At the end of a long work day last Tuesday, me and my buddy, Luis – who’s been helping me build Independent Shakespeare Company’s set in Griffith Park, and will be portraying Macbeth later this summer – were cleaning up, talking about stuff we normally do.
“DMT (dimethyltriptamine),” said Luis, “is found in just about every animal. It’s generated from your pineal gland, or your Third Eye – your connection to the rest of the Universe, connection to God. If it gets calcified, it stops producing DMT and your Third Eye is disabled. Flouride’s a big reason it can calcify. And they put it in our tapwater, our toothpaste. We stop gettin’ curious, then we’re happy with shit like cable TV, jobs, cars…and were shut off from the power of the Universe. You can get online and see all you need to do to decalcify your pineal gland.”
The work on the set is winding down. The next phase in the project is to tackle many tiny and annoying problems – tweaking elusive little things that aren’t usually seen until the producer walks the stage with you and – for some reason – are shining like gold bars. You need to fix that. Oh, that needs to be rebuilt. My only answer is an Oh, of course combined with a goofy shake of the head. I’ll do that today, sure thing. However, for now, the intense labor is finished, so I decided to take Wednesday off.
“You completely decalcify your pineal gland,” continued Luis as we walked to his bungalow in Hollywood, later that evening, “then you’d be like what Terrance Mckenna talked about, visiting the Machine Elves that exist behind Reality and you’d be speaking a language language that is all powerful, in that your ideas manifest themselves as soon as they are spoken.”
The downtime on Wednesday threw my operating system out of whack. I was tired, but awoke in the early morning and couldn’t sleep. Later that morning, I was alert but could barely stay awake. I fooled around and drank much coffee until early afternoon – when I could justify taking a nap. Luis’ Hollywood bungalow is a fine locale for a siesta. It’s well lit, though no light shines directly into it. If you open the windows and doors, a cool breeze comes through, rattling the window blinds that rattle you to slumber. But it’s never complete slumber, more like a slightly narcotic stupor – or covering up under a magic blanket – you are keen to the sounds of the reality around you, but the sounds take on new shapes, with more dimension and meaning than I am capable of explaining. But you know what I’m talking about, anyway.
Luis’s neighbor has been on a Pink Floyd trip, lately – blasting the The Wall album over and over at all times, day and night. I enjoy hearing it slightly muffled by the paper thin walls of the bungalow. Roger Water’s baselines gently thud me toward slumber…his voice is my Virgil guiding me deeper into Dreamland…
Did-did-did-did-you see the frightened ones?
Did-did-did-did-you hear the falling bombs?
Did-did-did-did-you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter
When the promise of a brave new world
Unfurled beneath a clear blue sky?
A man was shouting the name and pounding on the neighbor’s door. A baby was crying. Another neighbor’s pet birds were chirping loud in their cage in the narrow walkway just outside the door. Then, many Spanish voices talked fast over each other. I checked the time, it was nearly 4:30. I sat up on the couch just as an ambulance hit it’s siren to begin the nightly ambulance drag races that occur up and down Hollywood Boulevard. I was no longer sleepy, but signals from my brain to my appendages were running like a city bus on a nearly forgotten holiday’s schedule. I sat there – watching my slow feet dangle as if I was observing two baby apes stumbling from tree trunk to tree trunk. Pink Floyd was still playing, or had started over, or had always been playing, long before there was a Pink Floyd and the band was merely an instrument for an eternal message…
I am just a new boy,
Stranger in this town.
Where are all the good times?
Who’s gonna show this stranger around?
Ooooh, I need a dirty woman.
Ooooh, I need a dirty girl.
I didn’t know what to do with myself. Hmm, Self. Is there even a self? I asked my Self. Did you create this Self simply to make sense of the phenomena of Life – the energy of the Universe? I stood up, slid into my flip-flops and headed to Freaktown around the corner of Hollywood and Vine. There I could see existentialism instead of talk to myself about it.
Evening along the Hollywood Walk of Fame is an interesting time. Sunburnt tourists are still out – tired but starry eyed, nonetheless. They stand between orange and yellow alert at street corners – hands on their purses or children – amongst the hustle of the panhandlers, street performers, tattooed and dirty women who cry into cellphones while lugging all their belongings in an old suitcase, underfed actors posing as superheroes, winos, and junked out boygirls dancing to a tune that has only ever been played in their head. They slow-boogie on skinny legs covered in loose, torn fishnets. The tourists keep their eyes down, burning stares into Gregory Peck’s star, praying the walklight comes soon.
“I know, I know…” said a drunk man teetering on the curb – inches from the speeded cars. “Say…I gonna..gon’ get so nah! But she don’t…know (no?) Wa my sayin’? Whaa?!”
The poor freckled ponytailed tourist with the rosey cheeks. who the slurring man was rubbing against, was stiff as a statue. I could see into her mind as she mouthed text of To Kill A Mocking Bird – Atticus Finch was tucking Scout in for the night with a look of great concern – a need to protect young Scout. Lawyer Finch knows there’s real Evil out there. Not all the freaks can end up being a harmless Boo Radley. But he also knows she’s going to grow to a place where father’s can’t protect their little girls, and he will have to let her go. Damn the letting go! Atticus frowns, then smiles, kisses Scout on the forhead and turns out the light. The walklight flashed and we crossed The River Hollywood to another bank strewn with mostly dead stars.
It was dark when I got back to Luis’ place. A helicopter was circling just above – a nightly occurance. Sirens. Shouting. It makes sense that the desperados run around in circles out here. They keep bouncing off the water. They don’t run the other way because Americans don’t Head East. We rush west all the way the end of the line. The outlaws bounce, run, bounce, bounce, run…almost like they are spanked mericessly by tongs in a pinball machine played by a Great Creator until he gets tired, lets his silver balls fall into the abyss and leaves the arcade.
Later, I lay in bed, bathed in the light of my laptop – not looking at the screen, just above it, listening to a fiery Spanish argument between an senor and a senora. The senora screamed, the senor shouted. Then it was only the senora screaming, the senor silent. Then they habla’d soft and sweaty until they spoke no more.
I saw the lovers clearly in my mind – embracing each other and kissing hard against a 1999 dented Honda Accord. Beyond them I saw an ambulance cruise down Hollywood slowly. The EMTs have finished their shift – winning some, losing some like every other night. I watched them go further into Hollywood. Freaktown’s lights were still shining but the tourists had all gone to bed. On their slumbering faces I saw peace, but also a little disappointment for having realized they visited a place where they always are, have always been, for in slumber they are given glimpses of the Eternal and the Everywhere and the Everything – and they know themselves completely, if only in inarticulate fragments of dream chaos.
I turned from the sleeping tourists and saw one of the junky boygirls standing at the corner of Hollywood and Gower – just beyond the edge of the Hollywood shine. He taps his foot on Stanley Kramer’s star – the last star on the Walk of Fame – waiting for yet another walklight. I see his past, future and present. Most of his life is at the mercy of a walklight. When he does fall into a stride all his own he smiles down at his legs only to look up and see “Don’t Walk” flash again. I saw his loneliness in the black night, as he jerked and twitched – the Night Things were lurching to him, closer, closer. They began by lightly scratching his cheek, but in quick order they are carving into his flesh. He’s too consumed by despair to know that he is already loved – has always been loved – by a benevolent and non-judging force that is impossible to name. It’s so powerful, it can be scary when one realizes he or she is in contact with it – more so, part of it. So powerful most of Humankind can only call it God. But with names comes the burden to define, then doctrine, then before we know it we’ve created Pinball Wizards in our own image.
Was I honest to everyone I came in contact with, today? I asked myself. The question came out of thin air. I proceeded to re-live the day to find out. Honest? Did I tell the truth, through kindness, to everybody, especially myself? After surveying my day I found the answer. No, I did not.
Myself gave a tsk, tsk, tsk, then transformed into a tiny pine cone. But it kept talking. Is there, indeed, a Self? Hmm, is there? Or is the Self simply your connection to the Big IS? Don’t you feel -if you search way deep down – that you can loosen from Reality, and therefore live free, in constant connection to…ME? Hmm? You might know the answer if you quit brushing your teeth.
That’s when I felt a sharp pang of unlabled fear that broke my understanding of anything whatsoever. My chest hurt. I closed my laptop. Dark Hollywood was silent…except for Pink Floyd…
Hey you! out there on your own
Sitting naked by the phone would you touch me
Hey you! with your ear against the wall
Waiting for someone to call out would you touch me…
The fear kept coming. I tried to fall asleep before Panic became a logical reaction. But I couldn’t sleep. Only when the Night Things were about to crawl through the window, did I do the only thing I could do in such a moment – I prayed. It worked. I slept.