Night Vale Nightmares #7: “Fashion Week”Books/Art/Culture,Features/Interviews,News Christopher La Vigna
Welcome to NIGHT VALE NIGHTMARES a regular column where we take a look at the latest entries in the ever-popular supernatural podcast, WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE.
“But don’t you see? You never needed anything else. The weird was within you the whole time…”
Most people spend their lives feeling as though they live in a constant state of stasis, or an ever-fluctuating state of change where the status quo is always too fleeting to ever really feel like the status quo. One gets the sense that the latter state of mind applies to those whom hold a deep level of passion for fashion or any facet of pop culture. Nobody ever wants to get caught out of the loop, and the possibility of being consumed by a giant floating death sphere for wearing the wrong kind of shoes certainly doesn’t relieve the stress. Only by letting go and accepting life for the abstract rollercoaster that it is can we ever hope to get any contentment out of it.
When WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE first started, part of the show’s fun was the way Cecil’s completely nonchalant tone undermined the brutally bizarre nature of the anecdotes and descriptions he was relating to the listener. But as fans have noticed, our intrepid community radio personality has grown closer to his boyfriend Carlos and more distant with his hometown, which has been taking advantage of his goodwill as of late.
Whilst recounting a pleasant weekend with his niece Janice (whose ongoing crushes are recorded via mind scan, naturally) Cecil notes that he felt a sense of family, something he mentions he can “rarely feel anymore.” The brief aside ends with him mentioning that he hopes to visit her often, and from that very moment we know that the inevitable has finally come to pass: Cecil is leaving Night Vale.
Of course, this isn’t immediately addressed; the lede is buried shallowly as Cecil gets into the always amusing community calendar. Monday will be the day a great craft crashes, Tuesday will be the day a creature emerges from the craft, and the rest of the week dedicated to responding to that. Meanwhile, Disparition’s ambient tones supply an underlying menace that reminds us how skillfully the show can entertain and unsettle at the same time.
The music quickens in pace, becoming frantic as the news of fashion week continues, with the battle between the fashionable citizens of Night Vale and the floating death sphere growing more chaotic. For a moment, we feel just as fearful, because who hasn’t found themselves doing their best to prove that they’re hip, vying for the approval of a massive force (be it cultural or in this case, a literal paranormal mass) that refuses to recognize them? Cecil doesn’t seem to care too much. Maybe that’s because he’s too comfortable with himself to care.
The music should also be noted for the noticeably somber traffic segment. A slow, dirge-like piano melody accompanies the report, and fromt the content it’s clear as to why this choice was made. Cecil’s traffic reports always tend to be the most expressionistic monologues in the Night Vale arsenal, but this episode’s traffic report is even more melancholic than usual, with Cecil waxing on about the fond memories of a man who was well respected, but ultimately came and went, and will be missed. That is all. Life happens, and then it stops, making all the bitter worrying seem pointless in the aftermath. It’s a sentiment echoed even louder immediately afterwards, when Cecil reports that the Sphere is approaching the station, but if it takes him, it takes him, and that’s that. Conversation over. Life over. And y’know what? He’s cool with that.
After the weather, a severely cool track called “Evelyn” by Kim TIllman and Silent Films, a tight and gypsy-like tune with upstroke guitars, claps beats a trance-like vocals that get you ready to let the chips fall where they may, Cecil reaffirms that all will be okay, everything that does (and doesn’t) exist always will. He will always be a broadcaster, but he will be doing so elsewhere, moving on from the desert otherworld to be with his boyfriend.
And as a listener, this writer could not be more excited. At nearly seventy episodes, the creativity of Fink & Cranor & Company has begun to feel confined by the distinct (yet still mysterious) desert town of Night Vale. There are so many universes and dark corridors that have existed solely as vague implications in WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE; it’s time to explore them.