Chapter II. 60hz.

“Mr. Cortese it’s time for our talk!”

A voice rang out from a slot in the metal door. Through the slot I could see a mouth, filled with crooked dirty teeth. It was the headshrink, back for another round of giving me a dose of reality.

Psychiatry is a funny thing. Despite us being the sum of our experiences Psychiatry tries to get a person to live in the here and now. A good therapist will get a patient to talk to themselves objectively, allowing the patient to have breakthrough epiphany’s which bring introspectiveness into focus, allowing the patient to realize the pattern of behavior they’ve become trapped in. Rather than accuse someone of bad behavior, psychiatry aims to get the person to accuse, and accept guilt for their own actions.

“So Mr. Cortese, you were committed here 6 months ago by your family. Do you know where you are?”

I could hear the doctor, but the drugs made it like a faded voice travelling away on a train. The doppler effect in full force changing the frequency of his voice as well as the amplitude, causing his voice to drop to a lower shift register, while slowly getting quieter. This jacket is fucking tight. These restraints, they bind me to the point where I can’t breath. This room smells like all manners of fermented bodily fluids. The walls were once while are now a dingy grey, adorned with scratch marks. It’s humid in here.

zzzzz ZZZZZT

Above a single fluorescent tube buzzes a constant 60hz and flickers. 60hz…

“So Toq you’re gonna love this thing!” Guz beamed as he handed me a box. Emblazoned across the front in blue, EMU 1820m.

“It’s got patchmix! It’s got high quality D2A converters! They’re as same as the ones on the Protools DAC!”

“So wait, this is gonna make things sound better?” I asked. “OH WAY BETTER DUDE! Just wait until you’re playing with the FX in Patchmix!”

I quickly opened the box and was greeted with the typical circuit board wrapped in an anti-static envelope. There was a CD “PATCHMIX” and “Drivers” There was also a breakout box with all sorts of XLR, and 1/4″ balanced connectors on it. I knew this thing was hot shit.

“SO Toq, you gotta run this cable between the of the card and the breakout box. The EMU engineers realized that having a sound card in the same box as your CPU and power supply introduced all kinds of NOISE, so they came up with this concept, where you move all that stuff OUT OF THE CASE”

Guz just oozed passion for his project. Up until then, our mixing had been done on an old Pioneer Laserdisk system with built in Echo effects. It was as basic as basic got. I booted up the computer, installed the drivers and was met with a strange representation of a mixing board. To be honest, I never actually used a mixing board.

“So this is your BUS. And you drop your FX onto the BUS. Then you can use AUX Send to send the channel strip to the AUX BUS, and RETURN to send it back.”

I was trying to follow as best as I could.

“I’ll save this session for you, the other thing you want to look out for is CLIPPING, NEVER EVER LET IT GO INTO THE RED. Let it peak at Yellow, but for the most part keep the mixes in the green”

There it was, a buzz. 60hz. We could see it on the VU meter. I launched a spectral waterfall display.

“See Guz! It’s 60hz!” I said proudly.

“Well all you gotta do is drop a parametric EQ on the channel and VOILA!”

I watched as Guz dropped a parametric EQ on the strip, and adjusted it to only be at the 60hz frequency, and set the bandwidth to be as minimally invasive as possible. As he made adjustments, I saw the red line of the 60hz hum go away on the spectral display. I heard it go BZZZZZZZZzzzzzt to silence.

“Mr. Cortese do you know where you are?” the doctor asked as his voice faded back in. Going from a low frequency to a normal frequency, amplitude ever increasing. During this moment of clarity, the 60hz sound from the light had gone away. For a moment, I was in the past, or maybe I wasn’t because as the doctor said, that is not now, but I am the sum of my experiences, so how could I not have been there?

“Not talking again today are we? Well, we have nothing but time” the doctor menaced. At that moment, I realized, there was some form of connection between the past and present. Not just the consequential events of our everyday actions, but a real gateway of sorts. As I had done many years ago isolating the 60hz using the EMU, it had cleared the 60hz noise here in my cage.

“60HZ” I screamed out.

“What hurts?” the doctor asked.


“I don’t see how that has anything to do with your current situation.”

“60 HERTZ, I JUST HEARD IT.. and it went silent because I parametrically equalized it in the past. You heard it too doc right?”

“I have no idea what you are saying” he says as he turns away from me. The slot slid shut, and I hear talking behind the door. “60 Milligrams of Haldol, he’s having an episode right now” I heard him say to someone. A moment later, the door busted open and 2 orderlies walked in.

“OK Mr. Cortese, you can either take it voluntarily, or by force!”


“By force it is, go get me the needle”

The other orderly went back to the cart. Overhead the light began to flicker. The orderly came back with a needle in hand. I started to fight them as best as I could, kicking with my legs, running around the room. Slowly the 60hz got loud again. zzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZ The orderlies, the doctors covered their ears. I was trapped, forced to endure the noise. Everyone fell to their knees clutching their ears. Slowly though I heard the frequency change. From 60hz to 2hz. Now it sounded like a helicopter. To 1hz, then 0 with complete silence.

The frequency began to rise again. In front of me was faded visions of what had occurred, but playing in reverse. The frequency kept going higher, as it went through the shift registers of what I could hear, it got quieter until it was at a frequency beyond my hearing. Now my life was playing out in front of me, in reverse at high speed. I was merely a spectator. Everything began to blur with motion until my entire environment became an additive white around me.

“Toq! Welcome back!”

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