Friday, June 27, 2008

I look out the window of my midtown office building at the ornate skyscraper next door: the Metropolitan Trust building, with its rather strange-looking spire (like a folded umbrella on a café table),

seems to be leaning. Then I’m on the tower, walking around on the “roof” that surrounds the spire. There’s an acrobatic feat happening on another skyscraper across the way: a daredevil is attempting to “dance” on the façade. She’s dressed like a circus acrobat, in a short, spangly outfit, and behind her stand her attendants in tight formation, dressed the same. But something happens: she slips off façade, and it looks like she’s going to throw the stunt and allow herself to die, but then she spots on a piece of construction equipment (it used to be called a steam shovel) and deftly lands on it. The steam shovel deposits her safely back onto the street, and everyone is impressed with her quick, creative thinking and physical agility. Then the spire of the Metropolitan Trust building droops over and finally breaks off. I run to the phone to call “311” and at the same time Google the building online to get the address. I can’t type “Metropolitan Trust” — there’s something wrong with the keys, they won’t go down all the way. I hit them hard, and break them: they rest on a little stack of staples, and now these staples are broken off. But somehow the address of the building is made known to me: 300 West 30th Street. The 311 operator comes on, and I can hear other people describing this disaster, so I hang up on him (plus I’m more interested in learning about the building now, and all the different versions of the tower and spire over the years). When I look back outside, I realize the building is only one story above the street, under an El, and somehow the tower and spire haven’t fallen, in fact the building seems to be nothing but the tower and the spire, with space enough for only one floor — if even that — below.

I take a closer look at the building because of the mysterious and very ancient-looking carvings on it. There’s an “OXO,” and Latin words, and gnomish caryatids:

The whole thing is reminiscent of Roslin Chapel in Scotland, with its Masonic and Grail connections encoded in stone:

There’s even a carving of a ship that recalls the coat of arms of Lutetia, the ancient name for Paris, and seems to be dedicated to the architect’s life-long love, a woman named Levitra:

As with Roslin Chapel, all the carvings have meanings of their own, and cumulative ones as well. I wish I could “read” them.

Then I’m with my friend Barbara DeVries, barefoot on a wet avenue near the building. I’m enjoying the feeling of the wet cement, but I’m also afraid of getting glass in my feet. Against a building, balanced on a broken sidewalk, are two small white buckets with an amazing array of treasures in them. I first notice pieces of polished turquoise, and then some raw unpolished bits like the kind I once found on the Mediterranean beach near Mojacar, Spain. Other gems and beautiful bits of stone are there, as well as mod Sixties-looking plastic bracelets and other jewelry. In the other bucket are scarves, blouses, etc. Barbara and I are going nuts over this stuff, taking pieces out, setting them aside. We can’t believe someone would leave these things out, and also that no one has been going through them. Then the guys to whom all the stuff belongs show up and begin setting up a stand. The prices are good, everything is “10% off,” and so I decide on some gems and a knock-off Fortuny scarf. Maybe it’s real.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It seemed to go on & on & on. It involved me and some other people in a large, multi-room cabin, which had been invaded by a huge bear. In some scenes, it looked like a polar bear; in other scenes it looked more like a black bear; but despite these coloration changes, it was always the same bear. It was scene after scene of me and the other people in the cabin trying to hide from this bear in different rooms, often by getting into weirdly contorted or flattened positions as if we were trying to disguise ourselves upon pieces of furniture or something. The bear was not heavily running or loudly lumbering about; it would just suddenly appear in a certain room--and then the air would be fraught with a heightened sense of panic, because who was he going to get?

My Boston Terrier was in the dream, too, except that in the dream he was a dark brown wiener dog. And at one point the bear got him and then he looked like a dark brown bloody hot dog. That part of the dream was more acutely awful; the rest was more like low-grade yet incessant anxiety sometimes flaring into panic.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Marilyn was shooting a movie in Kent. she had a small role. she kept to herself but it was obvious I knew her. & strangely I seemd to be living with my friend Cynthia. she & I saw Marilyn walking down the street & when we stoppd to chat I invitd Marilyn to lunch. this causd Cynthia to raise her eyebrows.

flash forward to our house & a ring of the doorbell. I opend the door & there was Marilyn – on time & wearing the dress she wore to her wedding to Arthur Miller. then I woke up.

when I got online this ayem I saw that Marilyn was in the news. home movies of her during the filming of “The Misfits” were auctiond.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Dreamed that Tony R. had a girlfriend. She had shortish brown hair, carried his photograph around with her, and was very phony but cheerful. His hair had gone completely gray.

Then I was competing on the t.v. show Top Chef. I was confused and couldn't grasp time and didn't know what the heck I was doing.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I’m back in Chicago after a long time away, and so is supermodel Elaine Irwin. We were childhood pals, and so we’re really happy to see each other. She and I are both wearing t-shirts and shorts, no make-up, and because we grew up together and she’s so happy to see me I don’t feel like a total schlub around her. We’re sitting on an old nubby couch talking, and I want to ask her how her husband, John Cougar Mellencamp, is , but I don’t want her to think I’m groupie-ing her so I could groupie him. She might be sensitive or something. Then he comes in. I always knew he was short, and way shorter than her, but I never realized just how short: he’s barely taller than the couch. And plus he looks like he’s had some bad plastic surgery, like Liberace, who was also short. I don't know what to say to him, and I don't want to seem like I'm sucking up because he's famous (and plus I don't want to alienate Elaine), and so I say, "Did German shepherds really herd sheep in Germany?"

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bone chilling cold and the strangest of dreams. I go outside to say goodbye to my daughter who is leaving with a group of friends.

‘Can I please have some money?’ she asks. She has very little these days. She’s not working much and is trying to save the little she earns for a trip overseas later this year. In the meantime, she must live. The front veranda is covered with stuff, cupboards and boxes. Soft toys hang from a series of strings pulled tight across the ceiling of the veranda. Who’s done this? I wonder. I turn to leave my daughter and notice that the verge of the footpath has finally been fixed after years but beyond the footpath and into our driveway the bricks are all higgledy-piggledy, as if someone has uprooted them to work on the drains. There is water too covering the front yard all the way down to the drain and I realise that my stockinged feel will get wet. I tip toe across raised objects to get back to the veranda calling to my husband as I go. I can see through the wide-open front door that the water is spilling down the front hallway onto the veranda from inside the house. The water is steaming.

‘Hot water,’ I yell. ‘We’ve sprung a leak.’

My husband tears apart bricks to get to the source of the problem. He’s furious with me it seems.

‘That bloke you organised. He’s stuffed it. I’m left with the problem.’

My husbnd is terse clipped and cruel. I burst into tears and run inside. There’s mess everywhere and I realise that in his rage with whatever mess or problems that were there in the first place, my husband has compounded them by dragging almost everything out of its usual place and I will have to spend the rest of the day setting it right. Worst of all I have not been planning for this. What will people think if they arrive for a session to a veranda covered in junk?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Sky is a Painting in Black and Red (12 Dreams)

(This dream series by Nick Piombino originally appeared in Ocho 20, published by Didi Menendez & issue edited by Kemel Zaldivar.

"I found the girl of my dreams and now all I do is sleep"
—David Abel

1. I'm at an event and it's over. I go to the front to get some flyers for upcoming programs. Jay [Sanders] is there and I take a couple. I see an announcement for an event after New Year's. (I've been dumping coffee beans into a coffee can in some part of the dream). Charles [Bernstein] shakes my hand and I say, "Are you going somewhere?" thinking we would be riding uptown together. Somebody laughs (sarcastically, I think) but Jay [Sanders] or Drew [Gardner] say to me, "I like the things you said." I am feeling embarrassed like I had said something too serious. The bag on the floor isn't mine. It's wrinkled and flat.

2. I'm shopping in a bookstore. The owner tells me that my collecting is "too indirect." I should "carve out a path." After a long wait I leave with the two catalogues. He runs after me and asks for his twenty dollars. I tell him—laughing—that if he had these every time I visit he could make $20 a week. I'm walking down the street and I realize the two magazines are gone. A guy sitting there says he saw some guys in a car come along and take them.

3. I'm giving a reading using first lines of Ashbery. Somebody throws a U shaped pot at me. I'm looking to throw something back. I don't see anybody trying to help me.

4. I am at a dinner I haven't been invited to. I feel awkward and embarrassed. I walk through a long hall. There are many guests and I don't recognize anybody. I'm looking for the television room or somewhere to be alone. As I am trying to leave someone asks me what I am doing there. Then I leave with a group of surly looking people who don't look like they are having a good time. I go out and start wandering around.

5. I'm in a fancy place with lots of rooms. There is an event going on. A man asks me if I still have my badge (I am a detective). I tell him I've been in the bureaucracy so long I don't need a badge because I know who I am and there's an air of authority about me. I go into another room. Gary [Sullivan] is there. A lot of nice women's clothes. I'm thinking— where's Toni [Simon]—she should try on some of these clothes.

6. I'm giving a reading but all my papers are disorganized. I keep running around trying to find the poems I am going to read. I go up to the front but I can't do it. Someone turns the lights on and off.

7. All my stuff is on a blanket on the ground. Two people are standing nearby—a man and a woman. She laughs at me. I say, I hope you enjoy this because it's the only fun you're going to have today. She is speaking in French on the phone.

8. I'm elsewhere on the way to see Gary [Sullivan] and Nada [Gordon]. I am having trouble leaving. I am outside and the sky is a beautiful oil painting—I can't stop looking at it—in black and red shapes.

9. Toni [Simon] and I are at an event and James [Sherry] is saying that when Jackson [Mac Low] and Ann [Tardos] dance the reason that they shake their butts so much is that they have long legs. I disagree with this—and an argument ensues. At some point Toni tells me I should apologize. Somehow I'm at the door and I'm coming in again. I have a lot of stuff on the floor to put back in boxes. There's a music box and a couple of clocks. I'm on the floor looking at the number on the cover. I don't see a 13.

10. I'm supposed to be at work but I go to a special celebration for Charles [Bernstein] instead. There are people on the stairway lining up to go. They are holding wooden briefcases that have been given out. I go outside and see Charles who walks over to a stand to get me one. At first I don't like it because some of the wood pieces are sticking up. Then I look at it again and I see that the pieces are situated on the back part and look roughly like two arms of an armchair so I decide to take it. I go upstairs to have my lunch but when I leave I forget to bring my wooden briefcase. I run back upstairs but now the waitress is gone and the place is closed. It's too late to go back to work. It's 9:15 pm. Earlier I had seen a highly polished dark wooden briefcase at the stand. But that was not one celebrating Charles.

11. Toni and I are hanging out with an Indian man. They are flirting. He says to Toni—"You don't make me feel like I will be a great writer." Then I say to him, with a laugh: "She makes me know I will be a very great writer."

12. Toni and I are going to the university cafeteria. We have to walk through some buildings in the basement to get there. When we do get there you have to go through the kitchen, but the kitchen is covered with several inches of water. Obviously we can't walk through this. We ask them how to do it, but they are ignoring us. I say, "I am going to call the university president." They say: "So call him." We are walking away and go into another entrance. I see an artwork of zigzagging lights—a picture of two workers—blue and white lights. I tell Toni I am calling the manager.

Friday, June 6, 2008

3 The night after I wrote the post about the imaginary library, I dreamed that I was rereading Nabokov's Laughter in the Dark, in the pages of which I encountered a book I'd failed to note in my post: Ghost Whim, by Robin Anne Powter.

According to Nabokov's narrator in my dream version of Laughter in the Dark, Ghost Whim is a cultural history of dreaming . . . but before I could learn what would happen if I read a nonexistent cultural history of dreaming inside an actual novel inside a dream, I woke up. But now I really want to read that book!

4 This final item has nothing to do with an imagined book, but I can't resist adding it--my excuse is that it ties in to the discussion of Nabokov because it might have been triggered by a conversation Ed Park and I had last night about the ape that is discussed at the end of Lolita. It's another dream, this one from a brief doze on the bus on the way home today:

I was at the zoo, watching a gorilla very close-up through the bars of his cage. He gave me a quizzical look, tugged at his earlobe, then pointed at my earlobes while mouthing the word, "Earring?" I stared for a second, then remembered that I was wearing a big, gold pirate-style hoop in each ear.

Going all the way back to vaudeville days . . . that had to be the gorilla my dreams, right?

And that's all for tonight, because I have no choice but to go spend the rest of the evening reading Roberto Bolano. I'm 200 pages into The Savage Detectives and it's proving ridiculously difficult to put down.