- Talon Stradley
The Moon Brings Inspiration
Updated: Jun 6, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Main Street Mythology. Over the course of the last few years, NDR member Julia Sawbone traveled across the American countryside. She collected legends etched onto bathroom stalls, spray painted on freight cars, and mumbled by workers in allies. She brought these legends back to us and now we bring them to you.
They tell the story of a modern pantheon of gods, the trouble they found themselves in, and how their actions shaped the world that we know today. From Newton’s Dark Room, This is Main Street Mythology.
CALE AND THE MOON Cale was the daughter of Idola, the Goddess of Cities, and Yomeo, the God of Community. At her birth, the world was subject to the night. The stars were few and the moon was young, it was not enough to light our paths. Despite its minimal texture, Cale loved the night sky. As a child, her parents struggled to get her to sleep. Instead she would lie atop the skyscrapers made by Abad and Webi and stare at the humble stars. She counted them every night and every night, there were a few more. Cale liked these stars but she only had one love: The Moon. The Moon was bright and far away, the size of a quarter in the sky. Cale would ask her mother and father about it in the morning. They said they didn’t know what it was and that it had always been there. Cale asked if they had ever met The Moon. They said that they hadn’t, it was impossible. Cale continued her wakeful nights. She wondered if the moon could see her. She hoped it could, but she doubted it. The world was so dark and she was so small. That’s when an idea sparked within her.
At the next meeting of the Gods she approached Mesec, the God of Satellites. Mesec lived on the outermost edges of our world. He protected the metallic orbiting mechanisms that circled our planet. Cale asked for a gift, one for her coming birthday. Mesec rubbed his smooth chin and stared up towards the sky. He blinked several times, then looked back at the young goddess. He said he would see what he could do. At the next meeting, 27 days later, Mesec called over Cale. She could already see the light peeking through the cracks of his fist. He told Cale that he had picked it out just for her. It was a ripe star, at the peak of its life. Mesec placed it in the child’s hand and closed her fingers over it. She immediately opened her hand and inspected the bright pulsating star. Mesec laughed and joined the rest of the Gods at the table. The next morning, Mesec inspected the star in her hand. She pinched a small part of it and pulled out a bright tuft. She placed this tuft into a small glass orb she had made. The glass protected the burning star. That night, Cale hung the orb from an antenna on her roof.
Suddenly, for the first time in the night, she could see and be seen. Cale’s eyes were fixed on the moon, looking for any kind of reaction, but the moon did not move. Over the course of the Summer, Cale pulled more tufts from the stars and made more lights to catch the attention of the moon. The moon never noticed, but her parents did. They were impressed by the ingenuity from such a young mind. Idola asked Cale if she would like to make these lights for her cities. With the help of Cale, the Gods and mortals could see through the night. They would no longer be slaves to the sun. Cale agreed, happy to be of service to her pantheon. When she was older, Cale was chosen to replace Strado as the successor to her mother, Idola, as head of the pantheon. Cale began learning with Filum, but under a much less rigorous regimen than Strado had. Instead, Cale spent most of her time observing the mortals, particularly those under great emotional weight. At first, she learned from them. What they did right and what they did wrong. As she gained more experience, she began helping the mortals. Guiding their path with her street lights. Once she had a full understanding of human hardship, she would turn off one street light above a mortal’s head during their darkest hour. It showed them that there was light behind them and light ahead. Though they may be in the dark now, they would soon be bathed in the light once again. THE RIVALRY OF ABAD AND WEBI
Abad’s father was a builder. Abad was a builder. Abad’s son will certainly be a builder. This was common knowledge when Abad announced that he would construct a son. He had been traveling the earth for sometime, collecting materials. He wanted his son to be perfect. In the end, Webbi, Abad’s son, was constructed from petrified wood and Rebar.
The first moment of Webbi’s life was spent hugging his father. He was led to the family shop and within just a couple of days, Webbi had constructed his first building. Abad was proud. They spent the next several years traveling the world, building houses and monuments for the Gods.
On one journey, as they traversed an ocean cliffside, Webbi noticed a small cavern just beneath the waves. He dove into the ocean and pulled himself into an air pocket inside the cave. There, he was surrounded by one solid piece of sea glass, gently eroded by the ocean. He called his father down. Webbi told him that he would like to create a building out of the material. It would be his masterpiece, a humble palace overlooking the ocean. Abad was silent and his head was still. Abad said that he himself would make the building. Webbi was skilled, but this material was precious. It couldn’t be wasted on someone so inexperienced.
Webbi was appalled. Was he not taught by his father? Did they not work, side by side, for years? Webbi had constructed houses easily as good his father’s. Webbi claimed that he had made houses better than his father’s.
Abad told Webbi that was enough. Webbi would not use the sea glass, and that was it. Abad put his hand to the walls to feel the rare material.
Webbi wouldn’t have it. There, in an air pocket surrounded by fogged green glass, Webbi challenged his father to a competition. It was a simple one. Whoever could make the best building would be granted control of the sea glass. There was no time limit, no restrictions on location or material. Both would work until they had their best building. It would be judged by the other gods. Neither of them would touch the Sea Glass until a winner was announced.
Abad stared at his child, taking a moment to admire his own craftsmanship. Surely a being of his own making could not outdo him. Abad agreed. The two shook hands and raced out of the cave, both eager to begin their work.
The competition started meager. Small, meticulously constructed houses. Neither was content with their initial work. They began innovating. It was Webbi who made the first two storied building, a feat he was sure would win him the sea glass. Abad, however, was quick to learn and adapt. Not only did he make the first three storied building, but the first four and five story buildings as well.
What followed was an arms race, each side trying to construct the tallest and most elegant building that they could. Sometimes they would work to perfect their craft, creating bland buildings over and over, as fast as they could to solidify their techniques. All across the world, small pockets of skyscrapers rose. This was when Abad’s sister, Idola, began to see the potential of these gatherings. She called them cities and she led the first mortals to them. Society began to bloom in these independent collections of concrete and humanity. Idola claimed the title of Goddess of Cities, a title that would lead her to become the matriarch of the pantheon.
The competition continued for a very long time. Neither side had constructed their masterpiece. Instead Abad and Webbi labored, day after day, pridefully shaping the world as we know it. They would brag about the population of their cities and their gloating would often dominate discussions. The rivalry would only end when the Gods were put to the ultimate test. ROLOG, GODDESS OF CLOCKS In the early days, the gods looked at the sun more than they do now. This was because they used it to tell the time. It was crude and inconsistent. As the days grew and shortened the gods would have to adjust their timing, leading to missed meetings and appointments. It was far from perfect, but it was what they had. None of them thought to improve upon it. None of them, except Rolog.
At the time, Rolog was a young goddess. She spent most of her time tinkering with old bits and gears she found lying around. She made all kinds of odd contraptions, the most influential being the clicker. The clicker was simple, every moment it would click. It was steady and persistent, many of the gods found it insufferable, but Rolog loved the thing. She loved it so much she had an idea. What if she could catalogue the clicks? For example, every 60 clicks there would be one larger one! She invented a second clicker with a much deeper tone. This clicker would let out a loud sound every time the smaller clicker reached 60 clicks.
The other gods found this even more annoying. Just as they would get used to the small clicker’s clicks, a large thunk would pull their attention back to it. Even though they despised the gadgets, they began scheduling their lives around it. The meetings, for example, would always happen upon the 6th thunk since dawn. Now none of the gods would miss the meetings due to discrepancy in time. Idola noticed this. She approached the young Rolog along with Abad, God of Skyscrapers.
Idola asked Rolog to create a larger version of her Clickers, something that could be monitored outside the capitol but wouldn’t cause the incessant sound the pantheon had come to hate. Rolog was hesitant to accept. Larger and wider, but not louder. She was not confident in her abilities, but she accepted the task. That night she went to her room and began thinking of a solution.
Rolog was very stressed. She was a tinkerer, not a genius, and she was young. She lost many nights of sleep laboring over a potential solution. She drew many drafts, most of which ended up in the trash. One night, she came upon an epiphany. What if every god carried a small clicker and Rolog had some way of keeping all of these consistent with each other? Then, no matter where they were, everyone could keep track of the time. She began her work, designing a large tower. While most towers were built of steel and concrete, this tower would be built entirely of gears. On the top floor of the tower was a button. Above that was an antenna. When this button was pressed, every gear in the tower would shift and it would broadcast this through the antenna to every handheld clicker on Earth. They would all click once. Then, wherever you were, you could tell the standard time.
Rolog presented her idea at the next pantheon meeting. She was very nervous and her voice was shaky. Her idea was met with ridicule. The whole point of her assignment was to get rid of the clickers, not make more of them. Most of the gods actively vocalized their distaste for the idea. Idola did not. She stood by her decision to let Rolog fix the problem. Idola asked Rolog if she had an alternative to the clickers.
Rolog was petrified. The room was still talking, laughing about the proliferation of the mechanisms. Without thinking too much, Rolog made her suggestion. What if they didn’t make a sound, but they had some kind of visual marker? Like a dial that turned with every click. If each side of the dial was numbered, they wouldn’t even have to keep track of the clicks. It would do all of that for them.
The room fell silent, a little ashamed of bashing of Rolog’s solution before. They came to realize how smart the girl really was. Idola told Rolog she thought that was a great idea. The next morning, Abad began construction of the tower based on Rolog’s blueprints.
Now the tower stands near the capitol. At the top sits Rolog. Every second she presses the button and every second the clocks move forward. It is peaceful at the top. The only sound is the steady turning of gears. Rolog likes this sound. She prefers it to the squabbles of the pantheon. Many have wondered why someone as brilliant as Rolog presses the button herself. Rolog claims this is because she doesn’t fully trust her machines but tthat is not true. Rolog trusts her machines more than anything else. In reality, she likes sitting atop the peaceful tower, away from the chaos of the streets below.
Rolog is now much, much older. She has a child, Filum, God of Knowledge. She stays seated at her tower, leaving only in times of great importance. Here she mostly reads and every second, keeps time. LUTRA, GODDESS OF MUSIC It was well known throughout the world that the most beautiful sounds came from Lutra. She would sing and rooms would grow silent, each ear becoming devoutly focused on her. She would perform at the banquets of the other gods. At one of these banquets it was suggested she visit the cities of the mortals. They would surely love to hear her angelic voice! She liked this idea, and the next morning she made her way to the mortals of the capitol. She found herself at their town center. No one knew who she was, for she looked just like a mortal. When she sang, all of the traffic stopped. A crowd of people formed around her, enraptured by her voice. Her performance, however, was brief. The crowd grew closer and closer, pulled in by the beauty. It was the most glorious thing they had ever experienced, and they wanted to keep it. They reached out, grabbing onto Lutra’s arms and legs and body. Each began to pull, trying to keep her for themselves. Lutra’s melodic voice turned into a terrified scream as each hand pulled a piece of her away. At that moment, the spirit of Lutra was scattered across the earth. Some of her flew away to touch the lives of mortals far away. Those touched by Lutra’s spirit were given the gift of music. They could weave notes like no other and many of them spent the rest of their days performing on street corners throughout the cities. Some of Lutra still existed in the little bits each mortal pulled from her. When they placed it in their ears, they could hear the beautiful music of Lutra wherever they went. Though Lutra perished that day, her gift was felt throughout the world, appreciated by all who heard it. DOTI, GODDESS OF WASTE On Earth, all of the gods met regularly at their capital city.. Here they would discuss the coming months, resolve any conflicts, and make plans for improvement. Only a handful of gods abstained from the meetings. For example, Awaro, God of Ground, only ever attended one meeting. His wife, Igesi, Goddess of Fuel, represented both of their interests. There was only one god whose interests were never addressed in those meetings. That was Doti, Goddess of Waste. Doti did not live amongst the other gods. She lived out on the water on a small island made from the waste of those on the mainland. It was a job her father, Yitodi, held before her and it was an important one. The world made waste and Doti’s followers collected it. Doti was well off. By having access to all the world’s waste, she had more wealth than all of the other gods combined. She knew that her wealth was always growing. A common saying amongst the gods was that one day, Doti would own it all anyways. They used this saying to lighten the mood during troubled times. Doti’s fortune was often misunderstood. Though she was very wealthy, it was due to quantity rather than quality. Her palace was an amalgam of deteriorating houses. Her technology was years behind those on the mainland. Doti and all of her subjects could only wear clothes riddled with holes and patches. Much of their food had been heated for days by the sun before they could even find it. Her people did what they could to live comfortably. Some days Doti would gather all of her subjects into the ballroom of her palace. The chandelier was made of broken glass and the floor was a jigsaw of all the broken tiles that workers would occasionally drop. It was uneven and difficult to dance on, but that didn’t stop them. On those nights, the bands would play with popsicle stick reeds and guitars with three A strings. Every night the music was different, depending on the instruments they had found that week. The dance from Doti’s Island mimicked the dancing of the mainland but typically involved lifting the feet higher, to avoid tripping on the uneven tiles. These nights were one of the greatest comforts for those in Doti’s domain. The rest of their days were spent collecting junk from the sea. The gods and mortals alike were aware of Doti and her job. They would transport their waste to the western coast and dump it in a bay. The tides would take the junk out and Doti’s Followers would use nets to fish it out of the water. These fishing boats brought the junk to the sorters. The sorters determined what trash could be used for. Most of it was added to expand the island’s foundation or patch any holes. If they found materials that were salvageable, they sentthose off to a specialist who did what they could to fix the gear. If they found something particularly interesting, they would give it to Doti herself. Doti was known to give these treasures as gifts to her subjects. She did her best to keep the spirits of her followers high. She knew life on the island was not easy. It was necessary, but difficult. She also knew, just like the gods on the mainland, that she would own it all one day. The land, the buildings, the dead. It was all on its way to Doti. She feared that day. Her close advisors have heard her say on numerous occasions that the perfect world is now. Anything she could ever own would be a faded remnant of a better time. She felt guilty of this. Some say that is why she held her weekly festivals and gave gifts and treated all her subjects with such respect. All of this let them hold onto some kind of morality amongst a sea of waste. - You just listened to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Main Street Mythology. The legends Cale and the Moon and Doti, Goddess of Waste were performed by Eleiece Krawiec The Rivalry of Abad and Webi and Lutra, Goddess of Music were performed by Mike Emling and Rolog, Goddess of Clocks was performed by Robert Ready. All the music you heard was created for the show by La Troienne. You can find more of La Troienne’s music on Spotify, iTunes or at latroienne.bandcamp.com. Visit our website at newtonsdarkroom.com for Julia Sawbone’s journal notes and illustrations, as well as transcripts, downloads, and information on the collective. Main Street Mythology was collected by Julia Sawbone with story editing by Auggie Pepnia and Kyrah Werner. Sound editing by Sumpra Pepnia, music by La Troienne, illustrations digitized by Trent Stradley. Special thanks to Raymond Tu, Luis Diaz, Kaitlyn Smith, and Fuzzy for supporting the show on Patreon. If you sign up for our Patreon before May 28th, then you too can have your name read during the credits of Main Street Mythology. You’ll also get access to our behind the curtain series, the maternity ward, and downloads of all our music. Visit patron.com/newtonsdarkroom for more info. 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Thank you for making through to the end of the credits. As a reward, here is one god who didn’t make it into the series. Klip, spelled K-l-i-p, is the God of Offices. He is the shortest of the gods and wears a tie that is far too long for him. His job is to maintain the pantheon’s meeting place and to keep staplers full all across the country. If your stapler runs out of staples, it is likely because you have angered Klip by not refilling the coffee pot in the break room after you finished it off. The only way to regain his support is to brew another pot and clean out the microwave as penance. Thank you for listening and we’ll see you next week with a brand-new episode of Main Street Mythology.