The Great Escape

108 years ago next week, Henry Houdini premiered his “Great Escape.”

The famed magician was handcuffed and shackled, then nailed into a crate which was roped and weighed down with two hundred pounds of lead. The crate was then lowered into the East River from a tug; police had forbade him to use a local pier.

Houdini escaped in 57 seconds.

The crate was pulled to the surface intact, manacles inside.

If you pay attention, every day is filled with magic. Some days I can see it, like sparks…

Sunshine on the Brandywine … a pair of cardinals darting through the tree tops … Maggie’s impromptu front-porch performance of Fountains of Wayne’s “The Senator’s Daughter” … new songs, fully-formed, out of thin air …

We are blessed for our great escape, for the courage to let ourselves nearly drown to test the extent of our will. As Michael Stipe sings, “Leaving New York is no easy.” It took me 25 years to settle some bet with myself, some commitment to someone, and to finally to leave — and discover that it was right here all along.

Still, we are humble; worlds change in the belly of an insect. There is work to do: bridges to build, soundproofing to install. Storms to weather. I think I’m ready. These songs, this work, it helped get me here.

Still, self talk fails, mantras drown out by the din. Those days seem devoid altogether: bad news, bad vibes, bad kharma.

Lately, the more I put in, the more I get out. If I build in time to notice the diamonds and sundowns, the cardinals and catbirds, they appear (though not on a schedule, or on command).

The epiphany, though — still! — is that most days are both, “Yes, and…,” “Also, and…,” but never either/or. Nothing is binary; everything is both, always. Here comes everyone. Pile on!

“Walls No. 3” (all hail Mr.Thomas Earl Petty) is a profound — and profoundly hooky — song. This remix (mad props to DJ Latenight aka Downstate Darling drummer, Daniel Golden) is a haunted, wistful banger. And this video (a Wagner Bros. Joint) is a sweeping, epic. It should be a thing.

Whether or not it’s a thing, it’s certainly a journey: some roads are blocked, and some things go on.