Songs From Bubbly Creek

by Andrew Malo

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about

Supposedly it still bubbles today. Stockyards in the early 1900s used Bubbly Creek as a home for the blood, for the entrails, and diseased carcasses of the pigs, cows, and other animals that came their way during the glory days of the meatpacking industry.

Upton Sinclair in The Jungle writes:

"Bubbly Creek" is an arm of the Chicago River, and forms the southern boundary of the Union Stock Yards: all the drainage of the square mile of packing-houses empties into it, so that it is really a great open sewer a hundred or two feet wide. One long arm of it is blind, and the filth stays there forever and a day. The grease and chemicals that are poured into it undergo all sorts of strange transformations, which are the cause of its name; it is constantly in motion, as if huge fish were feeding in it, or great leviathans disporting themselves in its depths. Bubbles of carbonic gas will rise to the surface and burst, and make rings two or three feet wide. Here and there the grease and filth have caked solid, and the creek looks like a bed of lava; chickens walk about on it, feeding, and many times an unwary stranger has started to stroll across, and vanished temporarily. The packers used to leave the creek that way, till every now and then the surface would catch on fire and burn furiously, and the fire department would have to come and put it out. Once, however, an ingenious stranger came and started to gather this filth in scows, to make lard out of; then the packers took the cue, and got out an injunction to stop him, and afterwards gathered it themselves. The banks of "Bubbly Creek" are plastered thick with hairs, and this also the packers gather and clean."

Quite an interesting history. The City of Chicago still continues this tradition. When rains overwhelm the sewage system, the water district dumps untreated human excrement into the Chicago River and the creek. It is more of a living history.

All interest in the subject escapes on the hot summer days when the wind blows west, and the all-too-real ghosts of the animal carcass' stench fills the air of McKinley Park. On such days, it is advisable to stay home and read a book. or knit a sweater. or play with your cute baby. or write songs...

The beauty of song and creativity is one does not have to be the stranger who gathers the filth to make a product - one is merely influenced and then inspired.

As Saul Williams states on the classic 'Twice The First Time,'

"we drum the essence of creation from city slums."

Such is the way with Songs from Bubbly Creek. Where the stench is turned into reflections on other places - of lakes, of rivers! - and of gratitude. Gratitude for the cicadas calling and the crowded streets and the brownish tint of the majestic skyline and even for the insufferable stench. The goddam stench, of the goddam slaughtered animals, that still produces bubbles - of poisoned flesh, of methane, of inspiration....

credits

released February 21, 2012

Label: Alaska Tapes

Percussion: Erik Unterscheutz
Everything Else: Andrew Malo

Album Art: Angela Malo
Mixing: Andrew Malo
Mastering: Sam Adebayo

working title: "erik's ep"

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Track Name: O The Places That We Have Been
If I took you across the earth
Would you know what it’s worth?
To be outside your skin
Like a hickory with maple limbs

This place ain’t that great
Nothing here but money
So I threw water in the lake
And now it looks all muddy

Took a train down south
Stayed silent or, at least, kept trying
The cicadas were so loud
Who knew that they were dying

Then we continue down
And these bridges that we’re crossing
Are written on us now
And the birds they keep on talking

All the sounds they soon fade
And nothing really happens
But the fragrances, they remain
O the places that we’ve been
Track Name: Lakes
Been on that road
Somewhere near your home
With sun-burned stones
Hardly paved at all
And baby hawks fly
On car exhaust alone
Still there’s times
When I hear them call

River - listen
I saw you before
And I’m missing
My heart’s flow
Sidewalks – please
Lead me to the shore
Sidewalks freeze
No use, no more

Once I had
My own lake
And there we sat
Hugged by the trees
In that past
What was at stake
Didn’t last
But that was me