching from the porch with a freshly baked apple pie in the oven. There is the smell of cinnamon and hope in the air as the camera zooms back out.

Novembeat 5 – Conveyor

A woman wearing striped pajamas laying in bed on lazy Friday morning. She gets up and there’s a conveyer belt (like the ones in the airport) that takes her through the day in a linear fashion where the scenes and backdrops pop up in the background. All she has to do is stand on the conveyer belt…from a background of her kitchen and making coffee, to her closet as she is getting dressed, to different faces of clients via huge screens in the background, and ending with her being deposited back to the side of her bed.

Novembeat 6 – Wash Away My Memory

Someone is sitting by the window on a rainy day watching her little garden as the rain shifts from a gentle drip drip to a downpour. She looks down at her phone and sees the news of a pivotal moment in American history and begins to dance around her home with different images of how America could be in her head. The America that her parents risked their lives to come to and the America that promised a refuge and hope for all. As the downpour continues, she is reminded of the Peruvian/Quechua belief where the last big rain of the season (tumphush pampei) takes away all the negative energy from the land in order to prepare it to sow new crops. She sits down in front of her computer to write about what she wants to plant.

Novembeat 7 – Bell Healer

A room full of people is gathered for a healing retreat. Surrounding them in the perimeter of the room are various bells of different sizes and shapes and also a Yogi DJ/orchestrator. Bodies are rhythmically swaying. Each time the loudest bell strikes, dark clouds expel from the people.

Novembeat 8 – Motorbike Through the Medina

An aerial view of the medina in Morocco–it’s packed to the gills with animals, people are shouting, vibrant colors abound, and people rushing from activity to activity. The camera zooms into a specific merchant and he drops an item into a satchel and hands it to a little boy who nods solemnly, understanding the weight of this mission. The boy runs and zig zags expertly through the market, knowing all the shortcuts (which also annoys some of the shopkeepers) and stops at another stall. There is a young man waiting for him on a motorbike. The boy hops onto the back of the bike that is laden with chickens and rugs. The bike speeds through the crowded market deftly, narrowly missing people, but it almost seems like the sea of people part for them as they bike through crowds. The scenery slowly changes from the hectic city to a more serene countryside with rolling hills as they pass various cows and sheep on the road. The kid looks at the sun slowly setting and worries that they won’t arrive on time. The driver drops the kid off in front of a wooden gate and gives the kid a knowing wink. The wooden doors open for the kid and he starts to run down the path…but remembering where he is, he slows down to a hurried walk where he finds one last door that opens. The recipient of the satchel emerges, the kid bows, and hands it off.

Novembeat 9 – Parallel Paths

A suburban cul-de-sac with a half-open garage door…you look under and see a little girl playing the drums. She’s about 7 or 8 and she’s loving it. Wearing all black with a red bandanna tied around her head. She’s good, really good, and she knows it too. Two big thought bubbles form above her showing images simultaneously. 

In the first bubble are images of her growing up and going from gig to gig and jamming at night, missing some pivotal youth moments. You see her fighting with her parents to keep playing as she drops out of college and begins to tour on a local level…but soon enough, on an international level. She’s living out her dreams but comes back to an empty hotel room each night. 

In the second bubble she continues playing the drums through high school and is part of the school band. She attends prom and you see her moving into the dorms and bringing her drum sticks with her as she tries to find time to play. She gets caught up in going to college football games and has traded her black clothing for a college sweatshirt. Next you see her in a business suit interviewing for some corporate job and climbing the ladder there. After a day of business meetings, she comes back alone to the same hotel room as the other thought bubble. 

The two versions of her sitting back to back.

Novembeat 10 – A Study Break

The camera pans over the tops of bookshelves and through rows and rows of books at a library. It’s a gradual zoom in as you see the back of a girl studying at a table by herself, headphones on, laptop open, stacks of books surrounding her. She stretches her arms, looks up, and remembers there is a whole world out there on the other side of the window. She sees a group of football players toss a football back and forth and a gaggle of cheerleaders following behind. Another group passes by carrying their black musical instrument cases. A kid skateboards by and nearly knocks over one of the cases. She looks back down and tries to focus on her work but finds herself spotting, out of the corner of her eye, a couple making out and subsequently a librarian’s annoyed expression. Her eyes are wearied and she wants to stop studying. She looks up and sees her friend standing on the other side of the window holding a cup of coffee and giving her a thumbs up. She nods, smiles with relief, and takes off her headphones. The sounds of the world whoosh into her ears.

Novembeat 11 – The Tightrope Walker

The visual is in black and white and is kinda old timey NYC. You see people hurriedly walking through the streets on their way to work. As the camera pans across the crowds, people begin to stop in their tracks, gawking at the sky and excitedly pointing. One person gasps. Another cheers. One woman nearly faints. The camera looks up and you sees a man wearing a striped leotard stepping over the ledge of one skyscraper and attempting to tightrope walk across to the next building over. He looks straight ahead, and never down at the crowd that has gathered, which now includes firetrucks and swarms of police. He has a determined look on his face as he pretends not to hear the raucous sounds from below and to focus on the quiet melody in his head…every step is measured and calculated as he inches closer and closer to his dream.

Novembeat 12 – Hearts Revolve

The camera is following a young couple strolling hand in hand down a long wooden pier on a summer day. The sun is shining and the ocean sparkles. They pass hot dog booths and cotton candy stands. At the end of the pier you see a giant red ferris wheel with flashing lights, it is bright, shiny and new. The couple gets on the ferris wheel and it starts spinning round and round. With each revolution, you see the couple age through a time-lapsed montage…different people get off and on the ferris wheel but they stay on. You see them sitting close together and smiling while holding hands but some revolutions also see them sitting on opposite sides of the bucket angry at each other. The lapse keeps going and they are getting older and grayer. At the end, the ferris wheel stops and they get out and walk back down the long pier hand in hand.

Novembeat 13 – The Perfect Host

An urban bus stop in Italy…a young man steps off the city bus with his backpack, a travel book in one hand, and an overstuffed backpack on his back. Both feet hit the ground with a thud as he looks left and right, excited to arrive after an arduous 13 hour bus ride. He wants to look at this travel book to see which direction to go, but follows his nose as he smells fresh pasta to the left. You see the side view of him walking down the cobble stone streets and the different smells, textures and tastes of Italy bursts through each store front and he hears his stomach rumble. He passes by several restaurants with welcoming al fresco dining but he passes them by in search of the perfect first meal. He looks up, and to his left, he sees a handsome host wave with a knowing smile and a “bongiorno!” The young traveler knows he has found what he was looking for.

Novembeat 14 – Descending to the Chamber

It’s a dark and rainy night. We see a woman in a trench coat walking down a dimly lit alleyway. She looks furtively behind her several times as though she was worried about being followed. We see a large envelope poking out of the top of her coat. She quickly turns down another alleyway and approaches a metal door. She knocks twice and the peephole slides open, she mutters incomprehensible words and is let in. She looks around again before slipping through the doorway. The woman is led by a tall figure down a long hallway as she begins to take off her coat, hat and gloves. She enters a room, walks up to a bookcase, removes a book, and the bookcase slides open revealing a hidden spiral staircase. The womans takes a deep breath and begins to walk down…

Novembeat 15 – Unexpected Moves

Venice Beach, CA. We see a crowd gathered on the infamous boardwalk and as the camera zooms in, we see a boombox in the middle of the circle and two teenage boys battling each other with their various dance moves. Each round, they up the ante and the crowd cheers as they are unsure of who to crown the winner. The crowd begs for more and just as one dancer is about to begin, a little girl with pigtails and a tracksuit squeezes her way to the front. The two teens look at each other as she walks by them, casually pushes play on the boombox and begins to pop and lock and blow the boys out of the water. The boys look at each other, shrug their shoulders, and then bow down to her.

Novembeat 16 – Confidence Games

He rolled up the sleeves of his blazer and popped his collar, looking more confident than he felt…he was about to walk into the biggest tournament of his life. The man had been preparing for over ten years for this moment. He saunters into the room and is faced with the top thumbs wrestlers from all over the world. None of the competitors matter to him except the Russian, Ivan the Hammer Thumb. The match is about to begin. The two competitors warm up, doing some jumping jacks and running in place. The man’s coach massages his hands but especially with care to his thumbs. He looks over and glares at Ivan. “This man took the thumb of my best friend. Now I will take his…”

Novembeat 17 – Hand-Drawn Assistant

The camera looks through a window of a second story brick building. We see the back of a man seated at his large drafting table…empty cups of coffee surrounding him and crumbled pieces of paper on the floor. He has his head in both hands and is distressed. He picks up the pencil and adds to the character on the page, but sighs in exasperation. He is about to crumble the sheet of paper but the character in the drawing winks at him. Shocked, the man looks closer and notices the character motioning for the man to draw a pencil on the page. The character smiles as the pencil appears on the paper. Using that pencil, the character begins to draw his own backdrop. The character indicates in thought bubbles for additional colors and he begins to bounce around the page filling in the drawing. The character eventually draws a ladder for himself to climb out of the page. The man is still watching in disbelief as the character tosses the crumbled sheets of paper on the floor onto the drafting table and motions for the man to uncrumple them. The character gets to work and excitedly motions to the man where to draw more. They work like this all night until…the sun is streaming through the window which awakens the man. His face is plastered to one of the drawings and he looks and sees a stack of finished drawings and thinks, what a weird dream.

Novembeat 18 – Full Moon Fire

A bright full moon in the dark sky that casts a luminescent reflection on the ocean below. Hundreds of pulsating and gyrating bodies are dancing to the beat and enjoy a moment of freedom and pure bliss. The party goers know they are in for a treat as different drums begin to hint at the surprises that await them. Behind a wooden gate, a young woman emerges with a drum slung across her body. She begins her solo while the DJ continues to spin music. Trailing behind, we see another woman slowly emerge. She is small in stature but is spinning fireballs that make her appear larger than life. The crowd parts as she makes her way to the makeshift center and begins her performance. All watch in fear and intrigue as she deftly maneuvers the fire with both hands entrancing the audience. She spins faster and faster, creating fiery hot circular flames and without warning, the spinner tosses the balls in the air and the crowd gasps and looks upwards towards the sky and twinkling moon.

Novembeat 19 – Hazard Pay

Repairing the antennae on the outside of the ship while flying through an asteroid field was not her idea of a good time. But if they were going to let the fleet about the oncoming threat, she needed to get communications up and running asap. She radios for her colleague to bring her the specific tool that she needed from inside the ship. A few minutes later, he emerges from the hatch and begins walking towards her with the thingmagit. Raising the tool in the air in triumph, the man doesn’t notice when he kicks magnets into off position on his boots. Flailing as he begins floating into the void, he tosses her the tool. “Well, at least he did something right.” She finishes the repairs and directs the ship toward his trajectory. Hopefully, he didn’t somehow decompress his suit while floating away too.

Novembeat 20 – Stirring

There’s an aerial view of an expansive forest. Half shaded still in darkness and half waking up to the sunrise as it slowly bathes the forest in light. We see critters waking up and beginning to stretch and their morning routines including licking their pups awake, munching on nuts and bathing by the river. The sounds of the forest progressively become louder as the forest awakens and the well choreographed dance that is the harmony of the forest animals commences. There’s a lone fox that has become tired of the monotony. She strays from the routine and climbs up to a ledge to see the full view of the show below as she slowly sips her morning cup of coffee.

November 21 – Cave Dancer

We see a world map with a bright red pin on Granada, Spain. The camera zooms directly from a global view to the streets of the Moorish quarter. The streets are narrow and windy with no lights. It is nearly pitch black with the exception of a soft glow. As the camera inches closer to the glow, we begin to hear music and seemingly out of nowhere, a cave appears. There is a crowd of people clamoring for a glimpse of something. The crowd slowly parts for the camera and in the middle of the darkened cave, we see a bright spotlight on a mesmerizing flamenco dancer wearing red dress and black shoes. Her eyes are closed and she appears entranced. She is unaware of the building audience as she moves soulfully and powerfully to the music. She spins and rhythmically taps her feet, from quick taps in succession to slow stomps, hands clapping and fingers snapping. The camera moves in a 360 degrees motion around her and the effect is dizzying until the final foot stomp with both hands in the air triumphantly.

Novembeat 22 – Aged Eyes

Same caves of Granada…an older gentleman begins to pluck at a flamenco guitar with his long fingernails. His eyes are closed and he looks like a typical grandpa with his dress shirt, slacks and newsboy hat. But back in the day he was one of the most sought after guitarists in the city. As he is playing we see montages of memories of him playing in front of large crowds with the audience clapping to the beat, women swooning over him with their hearts beating faster to his music, and him being chauffeured throughout the country to different venues. The camera pans back to the present moment and zooms in past his eyeglasses and wrinkles as he quickly opens his eyes wide.

Novembeat 23 – Buy Now, Pay Forever

I had this feeling of, you know, when you’re walking down Times Square in NYC and you feel like you’re being bombarded with all these messages–both conscious and unconscious–trying to sell you things.

How many of us are truly making decisions from an autonomous place anymore? Have we all been so primed to certain things and marketing that we don’t even realize we are just buying certain things b/c we have been told we should buy it or whatnot. And your final purchase, well, death is that point where the decision will be made for you.

Novembeat 24 – Donut Dancer

London ballet company. We see a gaggle of young aspiring professional ballet dancers during practice, pirouetting and en point throughout the class. There is a view of just their feet moving in unison…point point point point point. The camera zooms in one of them, and we see the bubble above her head of performing the lead in Swan Lake for a live performance. The camera zooms to another dancer and we see her floating in the arms of a male dancer in all her glory. And then camera pans to another and we see her in a donut shop, with her eyes glazed over with joy and mouth covered with powdered sugar.

Novembeat 25 – Follow the Static Brick Road

We see a 70s living room with a shag carpet and an old school TV with the the bunny ears and everything. There are two kids, a boy and girl. The boy is trying to move the antennae because of all the static noise in the background and the sister is telling him when the image appears clearer. “Move to the left,” she says, “no more to the right.” She becomes frustrated, gets up and grabs the antennae from him and they wrestle with it. As they each hold onto one antennae, the static gets increasingly louder and they are transported into another dimension where they are inside the TV. They can look out and see their living room and recognize they are part of the cartoon they were watching. They bang on the TV but no one hears them. We no longer hear them as they are muffled by the static. We see the boy crying and the girl telling him to get up as they begin traversing the cartoon landscape and passing characters who do not speak their language, but point them in the direction of the ever increasing staticky clamor. They are both scared and awed by the cartoon characters who wave at them and make their way up a volcano. The static is omnipresent at this point and they peer into the volcano and see their living room at the bottom. there is a sign and an arrow on the side of the volcano that reads “home this way.” They take a deep breath, hold hands, and jump.

November 26 – Green Screen Night Owl

A dark warehouse full of abandoned computers from the 80s that have been discarded and upgraded. Rows upon rows of monitors precariously stacked on top of each other. We see a monitor at the bottom of the pile light up…green letters spilling onto the black screen. We are unable to make out the letters but slowly, other monitors begin to spit out green words. Soon, the green lettering on all the monitors cast a green tinted glow onto a tiny mouse who is conducting with a mini baton.

Novembeat 27 – Phone a Friend 1982

Chicago 1982. We see shoppers hurrying down a snowy sidewalk, some Christmas lights on the street lamps, and the lingering smell of pumpkin in the air. The camera pans to a high rise building and it gradually moves upwards from the ground floor to the 27th floor. Looking through the tinted windows, we see an office floor plan and the side view of someone sitting in a weathered offie chair. The camera pans to an aerial view of the floor plan and we see rows and rows of cubicles. All the cubicles are empty except for his. He’s typing at his computer with the black screen, green text and square blinking cursor that has taunted him all morning. He types a word, then deletes it. Types another word, deletes it again. His head is in his hands. It’s the day after Thanksgiving and he wonders, “what am i doing here?!” He looks around his desk at the empty coffee mugs, piles of paper and a stale donut. He notices the hidden rolodex under the pile fo papers. He grabs it and begins to spin it slowly…and then rapidly…he isn’t quite sure what he is looking for, but knows there’s someone in this rolodex who can help him. He closes his eyes, flips one more time, and lands on a card. He pulls it out from the deck, picks up the phone and dials. “hello?” “hello.”

Novembeat 28 – Grand Theft Android

I felt like I was in a video game-like grand theft auto and I was being chased by the bad guys and jumping into my getaway car and driving around the city for my missions.

Novembeat 29 – Seasonal Walks

So I saw a woman walking through a similar montage to that scene in Knotting Hill with the seasons changing but she’s happy instead of sad like Hugh Grant. She’s stopping to dance with the flower vendor and everything.

A woman walking through the four seasons but is able to find joy in each one and finds a reason to laugh and smile even if initially it seems tough (like when the rain starts, she jumps in a puddle and someone walks with her holding an umbrella for that part of the journey).

Novembeat 30 – Take a Bow

There’s a conductor…he begins to get the attention of his orchestra for the final song of the evening. The orchestra members are different types of stuffed animals playing instruments and bobbing along to the music. The curtains draw back and we start to see the characters from the last 29 days enter from stage left to do their final twirl, curtsy, and bow. We see the couple from the Ferris wheel, the young man in Italy, the flamenco dancer, the two spin bike friends, the artist from the drafting table, the young Moroccan boy, the tightrope walker, the little drummer girl…all of them come through and do their final waves and the cheering gets louder and louder. When all have gathered on stage, they hold hands and take one final bow together. They then clap their hands and make a part down the middle and a separate curtain draws back as they welcome to the grandmaster of the show…and we see his shadow slowly emerge from the void behind the curtains.