Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Someone is sitting out in our back yard. A stranger.

It is eerie. The yard is small and she sits casually at our picnic table. We must investigate.

When we do, we discover our home, which is my grandma's house on Chestnut back home, with major revisions due to my lack of visual memory and dreamland's eternal compensation, is jointly occupied by a swarm of strangers.

They are affable enough, if teeming, they go about unconcerned as if they belong among us, and we begin to accept that they must. We move hither and yon, Niki J and I, and so do they, like in a bus station.

I must go to the bathroom, and the new provision for that means the fridge offers privacy if you open the door, and the lady of the other grouping is addressing me from the hall, so I do not continue.

I must go to school. I have missed the morning classes. It's high school, and I'm an undedicated stoont. I have two problems. I do not know what my class will be in the afternoon. I somehow cannot remember what class I have after lunch. It's fifth period, right? Then what is it? I can know when I have been there all morning because it's just the next one. Only, now I don't know.

Maybe it's like jumprope. You can continue if you begin standing over a limp rope, but it's harder if they are swishing it in a hard loop and you have to gauge the right moment to run in while it's up before it slaps down. Maybe it's like that. A day of school half gone is like a swishing rope.

And my second problem is, I'm afraid of what might happen if anybody learns I do not know what class I have first in the afternoon. Maybe they will put me away. I cannot run the risk. I cannot just show up on campus, not knowing where to go. I'm expected to know that, above all. But I don't know even that, not at all.

I must skip the afternoon classes as well. There's no help for it. The only remedy for being caught not knowing where you are supposed to be is not to even be there. That should fix it.

Of course, there's tomorrow, but that's not today's worry. I go downtown. I have other occupations.

Like...waking up.


Sunday, December 26, 2004

I sit in front of an office worker in a hospital insurance office. Joey is with me, behind me and to one side, and he insults my worker somehow. She is not pleased.

I have something wrong, though not dreadfully. I am given documents and pills which she makes no attempt to concern herself with the problem of transporting. Joey has insulted her, I guess, in his inimitable cynical impatience.

I use envelopes for forms to scrape pills into. I move off. I sit in another seat in front of yet another desk, but do not speak to anyone. Joey says, I'm going on ahead. He does. I never see Joey in this dream; he's behind or gone.

So I'm told the next office is through the large open double doors and right next door. It isn't, of course.

I don't know how to find Joey now, which seems most important. I wander far and wide. I understand somehow there's no use in asking anyone. They will probably all say, it's right next door, and it never is.

Here is a large yard, like where they rent backhoes. I am walking from the back grounds when a worker on stand-on forklift approaches the boss, says, "The one number two in the lot was here last year, and took two shovels." It's a warning to do no business with that one.

I happen to be carrying two implements. I'm glad to see one of them is not a shovel. I only mean to deposit them at the front door, and do so. I have found them lying around. I'm just helping.

Why did I not remember when I was near home the address book. It has Joey's cell phone number. I must go back there.

But I'm now in the corridors of the hospital. What is wrong with me is serious, though I do not know what it is. Some specialist has shown me ducts of conduit through my innards, and here is shading which might better be clear. That's all.

A politician from the land where I live now is just ahead of me along the hallway, and he, too, heads into the john. (This is the part of the dream just before waking. Or, just before the time when I'd better awaken.) He sees ahead of me the room is full, and turns away, as do I, as though it's only a habit or inclination moving us to that room.


Me 'n Reloj, the NerdNosh Seat, Soda Canyon, Mesa Verde, CO, 1995

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

At the old house on 719 E 4th St, remodeled as are all my settings with shadow and murky light, I am home again after an absence...and all is not well.

There is a proceeding happening. Strangers (to me, but I assume familiar to one another) mill about. Nothing is actually happening, which means an administrative action of some sort.

I learn the cause is pollution. There is tin in the ground of the community of Bonham, and what's more, my mother or our family is responsible. I see old cans brought as evidence. My mother has them to show our landfill is not the cause, as these cans and labels show they have silver lining, or tungsten.

I wait to one side. Finally, I say to one guy seated (dark and sinister if smiley, or because of that) my name, and he says, "You don't want my name. It's like meeting in a wood with shotguns." Ah, okay. I wait.

There is in the bathroom fixture, and filling a tube beside it the size of a waterheater but of clear material, sludge. I understand the sewage, maybe because of all the tin in the ground, no longer runs. Like desolate folk everywhere, my Mom moves about without panic in the gathering crisis.

We all ebb from the 4th St room and now we're on an unfamiliar street, and entering a building. This is a courtroom, I'm thinking. I don't ask any questions, probably because of the earlier rebuff. I don't seem to be able to speak with Mom.

This is a tin-in-the-ground, crap-on-the-surface sort of dream.



Friday, November 19, 2004

A large estate, sloped ground, structures I don't calculate into my dreamspace (remember I have poor visusal memory so keep my dreams vague with cheap sets like high school plays) - I cannot find Scoob again. There are other hounds bounding around, but I don't see him.

Then he appears at my side.

We arrive in a villa, like on the Mediterranean, and Reloj says, I'll go move the plane to the point. He heads off down a sloped street. It's just a minor adjustment to our progress, like stopping for coffee.

But I know it's final. I go after him, but with no real urgency, as if chasing fate, or closing out the final minutes of a losing game.

There is a residential cul-de-sac resembling those in Northern California. I know one of the paths goes down to the seacoast, so I move about, although there are no signs of access. Around a fence and a circular hedge, there is a path. I take it, but it dissolves...

But now I'm leaving. I am very sad. Someone comes up to hug me, but it seems not at all sincere. She is brunette and slender. Now I'm sitting in an outdoor auditorium seat a little further on down the road, and another comes. I must shift over a seat to allow her to join me. She is Rubenesque and pretty, blonde, and she is crying.

Just the sad renderings of too late blues, striking the set after another unsuccessful run in Boise...

Saturday, November 13, 2004

"Anyway, why can't we race for real? Why all this phony grimace stuff?"

The roughewn vagabond is speaking to the press. He was hired off the street by a visiting art consortium, Institut d'Art, to ride a bicycle around a tight course of city streets. Various painters and portraitists sat along the way and worked on images from the circuit.

The Institut d'Art had great success in Paris and Brussels and London, but were running into trouble in Dallas. The press was on the trail, and controversy as always followed. Some of the participants were quite willing to oblige the news industry. Yes, yes, they understood the message, we are sorely abused by these foreigners.

The press agent for the Institute protested, `But it was never meant to be a race. It is theatre, it is a means of capturing expression on the fly. We make use of the outcasts of a community in order to display certain emotions the normal social constraints forbid to citizens within the pyramid.'

`Look, we take these rabble out of the gutter. We dry them out, fit them with shiny new bike togs, and teach them to ride. All they do for their twelve dollars an hour is ride those bikes in a circle. We ask them to conceive of their lot in life, their grievances, and the artists attempt to capture that at game speed. That is all. There have been very well-attended showings all over Europe, accompanied by the raves of famed art critics...'

`Yes, but why do you not allow them to race for real? Are you not making fools of these unfortunates? Isn't it a lot like dressing senile old men in childish paper hats for birthday celebrations at the nursing home?'

The show was closed down in Texas, and the rest of the tour canceled. The Institut d'Art still operates in Europe, and has moved to Tokyo and Istanbul, with very favorable results. There is a showing now in the Prada.

There are no plans for another American tour.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

An outdoor cafe, me and Niki J. We are set upon by a rowdy party two tables over. One even joins us, but he is more irreverent than threatening, and he speaks in a stream of gibberish meant to satirize social niceties like adolescents everywhere rather than confront or contribute.

I encounter the waiter between the tables on his way to the kitchen. He is noncommital while I point out the malefactor, who ducks his head in mock embarrassment, back at his regular table now. The waiter continues his march, promising, "He'll be gone."

I venture backstage to tell the proprietor I am pleased with the dispatch with which the problem was handled. It's Bill Perkins, my old companion from the days at the Vets Building in Watsonville, but he's busy and I don't approach. A tall blonde waitress is very efficiently moving about. On her way out to the dining room, she stands up very close to me, filling my entire viewscreen, and makes suggestive promises. She kisses me and yet I cannot quite feel her body against me. It's like a chaste movie kiss, however deep. I think, it must be all right, because it's happening without my meaning it, like rain.


Thursday, October 14, 2004

I am warm. I have on an Elizabethan stripped leather doublet. I can feel the warmth, when all about is chill. I am settling into the perception that I am the product of misuse. I have the sense that all I am is the result of neglect. Long ago, many might have done better by me. My present state is the fault of all those who failed in their basic duty. I might have been a contender, but because of outrageous betrayal -

- a finger from an unknown hand jabs my solar plexus. I feel it, but see no one. I hear, but see no one:

"It's you, bub."

Suddenly the warmth has gone out of the leather doublet.

We are around a huge oak table. We are agreeing in quiet voices in a dim light. Nodding. Yes, yes. Someone mutters the profile of the one we seek, as if it's well understood, like coordinating watches when everyone has the correct time.

"He will live for a long time near a large religious establishment. He will take no vacation."

We all nod, looking at maps on the table.




Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I am visiting an estate, spacious, airy, like in the movies. This is a fashion setting; the residents are known in that field. There are clothes falling onto a tile floor, which is in a large dormitory bathroom. Some new skirts, probably with labels recognizeable by some, droop near a pool where ordinary sewage stands. I am appalled at the sight. Such an effective contrast.

I try and tell one lady in another scene, no need to display the label. Everyone will know it's an Armani.

There is a pup who is not Scoob. He rambles around an office. Some raffish sort is moving towards the john, and I'm anxious to make sure to keep the pup out of his way.

Here is one gathering large boxes. How is she doing this? She will take the pup home with her. I make to help, but don't know what I might do. The hound must be a stray, and she will keep him until she finds a home. She is carrying now what looks like computer equipment, the way you might bundle up a laptop to work at home, but this is the monitor and processor of a desk unit. She will take the pup with her. I say, oh, well, I guess she knows what she is doing...

Sunday, August 29, 2004

A poet is presented with an opportunity to study nature in solitude. A naturalist has offered her digs on an island, and he has accepted. The object is a rebirth of zestful positive American potential energy, a new Whitman, a new enlightened romantic frontier.

The poet produces intricate and amazing photos, four of them, for Natural Nostrums. Using the elaborate photographic equipment available, he has some wonderful miniature jungle scenes depicting the spectacle of scaled movement and mayhem. For the series, he charts ant trails and beetle paths through rotted fallen oak.

He is troubled. The use of stealth, trickery, subterfuge throughout nature bothers him. Also, Man who should walk tall on earth, he realizes, is the worst offender, for not only are other species subject to his whims and pleasure, but he among all life pollutes and poisons his own nest, destroys others of his species on petty transient causes.

The long epic resulting from his year on the island is too dismal for the editors even to read, much less publish.

Friday, August 27, 2004

It's a wonderful job. In fact, everyone wants it. It's almost a necessity. We accompany the ranger as she shows us how it's done.

We walk the mountain trail beside a swift stream. The ranger must find, form, or forge a channel to the valley below. This is what the job is. There is apparently a difference between the three modes. She steps off the trail and we follow her and - just look! - here is a robust current running to the valley. She has found one.

Next, she leads us onto a wetlands, and by just stepping she begins to swirl and move the wet into a body and then a current.

There is a stack of applications back at headquarters. I have cheated. I have picked up one and marked through the name and address and added my own particulars.

But then I hear an interview going on. From this application card, the interviewer has learned much about the interests, adequacies, and aptitudes of the applicant. I am amazed. I note there is a black dot on every card. This must be where the data is stored. I didn't realize that.

The application cards are to be mailed, not to a different geographic location, but to another era. They are sent five years ahead, which means the earliest interview for those aps stacked on the table, including the one I have forged, is 27 Aug 2009.

I am not overly concerned. It's like the humidity of my native land. It's the only game in town, so there's no point is crying about alternative which do not exist.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I don't know where I am in this one again.

A slow plodding stream of pilgrims steps out along a dusty road. They, or we, are bound from a small German village to a larger town.

One is filming, with his crew. He hopes to create a documentary which he will distribute himself. There is a market for films of an hour or so, but not much reward. The filming is for mere survival income, not fame. There is a shortage of everything, even filmstock, and he is never sure in this day and age (unknown) whether he will see interference, and from which direction.

One who is of our party carries a TV set. If he reaches the larger town (unnamed), he can sell it. If he encounters gendarmes, he will lose it, with his freedom, such as he has. There is no bill of sale for the item.

In my dream, we do not begin, nor do we end our journey. We only walk along a dust y trail.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

I am following two individuals with a camera crew. They are French, and we are attempting to demonstrate that a nuclear facility should be in the hands of the state, not just two guys. Privatization has just gone too far, and we hope to demonstrate that with our documentary.

There is steam escaping. There it is. Irradiated steam...

...I am awakened by Niki J nudging me. My mouth has opened in my sleep, and wind is blowing out due to my CPAP device.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I am seeing this on a screen.  A gent is moving through a formal country club arena.  I see it's a wedding shower.  He sits at one of a long row of chairs set up before a huge running bulletin board which holds thousands of gold-lettered cards.  He picks one.  We read it.  It tells us the suggested gift for Bunnie and Craig is valued at $1,200.  He begins to write upon it.  A smiling lady in sparkling gown reaches over his shoulder and date-stamps the card.  This means he should arrange that the item be sent to the happy couple within two days.
 
CUT TO:  Jaime is a midget, say four foot five.  He is standing in a spacious library in smoking jacket.  It's his own estate, we guess.  He is smiling, reading the card we've just seen at the shower.  We can read it.
 
"The object you have borrowed and which now sits in your library would be a perfect gift for one very deserving young lady on first  embarking on those stormy seas aboard the Queen Mary.  Brother Jack."
 
Jaime laughs.  He reaches behind him and retrieves a golden statuette of a goddess from the shelf.  Jaime is not spanish.  He drops the object into the trash.
 
CUT TO: the trash truck, grinding up a stately circular drive in the hour before dawn.  The cab...Brother Jack we remember from the first scene jumps into the passenger seat with a garbage bag.  The driver looks at him.  They are both dressed in dustman coveralls.
 
"Now, Eddie, I paid a lot for this ride, I'm entitled to a souvenir or two."
 
CUT TO: Jack's apartment.  He is wiping the statuette we saw in the second scene.  He is chuckling.  He places it on a shelf.  Mutters to himself.
 
"Jaime, old pard, you must remember no one can be trusted in these harsh times."
 
Jack walks over to the decanter at a sideboard, pours himself a drink, returns to sit in his chair behind his desk.  He continues to chuckle.
 
We notice the statuette is no longer on the shelf behind him where he left it.
 

Saturday, July 24, 2004

A movie star had lost his standing.  He was telling all about it on some talk show.  Yes, yes, it was sudden, and terrible, and what must I do now?

He was unprepossessing; short, dumpy, balding, inarticulate.  He had been paid two million a year, now he is unemployed.

He was a hand actor.  Every closeup trick on the books you've seen on the screen, from shuffling cards to juggling to rolling a coin through his fingers to twirling a drumstick, his hands.  He kept them perfectly manicured always and bathed them in mud flown in from Borneo and had a special plastic surgeon to prevent aging in his hands only.  The rest of him had gone the way time is, but not his hands.

Until the arthritis.  Now he cannot even hold a deck of cards.  He seems perfectly distraught about it, and the host seems empathetic, and there is that moany mass commentary from the studio audience to indicate commisseration.

[I wake up from this one with an ache in my own right hand, the one I've been having some trouble with since Scoob pulled the ligament out with a portion of the bone when I tried to restrain his one hundred twenty pounds of irrepressible muscle some two months back.]

 

Monday, July 12, 2004

A commercial features two gladiator cartoon characters dancing around with short blades and mini-tunics. The weapons are highlighted - they're actually letter openers.

Letter openers. There is a huge advertising campaign to sell letter openers.

An envelope about waist high to Woody Allen is created. It is longer than average. In fact, it stretches from Manhattan to Washington DC!

Woody Allen is hired as the spokesman for the letter opener company. As a gimmick, he will be seen opening the envelope...by walking every step of the way from New York to DC with one of the company letter openers inserted at the upper fold of the world's longest envelope. Just ripping the paper with the opener as he ambles along.

TV spots show Woody crossing the Washington Bridge. Reporters ask him questions.

Reporter: Why are you doing this?

Woody: This country just is not - open enough.

Reporter: What's in the envelope?

Woody: Well, you never know that until you have it open, now, do you?

--

It seems the projects are failures. There were two rival films, and I wrote the screenplays for both. Somehow I was acceptable to both parties. The principals of one show hand me bills, mostly dollars, to compensate me for my time. One of them gives me a twenty. Oh, no, really, I cannot accept this! But he insists, will not accept it back.

There are auditors now. They stand around, smiling. Hovering. They ask to see the screenplays. I give them over. They seem so very puny now. I say, "This one took me a whole hour and a half!" I'm apologizing for the sparse scripts in advance, as I do not believe the review will reflect much credit on me.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I am a well-established member of the underground- an anthropologist, in fact, with an interest in Native American cultures. I have discovered and identified an authentic tribe, related to certain southwest desert Indian families but distinct from each of them as well, and I'm very excited about that.

I do not divulge their location, but I freely observe their habits and customs. They have only recently come to occupy certain unmapped Anasazi cliffdwellings I have known of for some time. To visit them, I do much hiking along great vistas so I can tell if anyone follows me; I can turn and look back clear to the horizon.

Yes, yes, I see elements of the Modoc in their quaint courtship, and the Navajo in their use of beads, and that's Cheyenne pottery, sure enough. I publish in Native Review and present papers to learned societies, even testify in state legislative hearings, once spontaneously leaping up to mime one of their wardances before an astonished room full of indignataries.

Eventually, the Bureau of Indian Affairs grants status to the newly discovered subset, although no outsider but me has ever observed them. I am very pleased. I present the charter to the elders and explain to them what it means. I must use a contrived sign language because I have yet to translate their own speech.

They show no interest at all, shrug, smile, gaze into the campfire.

I go away on other business and am gone for over a year. I make another visit out of curiosity.

There is a huge casino going up! They have telephones now, and they are engaged with BIA over subsidies. They speak Spanglish. Roads are coming in. Their customs now are not so quaint, but comprise drinking and fighting.

I have been had. These "Indians" are all illegal immigrants from Oaxaca. They have discovered a way to sort of sidestep the usual slave labor in LA sweatshops. With recognition as a Sacred Nation, they not only see checks from the federals but they may operate a fantastically profitable gaming license tax-free!

The question is, do I acknowledge my error and sink my professional reputation forever?

Or do I remain quiet and allow all concerned to prosper?

It's a question that occupies me for a full two minutes...

Sunday, June 27, 2004

I have somehow given over charge of the upkeep of our family vehicle to childhood friend Jack. I think it is not going well. I'm wondering if perhaps Jack is drifting away.

We live in cubicles; everyone does. Very tight quarters and all indoors. We are here, and our auto is around the block. It's like we live in storage lockers.

Something is wrong with the vehicle. I look under the hood. Yes, yes, there is something wrong. It seems to be missing.

The engine.

I am to understand we await a motor transplant. I am under the auto now, looking around. It is a Toyota engine we are expecting. Someone calls out, "What make of car is that?"

I'm slow to answer because I don't know. I pretend to be preccupied looking at a lot of oily metal, embarrassed. Then I spot the steering wheel, with the Indian head on it; turn it so the chrome label shows.

"Powereze," I call out, authoritatively.

"Oh," he says. "A Pontiac."

Jack has made arrangements for a wood campfire under a missing wheel. This is to be our family heat, I figure. But won't it be too hot then under here when they come with the engine?

When I am back on the street, I see something I hadn't noticed before. The right side and roof are destroyed, opened up like an explosion ripped it from inside. This, I understand, is how they removed the engine so quickly. They must've used a monumental wrenching gadget.

I'm thinking, maybe I should ask Jack not to help us so much...


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I step ashore and gingerly pick my way over an obsidian spikey reef. I am reporting for military duty.

There are long lines which snake through coutyards and what looked like superficially elaborate government buildings in South America. We were in line to buy desks. That's right, desks.

Apparently (and there was no one telling us, which isn't the way of military life at all; you're closely directed and monitored) we must first of all be outfitted with this office apparatus. We pass by working models, like sparse sidewalk cafes. Oh, that's nice, mahogony, and there's a mini, the size of an end table, now, that would be ever so much simpler...

I ask a friend to hold my place for me. (I know her and one other; she's like an acquaintence in a small town; you can ask favors in the big city although you never pay attention to one another back home.

I find a dark room with a bed. I have no idea how I knew it was there. I nap.

But when I return to the line, my placeholders are not in sight. I walk up ahead, but I'm not moving ahead of anyone; everyone is moving surprisingly fast. I had thought this was like breadlines in Moscow cica 1950. But we amble forward through these strange passages at a goodly pace.

We pause, roam, even sit. There does not appear to be any pattern to it, and I somehow feel the futility and embarrassment of asking anyone anything. It would be like an admission I'd lost my way in life, and I'm guessing that's what keeps panic down along these paths.

I sit, pick up a pictoral album. It's in quarto, or half-sized. I see along with the photos and descriptions there are some notations in pencil.

I recognize my own handwriting.

Hey, I say to one near, Here are notes I've left here! I must've been here before!

He isn't at all excited by the news. Either he doesn't believe me, or he doesn't think it remarkable. Does this mean we've all been down this road before? Is that how I found the bed for my nap?

We are up and shuffling along now. Through herd instinct, I join others in a vehicle, and we're moving. I am thinking now about where to spend the night. It's alarming not to know where you'll spend the night.

"Hey, where will we spend the night?"

No one answers. Either all know, or no one does, or no one else cares.

Here we are. I recognize this. It's the lobby of a hotel. I ask for a room. I am handed two each small shells from the beach, each intact, perfect. I am told these will work at another hotel, and I should pay them now and they would transport me. It would evidently cost me some dollars here, then the shells when I arrive there.

I'm suspicious. "So there's another hotel which will take me in for two seashells?"

A guy behind the counter is chuckling with a coworker. They sit in those old row desks from ancient schools.

"If there wasn't," he says to her, "We wouldn't have to work so late."

Monday, June 21, 2004

The team is going through entry cards. They are quite somber. Joey and Rose have been promised a winning ticket, which is supposed to be in this batch. As the last ones are opened, it becomes obvious, the winner ain't here.

Signs announcing the swindle go up all along the awning of the storefront of the contest sponsor. They are hand-lettered, by Joey and Rose.

Then, they aren't there. I am sitting in a parlor with a caller to the residence of Joey and Rose. This is the boss of the shop where the contest was held. We wait for Joey and Rose. He does not admit to removing the signs. He does not appear to be angry.

--

She thinks, they have faith in me, because they allow me to hold their baby. She is loving and cooing to the infant. They have confidence I am all right.

But she must go away, after all, it was said. Nerves, it was said. She would be away for a time. Her roles were seeping into her regular life, it was said. She had no regular life, it was answered.

I don't know who she was.

--
I am mounted on my old buckskin pony. I'm dressed in pink woven mini chaps and vest. I carry the means by which the upper reservoir will be joined to the lower lake. Some are dead set against the project, which is why I must be stealthy...in my hot pink cowboy gear.

My podnah in this act of eco-terrorism is in a class, like a sitting tour given by a park ranger where they pass around antique rocks. I must pass a key to him. I have to go. I lodge the message, semi-camouflaged, in a crevice at the end of a rock railing at the rim of the canyon. There is no reason the podnah will find the hidden clue instead of anyone else, but I'm satisfied I've made the effort. I ride off down the canyon.

I roll out of the saddle and down a row of hedges to descend the last fifty feet. It's magical, rolling suspended on soft vegetation over hard rock.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

In queue along some decrepit stretch of industrial wasteland, I await with others for something necessary . Crowded. (My dreamscapes are gothic postmodern noir nowadays, the slipshod renderings of gloomy postindustrial decay, dark wrecks in dusty ruin, the end of today...)

Someone is very close behind. Her breasts against my back. Without any agreement, any word even, nor any look, I bend lower and take grip around each of her thighs and she is aboard piggy-back. It is a point of honor I do not look at her, speak to her. She might then be obliged to gratitude, or perhaps she would be recalled to the strange interlude and want down and out of it. I want to help her, carry her, be her anonymous hero.

We travel about like that. There are single-level building wings, even, one after the other, glass and aluminum with some brick. Some there to make product, some sell them, others offer services of varying sorts. I walk and look at the desolation and we say nothing. I do not seek our reflection in glass anywhere.

I enter one wing, and travel through a series of dining halls, all in a row, all in one wing. I ask an attendant what is the difference between the various diners along the row. She tells me in a staccato sing-song she has delivered many times that day alone, and the import and even denotation of the words have been worn off like a water color left out in the rain. I learn nothing.

I am conscious of how light the girl is, how well she rides my back. Nobody seems to notice us. Nobody seems to notice anyone.

Down in a grassy dell between two wings, there is commotion. I see Scoobie, cavorting with one of his buddies, maybe the Ridgeback Gramby. Someone is running after them, trying to restrain Scoob.

I quickly set the girl on her feet and hurry into the pit. The action all hits pause with no damage, as it most often will. I turn to retrace my steps up out of the pit.

There are some who watch now, disinterested, like you might if caught in traffic at vague honking elsewhere.

I have no way of finding the girl again. I know not her appearance nor her voice.

Nobody makes any sign of recognition. Of course, were I to identify her, the magic would be lost anyway.

I am so sad for her, as I trudge back up to the rank and forlorn row. I am so sad for me.


Friday, June 18, 2004

We have caused a mismatch with our recent computer software upgrade. The tires on our little Japanese auto no longer work.

It will become necessary, I am guessing, to replace the present set of tires with the former by my own hand. We consider the difficulty of this task. Is it truly something which can be done at home?

At no time do any of us contemplate how computer software in the home interacts with rubber on the road. It is just understood, so no sense worrying about.
Workplace Bathtub

I have installed a bathtub at work. There is a separate rec or break room to hold it. I fill it up now. I hear distress from outside. Oh, dear, comes from the main office. I detect about a foot of water and rising on the floor of the break room, and the suspicion naturally arises; this could be the source of the concern out there. (The voice of affliction outside sounded like my mother.)

I try and imagine the chance that a flood in the room is unrelated to the tub filling up within it. What other newly factors might there be? This diversion is truncated by spotting a fast leak high up the side of the tub. Thus ends the rationalization.

Technical assistance might help. Here is a technician from the service department. He chuckles like over the foibles of toddlers. `Here is the work of a fledgling in the art of bathtub setup, of which I am master,’ is the eternal message.

He is sighting along the port gunwale. See here, he is saying. There is a wooden ridge atop portside I hadn’t noticed before. He says, have to line this sucker up.

I’m thinking, now, just what is the use of a bathtub in a workplace anyhow?

The Miles March

Out in the shop proper, I note apparent co-worker Miles Davis. He is prancing in a section behind a counter, like at UPS. (All my dreamscapes are vague; even familiar scenes are counterfeited, possibly due to my lack of visual awareness and memory.) Miles is approaching like doing a clockwise circle; he is at three o’clock. He wears pink rubber galoshes and boxer shorts, the type of tee called a `skivvy’ back home. He is blowing light and quick, like an up-tempo bugle call.

I say to others watching at the counter, “Miles is blowing a march,” and when he joins us on a stool immediately to my left, I say, `Miles, you’re blowing marches!’ and he brightens, as if he is glad to have communicated a mystery, as he would had someone merely listened in the studio and recognized the guys were cutting riffs on blues progressions for the album later named “Kind of Blue." I was proud of spotting the theme.

Miles explains how the silence works in his music, why he uses sixteenth notes. As he continues with musical complexities, his head sinks down on his chest and his voice becomes unintelligible.

Another dream ploy. Jane Austen advised her would-be writer niece, “If your characters depart Dover for the continent and you’ve never been, best you not accompany them”.

I know nothing about music theory, so in a dream Miles will naturally be indistinct when explaining what he does. Nobody asks Miles Davis to speak up. I seize on the idea of what is left out to imply rather than state, and the sense of the unit will be stronger. I think of the elided lines in the Miles Davis Summertime from Porgy and Bess.

I am a proactive listener. I offer on the theme elided notes in art my own examples.

(1)Hemingway’s cutting away from the structure of his stories, leaving less than a skeleton for careful readers to reconstruct the corpus.
(2)Learning to play the piano; you engage a bobbing head, shrugging shoulders, clenched jaw, then when you master the instrument the music flows imperceptibly from heart to sound. (This from an article by William James.)
(3)The D H Lawrence coda from Women in Love which denotes the onto/philo passing from primordial primitive through civilized complex to perfection back at the purified simple.
(4)We were told in Little League by chiding teammates when muffing a one-handed attempt at a pop fly “Two hands while learning,” and yet the big leaguers routinely snare fly balls one-handed.

By the time I had arrived at #4, Miles was clearly bored. He picked up a phone, and I moved off.

Watch For Milk

I am heading down Fourth Street back home now, the central main drive in town, in some sort of street sled. I am traveling fast, and then I notice Scoobie is with me, mounted on his own similar but unconnected vehicle.

At the end of the run, say two miles down 82, I must return on foot, bringing along a little girl who toddles in all directions. I catch her when she rollicks onto the roadway, and point her back the way we should go. I figure this could take some time, for she rambles fro as much as to. She has a passel of sisters not much older now, and begins to run in the right direction. We are making good progress now.

We stop by a house along the way. (Perhaps the location was our old homestead at 719 East Fourth Street.) I offer to trade a watch I have for milk for the little girl. (Although I have the sense she lives here.) I remove the battery from the watch. (I mean to swap only the battery?) Then I think, better to keep the watch together and bring the family a complete new one tomorrow. (I wonder if this is some sort of weird echo of the “federale” trying to trade a watch to Dobbs for his pistol in Treasure of Sierra Madre.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

There is an ending, a striking of the set, which is dillapidated blue-black dusty gothic desolation, decrepit buildings and rubble. We proceed through the funereal site. The object is to remove salvageable items from the premises. There is a straw boss, harsh, acerbic, but without the interest to generate real malice. There are grim spires of excellent craftsmanship piled up, derelict gazebos in an anteroom, all the tricks and trappings of fond hopes gone to seed...

I should be in the adjoining structure, I'm thinking. That's General Cable, my old worksite from long ago. Maybe we're all here to demolish our ancient dreamscapes.

Monday, May 10, 2004

We turn into a corkscrew up. It's a new sort of a junkyard. I can't decide now if it was a gardening or an auto lot.

I'm with my father, and he goes somewhere, and I another direction. He knows what he's doing, but so do I. That's my story.

I stop along an open corridor. Gramby, the Rhodesian I see on the beach where Scoob and I go, runs up to me. He is quite friendly, and I've never seen him that way, towards human nor animal. While I pet him, here comes Scoobie, prancing. He cuts me off from Gramby.

(Here they both are during a regular Saturday at the beach.)

Now I must rush about to stabilize. I have been away, or my belongings have been stored. I have to gather them again. I drive about. I stop and my stepdad Clarence tells me the water in my bed will never be warm enough to sleep on by tonight.

I must agree this is so. I have struggled with waterbeds and heaters. However, mine isn't a waterbed. I open a cabinet and find the headboard, the railings of an old oak bedstead (maybe the one I had thirty years ago).

Back flitting across town. I approach an intersection in dim light. I turn here, right, reconsider, no, wait, maybe not. I have signaled and there is an auto following close behind. I make the turn, then, to avoid collision with the following auto, and there is another in the other lane waiting to enter the intersection I am trying now to vacate. I am turning right, and so when the other vehicle moves, I just catch the edge of it, because my momentum and indecision have carried me into the opposite lane.

We all dismount and drift at odd intervals across the double road I have just left and enter a bar. Nobody says anything, until the bartender speaks. Mumbling something official. I say, oh, yes, of course, it's all my fault.

Tomorrow, he says. I ask, you mean we come back tomorrow? Right here? Yes, of course, he answers, as if I should know how a citizen deals with a traffic accident. (Is there a bar then on every block in this city?)

I hear some commentary about the dark sulky one who drove the ride following me. They hold him partly responsible for following too close. In the bar they are all familiar with the conditions of the accident. I begin to warm to the idea of guilt lifting from my shoulders. The eternal gradient from immediate shock and sorrow to self-preservation we are all familiar with.

Nobody checks for damages, which I assume is slight. We all go our separate ways.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I am sitting before a large monitor. There are all these names, spread evenly across the screen, like a web of unconnected diamonds. Each has just a name. I am to understand these are all Puerto Ricans. It's a whole screen of Puerto Ricans. You would see just the name Julio DelGato and on mouseover you would see his identity, `gardener,' and a comment, `no sabe nada.'

I am amazed by all this. I say to someone near, "Hey, I have...lots of Puerto Ricans over here!" and she moves slightly away. I am in a public place, possibly a coffee shop with a bank of networked computers, and nobody cares about the Puerto Ricans.

There's no order to the display. I see `former governor' for one and `renegade' for another. It isn't alphabetical, and there are no dates, so I don't know if it's chronillogical. I see now there is a slide bar on the right and the pointer is infinitesimal and it doesn't even show movement as I click down the vast array of Puerto Ricans.

Maria del Gardenes de Esplante doesn't like chile. Javier Platapata isn't home much. Poco Gordo has a new knife.

Is every Puerto Rican ever on this page? I try to read the URL but it isn't showing. Just a large screen of Puerto Ricans.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I can look down the street and just see the main worksite. It's along a road like that of my old home town, only extended for blocks (my town only had a square). It is nearly noon, and I must leave the satelite office then for the main one.

Gene comes in. He's my sub. He'll handle it for me. No, he won't. He's apologetic. He cannot work today. So sorry.

I look about. There are two "volunteers" lounging around. Okay, they'll have to do. I leave it with them.

I proceed down the road. The main office is near the river, and I see the river is in flood. It is a quiet flood, but wide. I cannot reach the office. I am on Front Street, and thinking, we are in the time just before panic. Someone walks along a levy and does not want to be seen as in a lather and he's so cool and the ground washes out from under his feet.

I pass a store. There's still a TV blasting. I see my boss on the screen! He is expostulating for the cameras, shaking his head in that silly melodramatic preening like MacCarthy used to.

The boss is bewailing the branch office, the one I left, being closed.

He is radiating opprobrium to shift the heat. Boy, this is not up to his standards! He goes on, lambasting the door with the sign "Closed" on it. He's a short little guy and feels he must compensate, I suppose.

Reality: I did work for a long time in a civil service position with two sites, and I traveled from one to the other, sometimes in the same day, and I had a couple of junior-sized bosses who tried to gain height through pure bluster. The scenes of my dreams are like I only heard about them on the radio, like the Bat Cave or Jack Benny's vault. Nothing more than vaguely resembles the actual scene. I don't know why that is. I suspect it's because I have little visual memory.


Saturday, April 03, 2004

Maybe Tchaikovsky is not such a good idea after all...

What was that?

I’m awake now. But what woke me?

My mind congeals around the recital. I am to play the piano for an informal Saturday afternoon gathering in my neighborhood. The thought burns in my belly.

Everyone is so friendly here. Yet no one has a name. I thus don’t offer my own. The buildings are two-storey townhouses, yet strangely yellow-orange, adobe perhaps, and there are even these imbricated tile roofs, like in the southwest. But we are in the northeast.

One smiles at me from the walkway before my yard, and I return the greeting. Ah, he says, the weather is changing. He indicates with a glance the fallen leaves under the oak of a neighbor. He moves away, leaving me to study the leaves in the yard.

I am awakened that very night by a truck operating on the street outside. There is no motor traffic on our red-bricked narrow roadway except for service vehicles, most often moving vans. I stare at the ceiling and listen.

In the morning, the house of the leaves is vacant.

Perhaps I should play some Tchaikovsky. After all, since the fall of the wall, there should be no sensitivity. It must be something light, brief, with a positive air about it.

I worry.

I realize in a flash what has awakened me. The wind. And not just the wind, but what the wind blows, which is branches, which means possible trash on the roof.

The clock is ticking.

I don’t have to live here if I don’t like it. I can call the moving van myself. There would be no known consequence to moving away. After all, after a careful vetting by the Township Association, I moved in of my own free will.

My hand is on the door. I take a breath. What if I meet someone, some nameless other? He will be dressed as I am, in a robe from Abercrombie. It’s acceptable to venture out of doors before dawn in your robe.

But what will he say? (And, another question often occurs, why is it always a `he’? I see the moving vans bring the sort of attractive furnishings which mean women, and childrens playthings, so why is it I only meet men like me on the road? I am alone in my life; why is that?) And what will I say in reply?

This requires some thought. Jobs are in the news. Unemployment and job loss are prominent. This is both good and bad. Good because it means our set has less labor cost due to productivity gains, outsourcing, or downsizing. It tends to render such labor as we require less expensive. This is good.

But it means also possible trouble this election season. There are more of them than there are of us, although they seem extremely gullible generally. And it’s always election season. The Party (no one need ask which) carries a countenance of vexed optimism. There, that’s the expression. It’s good to set your face before you venture out of doors.

I have been living here for six months. I was good once, three weeks after I moved in. I was very good that day. I retrieved my newspaper in the acceptable manner and two others encountered me. One smiled and said, “Looks like a famine in Africa. The IMF expects to deplete their funding this year.” He is looking at the headlines, his brow knitted. He speaks in almost a murmur. I can just make him out across the narrow roadway.

“It’s artificial and counterproductive to keep feeding what is failing,” I say. His smile broadens. We all three turn, almost in military precision, and retrace the studied path to our separate doors.

There is a loud knock on my door in the evening. The other is there, the one who did not speak. He speaks now.

“Do you really believe that? I have to know. Do you, really?”

He is staring at me. He seems very exasperated. Also, there is a bottle in his hand. I remain quiet, expectant, waiting for him to explain himself. I even nod, encouragingly.

He slams the door. Late in the night, I hear a crash from across the street. I lay in the dark and stare at the ceiling and don’t move.

I hear the trucks before dawn. When I go out for the paper, there is no broken window, but the house is vacant. I go back inside at the regular pace.

What did he mean by that? A psychotic, most likely. Do I really believe what? What difference can any of that possibly make? What good does it do? Shouldn’t you leave behind those childish quizzes after your sophomore year? Why does he ask me that?

Maybe Tchaikovsky is not such a good idea after all. Maybe a Rogers and Hart medley would be more appropriate.

I take another breath. Turn the knob.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

I am interviewing for my newspaper. I am thinking to myself, once my trade was considered romantic albeit scruffy. The Front Page. Stop the Presses! Get me Rewrite! But now just look.


My subject describes himself as a Brandy Snifter, and he has no patience with those "heatherns" who confuse him with a drinking glass. "Can a glass detect acidity from Akron?" he demands. That's his prize achievement. He reported the brewery in Ohio which did not clean the Windex from its vats.

He's an athlete, as well as an aesthete, he tells me. What he does, all day long, is open select brands of brandy and sniff the contents. He asks if I want to take his picture. He weighs nearly four hundred pounds, and I'm thinking maybe that artist for the Wall Street Journal might make him presentable. He guesses my reservations. After all, he says, some pitchers and many defensive linemen aren't exactly svelte. He wants his story placed in the sports pages, with the liquor and firearm and Russian wife ads.

"Tell about Akron," he says. "Like that Julia Roberts movie. I nailed 'em on Windex!"




Thursday, March 11, 2004

Shortly after moving into the Villa Seurat I had begun to record my dreams. And not only the dreams but the associations which the act of transcribing them induced. Doing this over a period of several months, I suddenly began to see. "To suddenly see," as Saroyan says somewhere. - Henry Miller; Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch

--
I am to be arrested, it seems. The officer is in mufti, with no identifying cop regalia at all. We are, after all, in Mexico. It's a bother, but I'm not overly concerned. I walked away from an arrest by this guy only this morning.

He stands behind me and takes my arms in sequence and fastens them with a combination of string and wire. There is no other restraint. We are in a large lobby, like a hotel. I sit down. I'm conscious that I have to mime being tied, as the bonds are loose and the "Deputy" may do a better job if I flout his authority by loose limbs. I make to bring my wrists together, though I'm sitting with my hands in front of me now.

A voluble and animated lady sweeps into the vicinity. It becomes obvious she is a realtor, and she carries with her a book of illustrated snapshots of properties.

"Just look! Only $1,330!" I take it that's American dollars. I don't mind telling her I'm under arrest when she notices my loose bindings. You can be arrested for anything in Mexico. But she ignores me, as I might distract from her business.

I am ready to walk away again. The "Deputy" is away somewhere, probably with the realtor. I stand to go to the john. But there is a group with dogs by the restroom, and I don't need the confusion.

I walk out of the hotel. I hear over beyond sight what sounds like small-arms fire. There is a bright halogen light right where a street goes over a hill in a tree-lined suburb. I move down off the road, into a culvert.

There are strange vehicles, myriads of them. They are arraying themselves all about the neighborhood. They are trucks, but they look like narrow apartment complexes on wheels. Two-storied and with stairs up the indented side wall.

I see a couple of canines where one of them has parked, and look closely.

Are there dog teams in all the odd trucks? Will they sweep the neighborhood? I note that the immediate region is a gated upscale community. Perhaps the revolution will reassert itself. Maybe I am a counter-revolutionary. After all, alone in a foreign land, you are as you are defined.

I kneel in the ditch beside the road. I'm hidden, for now, but if they're looking for me, I won't be hidden long.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

It is a prefectly spendid cord. Nine feet of it. We have now completed weaving the last of a twenty one foot towline which will allow access to a trail. (What's strange is that...the trail does not seem to be steep. The line we've woven is now a cabled rope, and it lies along the path. But it's a great job we've done, and we're proud of it.

We (Niki J and Casey and I) visit a Buick dealer to "sponsor" our roadway. (It's no longer just a path.) He's a big guy who walks in a rolling swagger, and he asks how we're intending the road be built. We thought "sponsoring" had a sort of passive role for us.

He sighs, and steps out with a speaker. His shop is jammed, like a junk dealer. Maybe this is to announce the new road to traffic?

Next he comes out of the back with a huge front end of a '53 Buick!

It stretches gigantic, and it's almost flat, like a drawing for an ad. The big man steps up on a rope scaffolding resembling the support for the masts of tall ships. I understand we are to assist. I am very nervous.

He says, "It's all right; it's much easier going down." This is not encouraging, but I try and remain positive. I try and consider only my steps on the rope network (Reloj gave that as strategy for climbing the water tower back home in a night of misty rain), and not where I am in the universe of gravity.

It's done. The Buick frontend is suspended now all along the upper ropeweb. I can go down now. I step lower...

...and find I am already on the floor!

I have no idea how this happened. It's a long way up, and only a step down. I am so puzzled by all this business of building support for a path! I wonder at the Buddha and his eight-fold path.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

General Grant while advancing along the Ohio pauses to limber up a field piece and fire a round of gallant salute. He has with his keen eagle eye spotted the ramparts of Fort Donaldson just rising above the morning mists down along the river.

However, as the smoke clears and there is no reply from the fort, the mist rises further and it becomes manifest the structure spotted was the turret of the SS Missouri, bound as he was for the Mississippi and Vicksburg. Whereupon the General ordered his artillery back in line and proceeded, and the event never made it into his memoirs.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I am within a new sleeping realm now, and so is everyone else. Left undetermined is how I know this about others. If you sleep on your left side, you dream of the future. On your right, it's the past that will be your topic. And on your back, the present is the subject.

This is universal, everyone. Most everyone sleeps on their right side. When they cramp, they spend very little time on their backs, then it's back over on their right. There are many studies which demonstrate this fact, yet none which explain it.

That is the dreamstate of my dream. This is the wake state.

I am in a classroom. I am a teacher. I understand this, although I have no idea how it came to be. I have neither the training nor experience for the job. I have a sheet from "the office" in the morning, and I detail a response on it and send it back, just like every morning. There are always two names on the sheet.

Here are some children. I love children. This I can do. I warm to them, smiling, squatting down. A parent is watching me, undecided. I have a colleague also, behind me. I must please her as well. Someone I see in a suit in the periphery. Maybe he's the principal. I don't know.

My colleague asks, politely, why I send the same report to the office each morning. I don't know what she means. Finally, I do.

If you train a monkey to perform a duty, he will do it repetitively but he won't evaluate conditions and factors. In the famous example from Hayakawa the van speaker destroyer, a monkey can drive through an intersection on green and stop on red. He will understand to do that. However, he will not be able to adjust his pattern if a truck is stalled in the middle of the intersection. He will plow on through on green.

I had learned to return the report to the office. The report was appropriate, once. It related to two stoonts and missing homework. However, it did not apply always to the same two and every night's homework.

I am caught out by monkeyshines.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The family, as loosely construed, is presenting a stage play. We are sitting around an indoor setting. The furniture is scant and obscure.

The "family" is Niki J's, actually, although no one recognizeable is presented here. They are all stand-ins.

Minerva is my center of attention. I am across the table from her in a small room. We are just sitting. There is an audience, of about the number of the actors. This Minerva is not my sister-in-law, but an unaccomplished actress playing her without any of her characteristics, which involve the comic theatrical sensuality of the ineluctably aging and much pretense. In the play, she just sits, as do we all.

We break. Stand up and move off the stage, out of the room. I know we are supposed to be back there for the next scene.

I am stepping through a high loft, almost like the upper level of a bank of prison cells, but there are no bars. These are bedrooms, only they are indistinguishable due to lots of fabric; curtains, bedspreads, clothing, all about, in no particular order.

One who happens to be walking the same pace and direction offers a correction to a bed. It is made of willow reeds bound and woven. He says, like this, and he straightens the head of the bed, which was bent upwards originally. I did not agree. I did not think he should be adjusting someone's bed.

(He is the type of someone I remember from the Army, sort of slack and flip. Used to lie at night in his bunk and talk dreamily with his buddy Roudebush, who was certifiable, in the upper. "I guess I loved her," this one once says.)

I am driving now, and too fast. I am returning to the stage. It is possible that all the actors have not returned. No, I'm sure they have not. I think we are remiss. The audience will expect someone to be sitting around our stage set when the curtain goes up.

I drive fast, and I see a building approach, like a movie run at a faster speed. I pull up, without noise or screech, just short of the door.

I take my place around the small room of the set, but I notice, something has happened to Minerva. Her blouse has been replaced by bandaging. She has been in an accident, I'm told. She must be in pain, although she does not show it, and no one offers any sort of commisseration. There is no alarm.

She lies face down in her place. This will be her new part. It's just another bit of the performance, hampered by her offstage accident, like a soap opera actress who becomes pregnant during the season.

Monday, January 26, 2004

I am back at work. I am in the branch office, Watsonville, in the morning, and I am set to go back to the main division in Santa Cruz in the afternoon, only -

Someone is here. A client. Disgruntled. He makes sluggish demands and I go about looking for a typewriter. Someone has moved my typewriter. The facility is expanded drastically from reality, and it never matches the waketime Watsonville office anyway, of course, but I must walk through plenty of rooms brightly lit without windows to find one solitary typewriter.

I realize I will be here for a while. There are hordes crowding in on me now. Everyone is demanding, insistent, although no one is raging. They just have expectations unmet, and they hover, frown.

I say to one who looks like an efficient department store clerk, can I borrow your typewriter? It's an old manual, just as I lost, and as I expect to find. She demurs. Someone else is nearby. They have a jewelry store function. I don't have anything to do with their business. They are hoping I will go away. I am hoping the original client, the reason for my remaining there, will go away. Everyone is hoping someone will go away, or at least bring presents.

The jewelry store guy must rush out. He has a parrot, who needs care. He has the bird perched on his wrist, and he hurries. For some reason, I understand it my duty to follow him. We move through a series of office spaces into the clear air out of doors and immediately cut right to hurry down the street.

There are pedestrians all about, but at least they expect nothing of us. I think, I must call the home office and tell them I probably will not be in Santa Cruz this day. The guy places the parrot on a perch in an indeterminate location and we leave.

At least that's taken care of...whatever that is.

Back at the office suites, I find a greater crowd, and they importune disconsolately as I pass through. I have affected the serene composure of one among unreasonable and unwarranted demands.

In my portion of the office, here is one who is threatening with a crossbow. I must take care of this. I wonder about the efficacy of my next move, but grab him anyway. The bolt shoots out but rattles harmless along the floor. I see to his front there is a confederate, also holding forth with an indeterminate threat.

At least the original bore has left.

I make to bring the guy out the back door. He is surprisingly easy to handle, like a depressed wimp. I hustle him into the clear air. Turn left. Release him.

At least, I am passing now through a corridor like a mall and I sit at tables beside the passing. Some from the offices are gathered there, like after a disaster, only nobody has any clear idea what has happened. There's one now, an older gent, and someone behind calls to him. The old one pauses, then comes to sit at the table of the one who called him, probably the jewelry store guy.

But their conversation has nothing to do with whatever happened. I realize I will know nothing more about my day than I do already.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004



One of the earliest tunes I can remember hearing began

An old cowpoke went riding out one dark and windy day...

Ghost Riders in the Sky

I see one of them now. He's grim but unbowed, with weather gear, and he ambles his pony along a trail which is a closed mountain cutback. The pathway is narrow, even edged in the center, and an actual cavern as he approaches me at the turn and dutifully continues back down into the depths.

I'm thinking...gorillas. I'm thinking...better climb off the trail. So, right where I am, just beyond the sharp angle the trail makes to cut down into the cave (yet I myself and the whole trail now seems to be subterranean; there's a rock roof over this dream) I step on brief outcroppings to my left.

I am thinking to outclimb gorillas.

Here they come.

They are unhurried and I see them, one then a couple then more, swarming up the trail. I am some feet up off their track, so feel safe somehow.

--

I am in a crowd which moves along another track now. This is a corridor of an airline terminal. Most of these I move with are young, and they are flashing actual movies from their cel phones. I realize what they are doing. They are exploding one another's mythology.

Like, there is a young lady, and she is with a slightly older gent. Someone is holding up images on his phone of her. She is making love to a variety of humans in the small pictures. There seems to be an infinite number of occasions which would embarrass most who were a part of a coupling with a partner not involved in the fun onscreen.

This is a game of tag. Oops, she sees, I'm out. She drops her pace and her now-ex-lover proceeds on down the corridor. She does not seem unduly distressed. It is all the same as if she had merely been caught by the yellow and now must wait through red. Oh, well.

All up and down the line, there are those who are, like towel snappings in boys' lockers, outing one another. I have a paper and someone has it in hand, is erases a signature which I value. I try and force his grip, but he ignores me. I think of and actually try and smash his face, but there is no effect. It's as if I'm making gestures behind his back.

I freeze. Hey, wait a minute! I'm stunned.

"We haven't accounted for Scoobie!"

I move off the trail, into a wired-off section of indeterminate use. The crowd mills on by. I sit. We haven't made arrangements for Scoob. I am sore distressed.

"I must stay. You go on."

Reloj is with me. He nods, understanding. Yes, there doesn't seem to be any other way. He is stoic and accepting, as always. Yes, that's the only way. Someone is with us, to make three, but I haven't identified that one. I am worried and very sad.

Yes, it's the only way.

Our trip was to other parts of Europe. This is Charles de Gaulle Airport. Reloj will have to leave me now. There is no way of knowing when I will see him again. I am very sad. How could we have forgotten to take care of Scoobie?



Reloj
5/30/46 - 8/26/99

Monday, January 05, 2004

I Am Content

I am riding a gondola strung on a cable high above somewhere, the sort that tourist attractions use to ferry guests to exotic sites. The only other passenger is the pop diva Brittany Spaniel. I don’t ask why that is, the same as I don’t ask why I am on earth. Outside the fog is thick so I cannot tell we are moving. I am frightened.

But not for the reason you might think. I am scared as I am when I see someone in my trajectory who has not agreed to the terms I have. A raffish bum or a gang goon or any jostling band of outlaws heading at me on the sidewalk.

Brittany Spaniel is beyond my poor power to add or detract. I have consented to middleclass virtue, although I have faith or credit in neither as commonly construed. I pick social mores because that seems the best mode to be left alone. I maybe can drive seventy with safety, but not everyone can, so I consent to speed limits gladly.

My model is Doc in The Getaway, as played by Steve McQueen. His wife and moll Carol is Ali McGraw, and she don’t wanta meet Bannon as they had agreed. The reason is because she slept with Bannon who was on the parole board, which is why Doc is with her and not in prison, and she‘s thinking maybe that will come up and it would be like embarrassing and all. Doc, he say, all else being equal, it’s better to keep your commitments.

It’s better to keep your commitments. They were leaving a bank robbery and three corpses thus far (it’s a Peckinpah movie, so you know this is early) with plenty more on the way, plus much mayhem from which Doc will extract them both by means of a .12 gauge shotgun with double-ought loads. The commitment was to meet Bannon with the goods, so they must do so, all factors being equal.

Here’s me and Niki J at Disneyland, which is a hideous place of garish cartoon characters and dopey regimen stuck in two of my least favorite factors, crowds and heat. I’m so glad the kids are grown and I don’t have to visit this hell no more. Niki J says to the ticketaker she will not chomp on her fudge brownie in the Skyride line, but she does, and he comes running down the line to call her down for it.

I say, what good is that? I complain about it for a long time. How much better is the fudge now as opposed to later? There is the embarrassment to account for. It is better to keep your commitments, all other factors being equal.

She doesn’t mind. She just goes on. What good is that? I ask. She smiles.

Once it was the flavor of traffic. When I was young and nervous about casting a shadow, as everyone is, I drove reckless and made lots of noise. Here is me, I was saying, driving too fast.

What good is that? The most reasonable and empirical standard is set in traffic law. I was a quark, as most are, which means my existence had to manifest through other particles and other wave lengths.

Myrna was an old lady who sought to manifest her existence through moving other particles, like the general services staff, who must move a breaker box at much trouble and expense because she saw it as a feminist safety issue. Or the reference desk at the library, which she would call to ask for every zip code she could find need of, although a zip code directory was always within ten feet of her domain. She was old, and never had outgrown the need to manifest self through moving other particles. Constantly she was snitching on coworkers, the message being, these faults I spot we understand are beneath me.

I am me because my little dog knows me, said Gertrude Stein. I am me because I can cause others trouble, says Myrna. I fink, therefore I am.

When I was young, I went to work in a factory which built gas pumps. I would sit at a desk and plink chrome trim around the edges of panels. One old one came over to me. He had stories, stories of my grandfather. I still remember the stories.

In my town, everyone knew the entire genealogy of everyone else. Like the true philosopher, Plato’s dog, we only trusted what was known. (“Have you not considered the dog? For he will ever grovel before his master, and attack the stranger, although the one has never done him any good nor the other any harm. He only trusts what is known. He is the true philosopher!”)

I moved away. Where I live now, I have been going into a bookstore for thirty years now. Daily, when I was working across the street from it, and at least weekly thereafter, for thirty long years. That’s longer than some of the staff have been alive, and longer than I lived back in my old hometown.

And yet nobody knows my name. They have no idea who I am, what I do or mean, what sort of guy I am. Probably none of them could pick me out of a lineup. I engage in no discussions, partake in no book signings, merely browse and sit and read scraps of prose.

I obey the rules, neither jostle nor am jostled, cause no trouble, attempt to escape notice. I worry about having books from the used bookstore down the street in my backpack here. What if they set off the alarm? I am content.

I appreciate a certain serenity in my days. I hear those who come to chat, all about me, and nothing I hear has not been said many times before. I am content.

But now I am across a narrow way from Brittany Spaniel, and she has much power and can cause me much trouble should it please her to do so. The ordinary exchange of civil interplay has no bindings for her. She is essentially a hologram of millions of particles, hormones and hype, need and greed, wish and dish, bright neon cast in 3-D harmony. There is nothing about the corporeal Brittany Spaniel which has anything to do with who she is.

The second runner-up in the Miss Universe Pageant might feel great pride, and well she should. However, had she done something else that week, still there would have been a second runner-up of the same basic profile.

I am frightened of Brittany Spaniel, for she suggests a lack of responsibility down on my street, someone above the petty law of gravitas. But I am precisely the same to her. I am an image of lights cast on a screen, a character type. I want something from her. An autograph. I would not even register unless I identified a type for her.

That is the sugar that makes the medicine go down. A dumb bum was part of NoshCon one year. He had the juvenile approach to what’s real, man. There are three phases in growing and when you complete them you are back where you began. That’s the way it is. You are obedient and then you are dismissive and caustic and then you see the point of manners and you are polite again.

The bum baited the waiter, who asked standard questions, like, “You doin’ all right?” The bum answered personally, at length. He thought he was being cute, that we’d appreciate him. We did appreciate him for the bore he was. There is a method worked out over many generations of social intercourse, and it allows us to avoid inventing the wheel every meeting by installing and utilizing clich├ęs. They are functional sometimes, buffers and fire-starters. The bum wanted only to flash his authenticity; the rest of us only wanted to order brunch.

It works best when we are from central casting, all of us. I am public, customer, audience, correspondent. Across from me, in the opposite seat but offset to my right, is a Pop Diva. I am an autograph seeker or I am nothing to her. She is resigned to the responsibilities of her role. I do not want to jostle even her pride, although I have no idea what I would do with an autograph of Brittany Spaniel. I smile.

She grudgingly draws something out of her genuine Monica. It is an India ink pen. Hey, wait a minute. It is a tattoo needle! In the manner of one resolved to her fate, she leans forward and begins scratching her name on my right arm in huge swooping motions.

This will not ever leave me. I smile, and say nothing. I know she can hurt me, for she is very powerful, and, like a bear in your tent when you wake, you will be satisfied with only a few permanent scars, because the bear does not have to obey your standards of behavior. My right arm says “BRITTANY SPANIEL” now. She is satisfied; stashes her needle away, folds her arms across her middle, gazes out at the fog.

I am content.