I'm in Amsterdam with my friend Eric, but it looks more like Katmandu. We have a hotel across the river from downtown, and our balcony faces a huge mountain range in the distance. There is another, non-specific friend with us. We'd been in town for a few days already and had been taking all of our walks in the direction of the balcony -- towards the mountains and away from downtown. In fact, we had completely forgotten that downtown Amsterdam exists. All of a sudden one day I remember that there are all sorts of great museums, parks, and hash bars on the other side of the river that I've been completely ignoring. The next day I take two hits of acid and set out to walk to the modern art museum.
All of a sudden I'm near the Eel River in Northern California. I'm walking through the woods carrying a candle. As I walk through the lush trees, I'm mushing up the base of the candle with my left hand. I come to a set of three steps leading down into a large grass field, very much like a soccer field except much larger. I descend the steps, turn around, and place the candle on the top step. The base by now is very mushy, and I have to hold the candle there for a while until it sets. The base of the candle develops a crust, and occasional fissures develop, issuing forth rivulets of molten wax that run down and over my hands. The molten wax is cool. The candle finally sets and I light it.
I turn around and continue into the field. To my left, at one end of the field, is a stage on which sits Crazy Fingers, playing appropriate music, and a van with some sort of logo on the side. We walk in front of the stage and up the center aisle of a huge array of metal folding chairs, all filled with eager music fans, that covers the entire field. I remember the two hits of acid I took and everything becomes much more intense for a few minutes. Eric agrees with me.
We continue up the aisle and the scene suddenly shifts to the inside of a large auditorium. The Jerry Garcia Band is on stage, playing wildly, and we're still walking up the center aisle towards the back. Everything is much the same as before, right down to the metal chairs. We exit through the main doors of the auditorium and find ourselves back in the large field. The auditorium, which looks a lot like the Henry J. Kaiser from the outside, is sitting in the middle of the field. The building looks very small in the center of the immense, desolate field.
I'm watching two insects fuck. They're very large, vaguely grasshopper-like things about two to three feet long. The male is mounting the female from behind while they perch on a branch and I can see his little insect penis glisten with moisture as he withdraws it from the vagina on the female's back. The scene rotates to where I'm looking at the female head-on, and while doing so the male disappears and the female sprouts a human form from her front side. What I now see is Jackie, reclining nude on her elbows, with a giant grasshopper running up her spine. I reach up with my right hand and press into her mons with my palm. It's warm and furry.
I'm hiking up into the mountains with Mark and Grace to see a race of some sort. The next morning we wake up, pack up our stuff, and place it on a floating picnic table. I'm sitting at the table with Grace, floating in the middle of a lake, while Mark sits on another table about 10 feet away. Mark and I are drumming -- me on a big conga. The noise attracts Captain Nemo's Nautilus and it surfaces between us, the blast throwing me to the other end of the table. Grace falls off and I cling to the end as the large waves buffet the picnic table around. Finally it capsizes and all of our stuff goes into the drink. Suddenly it's night and we have to search for our stuff in the dark. Mark and Grace are very mad with me for letting the table capsize. I pull out my waterproof Maglite flashlight, and begin swimming around picking up the floating objects. Most of these are garbage -- all the important stuff has sank to the bottom. I can see very vague dark shapes on the bottom of the lake and swim towards one to retrieve it, my flashlight blinking on and off. I bump into Mark in the darkness and feel his warm, hairy skin.
I'm driving south after Christmas, just meandering through the countryside. After a while I find myself in Athens, GA. It's an incredibly beautiful town with many gothic churches and old buildings, and I feel that warm sensation I get when I'm going to really like a place. I hop onto a subway and take it one stop into downtown Atlanta. I get off the subway, walk a block, and realize I don't remember where I parked. I manage to find a ticket stub in my pocket with the name of the subway station where I got on.
While walking around Atlanta I come across some sort of science experiment building like you might find at LBL. The building is at least five stories tall and circular, with a smaller circle for a satellite. The two pieces are connected at the second story. As I walk in through the entrance between the two parts, I see the large machine in the middle of the larger building. It is very menacing: all dark steel and shiny joints like something James Cameron would come up with. Around its central axis are arranged hundreds of reticulated arms in a tight radial pattern like gear teeth. One side of the arrangement is higher that the other, and although not moving now, it looks like when the gargantuan thing rotates the arms retract as they go up the incline and mesh with another such gear behind a casing.
I leave and walk around some more. I eventually take a cab back to my car, and then another one back into Atlanta.
In Atlanta I meet a group of four or five young students from Montreal. I tell them about my adventure in the circular building and they tell me that it is to be used for evil purposes by the government and we must destroy it. I lead them back to the building and we enter, again through the narrow opening between the buildings. Once inside we begin climbing on the gears, moving slowly around and up the slope towards the casing. As we near the casing we become aware that the machine is about to start up and yell at each other to quickly jump off. One student is too far up and instead slips into the central axial chamber of the machine. We all wonder what will happen to him.
As the machine begins to rotate faster we all reconvene outside under the awning created by the second floor. The machine is rotating extremely fast now and making a huge noise. Along with the noise, however, is a terrible wind sucking us all towards the entrance. We hold our ground, not wanting to be sucked into the whirling gears. Eventually the wind becomes so strong that a nearby car starts moving towards the opening. It slides in, spins around a few times -- smashing into the walls as it does -- and moves back out again. It seems that there is some sort of eddy current to the wind.
Since there seems to be no danger of being sucked into the building, I let myself begin to slide, too. After being slammed into a number of walls, I emerge from the entrance and head towards the smaller building. The car has just bounced off that wall and is heading back my direction. I see its battered front end approach me and jump over it, then make a wide arc as the wind reverses my direction. It's almost like ice skating and I enjoy it very much.
I'm walking through a university campus when suddenly I realize it's the first day of class and I'm late. I pull out my schedule and map and try to find the classroom where I'm supposed to be very shortly. The "classroom", such as it is, is a single wall of concrete about 40 feet long in the middle of the grassy quad. The wall is corrugated so that the students can sit in a line facing the professor at the end of the row. It seems like a silly arrangement, but I keep my mouth shut.
There is only one other student there, at the very front of the wall, and the professor standing right in front of her. I sit down just behind her, on the second corrugation, and the prof tells us that we will be moving the class to another room.
The other room is more traditional, except that it is packed with high tech equipment and computers. The blackboard is a video screen suspended high in one corner of the room. Various full-color diagrams and pictures rotate across the screen. The prof begins to describe the course for us. Although I knew previously that it was a math class, I had no idea what kind of math. It turns out to be focused on conceptual and unusual problems, the type one finds in brain teaser books but much more difficult. Some of the sample problems look very interesting and I'm very excited for the class. We will be using computers heavily to solve the problems, and the prof says something like: "You'll have to mirror the house and do a point-to-point comparison." A 3D image of a house and its mirror image rotate on the video screen. It sounds like fun to me. I scribble some notes and diagrams onto a pad of paper and leave class.
I'm walking back home through the swimming pool. There is a line of people along the left side of the water, not moving. Ahead are four other students standing in the middle of the pool. As I pass the first of the immobile people, one of the four slips behind them and moves up towards me behind the line of "statues" while the remaining three spread out across the width of the pool. I back up and they return to their original positions. I move forward again and they repeat their actions exactly, like clockwork. It's an obvious set up for harassment or mugging, and I climb out of the pool and walk along the concrete. They climb out of the pool, too, but on land I have no trouble dealing with them. I quickly beat them up when they approach me.
The rest of the dream is vague in my memory, buy I know that much of it is spent with them trying to make up and be friends with me and me being continually suspicious.
I'm in an elevator ascending to the platform of an elevated train in Montreal. There is an earthquake -- a fairly big one -- but the elevator continues. Once on the platform, there is an aftershock. Being the only Californian around, I am the only one to seek shelter under an arch. Everyone else just stands there.
Later I'm talking to Alex, relating to him my location during the quake. I tell him that the other man in the elevator ran and cowered in the corner. I then stop, stand confused for a second, and tell him no, not at all: the other man stood still in the middle of the enclosure. I knew that's what he did and can't figure out why I told Alex otherwise.
I'm in Ethiopia with my family, though it seems more lush than I'd expected. We're hiking up a steep hill covered with mangled and emaciated people lying prone on straw mats. I'm carrying a large backpack. We stop and kneel down for tea. I reach out for one of the small chai-filled glasses balanced precariously on the dirt hill and knock one over reaching for the one I want. I'm able to catch it before it spills, though, and set it right again. We sit, sipping tea and looking around. On a wall just uphill from us is a large hanging made from a couple of tattooed human skins sewn together. I then notice that my left knee is pressing into the scalp of an old, bald man -- the spitting image of Ghandi -- who lays in front of me. I lift my knee and apologize profusely, but he says it's alright and I set my knee back down. I can feel the warmth of his brown head, scratchy with stubble.
We continue climbing and are eventually brought into a large meeting hall. We are seated in the back. It seams to be some sort of pan-tribe meeting, with numerous people in full feathered dress. I'm reminded of the United Nations General Assembly.
I'm at the Grateful Dead New Year's show, sitting in the balcony of the Coliseum. The midnight activities begin: a large, black cylinder about 10' in diameter and 20' high rises up towards the ceiling in the middle of the large space. The hundreds of speakers that make up its surface rotate outwards and form a hollow ring that descends again, leaving another black cylinder, this one made up of hundreds of contiguous TV screens. The speakers are issuing a low rumble into the silent building and the screens come to life with overlapping images of old slapstick comedies, four-screen images of Charley Chaplin blending rapidly with the Three Stooges and the Little Rascals.
The images begin to come more slowly as the cylinder of TVs is slowly transformed to a single, small TV in the corner of a room. Eventually the scenes come one at a time and last for almost a minute. Then they stop and the screen instead flashes nonsensical phrases in random locations: "Poultrified Bathtubs" and the like. I think the whole display is pretty neat but slightly weird, and dance happily and absent-mindedly the entire second set.
After the show, Eric and I discuss the event. We decide that the video display was very cool but was not very well suited to the Grateful Dead -- it would have been better somewhere else. Suddenly, I realize what had been so weird about it: Bill Graham was nowhere to be seen.
I'm at the gorilla cage at the zoo. There are four glass windows, and on each one is a small sticker saying "Tap Here" with a target. When you tap on the spot the window vibrates and makes a tone. Each window makes a different tone. When you press one spot and tap another window, they both vibrate at the same frequency. I play around for a while with all the combinations, listening to the sounds. The Zookeeper comes along and tells me not to tap on the glass.
I'm awakened by the sound of human voices. I'm in my truck in Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest. I sit up and part the curtains to my left. There, under a gorgeous blue sky, are a dozen or so vehicles parked amongst the crumbling red hills and juniper. I think for a moment it might be another hunting weekend like I encountered in Virginia, but that doesn't seem right. I look out the other side of my truck and see more cars and a stream of people heading up the wash, all dressed in fine clothes. Craning my neck further, I see an immense mansion in the distance, way up the wash. It is massive, four stories and three wings, with Versailles-style turrets. I can't figure out why I didn't seen it the night before.
A lady approaches my truck then and tries to open the door. Failing, she walks to the back and tries the tailgate. I call out, asking her what she wants. She asks me what I'm doing there and I reply, "I'm sorry, I didn't know there was a wedding. I'll pack up and leave as soon as I can." She says OK and walks back past the front of the truck. Following her with my vision, I see her turn and squat, pointing back across the hood of my truck, and remark in baby-voice to a friend of hers, "Ooooo! Look at the cute Negro child!" She looks a lot like Barbra Streisand.
I sit up and begin getting my things together. My truck is all a mess, like I've been sleeping violently. While putting things back in their proper places I nick myself on a broken beer bottle -- remnants of a party long ago. I push my backpack up against the wheel well and notice for the first time that the side panel of the pickup bed is missing. I become very confused. Suddenly I realize what is going on and instantly wake up. It was a dream.
I'm doing some pruning in the back yard for my Dad. There is a long, shady walkway running the breadth of the house in back, and I'm cutting the surrounding plants back to the edge of the flagstone. As it reaches the right side of the house, the path curves to the left and opens up into a small clearing with a shack. This is the first of our shacks and, though unused for years, is full of old paint cans and the like. I haven't been back here in years and spend some time browsing through the crusted workbenches and the weed-choked clearing.
I clear the path up to this shack and then press on through the brush to the second clearing which I know is there. I haven't been back to the second shack since I was dating Kristi, and the path is severely overgrown. I remember it as a small clearing paved in concrete with a wall-less corrugated metal roof on one side. Under the roof were some tables and rusted old things. The last time I was here some local hunter had started using it as a place to leave dead animals. A huge water buffalo carcass lay right in the middle of the clearing, with smaller bodies all around and bloody flesh strung along the roof edge. It reeked of rotting meat and made my stomach turn.
Eventually I push through the bushes into the clearing. The vegetation is so thick around me that I feel like I'm in the middle of a forest. The clearing and shack are pretty much as I remember them, though the meat is now mostly rotted away. Huge lumps of dark, slushy matter are mounded up on the concrete, now cracked and broken. The liquefied flesh has in places flowed out to form pools of black, tarry goo, bubbly, choked with bone and stringy with meat. The meat hanging from the roof has become desiccated -- the texture of dry seaweed and straw. Clumps hang from the corrugated metal, entwined with a string of Christmas lights and courted by flies. The stench is less than before, but still noticeable.
And there is one other difference. All around, up through the cracks in the concrete, emerging from the black pools, are cacti. Beautiful crystalline forms in green and red, tiny shark's teeth and square-formed crassula, spread out over all, carpeting and growing from the hideous visage like a moss.
Eventually I return to work and put some final touches on my pruning. When finished, I fetch my dad and ask for his approval. He asks me why I didn't prune beyond the first shack and I take him along the path, through the bushes, into the second clearing. He's not sure he ever knew of this clearing before and is amazed to find it here. I tell him that it's really a very lovely place -- especially without the rotting meat! -- and if I had the time and money I'd hire somebody to come in with a bulldozer and scoop up all the liquefied goo. The I could really work on it and turn it into a nice little cactus garden in the woods. He seems amenable to the idea.
I'm sitting on a hill overlooking a bay in Marin County. It's a place I've been to before, but I don't remember when. I'm on a slope of thickly piled needles amongst twisted pines, looking through the trees at the calm waters of the bay. It's opposite shore curves not too far away, flat and grassy and bleeding into shiny mudflats. Another ridge of grass and pines rises up beyond that. This has always been a very peaceful place.
Small waves are breaking on the rocky beach below me. All of a sudden, I see a very large wave approaching. It's almost ten feet high and crashes against the gravel with a great roar. Just behind it is another, bigger wave. Though I am at least 30 feet above the water, the huge wave reaches almost to my feet. I retreat up the hill, astounded, confused, and worried. Still bigger waves are on their way.
I see a fifty-footer sweeping across the bay towards me and quickly find a tree to hide behind. I press myself against the lee side of the massive trunk, feeling the rough and calming bark against my hands. The wave hits the hill with a massive thump and huge volumes of water splash around me, shaking the trees and inundating the ground. Two more waves of comparable size hit the shore and each time I'm surrounded by flying water but manage to retain my hold.
Finally, it is calm again. I make my way down the wet soil to the beach look around. The hill I was sitting on has been reduced to an eroded cliff, its face removed up almost to my sheltering tree, its gentle, pine-covered slope now gray and rutted dirt.
As I survey the area, I'm talking to friends in the future. It's the conversation I will have when I get back to the city. It plays in my head like a soundtrack while scenes of the bay are shown to my eyes: sometimes floating above the whole scene, sometimes walking along the mud flats. We are talking about the disaster, how no one knows what caused it. They seem somewhat reluctant to discuss it. One of them says that some people think it was caused by a nuclear explosion nearby, as evidenced by reports of dead animals. Others think it was merely an earthquake. I don't remember feeling an earthquake.
The conversation quickly moves on to other topics and I become frustrated. No one is at all interested in the disaster or my rather thrilling experience at what must have been near the center of the action. There is no talk of leveled cities or relief programs, no heroic stories of rescue or tragic death. A strange idea occurs to me and my vision falls on a view across the bay and mud flats to a previously unnoticed mobile home park tucked in the trees at the head of the bay. All of the trailers are intact and undamaged.
I'm walking along a road into a small town somewhere in the United States. At a T in the road is a small tourist information building and I stop in and pick up a map and a local paper. While looking through the paper I see an ad for They Might Be Giants -- they'll be playing here tomorrow night! I'm very excited to see them and decide to stick around a day in order to do so. It befuddles me that they'd play such a small town in the middle of nowhere, but...
As I walk out of the information building I meet a man walking down the road to the right. He is tall and burly with a lots of dark hair and a thick beard. He's wearing a maroon plaid shirt and heavy boots -- the look of a mountain-man laborer, possibly a lumberjack. We walk down the road together and chat. He is very friendly and has no idea who TMBG are. I'm very happy to have met him, though, because meeting new and strange folks is one of the primary joys of traveling. I do, however, remain alert for signs of bizarre behavior -- you can never be too careful with strangers in a strange land.
The road we're on curves down the right side of a hill through some beautiful neighborhoods full of old houses and giant trees. Everything is dark brown and green like the pine forests around Seattle in the Winter. To the right I can see more of the town stretch out -- it's much bigger than I thought, more like a small city. I follow our progress on my map.
Soon we come to his home on the left and he invites me in. It's a motel that he's taking care of and fixing up for the coming season. There are half a dozen dark log cabins scattered around an asphalt drive under massive pine trees. There are no lights in any of them and the shade is so thick it feels like night. The first cabin on the left is his -- the office -- and we open the door and walk in. Sitting at a table to the left of the door is his wife. She's doing some work by the light of a single candle, and I can see a couple of maps and stereo photographs -- one of the explosion plume of Mt. Pinnotuba -- on the table in front of her. Their two small children are asleep in the next room.
I sit down on a couch and talk with the man and his wife in the shadowy room. I ask them with a smile if they are geologists and they say yes. I tell them about my geology degree and a little about what I've done since then. Soon, there children wake up and come into the room. They are adorably sleepy and the girl, wearing a white frock with tiny flowers on it, comes and stands right in front of me to say hello. They are speaking French.
Chez Zeus:Writing:Dreams:Part 3
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