When a press release from Neutral Milk Hotel popped up in my email today, I admit that I stopped everything I was doing to read. Was it a new album? A new tour? Some new project? It turns out it is a new project, but not the one most fans were probably hoping for.
The band's latest interest is an 81-year-old carousel in Hull, Mass., called the Paragon. Here's the letter Merge Records sent out from Neutral Milk Hotel multi-instrumentalist Julian Koster:
The Paragon Carousel is a beautiful machine that has been my dear neighbor for many moons. Now 81 years old, it is in need of a little love and attention in order for it to survive.
It is my sincere wish for the Paragon Carousel to be a part of the magic of long seaside summer afternoons for many years to come. But it might not get to.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where the great whirling contraptions of mechanical music and light are not as profitable to operate as other things, and carousels are worth much more taken apart and sold in pieces to museums, where one must pay to look at them behind glass, rather than having them simply existing in the world that we now all share.
I spoke with Jeff and Scott and Jeremy about this and they agreed that I should, on behalf of Neutral Milk Hotel, make an appeal to the good people who might have enjoyed the music made over the years, because we think you'd understand especially, and want to help.
We humbly ask you to vote!
The Paragon Carousel is competing with 24 other historic Massachussettes buildings for a grant of $100,000. The historic site with the most votes wins, and anyone anywhere can vote. We would love it if by our collective effort we could ensure the continuation of this grand place. It only takes a moment and you can do so here.
You are allowed to vote once a day untill May 17th. Your vote means a great deal to all of us at Elephant Six. Places like this are so special. They deserve to exist in the same world that we do. So we can visit them with our bodies, not just our memories and dreams.
We'd like to thank you for your help and for spreading the word.
— Julian Koster with Jeff Mangum on behalf of Neutral Milk Hotel