A British composer turns outlaw in Los Angeles in Turn On, Tune Out. Angelica Morgan flouts a computer law that cripples creativity. In L.A., Angelica finds an audience, love, and a passion to stop the insidious law from taking hold in Britain. In the near future of California, artists, who steal time off-line, are considered suspect, criminal, and dangerous.
Angelica’s friend, Rosetta, an outspoken painter, cautions the musician about the Stop, Look and Listen law. But Angelica dismisses the warning. . . .
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They say my music makes dogs howl, that it wakes the dead and hates the living. But I don’t hear it that way, and neither do my cohorts.
My music resonates the times. It echoes the world: today’s and tomorrow’s. It’s the year 2033. I don’t shut out reality with the gentle plucking of strings or the harmonic rhapsody of an orchestra. No pastoral symphony for me. The city floods into my art: the tripping of car alarms, the whooshing of cars, the wailing of fire engine sirens, the screeching of trucks, the whirring of police helicopters, and the booming of car stereos. These sounds grow the shell into which I drop those of the hearth: the ringing of the telephone, the droning of the television, the clicking of computer keys. These are my instruments along with the piano, the violin, and the rest of the orchestra.
Like a musical alchemist, I take ugly sounds and transmute them into art. I restore balance into a life from which it had escaped so long ago that there was no realization of its loss, much less desire for its return. Listeners find a way to make artistic sense out of our discordant lives.
I stand guilty of loving humanity, of caring enough for people that I will risk my freedom, of believing that we are the reflection of the Supreme Being so that the risk will not be so great. We have a short time on this earth, the wink of an eye, but life here is not all. We are likely to return again and again before we get it right.
Yet, the laws which threw me here into this cold, steel cell were not faith, hope and charity. They were bizarre codes of a skewed society, rules linked to electronic control of people. I didn’t follow them, not out of a spirit of rebellion, but because I led an alternative way of life. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t turn on and tune out.
Sometimes I listened to the quiet, which is never that. I’d lie on the carpeted floor of my beach town studio apartment, a bedsit, and listen to the seagulls. Or I’d gaze out the window, over the tops of trees. I lived in the penthouse of a two-story wooden shack, two apartments on each floor. Looking out swelled my heart with elation. I pretended to live in the country. Sometimes I read books, nineteenth- and twentieth-century novels, biographies of artists and composers who lived during a time when artists were not prohibitive, and I read travel tales about faraway places.
And always, each morning from four until eight, I wrote music.
I arranged my waking and dreaming hours around music, the heart of my life. I couldn’t squeeze in the daily four hours of screen-watching – television or computer – required by the state, not with the job I needed to pay rent and buy food, and the commuting from Long Beach to Century City on clogged Los Angeles freeways.
It’s my job that landed me here without music, except in my head, and without a view, except in my memory. Perhaps it’s unfair to blame my job. I could just as well blame people for allowing society to become what it has become, or music for seducing me, or my parents for conceiving me in April and giving birth to a free-thinking Aquarian. I could just as well blame myself.
What do you think? You be the judge.