Presents for Sally "And Then It Was Gone"

Presents for Sally "And Then It Was Gone"

There's beauty in transience. It's old hat at this point, the idea that life has meaning because it eventually ends. I didn't rewatch all six seasons of Lost in a depressive spiral to not carry forth a renewed appreciation for the fragility of existence. But the temporary condition works in lower stakes ways too. A great song is made great, in part, because it is a finite unit: you can start it from the beginning, sure, but it has to end every time. There's beauty in that fleeting thrill; there's also a hell of a lot of beauty in a bass that sounds as fat as this one does.

Presents for Sally are made in a lab for Tributary. They hail from Exeter and play slightly left-of-the-dial shoegaze. They are oddly insistent that they do not, in fact, make shoegaze music*, even though they have tagged themselves as such on Bandcamp and... well... listen for yourself. They have done scant press since 2015, and their Bandcamp bio promises a forthcoming second album that was released over a decade ago. Yet they've continued to churn out gently psychedelic guitar songs at a steady clip until as recently as 2021, the best of which is the sublime "And Then It Was Gone."

*I once had an Uber driver in Evanston, Illinois, a college town desperately fighting to be seen as anything other than that, say, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck." Not particularly novel except he finished it off with, "Sure as hell ain't a dolphin," which is a turn of phrase I'll remember until I die.

"And Then It Was Gone" is built atop a simple mechanical drum loop and the aforementioned majestic bass tone. Band mastermind Matt Etherton peers out through a light fog of distortion, singing in curled hypotheticals about blown second chances. In Present for Sally's world, roads not taken are equivalent to the ones that are, inasmuch as both are now behind you. Don't dwell too much on what may have been when you have to focus on what is.

This wasn't originally intended to lead into my thoughts on the Knicks, but it hasn't exactly not been about the Knicks. Back on New Year's Day, Julius Randle flew through the entire Minnesota Timberwolves best-in-the-league defense for a layup. Hungover as I was I almost levitated out of bed. They went 14-2 that month, beating a then-nuclear 76s team by over 30 and smacking Denver by close to 40. Jalen Brunson was unstoppable, OG Anunoby capable of stopping anyone. I was ready to tell anyone who would listen that they might be better than people even realized, genuine title contenders.

And then Randle injured his shoulder and the whole thing unraveled from there. Anunoby followed to the bench shortly thereafter. Yet the Knicks kept going, grinding everyone to dust to stay in the mix. If one body started to give out, another would materialize to take its place. They made moves to shore up their reserves at the deadline; Magic was ecstatic.

Two days ago the season ended in a crushing Game 7 loss to the Pacers at home. I won't relitigate the team's post-season--you watched or you didn't, you care or you don't. But those of us who watched know that the white flag was never waived; the Knicks fought until not a single man was left standing to continue. Anunoby begged to play in Game 7 despite being so clearly hurt he was pulled after less than five minutes. Josh Hart, having already run a literal marathon on the court in these playoffs, slogged through an abdominal injury suffered a game prior. Donte DiVincenzo put up 39 as the only healthy regular season start to close the game. Brunson, ever the team's fearless leader, played until his body gave out, fracturing his shooting hand in the third quarter.

And then you have Alec Burks. He was rightfully pulled from the rotation in his second tenure as a Knick, chucking up baffling shots all of February and making hardly any of them. He remained glued to the bench until the team's hand was forced against Indiana, doling out locker room advice and keeping his head down until his number was called. In that final game, well after things seemed over and done, he fought like hell to keep the season alive. And if he didn't exactly nail an impression of prime Kobe for a win, he managed at least a halfway decent Bradley Beal for a valiant effort in the loss.

At this point, it's tempting to look to the future and say we're in good shape for next year (for what it's worth, I think we're in excellent shape for next year). It's tempting to break out hypotheticals about what a fully healthy team would have done in the playoffs (for my money, a seven-game series against Boston in the Conference Finals that ends in a coin flip). But that's a disservice to the team that played this past season. No one can take away from me watching Brunson's Game 2 against Indiana; watching Mitchell Robinson play the best defense I've seen on Joel Embiid ever (and doing it one-legged after Embiid tried to take him out); watching Josh Hart log complete game after complete game and then lean into Reggie Miller's hot mic on TV to tell him the crowd "is saying fuck you"; watching DiVincenzo hit THAT SHOT against Philadelphia at my cousins' house after Passover dinner**.

**A quick shoutout to all of my friends from different fandoms who showed out to watch Knicks games with me this year. When your team is often bad and doesn't yet have rivals, people are generally down to root for your success. I share this particularly with my friend Shlok, a lifelong Sacramento Kings fan--we exchange congratulatory and/or conciliatory texts about our respective teams often. Light The Beam™️.

In the 2012-2013 season the Knicks won 54 games and snagged the 2 seed. They lost in the second round to... hold the phone... the Indiana Pacers. It seemed likely that they'd be similarly competitive next season; they won 37 games and missed the playoffs entirely. The point is that no future is promised, and what matters is that these Knicks left everything on the court. And now the season is done.

psych! we are #WolvesWagon now lets go wolves baby

"And Then It Was Gone" sounds like how yesterday felt. Indie film end-credit music (I mean this in a good way today and will almost certainly recycle it as a dig at some point; please promise to keep it pushing if I do). A little forlorn, but full of its own kind of promise. Not necessarily that of a brighter tomorrow, but one of a still-meaningful today. In light of a slow day at work, I treated myself to a day of faux-unemployment: blowing off emails, drinking too much iced coffee, walking around in the sun. It was nice, and then it was gone.