November 28, 2007

Dream-Notes From Behind the Teeth

Bone Parlour (Set)

There is a new girl across the hall who has long hair just like mine. I saw her through the crack where my wall does not quite reach the door. Her dress is old and too small and makes a real woman out of her girl's figure. We are so practically the same person that it is nothing to follow her in, to kiss in her bedroom and tell stories. She shows me the truth, shakes the hair back from her face so that I can see teeth grown into barbs, dissolved translucent like rattlesnake fangs, but venomless, fragile. This bracken mouth startles and intrigues me, for example, how do her lips survive? She must either be very careful or naturally soft-spoken to keep from gnashing them.

She explains about the teeth. I wasn't always like this. They grew in when I found my voice. She plays the harp and sings, demonstrating the swamp-crackle of those jaws opening and closing delicately around vowels, like swallowing eggs whole, spitting out the shells. The teeth are a curse. The room is a red gem around us, all of the air outside the lampshade is semi-solid, all the air inside it is combusting. This terrible curse. Her normal, God-given teeth elongated as she learned to play, and ran like icicles as she sang. Gradually the horror abated and she became used to these stalactites gleaming wetly, curving forward and out so as to penetrate the tightest smile.

I brush her hair in the lamplight, brushing the red light into it so that it shines molten, blood and gold. We will find a way to break this curse, I promise. And she sings for me especially now, with real hope that I am telling the truth.

November 19, 2007

Runaway Pond

Runaway Pond Memorial

I'm a sucker for roadside memorials. This weekend I saw the Runaway Pond memorial just outside Barton, VT:

"On June 6, 1810, workers intending to create a new outlet from Long Pond north to the Barton River, instead, unintentionally caused the banks of the entire body of water to give way. This resulted in a huge flood throughout the Barton River Valley. The valley drops 600 feet from Runaway Pond to Orleans for an average of about 40 feet per mile.

The results of this can still be seen today in the Village of Barton and elsewhere. One of the laborers, Spencer Chamberlain, ran ahead of the flood to warn people at the mill just in time to save their lives. In fact, no lives were lost. This heroic act is commemorated each year on Glover Day (the first day of August) by a road race following the path of the river." [Wikipedia]

I couldn't help but be reminded of a similar (but more catastrophic) industrial accident over a hundred years later, the Boston Molasses Flood of 1919:

"The Boston Molasses Disaster, also known as the Great Molasses Flood or The Great Boston Molasses Tragedy, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. A large molasses tank burst and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and residents claim that on hot summer days the area still smells of molasses."[Wikipedia]

Stopping to see the Runaway Pond memorial was Ken's spur-of-the-moment decision, a quick stop on our way out of town. He couldn't have known how symbolic the gesture was; the night before I had been restless with nightmares (as usual). In the dream I'd had just before waking up, Manhattan was beset by intermittent underground explosions that caused water lines to rupture and buildings to collapse. There would be a rumble, a sudden rush of water, and then a nearby building would shudder to its knees. My friends and I struggled to get uptown, having to zigzag through the city as our way became blocked by new gushers. I told Tex about the dream before breakfast, but, in the true nature of dreams, I didn't remember it at all a couple hours later as I photographed this monument. In fact, I only made the connection a few moments ago as began compiling links for this post.

Our dreams are the conversation we're having with ourselves about our life. Mere words barely even begin to stretch the capacity of our minds for this dialogue, and are dismissed too easily-- sometimes you need to feel and hear that water thundering behind you in order to get whatever point youre trying to make, to scare you into remembering, heeding, and ruminating on certain subjects later on when you're awake. In order for a dream to have power over you in broad daylight, it has to infect you with something you can't find anywhere else, so that you'll return to yourself night after night for the next bout of witty repartee with your unknowable self.

November 16, 2007

The Thousand-Year Song

Longplayer is a 1000 year long piece of music. It started playing on 31st December 1999 and won't repeat itself until 31st December 2999.

We are disposable creatures that dream of endurance. We are enduring creatures that play at being ephemeral. Both of these sentences are equally untrue.


November 1, 2007

Everyday Attire


I don't normally attempt emergency costumes; if I haven't been planning it since July, I'm just not into it. I needed to make an exception, however, because I was going to see the B-52's play at the Roseland Ballroom, and you do NOT go see the B-52's on Halloween without a costume. It just seems sort of heretical to even consider it. So I made this costume out of neckties, which I happened to have a stash of thanks to Lucy; the mask is made of the wide and narrow ends of ties, as well as my late grandmother's jewelry. I wore four neckties at my throat, one as a belt, and then wrapped up in the scarf I made last year out of seven more. So my face, neck and chest were literally writhing with ties, while the rest of me was covered in regular dress clothes (which function no less as a costume in my daily use of them).

Putting together costumes like this isn't an attempt to be scary, or even to show off (though these are often interesting side-benefits of wearing them). In my perfect world, this is how people dress every day. Rather than buy garments that come in a shallow spectrum of types, with which we contort ourselves into seeing as an endlessly wide variety, as we do now, we would truly gather and assemble our accoutrements from the full spectrum of human ingenuity, and present distinctive faces to the world. You could imitate, invent, or hide just as freely as you do now, but more effectively and more specifically. When I leave the house wearing clothes or costumes that I've made, I feel relief. Last night I went out in ties, which is to say, I went out in no costume at all.

A lot of my costumes are just designed around themes or certain wearable elements, so I'm not "being" anyone else. I get irritated when people come up to me and say, "So, what are you?" Yeah, I know, people are just being friendly, or are really trying to figure out the reference they think they're missing, and I AM in a freaky looking get-up, after all. Even so, I manage to resist the impulse to walk up to many unfamiliar people throughout the year and ask, "What are you??" If I don't know what someone's deal is, I generally hang back and observe them and let my imagination take over. This year it only happened once, at the concert (though I saw and overheard many other people trying to figure it out). This woman ran up to me smiling and gushing alcohol vapors. OH I LOVE IT. SO WHAT ARE YOU, ANYWAY? Smiling invisibly under my mask, I told a half-truth: that this is what I wear every day.

So, anyone have ideas yet for next year?