Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Greetings from the Grids

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmErRRezTk0

Over the next couple of weeks we're going to be looking at other videos from this collection of songs performed by myself, Bob Evans, and Roberta Nichol, which we started looking at with my song Crop Circles. Just a reminder, these songs are available for download as a ten-song package at the Tenth Dimension Digital Items store if you're interested in owning high-quality mp3s of these recordings.

Greetings from the Grids presents a romanticized vision of the system of gravel roads found throughout the southern half of my home province of Saskatchewan. This grid system was originally laid out two miles apart north and south and one mile east and west, but not all of the roads are developed, and of course sometimes geographical irregularities like valleys or rivers keep the system from continuing uninterrupted. But nonetheless, there really are large sections of land that are, as the song says, "carved up like a checkerboard".

At the 1:12 mark in the above video, and again towards the end of the piece, I superimpose an aerial photograph of Saskatchewan over the sky. When I look at the checkerboard pattern defined by these grid roads, I start thinking about Digital Physics and how, when you look at the underlying structures of our universe, information equals reality: but hey, maybe that's just me!

Greetings from the Grids harkens back to the old prairie mythology that there's something different about people who grow up out here on the prairies. For the last six years my company Talking Dog Studios had the good fortune to be doing the sound and music for the most popular Canadian-produced scripted series of all time, Corner Gas. I've played this clip from the pilot episode before, but it ties in so nicely here that it's worth viewing again:

A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Veu-Cm7aHMw

I imagine that every place on the planet has groups of people who have lived there all their lives and feel that the unique qualities of their surroundings have affected their point of view: and I'm certainly not suggesting that the prairie point of view is superior to these others, only that it might be different.

In Saskatchewan, there's lots of different geographies, but many people across Canada know us only for the wide swatch of extremely flat prairie through which the Trans-Canada Highway happens to connect us to our neighboring provinces. This opening scene of the very first episode of Corner Gas plays with some of the beliefs that have sprung up around that extraordinary flatness:

Brent: Hey Hank! This guy says Saskatchewan is flat!
Hank: How do you mean?
Brent: Topographically, I guess. Says there's nothin' to see.
Hank: There's lots to see. Nothin' to block your view.
Craig Northey's theme song for the show continues the discussion with this old prairie joke:
You can tell me that your dog ran away
Then tell me that it took three days
Does growing up on the wide-open prairies somehow change your point of view? Greetings from the Grids was written and performed in 1997, nine years before Imagining the Tenth Dimension was published. But as I've mentioned before, this way of visualizing reality was something I developed in the early 80's, so even when I'm not specifically talking about our probability space of "next possible outcomes" coming from the fifth dimension, or the relationship between the observer and the observed in the wave function of our universe, it's always been something in the back of my mind. I'm hoping that the Tenth Dimension graphics I've overlaid on the prairie scenes in the above video help to show some of those underlying connections. Here are the lyrics to the song:

Greetings from the Grids
- words and music by Rob Bryanton (SOCAN)

I come from the land of grid roads
Of endless flat prairie, carved up like a checkerboard
Every square a mile on a side, love to go out for a drive
And that's the land of grid roads

I come from the land of grid roads
Of people changed wholly by livin' on a checkerboard
The next decision you can make, is always just a mile away
I love the land of grid roads

The prairie makes you different
And those gravel grids do too
Five thousand feet away from here
You can switch to something new
Or proceed straight on forever
The choice is up to you
The prairie makes you different, yeah
It's in your point of view

And I come from the land of grid roads
Of people made holy by livin' on a checkerboard
When we look out we can see all those possibilities
That's how it is with grid roads
It keeps you hoppin', on your toes, keeps you steerin', goodness knows
You're in the land of grid roads
And that's the land of grid roads
I love the land --- of grid roads.

Another part of the prairie mythos is that our long cold winters have generated a disproportionate number of excellent musicians - not wanting to go outside when it's bitterly cold has encouraged many to stay at home and practice their instrument. Statistically speaking, I have no idea if that's really true or not. There are certainly a disproportionate number of professional hockey players from Saskatchewan when you realize that our population is only a million, but that stands to reason since so many small towns here still have hockey rinks. Next, we'll be looking at another Rob Bob and Roberta song that examines the extreme side of our winters - that scary part of the year when the temperature hits Forty Below.

Enjoy the journey!

Rob Bryanton

PS - As an amusing bit of synchronicity, I opened this morning's paper to read the front page news that my city has just adopted a new slogan that obviously ties into the wide open possibilities I'm talking about in the above entry. The new slogan is "Regina: Infinite Horizons". Cool!

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