Ken Layne's quarterly magazine, Desert Oracle, tries to give readers a sense of the profound solitude—and weirdness—of the Mojave Desert.
Layne designs theOracleall by himself. The ideal is four issues a year, but, as he's without even an assistant, the pace is a little slower than that. Layne has given himself entirely to the magazine. When we meet, he's wearing an olive hunting shirt with aDesert Oracleiron-on patch; his license plate reads "D ORACLE."
Layne was finally able to revisit the radio show idea this past summer, crafting a 28-minute episode every week (which he says requires about 12 hours of work) and broadcasting it at 10 p.m. on Fridays on a local station in the high desert surrounding Joshua Tree. (The show reaches most of its audience as a podcast, though, a concession that Layne is willing to make for the sake of visibility.) The show features some interviews, with the likes of the owner of his local Cactus Mart store, but the bulk of it revolves around Layne's dreamlike monologues, delivered in his croaky Tom Waits stage voice.
Layne's goal is for people to stumble upon the radio signal as they're sitting around a campfire or driving through the solitude at night. Like anything Layne seems to produce, the show is difficult to process yet strangely reflective of the place he calls home.