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

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

  • 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 bombs
Bomb disposal in "Ten Seconds from Hell"

Bomb disposal in "Ten Seconds from Hell"
(image from

  • …which reminded me that, earlier in the week, I had done some reading online about unexploded ordnance because of my most recent post before the Hollis one. about Carol Cassidy of Lao Textiles, who, as described on Imagine Peace, also directs “a Cambodian weave workshop set up to train amputees who are victims of the hundred thousand land mines still bedeviling this war torn land” of Cambodia. (That post led to its own impressive set of meaningful coincidences, which I plan to write about in a future post.)
Markers on unexploded land mines in Cambodia

Markers on unexploded land mines (photo from Cambodia Land Mine Centre)

  • The movie ended with spoken and superimposed words to this effect: “These six men breathed new life into the phoenix that rose from the ashes,” referring to making Berlin safe post-war so it could rebuild…
Closing scene of "Ten Seconds to Hell"

Closing scene of "Ten Seconds to Hell" (image from Internet Movie Cars Database)

  • …which I saw less than an hour after bookmarking another event listing on, for a discussion, at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Library (the main NYPL library building), of the art book Diane Victor: Burning the Candle at Both Ends. According to the description on the publisher’s website:

This book has been published to co-incide with the exhibition of Diane Victor’s work at the University of Johannesburg, Ashes to Ashes and Smoke to Dust, which ran from mid-November 2011 to the end of January 2012….

Cover of "Diane Victor: Burning the Candle at Both Ends"

(image from David Krut Publishing)

The second part of the exhibition is the continuation of the process of working with smoke and ash where she is furthering her exploration into the potential of book ash as a drawing material. The ash drawings featured here are sourced from specific “lost words” from documents and texts which are burnt, dusted and fixed onto paper.

  • …which, although I didn’t think about it until I wrote the Diane Victor bullet point immediately above, reminded me that the day before, I had encountered the following image from a conference on lost texts sponsored by the Graduate School Student Organization at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in Manhattan.
Losts Texts conference at The Jewish Theological Seminary

(image from

I’d already known about the conference, but I hadn’t previously seen the poster. The black-and-white, sketchy style of the illustration seemed to echo that of the Burning the Candle cover above. That association with ashes in turn brought to mind a book recently published by JTS Professor David E. Fishman, Nazi-Looted Jewish Archives in Moscow: A Guide to Jewish Historical and Cultural Collections in the Russian State Military Archive. The archives in question are those of synagogues and other Jewish organizations. The Nazis also looted and destroyed so-called “decadent” art, and banned many forms of culture.

"Nazi-Looted Archives," by David E. Fishman

"Nazi-Looted Archives," by David E. Fishman
(image from

(On April 22, I remembered to check the program for the Lost Texts conference, and there is one title that further resonates here: a paper by JTS student Simon Dicks, “History from the Ashes: Burned Texts in Ancient Judaism.”)

  • Not yielding associations to any of the above, but full of association to the present time: The title I gave the November 11, 2010, dream in which the plate>turntable appears is “Table Neatly Set in a Tiny Room”—a dorm room in which confusion arises about who will be my roommate and how many roommates I have. At least four features of the dream closely track my situation for an upcoming trip in my waking life now, a year and a half later:
    • a male roommate
    • a roommate who’s disappeared
    • a shifting number of roommates / possibility of three roommates
    • neatness and orderliness of the room

This close resonance between a dream from the past and my current life seems bizarre, and yet it’s happened quite a few times before, and even over much longer periods. The longer the time interval, the more skeptical I’ll be, but the associations are often too specific or too multipronged to dismiss.

More happened on 4/22/12:

  • I woke with a dream of a fire in a theater building, apparently in downtown Manhattan. The ashes items from 4/18 could well have helped instigate that dream. (My first association, actually, was the Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago in 1903, which killed more than 600 people. Looking for a link to use now, 4/24, I see that a Chicago Tribune article recalling the fire starts with the same phoenix metaphor that ends Ten Seconds to Hell: “A safety standard for theaters and public buildings rises from the ashes of the Iroquois Theater…”)
  • Reading the April 23 edition of the New York Observer, I then saw an ad for a play at the Theater for the New City, 155 1st Avenue (the East Village: downtown Manhattan). The title is Pinocchio’s Ashes, by Danish playwright Jokum Rohde. Back Stage reviewer Karl Levett explains the premise: The “setting is the city of Kongstad in an unnamed totalitarian state. Here Prohibition reigns, outlawing not liquor but art. Yes, there’s a national ban on art and culture, with severe punishments for those found practicing any such endeavors.”
"Pinocchio's Ashes" poster on Facebook

"Pinocchio's Ashes" poster on Facebook
(image by Scandinavian American Theater Company)

One Response to “In the wake of my Hollis hip-hop post”


  1. Stuff I wouldn’t be looking at if it weren’t for dreams « - April 27, 2012

    […] I’ve been writing a lot about on this blog recently (such as my most recent post, “In the wake of my Hollis hip-hop post“), I find that the waking mind continues to pick up on these cues of past […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: