Tuesday, December 29, 2015

We were getting the band together, or back together. Mike and I went into a bar and auditioned a friend of ours to sing. She stood near the bar and sang an old Irish folk song beautifully. I decided to arrange it as a country song. As we left Mike smoked a cigarette. Later, he and I were hunkered down somewhere, like a strip mall, getting ready to do something or for something to happen. I realized we were holding assault rifles. I got up, alarmed, and told Mike we had to get rid of these guns and leave, or people would think we were terrorists. We hurried out of the parking lot as authorities were swarming in.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

My older sister came over for Christmas Eve dinner. She wore her hair in dreadlocks. Just as she sat down she realized she had been invited to a lesbian wedding and had to leave at once. One of the women in the couple was a race car driver.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wires on the Mountain

Sara had given me a Christmas or birthday gift that consisted of playing pool with Neil Young. The location was a bar somewhere, and many other people were there too. I realized that Neil would be splitting his time with everyone else who had booked the experience and that I wouldn’t be able to chat with him much. For some reason my dad was with me. Two guys who worked for Neil came in and sat with us, kind of prepping us for his arrival. One of them looked like him and I realized it was his brother. I mentioned to the other one that I assumed this was all for charity, and it was impressive that Neil would give his time like this. The guy shook his head no, it was not charity. “Oh, it’s a money-making enterprise?” I asked, and the guy left it at that.

When Neil came in he made the rounds and eventually came over to shake my hand. There was a bandstand with equipment set up and my dad said, with little enthusiasm, “It looks like Sting is going to actually play.” I was mortified that he confused Neil Young with Sting.

The pool games started. Sure enough, Neil wandered from table to table, taking a turn here and there in half-assed games where no one could remember what balls to hit. At my table he lined up a shot where the cue ball and the object ball were bottlecaps. I tried to gather up in my mind all the things I wanted to say to him, all the questions I might ask, but they evaded me. Finally I said, “You’ve played this game before, haven’t you?” I thought it was a clever reference to the hours and hours of intoxicated pool he played with his band while recording “Tonight’s the Night.” He seemed to get it. He smiled and said yeah, I guess I have. He missed the bottlecap shot and was off to another table.

I was disappointed in the experience but also disappointed in myself for not making the most of it anyway. I resolved to make some kind of connection with Neil. The next time he came around I remembered that he had started an ice cream business. “I didn’t realize you were so into ice cream,” I said, and he just kind of nodded and smiled. The event ended and we all left. There was a crazy old car in a driveway next to the bar, a big, wood-paneled station wagon from the sixties. A band of comedians were leaning out of windows in the building next to it, looking at it, looking at us. I found Neil seated at a sort of ticket booth in the wall of another building. This was my chance to have some meaningful conversation with him. “Neil, how’s your creative life?” I asked. He came out the door and walked with me. He said there hadn’t been much going on but that this morning he went outside and looked up and he saw there were wires on top of the mountain, and he found some kind of beauty or hope in it. I was suddenly very moved, close to tears. “That could be the beginning of a song,” I said, and he agreed.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I was crossing a city street and a white van sped past behind me, out of control. It smashed into the side of a parked car and went on its zig-zaggy way.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I was observing someone who had worked with a charismatic figure who ran some kind of charity, kind of like the cups of tea guy, and had written a tell-all book about the experience. The author recounted passages from his book. He described the promises he was made when he was hired, some of which were evidently broken or empty. His boss had nicknames for things, like the New York Jets. He called them some other phrase, something clever and idiosyncratic, not “the New York Jets.”

R. D. had gone off the rails somewhere and cut off his own head.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

I was telling the story of my gay dentist, trying to get it right. “I was living on thirty… No, I was living on the Upper West. I was working on 35th Street, on the west side. I found the dentist in provider website—he was closest.” Then I was making the journey there. I ended up at a wine store. There was a woman who was struggling through a curtain of water. She reminded me of a salmon swimming upstream.

Then I was staying at Jesse’s house, thinking how I needed to drive back home. There was a bagel delivery as I left. Richard Pryor handed me a warm bagel.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I was on a bus in Paris and my mother was on it too. She was sitting across the aisle. I wanted to ask her how to get somewhere, to this apartment where I was going to stay, where I’d been before but couldn’t remember. I called out to her, but she didn’t respond. “Mom! Mom!” I said. Others on the bus were waving to her and pointing at me, trying to get her attention. “Mom, I need you!” I yelled. Finally she heard me. Together we puzzled out where I was supposed to go, from some landmarks and from a box of matches with the logo of a nearby business that was stamped with the street name.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Neil was roommates with Lewis Hamilton and had become close friends with him. They’d hang out, go to parties together. Jesse, Henry, Kevin and I, and maybe someone else, met up with them in Las Vegas, where a Grand Prix was being held. Lewis was very friendly and spent hours with us. He asked me about my mom, and said he was in town for the race. After he left, we talked about how amazing it was that we’d just spent the afternoon with him. Someone pointed out that Lewis’s mom had a young son, who was effectively Lewis’s dad. The filial math didn’t seem quite right to me.

“You mean stepdad,” I said.

“No, no. Dad.”

It didn’t occur to me that the correct term was brother or stepbrother.

We were in a shop and a bad heavy metal tune came on. I wanted to tell Kevin how bad I thought it was. I turned to him and found him behind the counter, ringing up customers for some reason. “What is this? Don Dokken?” I said. Kevin just rolled his eyes slightly at me and continued working the register.

Jesse and I made our way to some blackjack tables. “What are these for?” I asked him, thinking I was being very witty. He only smiled a bit. I didn’t feel like playing but he did, so we sat down. I dreaded the possibility of losing money. We each put a hundred dollars on the table. The dealer sat on the floor behind the table and fussed with the shuffle machine, which she held in her lap. It was taking a strangely long time, so we left. I must have wandered away first, and then met up with Jesse upstairs where the others were.

“Did you take my money off the table?” I asked him.

“No!” he said indignantly.

I was furious. I went down to try to find it and got lost in a maze of similar-looking gaming rooms and hallways. At one point I climbed up some stairs to find a swimming pool, the water cresting at the level of the floor and splashing around my feet. “At least I found the pool,” I thought, and wondered if the others would be interested in going for a swim. As the dream ended, I was either saying or thinking “I’m lost!” and I felt somehow that my friends would hear me.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

I got a job back from the graphic services department and the copy had been replaced by curses and insults—“this sucks!” “fuck you.” I got the scary sense of a malevolent intelligence over there, anonymous, that desired to sabotage and malign our work.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I was at a bar in the East Village and decided to check out the location of the old Nightingale’s on 2nd and 13th. It was a hip record store now, a throwback to places like Festoons and Brass City Records. Then I went back to the bar and reported to everyone it was “like 1984” in there.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

I was at a bar. Chuck Brown presented me and someone else—maybe Rob D.—with a novelty shot, part of some kind of promotion. It came in solid form, an orange, rectangular box. It seemed a bit too big to fit in my mouth but I did anyway. It was spicy. I thought it’d be funny if I told Chuck that it was like the Devil came in my mouth, but I thought better of it.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The end of the world was imminent. ISIS had gotten a hold of a nuclear weapon or something. John Kerry was desperately negotiating with them, trying to prevent them from using it, from unleashing some kind of terminal terrorist attack upon the world. Markets were in turmoil, too. I had the feeling we were all very likely to die very soon—the feeling I imagine you get in an airplane that suddenly pitches into a nosedive. Very likely to die, but there was the faintest glimmer of hope that we may not. Survival depended on skill, persuasion and luck. But all was not yet lost.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Jake was picking apart a set of earbuds and explaining why the sound was terrible and they're not worth using. We were on some kind of floating platform, or maybe a boat, close to the ocean shore.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Crazy jetlag dreams. They seemed to center on a work day. It was a cross between my old job and my new one. I went home in the middle of the day for some reason. The CEO of my old job wanted to talk to me on the phone about something, an exciting development related to a company he had just acquired, and I promised to call him while I was out.
My home was an unrecognizable apartment somewhere in Manhattan. The phone rang. It was P. C. on the other end of the line. He stammered for a few seconds, distraught. Someone had committed suicide, but I didn’t understand who he was talking about.
“Who?” I asked.
“Robert Crumb,” he replied.
In the context of the dream it was clear that Crumb had been suicidal in the past and this was no big surprise, just a shattering disappointment; someone who had constantly struggled with the point of going on finally deciding no. I passed on the news to a group of people in the elevator going down. One mentioned that Crumb’s wife had died recently, so that made more sense—widowers and widows sometimes don’t survive long.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My boss was telling me about a town in England called Toast.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My workplace was a multistory building with strange escalators like moving ramps, with no steps. I looked at the window and found Atlanta Falcons merchandise in the windows of the building next door and surmised that we were next door to an NFL store and that was the Falcons’ room.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

We ordered two ice cream cones, and they were soon delivered by a man I recognized as the owner of the nearby ice cream shop (in real life, he was my ex-colleague H.). I realized we had ice cream in the freezer, so I was a bit annoyed at the extra expense, but there was nothing to do about it now. The man presented me a box and I asked him how much. Forty dollars. I told him that was outrageous. He stammered and corrected himself: twenty dollars. I thought about it. Seemed like a lot for two ice cream cones in a box, even if they were delivered to our door. I could see him becoming very upset, hurt that I’d question his ethics. I paid him the money to appease him and make him go away.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The song “Apostrophe” by Frank Zappa was about a three-year-old driving a car. The moral of it was: three-year-olds shouldn’t drive. I was discussing this on stage with T.C., telling him I thought Zappa was a brilliant musician but a lousy lyricist. He wasn’t paying attention to me, instead chatting someone up in the audience. Later, we played “Mr. Mystery,” but it was J.T. on bass. For some reason I had set myself up on stage too far to the left, and by the time I began singing I realized I was in the wing, with a wall in front of me, invisible to the audience. I had some difficulty remembering the song. It was the first time we’d played it in a long time.

I was in college and had final exams coming up. One was about tomatoes and one was about film noir. I was hanging out with other students who seemed to be versions of people I actually work with, or worked with recently. We were all procrastinating. Finally I got up and went to study my tomatoes textbook alone, knowing I was completely unprepared, wondering if I could remember at least a few facts. Nutritional value, maybe. I wondered whether they contain folic acid.

My preparation for the film noir exam consisted of drawing a scene in very heavy, black magic marker. It depicted a man in a barren indoor space. I’d written the words “dark” and “terse” on it. I handed it to a friend and asked him, “This is all I need to know about film noir, right? That it’s dark and terse?” He said yes.

Monday, August 17, 2015

A helicopter flew overhead. For some reason I thought it might come down on the edge of a nearby roof, then tumble to the ground. Instead it landed safely on the roof of a tall building. The passengers suddenly appeared on a hillock, running as though they were escaping from something.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

I was in a large, suburban home owned by family acquaintances. I had an entire evening before me, alone. I wondered what to watch on TV. I had a vague sense of guilt that I should be doing something, or a sense that I was missing out.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I was at some strange event with my family, seated in an indoor coliseum. It seemed like a sort of religious revival. At one point the emcee walked through the stands with a microphone, getting spectators to join in on a song. I feared he’d put the mic to my mouth, and he did. “I don’t know the words to this song…” I sang.

Then there was a big party, and lots of my old high school classmates were there. Others too. Some current friends. Mike R. was there. It seemed to take place in multiple suburban homes, possibly where we grew up. It lasted all night, and then there was the awful prospect of cleaning up the mess.

Then it was a band dream. I was writing a song called “Weekend.” It went like this:

It’s the weekend
And my dad is suffering from Crohn’s disease

The chords were distinctive, suspended chords with pull-offs. In the dream the song was poignant and beautiful.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I was driving around with Mark B., listening to music. A very funky African tune came on. He said it sounded like a famous tune by a particular musician—I can’t remember what name he cited, but I don’t think it was anyone in real life. I noticed he was right, and said it sounded like a slowed-down remix. The tune was “Ja Funmi” by King Sunny Adé.

Friday, June 05, 2015

I was weeping over the death of Jimi Hendrix. The one thing that really made me cry was the riff he plays at the beginning of "Like a Rolling Stone," right after he says, "Excuse me for a minute, just let me play my guitar, all right?" I kept thinking about that riff and kept crying because it's so beautiful.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I dreamt I was on a cruise ship, possibly with a stop in Hawaii. Sara was there, some friends too. David Lee Roth was aboard. I looked around for guitar picks for him to sign—for some reason. Then he shaved my head, but did a terrible job. My scalp was patchy, and even had clumps of long hair in places, like white-boy dreadlocks. I perceived his poor job as a personal slight, an indication that he didn’t consider me cool. I challenged him to a game of pool, telling him, “I’ll kick your ass.” Soon we were playing, but of course as this was a dream the balls were different sizes and there were all kinds of weird objects on the table, in the way of my shots. Then I was sitting in a circle with Meryl Streep and some others. We had all acted with her, and were gathered around her somewhat reverently. Later, my mom got off the boat with us (with me and Sara), and accompanied us home.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

I dreamt I was wearing an orange shirt. I wasn’t sure if it looked good on me. I saw myself in the mirror, but from a distance. Seemed OK. I was wearing jeans and the match was good.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Dream about being at work, having an important project to do but running out of time. I sat at my desk, staring at my screen, considering how much time I had left, wondering if I was fucking up and was going to get called out for it. And all along, I was naked. I’d get up, go get coffee from the coffee machine, naked. Other people fully clothed. Me naked. I wasn’t completely mortified but I had that feeling, so familiar from dreams, that I people were watching me disapprovingly, and that I really ought to find some pants. I thought to myself, in this dream: It’s funny, sometimes you have a dream about being naked in public. Except this is happening in real life.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

In my dream I imagined writing country songs, very traditional ones, like George Jones or Willie Nelson songs. They were very beautiful. The right chords and steel-guitar riffs just drifted into my brain. Great lyrics too. I saw the songs being played in a bar, but on the PA, not by a band.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Had a dream about some over-the-hill singer-songwriter, a James Taylor–type, except maybe a little darker. He had decided to officially retire, to declare that he was done with it all. In the dream this seemed both poignant and somehow heroic. His name was Ben Crenshaw.

He was listening to some of his old recordings, ceremoniously, maybe for the last time. His songs were great. One of them had the following refrain:

Cryin’ and gettin’ high

Cryin’ and gettin’ high

Thursday, March 05, 2015

I was trying to seduce Meryl Streep. This involved visits to her home—maybe we were dating, or we were friends and there was the possibility we’d soon be more than friends. I was highly conscious of her brilliance as an actor, and when I was near her I felt something like electricity. In the dream she appeared young and slender, the way she looked in “The Deer Hunter” maybe, although I was conscious of her as an older woman, as she is in real life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I found myself in Manhattan looking for a record store, and of course there are none anymore. I took a walk around the block and took the train back home.

Buckles was describing to some people the chronic shoulder pain he suffered due to a Little League pitching injury. He now had limited mobility in his right arm and found it very difficult to jerk off.

Had band and music dreams too. I’d written and recorded a reggae song. The band had just played a reunion show. We heard back that someone in the audience had said we should not be so “wry.” I took this to mean we should take the music and the audience more seriously. I said that was certainly true. Jake agreed.

J. D. had been organizing baseball lessons on Saturdays for our kids, Theo and Jackie and a few other friends’ kids. It was pouring rain, so I figured it was canceled this week. I found myself at his place anyway. There were open boxes of donuts. I realized the lesson was not canceled. Everyone was already on the bus that was to take us there. I climbed on board with Jackie. Someone handed out beers but skipped me. I was annoyed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Vexing work dream. I’d been demoted in some weird way. The result was that I was moved from my cubicle to another one that was not equipped with a Mac nor two monitors. I protested, but apparently nothing could be done about it. On the other hand, my monitor was expandable, like a window on a touch screen. The actual physical object grew and contracted as you gesticulated in front of it. So that was something. Still, I felt slighted, marginalized.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Had a dream featuring Robert Duvall. He was in charge of some kind of operation and I was a part of it, but sort of a remote part of it. I wasn’t close to him in the logistics. But at a certain point I encountered him and had the opportunity to address him. I needed to refer to a car for some reason. A car that was in use during the operation. All along, I thought it was a BMW. A convertible. White. But upon closer inspection I noticed that it was an Alfa-Romeo. “Bobby,” I called out to him. I said something about the Beemer, no, sorry, I mean the Alfa-Romeo. I was wondering all the time, is it OK to call him Bobby? I was a little bit worried that he wouldn’t want me to call him Bobby.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Dreamt that I attended a kind of immersive theater experience set in a bar. The performance entailed zombies attacking the bar. No one knew when it was to begin, so no one knew when the zombies would appear. The tension was agonizing. I was watching the main floor of the bar from the second-floor balcony when they burst into the crowd. I saw one lunge at someone, leaping over people and riding their bodies like a crowd surfer.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

I impulsively bought lots of tickets for things. A late-season Yankee game with them already out of the running. A Talking Heads reunion tour minus David Byrne. Lou Reed, not yet dead in my dream. There might have been something else, too. Something where Dr. John was the opening act. The Grateful Dead were doing a reunion tour and I was thinking about going to that. It occurred to me that lots of these things would not be very good, and that I’d spent a lot of money on them, so I went to try to sell my tickets. I arrived at a sort of entertainment complex, with an outdoor amphitheater and an indoor arena and some other performance spaces. I wasn’t having much luck. I realized I was going to have to enlist some people to go with me, and I couldn’t think of who.

Monday, January 05, 2015

I was issued some kind of reprimand, first by the principal of my high school for being late to class without permission. Then it turned into something worse, something involving my work, and I was required to assemble a sort of jury and make my case to them. We sat around a table and I presented the facts in my defense. At the end I thanked them for their time, very genially, almost warmly.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

A work dream in which I was concerned that everyone thought I was weird. The workplace was a vast outdoor park, with employees sitting in groups, like at a concert. I had a boom box that I loaned to a coworker, a young woman. For some reason, we used it in our work. I crouched in front of her and explained that I'd need it back tomorrow morning. She indicated the group beside her and said, "They're drinking beer and shots," and I turned to them and made a plaintive, shrugging gesture, like, "Where's mine?" and one of them handed me a glass of beer and a shot, which I drank. I stood up, said bye to the woman and thanked the others, thinking that the interaction had gone well and that I wasn't too much of a freak. Later, the woman gave a speech to the entire agency and I realized that she was an important person, a higher-up. I tried to appear to be listening dutifully, standing among coworkers.

I also dreamt about eating at an outdoor table at a restaurant in France with my dad and Jesse.

Later, I was in a group of people at a swimming pool, possibly taking lessons. The instructor had us get into an adjacent hot tub. There was a feeling of airy conviviality. John D., Pat C. and Mark B. were there. I was happy to see them. We swam laps.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

The band had a gig. Except it wasn't quite music, it was more like hockey. Somehow, I had befriended a legendary figure who lived around town. He was a cross between Doc Watson and Gordie Howe. I planned to drop by his place to borrow a plastic face mask. I called him from my car, fumbling with an old flip-style cell phone and skidding around through snow. His wife answered. I was suddenly unsure of his first name, but I asked for him anyway, guessing at a name —I can't remember what. She said he was out. I said, "Tell him I called." I was spooked that I'd be playing tonight without a mask. I returned to the band house and told Chris W., "Fuck it, plenty of guys have played without a mask. So neither will I."