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.
It’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…
The next day I went to the library to check out Haruki Murikami’s 1Q84. I’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.
It 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.”
We shook hands and walked together down gloomy Hollywood Boulevard.
“I ain’t been down here in a while,” said Gregory. “Hollywood’s sumthin else, ain’t it.”
“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?“
“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.”
“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…
…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.