Mar 02, 2018, 05:58AM

Live and Let Die

Waking up is hard to do. 

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I take my dreams very seriously. I’ve always felt that our experiences in dreams are as valid and “real” as our experiences in waking life. The recurring landscapes and M.C. Escher architecture are as consistent and familiar as the streets of Manhattan. There’s a vast live entertainment complex on the west side of 1st Ave. between Bellevue and the UN building that I visit frequently in dreams. It doesn’t exist in waking life. I’m usually working there, loading a show in or out. I don’t know the name of the place.

I was hanging out on the loading dock there smoking a cigarette a few nights ago when Ken Kesey came up to me to bum a smoke. “I never took you for a smoker,” I said, offering him a Seneca. “I’m not,” Kesey replied, “But I do like one every now and then.”

The conversation meandered around, my memory of it is sketchy. I remember telling him how I’d met Leary a few times, but always wanted to jump on the bus and run off with the Merry Pranksters. The Leary faction of the LSD scene always seemed stiff to me, very New England WASP elite, all about “set” and “setting,” maintaining some level of control over the psychedelic experience, a weird blitzed sense of decorum. The Kesey people were more fundamentally American: fast, loose, and out of control. “Let’s drop acid and go to the mall!”, that type of thing. More improvisational, more inclined toward chaos.

“So how’s that chaos thing working out for you?” he said. “Had enough yet?”

“Oh yeah,” I replied. “We need to restore some semblance of balance here, pretty damned quick.”

We had a brief chat about the absurdity of contemporary Satanism and the obesity epidemic on that scene. “It’s just Ayn Rand in Goth drag,” I proclaimed. “And I hate Ayn Rand.”

“I dunno,” he said. “Atlas Shrugged is a terrific antidote for insomnia. Arguably as good as Dianetics, but that’s a tough call.”

Kesey took off for Bellevue, said he was visiting an old friend. I sat down on an empty road case and lit a joint. Smoking pot in dreams always involves some level of apnea. I hold the hit just a little too long, remembering to breathe at what seems like the last possible moment. Tyler Durden strolled out onto the dock bearing two pint-glass Bloody Marys, wearing that ridiculous faux fur jacket he wore at the end of the movie.

“Whussup, my nigga?” he exclaimed, passing me a glass. “Howzmabout some of that reefer?”

I handed him the joint. “Charlie’s dead,” I said.

“Yeah, bummer,” Tyler sighed. “Somebody’ll pick up the slack, don’t fret. Besides, he was kind of an amateur by today’s standards, no? That Vegas thing, now that was freaky. You should be on that. Nobody else is.”

“Ever heard of Michael Hastings, Tyler? How about Gary Webb? Danny Casolaro? Fuck man, I could get a Pulitzer for what I know, if I wanted to spend the rest of my life hiding out in that Norwegian seed vault.”

Tyler sang a little verse of Pink Floyd: “Did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I did. I don’t regret it. I’m nobody’s hero. Every hero eventually becomes a bore. I do what I can.”

Tyler vanished, along with my joint. As the shadows lengthened on 1st Ave., I heard chanting: “Kill the white people.” The Wakanda Day parade was coming up the avenue. I grabbed my drink and headed inside. I visit this venue a lot in my dreams, and I always wake up frustrated because I can never find Catering.

Waking up is hard to do. I’m not sure why I keep doing it. Force of habit, I guess. 


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