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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

Newish dream books by New Yorkers

10 Jul

Add these recent books to your reading list. They’re by local members of the International Association for the Study of Dreams:

About Dreams, by Suzanne T. Saldarini

About Dreams, by Suzanne T. Saldarini

 

  • The Gap, an ebook by New York psychoanalyst Lou Hagood, is available on Apple’s iBooks Store for iPhones & iPads, as well as Amazon’s Kindle and most other readers. It’s about a blind seer who does dream play in the Underworld.
The Gap, by Louis Hagood

The Gap, by Louis Hagood

 

Lavender, by Judy B. Gardiner

Lavender, by Judy B. Gardiner

 

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

Jews and Dreams

2 Apr

Having been absent from this blog for quite a while, I’m grateful to Ira Barouch for this guest post. My getting online at the end of Passover with a post inspired by a Chanukah workshop may seem out wildly out of sync, and I do apologize to Ira for my slowness (I’m still distracted by preparing for my upcoming move).

On the other hand, the timing has continuity: Around Chanukah, as Ira notes, the Jewish cycle of reading the Torah in small sections lands on the story of Joseph interpreting the dreams of Pharoah—a biblical event that facilitates the survival of Abraham’s descendents during widespread famine by bringing them to Egypt. Passover celebrates the Jews’ subsequent exodus from Egypt, the beginning of 40 years of miraculous survival in the desert on the way to the Promised Land.

Jews and Dreams

by Ira Barouch

For thousands of years the Jewish people have been fascinated by the notion of extracting valuable messages from dreams. Jewish culture has been in the forefront of the study and practice of dream interpretation, beginning with the ancient biblical prophesies of Jacob and his son Joseph in Genesis, to the “mysticism” of the medieval era’s berekhat (tractates, or sections of the Talmud), to the sexually charged instinctual wishes of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory that boldly ushered in the 20th century, and continuing all the way up to the trendy contemporary “Kabbalah” practices popularized by Madonna and other celebrities.

On a Saturday in early December my wife, Helen, and I attended a Chanukah retreat in White Plains, sponsored by Westchester Jewish Community Services. In addition to workshops that practiced mindful meditation, chanting, and yoga, the program included two fascinating presentations that illuminated the long Jewish tradition of dream interpretation. As a psychoanalyst, I was intrigued.

“Pharoah’s Dream,” digital pop art giclee print by Israeli artist Mike Darnell

 

Rabbi Molly Karp, religious school principal at Temple B’nai Chaim in Georgetown, CT, led a workshop entitled “Spirit Dreams: The Joseph Cycle,” referring to the section of the Torah traditionally studied around Chanukah. Our group, which included a few other local rabbis, sat around a large table and took turns reading and discussing portions of this ancient text. The narrative follows the spiritual development of Joseph through his uncannily insightful interpretations of his own and others’ dreams. The cycle features the two universally recognized dreams that so troubled the Egyptian Pharaoh, in which he envisioned “seven fat calves followed by seven lean calves.” Joseph had gained a reputation as a keen interpreter of dreams while falsely imprisoned in an Egyptian dungeon, and when he was summoned to interpret the Pharoah’s two dreams, he immediately understood them as a divine prophecy from God and warned that seven abundant years would be followed by seven extremely lean years. Continue reading

Howard Lerner: Myth and Metaphor (through July 7, 2012)

1 Jul

With having been away and previously getting ready to be away, I’m unfortunately rather late with this post. But there’s still a week left to see the incredible paintings and sculptures of New York artist  Howard Lerner at Synchronicity Fine Arts, 106 West 13th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues).

I previously wrote a post about “The Mystical Meaning of Jacob’s Ladder,” so at the opening for Howard’s current show, I was especially interested in a painting I hadn’t seen before, Jacob Dreaming, already so evocative in its own right.

"Jacob Dreaming," by Howard Lerner

“Jacob Dreaming,” by Howard Lerner

Continue reading

Tikkun olam TV

24 May

It’s Thursday night, which has been a great TV-viewing night for me this season. First at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Missing on ABC (channel 7 in NYC), with Ashley Judd as a middle-aged ex-CIA operative kicking butt all over Europe to find her kidnapped teenage son, without (implausibly) having lost any of her dexterity, quickness, or endurance. Then at 9 p.m., Touch, Fox’s (channel 5’s) new Kiefer Sutherland vehicle, in which he’s the rather morose and insecure (i.e., anti–Jack Bauer) father of an autistic 12-year-old, Jake. And finally, at 10 p.m. on NBC (channel 4), Awake, a superbly imaginative cop show starring Jason Isaacs.

Missing aired its season finale last week. It has neither New York nor dream content, so enough said here about that series. Awake takes place in L.A., but hey, the LAPD detectives put an ex–New York couple into witness protection in one episode, and anyway, Awake is all about dreams.

Awake, or not?

"Awake," on NBC: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Dylan Minnette

“Awake,” on NBC: Jason Isaacs, Laura Allen, Dylan Minnette

His shrinks say not, he says always. Detective Britten has been in an accident that has killed either his wife or his teenage son. Carrying on with life, he wakes up with his wife, goes to sleep, wakes up having his son alive. Always alternating. The psychiatrist in his wife-survived reality tell him, “I assure you, this isn’t a dream,” and he replies, “That’s exactly what the other shrink says”—the psychiatrist in the son-survived reality. Both shrinks keep urging him to accept that his other “existence” is just a dream, a way of denying the loss. “I have no interest in getting better,” he tells them; as it is now, he still has his wife and he still has his son—just not at the same time Continue reading

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