You’re only looking with your eyes…

After work I decided to take a little bit of a long way home.  First let’s back up.  I didn’t want to pay for a taxi ride to work because I can see that this will start to get expensive.  I chose rather to take the subway.  Well, if you don’t know the subway systems that well, it can be difficult.  I would have to take one set of tracks to Nueve de Julio and jump on a new set of tracks that takes me to San Martin Plaza.  I’ll tell you this much.  I saw a blind man (with cane and NO DOG) who was doing better than I.  But it was fun, the long route to work gave me a chance to see much of the city that I hadn’t seen yet.  I got some good ideas for food and places to visit. 

After work, I decided to walk straight down Santa Fe as far as I could.  I had this internal debate as to whether or not I should put on my headphones and listen to Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as I walked.  Originally I said, “No.  I can’t listen to anything; I need to use all of my senses and take in everything I can about the city.”  That lasted about a block.  I immediately put on my headphones. I don’t care what is in my ears, I’ll still be able to hear the taxi horns honking and the bus breaks squeaking. About half way through “I am trying to break your heart” I thought, “what would it be like to take Wilco in through my nose… that would be nice.” You see, Buenos Aires smells like an interesting mix of smog and cat pee. Not from a pampered cat either, like that white puff ball that is on those soft Iams or Friskies commercials. No, these cats have been fed on red wine and dulce de leche. Anyway, the stink is bearable but still it would be nice to be able to smell Wilco or any other band. After some preliminary research (that’s what we academics call research when we’re not really trying) I found that there is a phenomena called “synaesthesia”. Synaesthesia is where the stimulation of “one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.” While walking, I thought, “What would Wilco smell like?” If you don’t know Wilco or have never heard the tunes then I wouldn’t expect you to chime in, but the smells we smell are often tied to memories and other senses. Many times I hear some sort of sizzling when I’m not cooking, I automatically think back to when my Nana used to make salmon patties for dinner. She didn’t do it that often but for some reason it is stuck in my brain, so whenever I hear some griddle sizzling, for a fraction of one second I can smell salmon patties.

In the wine business we’re always trying to pinpoint different olfactory matches, so that is what we’ll have to do with Wilco. Whenever I smell Wilco I smell a new book. There is nothing like the smell of a freshly opened book… right in the middle pages, too, where all that processed tree lies. I also smell leather; this leather has been worked on though and has a little bit of patchouli oil on it. Not patchouli because some hippie had his dirty hands all over it, but out of necessity, because some cowboy cut his hand and bled on the leather perhaps. It also smells a bit like cigarettes.  Not cheap cigarettes either, these are Camels… Menthol Camels.  Jeff Tweedy’s voice is so soft yet gruff that you know cigarettes had a hand in the formulation of the music, in fact, without the cigarettes the lyrics might not have the same impact. I don’t smell beer, that’s surprising, you should smell beer with many rock bands, but not this one. Instead, I smell Coke. Coke from the can, not from the bottle, this is a distinction that needs to be made. This coke has been left in the freezer for twenty minutes right before you opened it, too.  Just the right amount of bubbles that jump onto your nose hairs as you take the first drink.  If you have a smell associated with some artists or you want to chime in on your own chemical sensory transference, you have the floor.


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