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Dude-a-palooza

25 Aug
Maude Lebowski bowls

“Your roll, New York,” says Lebowski Fest. Maude Lebowski (Julianne Moore), daughter of the Big Lebowski, not the Dude Lebowski.

This weekend Lebowski Fest was scheduled to bring fans of the Dude (Jeff Bridges in the The Big Lebowski [1998]) to Lucky Strike Lanes on far-west 42nd Street and Gramercy Theater on East 23rd Street. Although I have no reason to think the festival didn’t take place, I can’t say with certainty that it did, because I’m not a big enough Lebowski fan to have taken part. My lack of fandom for what’s been called a stoner masterpiece is of no consequence; easily enough without it, “The Dude abides.”

I had to do a Google search to be reminded whether there were any dream scenes. I have a poor enough memory for plot details, and this is a Coen Brothers movie about which, according to Wikipedia quoting an Indie Wire article, “Joel Coen stated: ‘We wanted to do a [Raymond] Chandler kind of story – how it moves episodically, and deals with the characters trying to unravel a mystery, as well as having a hopelessly complex plot that’s ultimately unimportant.'” As Roger Ebert described it, “‘The Big Lebowski’ is about an attitude, not a story….Only a steady hand in the midst of madness allows them [the Coen Brothers] to hold it all together–that, and the delirious richness of their visual approach.” All of which explains this film’s cult-fest worthiness. (Ebert’s review provides interesting backstory about the Coens’ inspiration for the main character.)

It turns out there are at least two major dream scenes, beloved of fans. One is a flying dream. The other is a Busby Berkeley* type of dance number to  Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition (1968). Continue reading

The Creative Power of Dreams: conference report

31 May

With abject apologies to Ira Barouch, from whom I solicited this guest post, at long last I’m posting his report on the New England Regional Conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD)—which took place one long year (and a few days) ago. Two main reasons for my delay: The article happened to come to me just a few days after I had to move out of the apartment I had lived in for 26 years because my landlord needed to sell it (and I was still deep in trying to find a new place), so life was rather chaotic for quite a while. Also, a synchronistic typo occurred as I was doing a light edit of the piece. It occurred in the paragraph after the one on Kabbalah and dreams. Intending to type an em dash (Alt-0-1-5-1 on the number keypad when using Windows), I accidentally typed something I never have before or since: ק, a character I recognized as a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Because I’d heard of the Kabbalistic use of a numerology system called gematria, I emailed the friend who had told me about it for help in deciphering a potential gematria meaning of this little synchronicity. He was on his way out of the country, and at that point, I’m embarrassed to say, procrastination set in on both following up with him later and getting Ira’s post posted.

A small saving grace for me: Ira’s report has timeless relevance because of the subject matter. It also has timely relevance, because several of the people who presented at the New England conference will be presenting at IASD’s annual conference next week (June 3–8) in Berkeley, California: Linda Yael Schiller, Tzivia Gover, Curtiss Hoffman, and Deirdre Barrett. So Ira’s report can serve as a bit of a preview of the upcoming conference. Continue reading

It’s gonna be a strange and wonderful weekend

2 Aug

Trying to be disciplined about staying on theme here, I don’t indulge much in posts about things that are dreamlike. But a selection of activities in New York City this weekend (and honestly, I’ve searched only Thursday and Friday at ClubFreetime.com) is too quirky to pass up commenting. And anyway, there really are some dream-titled ones among these events.

And me with a camera that’s refusing to work. Assuming I’m in town, I plan to get to as much as I can; thanks to the apartment search that’s become never-ending (and no further word from my landlord), I’ve been missing summer in a big way! Regardless — If you get to any of these events and find truly dream-related material (or have resulting dreams yourself), report back here!!

THURSDAY

Arctic Summer, Part 1, National Museum of the American Indian,several times during the day (and Friday, too)

The Owl and the Lemming: The quick-witted lemming outwits the hungry owl. Puppets made of sealskin by local artists act out this Inuit folktale.

The Twenty-First Annual World Eskimo-Indian Olympics: Competitions in strength, agility and traditional skills highlight this 1982 event. We see such events as the two-foot and one-foot high kicks, the knuckle hop, the blanket toss and the four-man carry.

The Owl who Married a Goose: An owl falls in love with a goose, but has a tough time adapting to life on the water. Continue reading

Joe Bonamassa dreams

2 May

Meaning: both blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa’s dreams (at least he’s written songs saying so) and dreams of Joe Bonamassa (not mine; I didn’t know his name or his music until today).

I get to write about this here because today Amazon pointed me to one of his albums (still not sure why, or what the connection was) when I looked up a book mentioned in some work for a client in New York City. (Bonamassa is also from New York, but way upstate: New Hartford, near Utica.)

“Woke Up Dreaming” is a track on Blues Deluxe. This live version, recorded at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on March 11, 2011, is more fabulous guitar work than vocals—and that’s just fine:

“Woke Up Dreaming,” Joe Bonamassa in Green Bay

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

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

“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

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

Woensdag, wij leren Nederlands!

18 Nov

“Wednesday, we learn the Dutch language!” (Nederland is the country, Nederlands is the taal, or language, as I’ve just learned.)

So the 5 Dutch Days in New York has begun, conversational-immersion style. Last night I went to a class at Columbia Unversity’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, on Amsterdam Avenue.…and the department’s site, by the way, has an interesting list of links to Dutch-related Web sites. Twenty or so people attended. The animated conversations at the little wine and cheese reception afterward seemed a testament to how well the class went.

It was a class “for absolute beginners.” But Wijnie de Groot, the department’s lecturer in Dutch, quickly had us speaking entire (simple!) sentences in a question-and-response repetition person by person, around the room. On the one hand, it’s a sort of no-mercy approach — little to no respite into English; on the other hand, Wijnie’s warm and encouraging style made it okay to stumble through, feel lost, and then regain the flow. Continue reading