Precious and perfect though he is, it turns out that our five-month-old has a head contoured a little like a red potato—not uncommon for babies—and will need to wear a special helmet for several months so that his noggin can mold itself into a more human shape, preventing jaw issues and other ailments down the road. It’s one of a million little roller-coaster rides a parent takes on any given day, being both distraught over pain and unexplainable trauma visited upon their child, but also grateful that a remedy does exist, and knowing there are parents out there facing much more daunting challenges than a goofy helmet. It also occurs to me that this is really just the beginning for him. We all come into this life banged and bruised up, and we never really stop trying to fix Mother Nature’s little signatures across our bodies, whether it be braces for our teeth, knee and back braces, hearing aids, canes, and so on—a lifetime battle against entropy we wage from the moment of conception to our last breath. In New Orleans we know this battle all too well, and understand deep in our misshapen bones one immutable truth: In the end, nature wins, always. Just ask the cavernous husks of the Belle Chasse bunkers explored in this issue, or featured visual artist Shirley Rabé Masinter, who continues to work and find peace in her later years.

My son’s potato-head predicament also reminds me of another timeless truth we experience on this Earth, which is that learning is growing, and growing can be painful. It’s a theme you’ll find throughout this and every other issue of ANTIGRAVITY, whether it’s the weeds breaking through all the barriers put in their way by our Dirt Nerd Ian, Joystick’s Paul Tucker finding new life and purpose in sobriety, or pianist Oscar Rossignoli having to unlearn a lot of what he knows in order to capture a certain feeling in his songwriting. It’s this tug of war between ourselves and nature that keeps us alive; and while it can feel good to grab that rope and pull hard, always remember that she’s gonna win in the end. Still fun to play, though. Have a great July, everyone. Stay dry and cool out there if you can, and of course: #FreeBritney.

Cover illustration by L. Steve Williams.