Waking Finnegan

“We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our whole life is rounded with a sleep” ~ Shakespeare

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Location: zurich, Switzerland

Monday, August 29, 2005

Migros Dream


Looking down numberless aisles for cat food at some Migros in Zürich---the bulky metzger tells me: "Für die Katze ist Frischfleish am besten!"---Fresh meat is the best thing for cats! He escorts me by the elbow past the cereals and and crackers, along a long trough of startling flesh. The butcher is hanging his left hand over the pit, letting his fingers ride over the hillocks of manicured meats---along cello-packed noodles of extruded ground beef---past the poulets, turkeys and hams. And now here comes the fish section! He's dipping his thick fingers into colored plastic buckets of eels, shrimps, crabs and lobsters--- occasionally pulling out a little telescoping gauge to check that the sealife is comfy.

We come to a huge "aquarium maze" filled with murky water, where he stops at the entrance, clinks the thick glass with his gauge and says: "Schau mal". "Just look". I can see something moving, but the water is algae-colored....murky. Then he looks up at me while reaching under the giant sea tank, flipping a long metal toggle. There's an electric buzz, and then the entire warehouse begins to dim, except for the butcher's room which is backlighting the massive fish maze, frightening up swirls of tuna, shark, and sea bass. A giant halibut and catfish are battling for something dead below, kicking up an underwater sandstorm. "Come, let me take you to the cat meat!"

We walk into a white-tiled sterile workroom---the same room that was backlighting the tank. In the center sits is a spot-lit industrial-green bandsaw. In his Zürich dialect he asks whether I've ever seen the inside components. Not waiting for an answer, he unclips the motor housing, swings it up and props it overhead like a car bonnet. "You see this? It's good for cutting through bones. Just look at this workmanship!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Yul Brynner Dream


Standing at the railings on deck of some sort of junkboat tug with a troop of bare-chested sailors wearing tourniquet loincloths. Advertisement banner-sails are breezily flapping commercial war cries "Drink Coke", "Canon ", "Burger King", and a chromatic dragon mascot up front is howling military orders in curious Sino-Anglese through its megaphone maw. In the harbor is an armada of littler junks surrounding our huge chugging skiff. They're simultaneously dipping their own rows of festooned streamers, and it is dazzling---like a vast synchronized Busby Berkeley curtsy in this harbor of dreams.

The man standing at my left looks familiar. I try to strike up a conversation about the proceedings, half there about what I want to say to him. He utters something shrouded in a secretive sort of whisper, and I can't understand. Cacophony. "Do you know who I am? Take a look boy, I'm Yul Brynner! I died from a 5 pack a day habit long ago, but I'm here again. And this is my resurrection".


Monday, August 15, 2005

Mama Thornton Dream


Standing just outside a towering San Gimignano-like belfry alongside a small group of university students. A howling gale-force wind is hammering the little lichen wildweeds quivering between the cracks of ancient masonry. Everyone is getting sand-whipped while moving round to shield the delicately flowered clumps from their impending calamity. The professor is yelling in Italian about these rare hermaphrodites being descended from the time of the Etruscans, who earlier shielded their weeds in this same manner. But I have to let them all go---the tower's ready to blow over. I call the professor over and warn him that the old pocked rocks are unreinforced and unprepared for the bigger storm that's coming. He laughs and wags a finger at me, then turns to "conduct" the class' laughing.

I can't bear the thought of leaving these flowers alone to die. Between the tower gaps I see more Manhattoed spires in the distance with their own stone gardens to keep. More wind stripping skin from the stones and I can see the towers disappearing like a sandcastles right before my eyes.

I'm going down---down the spiral stairwell. As I descend, the stones become harder and smoother like polished granite. I come to a small lookout where a skinny little man is mopping up around the doorway. He looks up and tells me; "If you want to use the toilet, it will cost you". It's David Bowie with brown rotting teeth and looking like a haggard old woman. All around the toilet entry are 70's glitter rock posters of himself as Ziggy Stardust in huge platforms. Further down are bigger posters of Jimmy Dean, Elvis and Brando in black leather. But everything looks wrong about them. All the characters are impersonators. The biggest poster of all is a shiny "parchment" scroll, curled up and obscuring other images underneath. A BIG Mama Thornton domina is standing proudly with legs wide apart. She's wearing a shiny black patent leather cloak that looks like wet licorice. She's wielding a heavy truncheon in her left hand---commanding the graphic space over a pack of emasculated and fawning little boy-toys. The poster up close is alive, with everyone looking for a better pose. It's as though I'm watching a video session.

But as I step back everything freezes again. Half obscured on the wall behind Thornton's big wig are the words: "COME ON BABY, ROCK ME!"


Monday, August 08, 2005

Running Dream


Lavish praise being heaped on me for winning an epic mile race---for all mankind! I'm on the same tragically misproportioned and rutted track of my Marshall High days. Stragglers I've lapped are now coming in one by one. "Hey, there's Peter Mogg, and Kevin Norwall and Herman Jones!" Jones, with his viscous drool flapping and clinging to the big M on his tank top jersey, summons me over to pump my hand like an oil derrick. "Good....going, good...going, you've done it!" I'm gawking at his kudos of complex spittle with fascination and revulsion---I can really see what he means. Glamorous and leggy cheerleaders with gleaming chicklet teeth are making glittery circular pom-pom codes in the harsh spectral light.

My mom and aunts and uncles and cousins are there wanting to get a glimpse of their prodigal hero.
Joyce is there too. A great weariness now begins to suck on my thoughts. I want badly to celebrate, but wind up telling all the camera crew, reporters and gleeful student body that I want to go home.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Halifax Dream


The Halifax room is the same doily-patterned one of of my NSCAD lodger days. Landlady M is around somewhere but unseen. I know now, just like I knew then, that she's watching me like a kindly but venomous snake. Big weather happening outside the bay window. Atomic clouds.

I'm lounging in her forbidden lazy chair with my cat Snacks in lap. While kneading her claws, she suddenly fishhooks a klacker through my shorts. I bolt back, with her still-hooked claw clinging to the bait. "Shhh, it's ok, just caaalm down". An odd pain, which is at once sharp and dull like an injection, has me visualizing horrible massive hydrocoele-sized testes like the ones I cringed at in those high school educational films about Papua New Guinea. DISEASE. This will be luggage I'll have to cart around in a wheelbarrow for the rest of my days. "I've got to call a doctor asap".

Now her tail's twitching like a hair-trigger, so I'm making sure I've got her firmly by the scruff. "It's ok, shhhhh, yeeess....shhhhh". Working delicately, I finally manage to un-clasp her claw. The little hole she leaves in me starts winking and blinking, then jerky aerosols spatter out like a nearly-spent can of spray. She's holding down, then releasing her paw over the hole, and I can see she's about to pounce. As I start letting her go, she takes it as a sign to bolt-and-scoot under the table. Now she's hidden among the stacks of old books propping up the table. My cell phone starts ringing, resounding with a tube-amp stereo sound. Big foghorn blues. But where is it? Is this Mrs. M calling to confirm my demise---has she been responsible for all this?

I head over to the byzantine bathroom for some first aid. After knocking over bottled tinctures and tubed unguents, I twist off the lid of a tiny and nearly empty jar of Vaseline---my fingertips can't quite get at the residual jelly at the bottom, so I'm foraging through mysteriously labeled drawers inside the bathroom cabinet. I'm looking for something that'll fish out the jelly. Sifting through kitchen drawers of meat mallets, sifters, chicken tongs, and cleaving knives, I finally come across a tiny spatula. I feel a huge relief wash over me. I know that I'll be able to plug the sack and stave off those massive sacs.

While I'm shoving the rubber paddle to squeeze past the little jar opening, the cell phone rings again---this time with the retro-ring tone of my Zürich phone. I can hear it somewhere under the dining room table, which is now epic in size and on top of which is a geometrically arranged stack of metal printing type looking like a pyrite Babylon. Over by the bay window I see Snacks in her pure cat bliss, batting around a little pile of dust bunnies.