Hear Our Houston

public generated
audio walking tours

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That Idea of Everything

download mp3

5 minutes

.8 miles

From Jefferson & Baird to Lawson & Broadmoor

Not so much a tour to make things more legible, but a remnant of a walk, an audio piece standing in for the lack of a tour.


As a manner of introduction to this cut-up recording, please read this open letter from John Pluecker to Carrie Schneider, founder of Hear Our Houston. Enjoy.


October 7, 2012


Dear Carrie,


This is a letter for you about my Hear Our Houston project. This project of trying to make something out of a walk through this neighborhood. This neighborhood made of oversize streets and too much pavement, asphalt covering everything. This non-descriptness. I think it was November 2011, and you gave me a recorder and invited me to record a walk, and my dad, Tom Pluecker, was in town and I walked with him and my dog from my home in Eastlawn to what was his house (and his parents' house) in Broadmoor. "We're going toward Telephone Road," he says when we set out. We walk through all these memories and all these moments, a million moments he lived and I live now and it all threatens to be full of treacle (according to Dictionary.com, contrived or unrestrained sentimentality). And it was. The walk became an mp3 recording that lasted 37 minutes as we walked out onto Telephone and down the wide Road and then back over to the house he grew up in, the house his parents built in 1928 when the neighborhood was new and there weren't trees and it was the prairie.


The full recording I'm going to hang onto, but I wanted to cut this audio file up and work with it. I wanted to see what I could make out of this walk with my dad. I kept thinking about his voice, the soft remainder of an accent that remains in his lilt. The strident, embarrassing tone of mine. And thinking about stories, about how many stories I forget, how stories don't hang on in my head and never seem to last. All these stories that are already being lost and these little digital files so insufficient a dike to hold back the sea. I thought about how to cut this sound up. If it was a poem or what. I made a longer version (about 12 minutes) and sent it off to my dad at the beginning of this year and he didn't really like it. He said it needed more work. I agreed, uncomfortable, but I agreed. I sat on the file and worked on it off and on for almost a year, kept tweaking it, shuffling bits. These spaces hold so much and I get sentimental, just like my dad. So now in the end of this process that started almost a year ago, I'm giving you not the whole walk from my house to his house, which is no longer his or ours but someone else's, I'm giving you this five minute cut-up piece. There's my dad's voice and my voice and dogs barking and ambulances passing and birds chirping. I think you can listen to it and hear some of what's been lost and what's being lost and some of what we cover up with our speaking. As my dad says at one point, "Sure did like it going down."


I've thought a lot about how my little piece does and doesn't fit into your Hear Our Houston project. You say on the website that the project is "excavating hidden gems, layering meaning into geography, preserving our oral history, and celebrating our common sense of space." And I've been thinking: this piece doesn't so much dig up the gems as signal there might be a lot of dirt around. Doesn't so much put meaning onto the space as think about how much meaning is degraded and debased over time. Not so much making a history as thinking about how much is always deleted. Not celebrating commonality, but thinking about our disconnections, especially all the insurmountable barriers between fathers and sons. How the barriers and dirt and noise accrue. Not so much a tour to make things more legible, but a remnant of a walk, an audio piece standing in for the lack of a tour.


Thanks for the invitation to submit something. I hope this something is something enough.




John Pluecker

Jefferson St & Baird

Dumble St & Telephone Rd

Lawson St & Broadmoor St

John Pluecker

John Pluecker is a writer, interpreter, educator and translator. His work is informed by experimental poetics, radical aesthetics and cross-border cultural production and has appeared in journals and magazines in the U.S. and Mexico, including the Mandorla, Aufgabe
eleven eleven
, Third Text, Animal Shelter, HTMLGiant and Literal. He has published more than five books in translation from the Spanish, including essays by a leading Mexican feminist, short stories from Ciudad Juárez and a police detective novel. There are two chapbooks of his work, Routes into Texas (DIY, 2010) and Undone (Dusie Kollektiv, 2011). A third chapbook, Killing Current, will be published by Mouthfeel Press in 2012.