Archive | April, 2012

From a quilt to a dream: Double image

30 Apr

My most recent post was about a quilt by Luke Haynes that depicts, in a single image resembling a double exposure, both Jay-Z and Kanye West. I wrote the post on 4/27 and yesterday added the observation that this effect is “so like a phenomenon that’s common in dreams—the conviction that something is both this and that. An apple and a tomato. Daytime and nighttime. Jay-Z and Kanye.” Here’s a slightly different view than what I used in the previous post; this one shows the double-image effect better.

Luke Haynes's quilt, different view

Luke Haynes's quilt, different view
(image from LukeHaynes.com)

(FYI, I’m confused about the title; on the other view, it’s given as “The Throne,” but on this one it might be “Rags to Riches.”)

This morning my dreaming mind provided me with an example, in which the person I’m talking to is two ex–significant others from waking life in one dream person. It can be difficult to get this type of double exposure down in writing, because the image and identification get slippery: At any given moment, is the dream character K. or is he L.? He’s both.

After-Sick Coastal Drive (4/30/12)

At home: a many-story, crystalline atrium. It’s gently lit throughout; the effect is uneven, because of its crystalline angles. For an atrium, it’s relatively narrow. It’s nighttime. Continue reading

Stuff I wouldn’t be looking at if it weren’t for dreams

27 Apr

More hip-hop, only this time a visual interpretation. My last two posts (here and here) explain how I started following a hip-hop thread of associations in waking life because of a dream in which there’s a plate on a table that, when I woke, reminded me of a radio studio turntable.

Granted, I would have looked at Luke Haynes‘s website anyway, because tomorrow (4/28) he’s giving a talk at the American Folk Art Museum, across from Lincoln Center, and I’ll be too busy with other things to get to it. The museum event write-up says Haynes’s “background as an architect deeply informs his quilts” and that he “unites traditional quilt patterns with bold photo-based images.”

Haynes was living in Seattle at the time he wrote his About page, but apparently he lives in Brooklyn now. And he has a show going on at Eli Alexander Gallery, 15 East 27th Street, through May 21, so I’ll try to get to that instead.

But if it weren’t for a dream-inspired intellectual (if not visceral) interest in hip-hop, I wouldn’t have spent any time looking at Haynes’s Jay-Z/Kanye quilt (Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, is a Brooklynite):

"The Throne," quilt by Luke Haynes

"The Throne," quilt by Luke Haynes
(image from LukeHaynes.com)

Continue reading

Food as dream

26 Apr
Empellón Cocina

Empellón Cocina (photo from the restaurant's website)

The premise of this blog has been to explore how New York affects our dreams, how our dreams can help us appreciate New York, and what we can discover about dreaming while out and about in New York. Now, in “A Taste of Mexico, as in a Dream” in the April 24 Dining & Wine section of The New York Times, Pete Wells demonstrates one more angle: how the dreaming experience can help us express our experience of New York.

Wells reviews the restaurant Empellón Cocina in the East Village, whose chef is Alex Stupak:

A 32-year-old former pastry chef, he has read the classic cookbooks and spent some time in Oaxaca and the Yucatán, but he hasn’t studied this intricate and endlessly complex cuisine with an anthropologist’s intensity, as Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy have. If everybody with a similarly brief education opened a Mexican restaurant, the world would be full of foolish empanadas, pretentious moles and goofy adobos.

But some beginning students of a language can wake up to discover they’ve been dreaming in it at night. At its best, Mr. Stupak’s cooking at Empellón Cocina resembles the food of Mexico the way a dream resembles life. Everything looks familiar, except that the light seems to be coming from a different direction, and did that river always run right through the bedroom?

When you slice into a gordita, does it always gush with warm egg yolk? The one here does, the deep-fried flying saucer of masa giving way to the yellow yolk that curls around smoked plantains and a crumble of chorizo.

There are a few low notes on the menu, but overall, Wells seems intrigued and satisfied with the results of Stupak’s relatively casual education in Mexican cuisine.

In the wake of my Hollis hip-hop post

24 Apr

Except where noted, all of this happened on April 18, the day of my most recent post, about a dream that led me to watch a DVD about the Queens neighorhood of Hollis, birthplace of hip-hop (“What my German great-aunt and Run-DMC have in common“).

Sketch of a plate on a desk in my November 11, 2010, dream

Sketch of a plate on a desk in my November 11, 2010, dream, which reminded me of a radio studio turntable

"2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master Jay"

(image from Amazon.com)

What happened between the time I started writing that post earlier in the day and the time I published it is an example of the small coincidences that can add up to a complex web of synchronicity:

"Free Stylin': How Hip Hop Changed the Fashion Industry," by Elena Romero

(image from Amazon.com)

  • I turned on the TV while I worked out and came in on the middle of a movie (Tell Seconds to Hell) about German soldiers in Berlin at the end of World War II forming a bomb disposal squad to rid the city of unexploded bombsContinue reading

What my German great-aunt and Run-DMC have in common

18 Apr

Hollis. It’s a neighborhood in Queens that the Real Estate section of The New York Times on April 12 described as “Serene, for All Its Hip-Hop Cred.” Jake Mooney writes:

Since1962, Anita Friday’s home on 205th Place has provided her a vantage point for the waves of change that have come in succession to Hollis, her family’s corner of Queens. At the start the population was predominantly white, said Ms. Friday, 80, who is black, and who recalled that over her first decade as a resident, most of her white neighbors moved away to Long Island.

Not my German-immigrant great-aunt. She was already in her 70s or 80s when Anita Friday moved to the area, and she spent the last part of her life there. In the ever-changing ethnic makeup that is New York, Hollis’s more recent residents “have come from farther-flung places: Haiti, Panama, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic,” says the Times. Ava Winston came only from somewhere else in Queens, but in Hollis, she lives in what has become, post–German great aunt, a famous place:

A few blocks away on 205th Street…Ms. Winston’s street is also known as Run-DMC JMJ Way, after the rap group, which made the neighborhood famous with songs like “Christmas in Hollis” and “Hollis Crew.” Joseph Simmons, known in the group as Run, grew up on the street, as did his brother Russell Simmons, the music impresario, who has recalled Hollis in the 1970s and ’80s as a middle-class neighborhood increasingly plagued by drugs. Run-DMC’s D.J., Jason Mizell — also known as Jam Master Jay — lived in the area until his murder in 2002 in nearby Jamaica. One side of the Hollis Superette, on the corner of 205th Street and Hollis Avenue, bears a mural commemorating his life.

(That difference between Street, as in Ava Winston’s block, and Place, as in Anita Friday’s, trips up just about any driver new to Queens. Perhaps the subject of another post, if I ever come across a dream of being lost and bewildered by Streets, Places, Roads, Avenues, Terraces, and Circles.)

Google map of Hollis

Google map of Hollis

Hollis has been known for a long time now as the birthplace of hip-hop, but despite  my pretty eclectic interest in music, particularly music of a variety of cultures, I haven’t warmed to hip-hop.

It took a dream to make me check out a DVD I kept seeing on the shelf of my local library branch, and which brought me more up to date on Hollis: 2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master J.  In the video’s interviews, there’s a lot about what Hollis means to JMJ’s friends. If I recall correctly (it’s been a year and a half since I watched it), included among the memories are Hollis Superette, its owner, and its mural.

"2 Turntables and a Microphone: The Life and Death of Jam Master Jay"

(image from Amazon.com

Continue reading

Lao Textiles

14 Apr
Lao Textiles / Carol Cassidy weaving (Topic Asia Magazine)

Lao Textiles / Carol Cassidy weaving (Topic Asia Magazine)

Synchronicity is an overused word, and the fact that Carl Jung defined it as “meaningful coincidence” makes it seem even more overused than it is. “Meaningful” is in the eye of the beholder—a synchronicity is the correspondence of some external event with an internal state of the psyche, and therefore extremely individual, and not easily shared.

I think what follows, though, is one of the more convincing ones.

Here I was, at 1:30 this afternoon, doing a quick check of the wonderful ClubFreetime site to see if there are any events I’ll want to go to tomorrow. I had no plans to go into Manhattan today, but I skimmed today’s listings anyway.

Whoa. In the shop of the Asia Society, Park Avenue at 70th Street, 12:30 to 3:30: “Woven Silks of Laos with Designer Carol Cassidy.” Continue reading

Root shock

14 Apr

[This post was originally titled “Where (Somebody) Hamlet led me next”]

I know these “little synchronicities” can seem to get out of control, but I like to record them, because the accumulation becomes impressive even if the individual connections are so-so.

I wanted to dress up the long “‘Hamlet’ and hamlets” post with one more image, so I went looking for one of the green road signs mentioned in the Wikipedia article that I quoted from (search term: hamlet “road sign” “new york”). What I got instead was a lot of links to “Newest Hacked Road Sign Warns Of New York’s Imminent Demise” and simpler variations on the theme “New York Is Dying.” This strikes me as a small synchronicity because, just yesterday, as I was searching the New York Daily News site for something entirely different, I came upon a small, oddly curated slide show titled “New York nabes dying.” The fact that this expresses the feeling that’s had me thinking of leaving for a long time is a bigger synchronicity (“meaningful coincidence”) for me.

It’s a feeling apparently shared by a number of people who blogged about the hacked “New York is dying” electronic road sign (and made T-shirts, maternity shirts, and tank tops of it). One blogger agreeing with the sign’s sentiment linked to a 2009 conference on a concept I’d never heard of before: the Serial Displacement Conference of the New York Academy of Medicine Working Group on Serial Displacement. Continue reading

“Hamlet” and hamlets

14 Apr

I woke this morning (4/13)

hearing the name (Something) Hamlet, probably at the end of a brief conversation between a man and a young-ish blonde woman with a high ponytail.

In other words, “Hamlet” was someone’s last name in my dream.

A series of associations came to mind right away: 1> Shakespeare’s play. 2> I have a videotape I bought recently titled Discovering Hamlet. (Then later) 3> I’d love to be able to get my videos, cassettes, and LPs recorded to a hard drive before I have to move. It would make one less set of stuff to pack.

That “have to move” part was roaring through my mind as I went to sleep (or attempted to) last night. I’d called my landlord in the afternoon to report a couple of things that need taking care of, and got his secretary, as usual. “He hasn’t talked to you?” she asked. Um, no. Then she dropped this bomb: “He wants to sell the apartment.” Continue reading

Sound sampling and Sao

5 Apr

Googling something tonight that was related only in the sense it involved the arts, I happened upon a link to The Knights’ Found Sound Project – WQXR (WQXR being the main classical radio station in NYC).

The Knights, WQXR’s ensemble-in-residence, want your help for an upcoming performance of John Adams’s composition, Christian Zeal and Activity.

In this hymn-like piece for string orchestra, Adams encourages performers to place “sonic found objects” into the composition. The composer’s original recording from 1973 included a recorded sample of a preacher speaking. But over the years, performers have incorporated all sorts of recorded sounds from their lives. We want you to approach using all your powers of imagination.

The Knights don’t actually want our help anymore, because the deadline for sound submissions was March 16 and the performance was on April 4. But being always on the lookout now for how New York and dreams interact, I thought (before I noticed that deadline) about who among the dreamers I know works with found sound.

That took only moment, because the late Shawn Allen O’Neal (also known as Sao) has been on my mind, and the subject of quite a few of my emails, recently.

Shawn Allen O'Neal (Sao)

Shawn Allen O'Neal (Sao)

Continue reading

Madison Avenue elevator tragedy

3 Apr

News of the elevator accident in a Madison Avenue building that crushed a woman to death in December made me shudder, as it probably did most New Yorkers, since most of us take elevators as part of everyday life here.

Sunday’s New York Daily News (4/1/12) had this story: “Mechanic Michael Hill, who worked on elevator that killed Suzanne Hart, says he’s haunted by her death.”

The mechanic who worked on an elevator that later crushed an advertising executive can’t get the image of her trapped body out of his mind.

Breaking his silence for the first time, mechanic Michael Hill told the Daily News he dreams of the horrifying day when the midtown elevator suddenly lurched upward, killing Suzanne Hart….

Hill insists he has been wrongly accused in the Dec. 14 incident and says investigators are downplaying evidence of other bizarre problems with the fateful lift.

The trauma of that event is likely a heavy burden to all involved–the woman’s family and friends, the witnesses, building occupants, and building and elevator staff. It’s another event that renews my gratitude for the many years I’ve lived in NYC physically unscathed.

For anyone not so fortunate, the Nightmare Help web page of the International Association for the Study of Dream offers some resources to help deal with trauma-related dreams: http://asdreams.org/nightmare/index.htm