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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

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“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)

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Handwriting analysis: An exciting new dreamwork tool

2 Apr
Judy Kaplan flyer

Flyer announcing Judy Kaplan's workshop

Like astrology, handwriting analysis had vaguely interested me but left me too skeptical to want to tack its complexities. Unable to make a fair evaluation with such limited knowledge, I’ve remained agnostic.

Enter Judy Kaplan (thewriteme.com), who conducted a workshop in Manhattan in December and will be repeating it at the annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams in Berkeley, Calif. (June 22–26: ASDreams.org/2012). I predict buzz, and a lot of it. Judy adds a tool to dream understanding that’s fresh and original—and can open up whole new associative directions by zeroing in on even a few individual letters. Continue reading

Montague Ullman’s influence lingers at publication parties

11 Mar

On what’s probably the last day of vaguely winter weather of 2011–2012’s vaguely winter season, I’m getting back to work here by writing about a holiday party I attended at the other end of the season, in December.  More to the point, about the books I received from the party host, Cosimo.

Appreciating Dreams, by Montague Ullman

Cosimo, a specialty publisher in New York City (whose owner is a Dutch expat),  does “publishing on demand” in several categories. In 2006, Cosimo republished Appreciating Dreams,

in connection with a seminal 2005 talk by psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Montague Ullman (1916–2008). The Ullman Method of group dreamwork has widely influenced how people work together to understand their dreams. Appreciating Dreams is the “manual” for the Ullman Method.

Montague Ullman, on his site maintained by Markku Siivola

Montague Ullman, on his site maintained by Markku Siivola's

Understanding Dreams, by Markku SiivolaCosimo gave out gift bags at the party, and some of the bags included a just-published book by Finnish psychologist Markku Siivola, a friend and student of Monte Ullman’s. That book is a restatement and introduction of the Ullman Method, titled Understanding Dreams: The Gateway to Dreams Without Dream Interpretation. Markku and I met at one of the weekend-long dream group dream leadership trainings that Monte used to conduct in his home in Ardsley, New York. That weekend afforded a convincing demonstration of the Ullman Method’s ability to be just as insight-inducing and satisfying for group members as for the person whose dream they’re working on: at some point in using the Ullman Method on a dream I’d brought, both Markku and I were deeply affected, each for our own reasons. So I’m particularly looking forward to reading his take on the method. Continue reading

The mystical meaning of Jacob’s ladder

12 Dec

"El sueño de Jacob," by José de Ribera [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“El sueño de Jacob,” by José de Ribera [Public domain]

Dr. Eitan Fishbane is a prolific professor (three books published in the past month or so) at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. His specialty is the history of mysticism, including medieval Kabbalah.

In recent months I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot about JTS, which is how I became aware of Dr. Fishbane’s December 8 article in The Huffington Post,From Darkness to Light: Entering Holy Time.” It’s a powerful and lovely commentary on “Divinity as Light . . . an idea that has been developed extensively in the history of religion and in the history of mysticism in particular. Mystics of many different religions (including Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism) have described God as a radiant Being, a force that shines and illuminates all of reality.” Thus the fall and winter festivals of light—such as Hannukah, Christmas, and Diwali—have implications of our inner struggle against darkness as much as our primal, physical fear of daylight’s disappearance.

This concept played a pivotal part in my own opening to other dimensions of consciousness many years ago, before such topics had their own huge sections in the  average bookstore—an openness that allowed me eventually to accept the possibility of psi dreaming, and later to experience dreams of seemingly paranormal origin extensively. I was taking an undergraduate, rocks-for-jocks–level undergraduate course on the theory of relativity, and I wrote my final paper on the theory’s epistemological implications—a process that shook up my understanding of reality so drastically that I was physically shaking the whole weekend I worked on it. What I realized was that if two points in time can coexist, as suggested by Einstein’s thought experiment of two clocks showing valid but different times, then all points in time can coexist. It was true only at the speed of light—and according to the mystics, God is Light. Or (And?), some say: Consciousness. Continue reading

Freudian ordure

11 Apr

“Bathroom” dreams are one of those types that supposedly happen in everyone’s dream life, and synchronistically/precognitively, I had one this morning, although it wasn’t set in a bathroom.

No details will be forthcoming here, but I will explain why the dream was synchronistic. In one of the fits of filing with which I’ve been attacking an old and dreary pile of papers, I came across half an article I’d cut out of The New York Observer‘s culture pages at some indeterminate date earlier this year. The exhibit described, of art about math, still sounds interesting, so I went online to determine whether I’ve missed it. I haven’t: it’s “Proofs and Refutations” at David Zwirner Gallery, through April 23.

The first half of the article, which I didn’t cut out, is about an exhibit at the Algus Greenspon Gallery, also through April 23. Says Observer writer Will Heinrich (“The Offal Truth,” March 22, 2011):

Since the 1990s, inspired by a reference in The Interpretation of Dreams, the English performance artist Stuart Brisley has been constructing a “Collection of Ordure.” Several prime examples of his collection—one is tempted to say “ripe,” but they’re odorless—are on display in the Village…

 

Taiko & dance, and then a tsunami dream

3 Apr

Two weeks after the multiple disasters in Japan, they finally began seeping into my dreams, although mildly. The first was the 3/30/11 dream that was the subject of my most recent post. It was essentially a snapshot of a small-scale (sort of miniature) nuclear plant with spherical towers (more follow-up on those in a later post).

This morning (4/2, that is) I had another dream reflecting Japan’s disasters. I don’t suggest that it has any meaning for the situation in Japan—it certainly doesn’t seem on the face of it to be a healing dream; much more likely the meaning is entirely personal.

This dream was clearly influenced by the performance I attended Thursday night (3/31) by Tamagawa University Taiko & Dance. It was a fabulous performance of traditional Japanese drumming and dance inflected with the students’ modern affinities, including jazz and hip-hop. More visibly, the style turns drumming into aerobic exercise. Continue reading

Nuclear power dream and Tokyo workshops

31 Mar

Had my first nuclear power dream this morning, Wednesday, 3/30 (my first remembered dream of any type to do with the ongoing earthquake/tsunami/meltdown disaster in Japan). It was extremely vague—two spherical towers with a dark gray waffle pattern, appearing how the Indian Point plant 40 miles of New York City seems to look in recent TV news stories about its safety or lack thereof.

Indian Point nuclear power plant—Joe Larese/The Journal News, on LoHud.com

Indian Point nuclear power plant—Joe Larese/The Journal News, on LoHud.com

Except that in my dream, the plant fits into my bathroom and the towers are truly spherical (which I thought they were, until looking for an image); in waking reality, they’re cyclindrical with spherical tops. The feeling in the dream is a sort of dull resignation: “Of course this was coming, but now that it’s here, it’s hard to take in.”

My friend Misa Tsuruta, who lived in Manhattan and then Brooklyn for much of the time I’ve known her, returned to Tokyo a couple of years ago. She’s the International Association for the Study of Dreams’s regional co-representative for Japan. She returns to New York City a couple of times a year, because she’s pursuing a Ph.D. in cognitive, social, and developmental psychology at the New School. Last May, she gave an informal talk for IASD-NYC about dreams in Japanese culture.

Misa is putting together  a series of art therapy workshops for children traumatized by recent events in Japan. The World Dreams Peace Bridge has a PayPal button for donating toward Misa’s workshop supplies and expenses. Please consider supporting Misa in this effort.