- Talon Stradley
The Station Brings Amusement
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.
IVIUM AND THE FIRST STATIONS
Ivium was the Goddess of Entertainment. She guided the mortals of this world to trivial matters and mischief. She looked at the harsh realities of the world, the diseases, hunger, and deaths, and decided there was little to no hope. While other beings sought to solve the world’s problems, Ivium decided to hide from them.
She was very innovative in her escapism. In Ivium’s early days, she would stand on the grand table in the pantheon’s meeting hall and perform wonderful song and dance routines during their meals. Once, Ivium kicked a bowl of their finest stew. The bowl flipped through the air and sprayed its contents across the entire pantheon. Idola was especially upset. Ivium claimed it was an accident, but this was met with skepticism from the others. By their next meeting, Webbi had built a stage for Ivium to the side of the table.
It was here that she took her performance to the next level. Ivium began recruiting mortals and bringing them to the capital. These were musicians, singers, actors, magicians, contortionists. If anyone was interesting to watch, Ivium brought them to the meeting hall.
One night, when she was feeling particularly ambitious, Ivium organized several mortal actors. She dictated to them a story she had written. They memorized her words and performed it the next meeting as one continuous play. While the gods normally chattered throughout her shows, this time they were fully entranced. They barely touched their food, enraptured in this new form of storytelling. From then on, Ivium would perform plays for the gods during their banquets.
As the rest of the gods made their advancements, Ivium looked for how she might use their gifts in her own performances. For example, when Cale created her first lamp Ivium used this to further the control of what her audiences could and couldn’t see. She created a room illuminated only by Cale’s lamps and turned them on or off depending on what the show required. And as Mesec nurtured the satellites in the sky and Praten connected people all across the world, Ivium realized she had an opportunity to reach a much larger audience.
Ivium went on the invent the first microphone. It was a clumsy thing. She used an old driving belt from a broken down car to simulate the human vocal cord. Now all she had to do was find a way for the vibrations of this driving belt to be sent to the satellites Mesec protected. She knew that Mesec would never allow her to use the satellites if she asked. Her reputation as a troublemaker would make him wary of her intentions. She had to find a way to make Mesec ask her.
Ivium met with her actors. They had a banquet coming up, a banquet that Mesec would not be able to attend. They were going to put on a show so good, so fantastic, that Mesec would be dying to find a way to listen from the stars above. They worked very diligently for the entirety of the month crafting their most elaborate show ever.
Despite all of their efforts, the show was not received well. The other gods did not like the complexity of the plot. These shows were meant to be enjoyed in passing, not to become the center point of the banquet. If complaints of the show reached Mesec, it would deter him from allowing Ivium access to the satellites. That was when she had another idea. Once again she gathered her actors, but this time she brought a friend, Strado.
Strado was an artist making their masterpiece by painting the earth with freeways. They were currently back in town retrieving more cement from Abad and Webbi. Ivium asked Strado if they could do a painting for her. Strado agreed and Ivium brought forth the canvas: One of her actors.
At first, Strado was very befuddled. Ivium told them that it was for a show. She was writing a play about the pantheon and she wanted these mortals to look as much like gods as physically possible. Strado nodded and proceeded to paint the mortals like their family.
Little did they know that this was not Ivium’s plan. Ivium had to convince Mesec that hershow was worth watching. After the mortals were painted, she brought them to The Canyon. The Canyon was a deep ravine in the mountains of the West Coast known for its sound amplification. In the early days before Praten, the pantheon would use this place to deliver messages to each other. Ivium instructed her actors to enter The Canyon under the guise of a leisurely stroll, then to loudly repeat praises of her most recent show.
Mesec, hearing noise from the earth, looked down towards The Canyon. From this distance, the painted mortals looked just like gods. He heard their praise and the next time he was on earth, he approached Ivium. He told her he had heard great things of her show. After much thinking, he believed he had found a way to transmit the sound from the meeting hall up to his satellites so he could hear the shows when he was out of town. Ivium agreed cautiously, feigning concern over the idea. The next banquet, Mesec waited patiently by his satellites to hear Ivium’s grand tale.
This was the first step of Ivium’s plan. Now that she had access to the satellites, she could broadcast her show for the whole world to hear. The problem was that none of the mortals had the means to listen to her show. That was when she came up with the radio, a small box which could receive signals from satellites. After she concocted the mechanism, she approached Vendre, a good friend of hers.
Vendre was the God of Billboards. He specialized in presenting ideas and products in such a way that people just needed to buy them. Ivium showed Vendre her new invention and told him to get one in every house on the mainland. Vendre, always itching for a challenge, took the radios. For the next several months, he wandered the streets and freeways, city to city, door to door. He was a remarkable salesman. By the end of the year, everyone had a radio and everyone listened to Ivium’s monthly shows.
Eventually, the mortals would have their own ideas for shows. Since Ivium only broadcasted once a month, some humans began leaving offerings. They asked for a weekly slot of time where they could share their art with the world. Ivium took her favorite devotees and allowed them access to the radio waves under one condition: That people listen. If a host would fail to hold the listener’s attention, they would be banned from the radio and would have to go through the offering process again.
This went on for many, many years until Ivium grew tired of sound. Her actors were astounding and her costumes and set pieces took the pantheon’s breath away. She wanted the world to see these as well, so she invented the camera. The camera was a small box capable of isolating a moment in time for reproduction. Once again she needed an audience and once again she needed Mesec to approve her use of more advanced satellites.
Ivium and her actors hardly worked on acting that month. Most of their time was spent painting and constructing a visual masterpiece. They premiered their new show, which lacked any dialogue, to a confused audience. Mesec was very confused.
It wasn’t until Mesec overheard a couple of fake gods discussing the show in the canyon that he realized what had happened. The fake gods raved about the visuals of the show and how daring it was to have no dialogue. Mesec approached Ivium and granted her access to the more advanced satellites. Once more, Ivium called upon Vendre to distribute the next advancement in entertainment: the television. The television was much like the radio, a small broadcasting box, but this one had a screen that could faithfully recreate visuals recorded on the camera. Vendre got to work and soon every house had a television.
Just as her art had grown, so did the offerings. Now people offered more and more, with larger and more ambitious ideas. Soon, the entire world was fascinated with the small box and the joy it could bring. As time went on, mortals began using the radio and the television for more than the escapism Ivium had made them for. They started producing ideas, challenging the world around them, and using it as a means for communication. Ivium did not like this change. She kept her eye out for any opportunities she had to take back the purpose of her creations.
ESSEN AND THE MIRAGE
The cities of the world were far apart from one another, with vast sandy stretches of desert separating them. Soon after Strado’s paths were made, the mortals would need to stock up large caravans in order to have the supplies necessary to survive the long journeys to neighboring cities. Essen was a wanderer of these deserts and she thought she could help those wishing to travel as she did.
She decided to build a house. Inside the house, was a kitchen, a large kitchen. She stocked this kitchen with all kinds of food and delectables. Berries, peppers, fine meats, everything she could think of, she put it there. The rest of the house was just tables. Essen was proud of her building, but she had a problem. The problem, was location. The purpose of her building was to help supply weary travelers, offer them a place to rest, and to build comradery with her fellow travelers. If she had only one built one, it would never do to service the many roads in the great winding desert.
After much thought, she found a solution to her problem. She discovered that she could use the Mirage as her foundation. The Mirage was a shimmering beast that would appear on the horizon in front of worn travelers’ eyes. If her diner was built on it’s back, she would always be there for whenever travelers needed her.
Essen grabbed two long ropes, the longest she could find. One she wrapped around her building, which she pulled with her left hand. The other she tied into a lasso and held with her right hand. Essen lumbered to the edge of the capitol, dragging the building behind her, and began her hunt for the Mirage.
Essen did not bring any food or water. Her plan was to exhaust and starve herself, knowing The Mirage would be drawn to her like that. She dragged her building for many days, rarely taking Strado’s path. This journey created many more paths for her fellow mortals. Smaller dirt paths, interconnecting between the large cities and Strado’s concrete strokes. Essen was tired. She stopped sweating for her body was devoid of water. She never looked down from the horizon and her neck pained her as a result. She kept pulling until one day, as the sun rose to the sky in front of her, she saw the shimmer. The Mirage. She spun her right hand around and threw the lasso out towards the beast. It wrapped around the Mirage who took off running into the desert.
Essen tightened her grip. Her bare feet were skidding across the tops of the sand like skis. She still held onto her building, dragging its way behind her. As the MIrage ran, Essen strained every muscle in her body. She pulled the two ropes to each other, struggling every second of the way. As the two ends got close, she tied a knot, then finally let go, tumbling back into the side of her house.
The Mirage ran for most of the day, pulling Essen and the building behind it. Eventually it got tired and gave up. It stopped for a rest. This was when Essen stood, dragged the house closer to the beast, and heaved it onto the back of The Mirage. She used all of the excess rope to fasten it down and she climbed inside.
Now, Essen stays inside of the house on The Mirage. She has food for all travelers, a place to sit and recover, and a place to find the fellowship and community that is devoid in the desert. If you are ever in the desert and see a shimmering diner on the horizon, know that that Essen is there, waiting for you.
RUXY AND THE AUTOMOBILE
In the early days of the world, the automobiles roamed free in the desert between the cities. Humanity viewed them as something separate. Equal existors of this world. However, once Uzo traveled Strado’s path, humankind realized that they did not have the means to consistently take the roads. The mayors of all the cities called for a meeting to discuss the problem.
Inventors, engineers, farmers, horse breeders, and anyone else who might have some solution were called to Uzo’s city. They gathered in the town hall. There were so many people there that many sat on the steps outside or waited along the streets. Information was passed to those in the back through a chain of whispers, one person to the next. At the very end of the line was a woman named Ruxy.
Ruxy had lived in the city her whole life but never held a job. She lived with her parents. She was always looking, helping out where she could, but she had never found where her talents could flourish. She was a determined individual. She had a certain roughness around her. When she had her mind set on a task, she was unstoppable. This tended to rub people the wrong way.
Ruxy was in attendance because she had nothing better to do, simple as that. She sat in the back serving as a dumpster for every crippled word that managed to make it back that far. As the meeting went on, it became clear they wouldn’t find a solution. Many of the inventors were too discouraged to even try. The horse breeders said that they would need too many supplies to make travel by horse worth it. People started to leave.
That was when Ruxy remembered something. When she was young, her mother used to take her out to the edge of the city. They brought a small canister of gas with them and poured it out onto the sand. Then, they would find a nice bench to watch the landscape. Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes, a few cars would come crawling over the dunes. They would come lap up the gas on the sand. That was always Ruxy’s favorite part.
As she stood in the back of the line, she thought of these magnificent beasts of the desert. They had braved the elements before, they were familiar with the land. If the cities could figure out how to tame the cars, they would have no problem meeting with other cities.
Ruxy began pushing her way through the audience. She pushed past the street, up the steps, and into the main hall. The mayor was just about to close the meeting when Ruxy burst into the front, shouting for them to wait.
She had an idea. It might not work, but it was worth a shot. She told them of the automobiles.
The audience chuckled. None thought much of the cars. Ruxy stood by her belief and the mayor gave her approval to pursue this idea. She gave Ruxy some supplies: A horse, some rope, three days rations, and a gallon of fuel. Ruxy set out that same day.
The automobiles were elusive creatures. The desert took up most of the world and the cars tended to blend in. The sand was so loose and the winds were so strong that tracks were impossible to follow. Ruxy decided to travel as far as she could from the city before she began looking in earnest.
After some time, Ruxy dug a hole in the side of a small dune. The sun was setting and she knew she needed some kind of shelter before the cold of the night settled in. The sand conformed to her body, and Ruxy dozed off.
She awoke hours later to a bright light and the sound of empty crushing. Ruxy quickly sat up. It took her a moment, but her eyes adjusted. There, not ten feet from her, was a burgundy Subaru, all wheel drive, headlights combing the desert. Chunks of Ruxy’s fuel canister were hanging from the grill. She slowly stood, and took soft steps towards the beast. Ruxy placed herself in the blind spot of the car and inched closer until her fingers could touch the driver’s side handle. She took a deep breath and opened the car door.
Immediately the Subaru began revving its engine. She pulled herself inside and grabbed hold of the steering wheel. The steering wheels of old cars are not like they are today. They were rough to the touch, unmoving, and warm. Ruxy held tight to the wheel and shuffled her feet around the floor. The car was taking off, making sharp turns trying to toss the intruder. Ruxy held firm. Eventually, her feet found it. The brake. She shoved her foot to the floor and the car slid to a stop. The engine was still purring. Ruxy had no time to catch her breath. She immediately shifted back into drive and tapped the gas pedal. The car began moving. The steering wheel got easier to turn, the car having tired itself out. Ruxy drove the beast through the night, taming and training it. She took it all the way back to the outskirts of the city. She put on the parking brake, then gave the car some gas.
This was the first tamed car. Ruxy and the Subaru grew to be very close. She took it several more times out into the desert to tame more cars. The Subaru would obediently follow behind while Ruxy rode back her catch for the night. They began keeping the cars in parking lots across the city.
Ruxy would go on to catch many more models, bringing diversity to the land of tamed cars. At first, the cars were rough and functional. As the breeders honed their craft and as time permitted, the cars began to be domesticated. They grew softer, easier, friendlier. They grew cooling systems for their riders and were outfitted with harnesses to keep the drivers safe.
Now, nearly everyone has a car. They use them to travel between cities and communities alike. Humanity has grown close to the automobile, a bond that is all thanks to Ruxy.
You just listened to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Main Street Mythology.
The legend Ivium and the First Stations was performed by Robert Ready.
Essen and the Mirage was performed by Mike Emling.
Ruxy and the Automobile was performed by Eleiece Krawiec.
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, Fuzzy, and Pat Nat for supporting Newton’s Dark Room 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.
According to a report by Westwood One, 60% of podcast listeners discover new shows through word of mouth. If you like Main Street Mythology, tell a friend or post about it on social media! You can even tag us on twitter or Instgram @newtonsdarkroom, we’ll be sure to say hi. Thank you for making through to the end of the credits. As a reward, here is one story that didn’t make it into the series. Have you noticed how power lines buzz when you stand underneath them? That is because they are filled with Bees. In order to pollinate plants in the concrete world of cities, Blette, goddess of Bees, constructed these hanging cables to give the little insects a safe passageway deep into the city. Without them, we wouldn’t have the wonderful flowers that liven up our public parks.
Thank you for listening and we’ll see you next week with a brand-new episode of Main Street Mythology.