Dream Sequence #27

Here's the complete accounting from dream(s) of Friday, February 13, 2009:

Begin - Roll Tape [1]

I'd been staring through a window of some kind of music studio for quite a while; minutes or hours, I didn't know and it didn't much matter since I was surely dreaming. I was cognizant that I "possessed knowledge" though (whatever that meant). I was aware that the muffled sounds had drawn me to a place deep inside my own brain and there was much work to accomplish.

As I gazed I wondered whether this was all about me this time or if I was sent as witness to someone else's moment--if I was consumer or producer. I wasn't sure if I had a specific role, but there was action and I yearned for a piece even though I understood that this dream had rules, limits, boundaries and responsibilities, something Dave Wave taught me like 20 years back. [2]

It was mostly dark where I stood in what was a derelict public high school building. I didn't know why I knew this, it was just one of those obvious pre-loaded dream facts. There were the usual clues: the building was in horrid disrepair and looked to have been abandoned for many years. It smelled of mold and ratty shit. But there was an ambiance of institutional history that deserved respect.

Yet within the studio there were fascinations. Vintage and futuristic instruments, tube amps, computers, and sheet music amid leisurely accouterments. There was a bunch of improbable shit not yet created that I couldn't begin to describe. The studio lighting had the incandescent warmth that tapestries, knobs, dials, and assorted freakery reflected and absorbed like Jerusalem's pool of Bethesda in direct contrast to the dank cold where I stood. The studio was a microcosm within and I could feel heat through the glass. This could have been hell or heaven.

The characters inside hadn't yet noticed me, but during the time I watched I had been amazed and mesmerized. The sounds, even muffled, were scintillating but also extremely familiar to me. The music was so resonant and intuitive it could have been, or should have been the sounds I was supposed to create. Or these were the sounds that I have never made and would never make, bottlenecked somewhere impossible to emerge. Art locked away in compartments with memories of abuse, age old lies, and hatred of self, family, and people. Maybe I was blown the fuck away by cacophonous sounds of my brain's own purgatory.

There was one individual I took notice of, a leader holding everything together inside. A musician so loose and so happy and so rhythmically and sonically meticulous that I failed to differentiate between seething jealousy and star-fucked awe. He was moving between instruments and from sequencer to pedal board like goddamn Gottfried Leibniz at a Philip K. Dick convention. He was...the joy and he was the fury; all arms and legs and hair and affirming nods to others who caught cues better than Mahavishnu's first orchestra.

What I was witnessing, I surmised, was the type of once-in-a-lifetime elation that extremely profound artists only momentarily experience--perhaps only once!--then spend the rest of their miserable existences chasing like crack's first hit. And...who were the talented fucking musicians playing so amazingly tight and so relentlessly hard and with as much detached temperament as Tenmen? And how did this school, this piece of shit abandoned ghetto dump have such an incredible studio at its heart?

In an instant I knew who the mastermind was. I recognized an unmistakable riff segue from keyboard to guitars and then I was able to identify who I was watching. It was dude...uh, you know, dude from Fiery Furnaces? What's his name? Matthew...Eleanor's brother. I had seen them before, I knew their shit well. I knew who it was making the music inside my brain, in my dream. This was now beginning to make some sense. I was starting to remember again.


Changing Tense: I watch for a while longer and when one of the performers leaves the studio, the door hangs open. Then I'm in the doorway; I'm there instantly like in a film edit. Sounds switch from a muffled mono to stereophonic surround. The difference in context is kind of like when Dorothy stepped out of her black & white tornado blown hovel into the Technicolor hi-sat soundstage land of Oz, but for all of the senses. I smell the musk, sweat, weed, and candles from within the studio. I touch a velvet chair to prove to myself that I'm alive and awake. There's a too-bright aquarium with many fucked up things that couldn't possibly exist like two-headed fish with human baby faces, currents of varying color, and little underwater villages of tiny scuba-clad humans. There are gadgets, toys, art, and little creatures everywhere I look. I suppress surprise. I taste blood.

Once everyone notices that I'm standing in the doorway all sounds abruptly stop. So sudden it's like cutting headphone cables with hedge clippers, there is no fade. Then the too-vivid colors flatten and Matt's affect morphs from exuberance into something the anchor opposite. He becomes introverted, withdrawn, sullen even. He lets his hair fall over his eyes. The others fade away. There's recognition and despair. Fear is present.

I offer, "hi, you're Matt! Friederberger, right?"

"It's Matthew" he says quietly, slightly annoyed, making no eye contact, "Friedberger. Why are you here?" he demands softly.

I urgently want to tell him why I'm there, the honest to God truth, that I'm there because this place deep inside my head, in my dream, is where I possess all knowledge and control. I wanted to explain that it was now the time for me to execute orders to.... But recognizing a similarity in sensitivity to my own, I empathetically realize that, perhaps, the moment was passing.

"Yeah, sorry, I do know, actually," I divulge. "It's Matthew Friedberger, I know of you.... I am Tej and I just wanted to tell you that I understand what you're doing here, I have all of you and Eleanor's records. I respect your shit, I get it. I know! But...." For some reason I cannot tell him anything more. The metaphoric window had shut.

He eases even as I realize that this had not become a time to push or bully, so I say, "But I'm not here to bother." I turn and walk back toward the exterior studio window where I first watched. The door whooshes closed as Matthew Friedberger, pushing his hair from his eyes, says, "But..." I look inside the window and the studio is filled with water like the aquarium.

Moving the hair from his face, Matthew gurgles, "wait!" Bubbles float upward.

*Poof!* Alarms! Alarms sound everywhere. School alarms, bells-not-buzzer alarms. The rapid repeating pattern of bells that were used for fire drills when we were kids. There is no fire! There is never a fire! Some kind of announcement begins, garbled and drowned by the bells. Something about...a bomb threat?! Something about "orderly evacuation."*Flash!*

Awakeness: I'm in a hallway in a busy office, walking. The individual offices and cubicle pens are nearly identical with desks facing walls, dying plants, wholly ignored family portraits, and people dressed in the telltale threads of worker bee corporate America; Dockers and pantyhose and terrible shoes. People all pretending to be so very busy since it is, after all, "these economic times." Phones ring, copy machines whir, there is the buzz of conversation. I hear the distinct sound of typewriters typing in this busy office. But nobody looks toward me so I must be OK. I must belong so I just keep walking like when your stoned and you hope no one figures it out while you wonder if you have on pants.

The office where I instinctively stop is different than the rest. Conspicuous. All tinted glass to the hallway and...leafy inside. I stand at a sliding glass door and wait for it to open because I apparently know an entry protocol or I am expected or something. Inside, it is as humid and warm as a greenhouse, comforting and womblike, oddly opposite the dry cool of the outer offices. Here plants thrive in air rancid with the decay of organic matter. Beakers bubble. An LP plays on a turntable. Mice scramble.

Turning to me from the stereo hi-fi unit, my old colleague Mike Wise stands there wearing my blue cardigan, shirt untucked, unkempt hair, and wearing his idiosyncratic migraine-tamping sunglasses. I noticed the floor has not been cleaned since forever because the office cleaners are never allowed in this place (obvious pre-loaded dream fact). There are dried leaves, paper clips, clumps of soil, and garbage on rugs atop long-faded industrial carpet. Mike looks me up and down with that half-committed smile of his, knowing already.

"Well?" Mike began, "did you do it?"

"No, not yet. But I will," I answer honestly but way too quickly as I sit in a worn leather chair.

"Good. Don't worry, we have time. I'll send you back." he laughs and turns back to attend to the turntable.

Scratchy symphonic music plays softly.

He says evenly, "You know you also have to kill Sajiv for misdeeds, right?"

I reply, "Yep. I know..." because I did know that Sajiv must die.


Stop Tape - End: 3:49 a.m.

[1] "The Pony Act" from Her We Go by the Kingdom of Leisure, 2009
[2] "She Has No Idea" from Music to Nod-off To, Preamble or This is Just a Test Part I by Big Dave Wave, 2005
Photograph by Richey Powell, Berkeley