Too Real Dreams

Hello Everybody,

Last week, I began rehearsing a play in which I’d been cast. The piece is a retelling of the European conquests of The New World – a sort of amalgamation of several documented events, centering around Columbus, Bartolome de las Casas, Cabeza de Vaca, and of course, the Native Americans they encountered.

20131221_180154-1It’s a dreamlike, poetic piece. Raging seas and storms are personified. The explorers hallucinate feverishly as their ship sinks. When they wake up on the shore of The New World, they don’t even know if they’re alive. They don’t even have language to describe their surroundings – they’re terrified, speak gibberish as they try to reconcile their consciousness to their unfamiliar settings. They encounter strange, eerily friendly people who believe all times are Now, whose gods walk the Earth from time to time, observing, walking among them. It is a beautiful, strange world. But soon the explorers regain their speech. With speech comes labeling and concepts, such as ownership and wealth. Then comes everything else – the greed, the madness, the murder – thus beginning The Conquest and the subjugation and genocide of The Natives. The gods watch with childlike sadness over what is being done – for yet again man’s base, fearful nature wins over his higher, spiritual nature. All the gods can do is wait for Mankind to die. Then, at the beginning of a new Time, they begin molding New Men out of Earth – like children with Play-Doh – in hopes that Higher Nature may finally prevail.

Wednesday night, I had your standard naked dream. I’ve had the dream many times, though I don’t consider it a recurring dream (see the El Jamberoo #19 to read about my recurring dreams) because it’s such a common dream I’ve bet even YOU have dreamt it, hmm?

Wednesday night’s dream played out like all the others: I’m naked, soaking wet, trying to get home…

…somewhere deep in LA, scurrying down street after street. For some reason, no one has seen me, despite heavy traffic on the street. I continue to move about like a pale dripping phantom. I’m not terrified, or even nervous. I just don’t want to draw attention to myself, which I manage until I get to Hollywood. There, one person notices me, then another, then another…they start following me. I start running. Soon, I’m being pursued by a giant mob of Angelenos. I’m nearly home but the crowd is gaining and I know I won’t make it. I see a friend in his car at the intersection and I jump in the backseat. He yells, “Get down, man!” I huddle down on the floorboard. The light turns green but my friend can’t drive away because the mob has surrounded the car. I look up, and the entire city of Los Angeles is staring into the car, ogling at me like I’m some red-assed baboon in a zoo…

20131113_211319The next day I went to the library to check out Haruki Murikami’s 1Q84I’d began reading it earlier this year, back when I was living in Brooklyn (see El Jamberoo #27 ). I’d made it through the first 700+ pages and was looking forward to finally finishing it. Murikami’s a favorite writer of mine. His works have a lot to do with multiple worlds with dreamlike realities. His protagonists usually jump between these subtle yet fundamentally different worlds, but usually by the end of the book they have to choose which world they want to live in – they have to choose a reality. “No matter how things may seem,” says a character at the beginning of 1Q84, “there is always only one reality.”

Usually something happens to Murikami’s protagonists – either subtly or in jarring manner – that transforms to these other worlds. From there – after a lot of suspense, darkness and danger – the books become about a chase after love or freedom, with the protagonist having to choose between the world he or she knows (this world) with it’s comforts and comfortable miseries, or the world of love and freedom…a world so foreign one has to relearn how to live, to survive in it. I’m not sure if my dream the night before spurred me on to finish the book. It probably didn’t, probably did.

20131221_180054-1It was a rainy cold day. Low gray clouds hovered over the Hollywood sign. I felt as comortable walking under an umbrella in Hollywood as I would reading a porno in a church. Heavy thuds of rain hit the umbrella – the cadence of a strung out jazz drummer. I had 1Q84 tucked under my arm to keep it from getting wet, but everything was getting wet. Other wet people appeared out of nowhere, crossed in front of me or passed me, then disappeared.

“Hey man,” said a man with a strong southern accent looking confused at a corner on Hollywood Boulevard, “you know where the Saban Clinic is. They say it’s one a those free clinics, you know? They say it’s somewhere in Hollywood but I cain’t find it to save my life.”

“Hold on,” I told him, as I juggled the umbrella and 1Q84 with one hand to retrieve my smartphone with the other, then punched in “Saban free clinic”.

“Wait, man,” he said with wonder, “you tellin’ me you can find it with one of those. Hell, I got one of those.” He pulls out an iphone. “Now, how do you do it…do you have some kind a…a…app…for that?”

“I just went to my map.”

He swiped his index finger across his phone, looking for the map app. While his head was down at his phone, I noticed he had a patch on his cap stating he was a veteran from the war in the Middle East. “Man, who’m I kiddin’,” he sighed, “I ain’t got the slightest idea how to work these things.”

“They got a way of making us feel dumb, don’t they?”

“Ain’t that the truth.”

I found the address to the clinic. “It’s further down, at Hollywood and Gower.”

“Aw, man, thanks. M’name’s Gregory.”

“Todd.”

We shook hands and walked together down gloomy Hollywood Boulevard.

20131217_215726-1

“I ain’t been down here in a while,” said Gregory. “Hollywood’s sumthin else, ain’t it.”

“Yep.”

“I use to be down here all the time. I dated the daughter a one a them famous directors of the 50s nad 60s. Her mother was a Golden Globe winner or a Emmy. They both told her it’ll be hard for her to make it here even with them two as her parents. But she didn’t listen, she went off to try to be a actress. Her dad made that movie, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

Stanley Kramer?”

“You heard a him, huh?”

“Yeah, he’s one of the big ones.”

“You must be in the movie business.”

“Well, I don’t know. Maybe. But I’m not in it, you know.”

20131217_215116“Well, I dated her for three years. She was real sweet but every now and then she’d look at me and tell me she’d be better off datin another actor or a doctor or anyone else. Shoot, I didn’t have nothin goin for me, no prospects, so well…” He stopped talking and walked around and through the memory for a while. When he came back, he said, “Lemme tell you, man, that world them Hollywood people are livin in is a different world from what you and me’s in right here, that’s for sure. Listen man, I’m gonna run and try to get to that clinic, but thanks a lot and it’s been real good talkin to ya.” Then he sped off through the rain and disappeared like the rest of us.

Just then, I realized I was at a corner where I saw something curious a few weeks back…

20131119_161444-1…it’s early morning. I see a young lady approaching the corner from the side street. The young lady’s barefooted, tip-toeing toward the corner – toward me – with one hand on the wall that bordered the sidewalk, to keep balance. She’s naked from the waist down – pulling her blouse down over her private parts with her other hand. When she pulls the blouse down in front, it rises up in the back, exposing her ass. When she pulls it down over her ass, it exposes her…well…hoo-hoo. She does this over and over. Her other hand never leaves the wall as if touching it is all that is keeping her from floating off Earth. Her hand brushes across a huge mural of Frida Kahlo. Frida’s dark eyes stare out from under her thick mono-brow – not at me, or at the girl, just somewhere far off, but somewhere she sees clearly. The young lady and I make eye contact, her head shrinks into her shoulders and she smiles an embarrassed smile through Last Nite’s makeup. I quickly look away and keep walking…don’t stop, you’ll only make it worse…a few paces down the street, I turn around to see if she crossed the street OK. But I can’t see her anywhere…

I hope she woke up from that dream, just then…woke up before The Crowd caught up to her.

Be well…

Yes, This World

Hello Everyone,

This is a good visual of a Murakami book...and of Friday.

Portrait of the inside of Murakami’s brain…and of Friday.                            

Friday morning, I awoke to heavy rain drops. The morning light couldn’t seem to find its way into my room, therefore I couldn’t seem to find my way out of bed. But I was finally able to carpe the diem and arise, because I knew I couldn’t hide forever. The rain continued and the gray glow out the window accompanied me through the morning as I began work on a music project I’m involved in – after coffee, of course, and only a minimal amount of procrastination. So, I put on my headphones, recorded, cut, re-recorded, listened, recorded, re-recorded, cut, coffee, erased, gave-up, gave it another try, recorded, cut, re-recorded, etc.

I finished around lunch time. The rain had stopped. The day felt quiet after the rain, and the silence seemed to filter the life-force of the day as it traveled into my room – only a gray light came in, only the residue of real light. I felt isolated – in a warm and fluid womb in which I swayed rythmically, attached to the world only by an umbilical cord with a slight obstruction somewhere in it.

After finishing up the project, I had nothing to do until the evening. I ate, figured that was a good idea. After eating, I was still a bit creatively wired, but the rain came again and I could feel the cold air come into the room – going for a walk was not a good idea. So I sat down and opened up Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 – a gorilla of a novel about parallel worlds. I liked the book – so far, I was only 700 pages in – but I couldn’t concetrate. The radiator kicked on. Hearing the radiator knocking in April is a bit of a drag, like seeing the box of Christmas decorations in the attic in June. Knock, pop, knock, knock. I stared just over the top of the book. Knock, pop, knock. Then the refrigerator joined in. Click, click, click, click. By then I was holding the book in a reading position simply for posterity. Finally, the sink – drip, drip, drip – a metronome keeping time in this womb, with no crescendo, no birth. Drip, drip, drip. Underneath it all was the constant ringing in my ears due to the tinnitus that I’ve had all my life – so loud and palpable, millions of tiny screams poured into the ears. I looked out the window. So gray. Soundless. Nothing come through. A fish in a fishbowl.

The upstairs neighbors came home. Their heavy footsteps burrowed down, through the ceiling, to me. I could hear the wooden studs of the ceiling creek. I could hear voices, but no words. At 4pm, my neighbor, James, came home and started yelling. He was probably a few drinks into his loud and rageful descent into his alcohol weekend. I could hear him clearly. “Alright! Whoo! Yeah!” He doesn’t say much more than that on late Friday afternoons. He saves the speeches for the darker hours – when he desperately tries to convince himself about something of ultimate importance, but slurs too badly to understand what he’s telling himself.

See the other world?

See the other world?

1Q84 centers around two star-crossed lovers who are trying to find their way to each other but are in parallel worlds, so to speak. They’re so close, at times – they can hear each other, sometimes even see each other – both just on either side of the barrier that seperates them. The search becomes more about finding and understanding oneself, and, that only in finding oneself can one find their compliment. It’s a very good book, but reading about parallel universes and dreamscapes in the middle of a cloudy day made me feel more isolated. That gray light out the window. It didn’t feel like it came from a world I inhabited. There was the slightest membrane, seperating me from everything else – plyable, like elastic, but utterly impenetrable. I put the book away.

Later, I hopped over the threshold to my apartment door like Neil Armstrong, into the hallway, relieved to know I was – indeed – on Planet Earth. I locked the door and headed out into the dreary evening.

I hopped the D-train. The D-train is always cold. It has metal walls, instead of insulated plastic walls like the other trains. Yet, I didn’t really feel the cold – more like I was simply aware of the cold. I sat amongst a large Mexican family, laughing and joking in Spanish. But they sounded so far away. Correction, I felt far away – like a peripheral character in a novel, who I can’t get interested in, and can’t figure out why he’s even in the book. As we crossed the bridge into Manhattan, I thought about all the tourist-y things I said I would do, here, in my last week in New York. I didn’t do any of them. Just like the last time I left New York. And the time before that.

Posterity.

Stagnant light.

I got off at the West 4th Street stop, then meandered about in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. The sky still offered light, but the streetlights were already on. They shined in the wet gray air, along with the traffic lights and headlights. But all electric light seemed to die just beyond its source, creating only isolated pockets of unatural color, as if the ingredients of the moment had failed to mix.

Steam rose throught the grates in the sidewalk, eagerly filling in the spaces between each light. People passed across my view of the world, in and out of the steam, from every direction, but I still felt seperate from everyone. The isolation had a rather narcotic effect. I floated through the steam, the park and people, possibly toward oblivion, when a rough looking fellow with a scowl reserved for mugshots called to me and demanded I play chess with him. He sat – shivering in his dirty clothes – at the outdoor chess table.

“Hey! Wanna play chess?” said the man. “I know you do.”

The peices were already set, he was ready to battle. He just needed another human to play. I was too cold.

“No thanks.”

He gazed at me as I walked away – baffled – like he was holding up a sign that said Free Gold. Further down from him another man whistled at me and asked if I wanted to buy some pot.

“No thanks.”

He shook his head, forgiving me as if I knew not what I did. I was grateful to him, however – and to the lonely chess player – their attention tethered me to the planet, satisfied my hunch that I was not yet a ghost.

Right there, but far away.

Right there, but far away.

The night that ached to be was finally born. Around 8pm, I met up with my old friend, Ben, and we went to see the movie Evil Dead. The movie was awesome, everything I like in a horror movie – build up, copious moments of dreadful shock, and release laced with laughter. But what made it an experience – something more than just a movie – was seeing it in a crowded theatre. Normally, I hate noisy crowds, but with a horror movie, part of the fun is jumping at scary scenes in unison, then laughing together over the fact that you just got sissy-fied. Everybody was in it together, united for an hour and a half. I was watching the credits roll when I realized my ears weren’t ringing anymore.

Ben and I have been watching horror movies together for about 15 years – since we were college students in Texas – and it never gets old. After the movie, we went to a coffee shop to have one more cup of joe together, before I left town. Ben told me about a tenant that was found dead in an apartment on the floor of his building.

“She’d been dead for nearly three months. They found her in the doorway. I thought it was just a really bad garbage smell,” Ben said. “But nope, it was human. It’s sad, but it’s not even news in New York. So many people die alone in such a crowded place.”

That was as much of the past as Ben and I discussed. Instead, we talked about ideas that we’d like to create on stage or make into films – projects we wanted to do together. We didn’t need to talk about the past. Simply being with each other confirmed all that had happened in regards to our friendship was real. The past bolstered the moment we were in – and in that moment, we confirmed our existence.

It happened at the top of the steps.

It happened at the top of the steps.

It was well after midnight when I took the slow train back to Bay Ridge. The train rocked back and forth and time sloshed about like water in a bucket. The subway car was filled with the aroma of whiskey breath, marijuana and farts. Most passengers were laundry bags, bouncing at the mercy of the moving train, exuding a goofy, drowsy smile. But for a few others, the novelty of their drunk had worn off, and to take its place was the old familiar anger, contempt and longing over something so wonderful, so beautiful, that seemed just beyond reach only a few short hours earlier, but at the end of the night, was nowhere to be found.

Sometime after 1am, I was certain I belonged in this world. Then I went to bed.

Be well…