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, November 14, 2005

Retablo Dream


On my way from one part of a dream to another. Stooped in a car lot somewhere in the Dordogne "reading" a discarded sheet of International Tribune. The page is littered with misshapen, bulging text. I'm wondering about early type setters and if this rickety display isn't some print media ploy to hold onto its readership.

The car lot is filled with a humpy relief of old 50's Chevy rooftops---a low slung sea of dark, hydraulically suspended rides. Perched up high nearby is a glorious graffiti sign with Celt-ish knotted script that screams "Jumping Beaners---The Original Whittier Low Riders" painted in lurid day-glo colors. The sign is being given its finishing touch of shellac by a Mexican trio advertising themselves on their XL bowling shirts as "The Chino Masters" . They are a joyful work crew, cajoling one another into wilder phantasmagoric heights of graphic prowess while dripping paint, sipping cans of Dos Equis and listening to a crazy mariachi boom box tune punctuated with cartoonish laugh tracks. Rocking the jade-colored grid of bamboo scaffolding is a wily midget who's clearly the Master. He's gyrating and hip-pumping with an array of spray cans in his pouch and at the ready. He's a Norteño buckaroo jester---his golden necklaces all festooned with cell phones like amulets. He is EL JEFE.

I'm carefully wending my way through the lot to check out the amazing cruisers on display. Each one has a lustrous surface built up from dozens of dark layers that look like Japanese Lacquer boxes. Up close I can see between the layers a microscopic motion of glitter like fluttering showgirl eyes. And at the edges, near the chrome, the lacquer is subtly sanded down to expose a chronology like tree rings.

Mirrored off the hood is the upside-down image of the midget checking out my reactions. When I look up he's a humpin', grindin' paintin' fool without a care. He's grinning big---gesturing at his nose and indicating that I should "smell, smell!" So I bend down to get a whiff of a down-home aroma of freshly baked bread and vinegar. And now he's jumping up and down like a monkey waiting for my verdict, doing backflips and pointing to his mouth, "taste taste!" I start licking the hood, which is soft and salty under the hot sun. And now he's making facial signs with his
teeth and lips to "eat eat!" So I buck out my uppers and press down into the tacky licorice. I get stuck and the heat of the base metal conducts through my head, but a slow turn and I surface with elongated streamers of black taffy glued to my enlarged, bucky chompers and start into braying like a donkey---for laughs---the three are hooting it up in slapstick ecstasy at my antics. But behind my jestering I am overwhelmed with awe at these subtle masterpieces of edible folk art which rivals anything in a any museum, anywhere.

Later, after another dream excursion through old neighborhood haunts, I'm back at the sign. It's bigger than before; rotating like a Vegas marquee. The flip side of the Celt-ish ad has a cartoon image of "Pachuco Pep Boys" who are the same three lacquerers from before. It is now crystal clear that these three are the original Angelino artists whose masterworks were long ago usurped by Manny, Moe and Jack.

And in the upper right corner of the big marquee is a retablo-like painting of a boiling pot with Earl Scheib's grinning mug levitating on a cloud of steam.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Riverboat Dream (That Side)



The same sort of whitened rails from the jungle trail that I rode in on line the outer edges of the steamboat. The forward momentum of the dream stops where the boat is moored on a hump of basalt. The vessel feels lighter than it should---even hollow. I notice the rails are not the same supportive ones from the path, but instead are wobbly with loose rusted bolts. A feeling of imminent collapse is in the air, and so I want off. But now I'm far from the river's edge and while I'm debating about what might happen if I jump, the boat goes down.

The water below is crystal clear and fresh, like the inside of a fish tank. The vessel is sinking below me; somehow still whole but headed straight down. The paddle wheel is spinning mad bubbly swirls, cutting everything loose into smaller pieces. Like a runaway mower, the boat paddles down towards the sandy bottom, the rickety hull skin being shed while revealing something much newer underneath.

Later. I'm floating away from the crest on a broken chunk of "old-timer" wooden surfboard tattooed with Maori patterns. Looking back towards the river crest where I went down, I can see great masses of boat flotsam getting churned by the paddle wheel to the water's surface. And as I'm watching all the flotsam rise, the boat, much newer but still antique, emerges out of the water like a breaching whale, white spray spouting out the stacks. The paddle wheel is rotating madly, suspending the entire hull on the surface while turning the boat slowly round on its axis, upending, submerging, resurfacing, then splashing down and going under.

A pontoon biplane is heading towards me. It's as if it were riding on an invisible coaster track, touching the water lightly when dipping down. The hippy goggled pilot in the cockpit gives me the thumbs-up as he passes. He circles several times above the "dance arena", writing cryptic smoke signals that I'm unable to decipher. Then he heads straight up, nosedives, and at the last instant before hitting the water he swoops up, pauses and slowly descends tail first. The bi-wings begin rotating like a hover craft while the smoking tail-pipe gargles each time it alights on the water.

And then the crazy riverboat bobs to the surface,
levitating above the water with wild paddle wheel gone insane and smoke stacks chuffing out a jitterbuggy tune and everything jumping like a whirly-gig---a gyrating rockin'-in-rhythm pair...and my epiphany knows no bounds. "Well this is really it. They are for real!"

But the scene drifts away, getting smaller and less real. I'm thinking "Why hasn't anyone thought of an old-time riverboat show like this?" With this gut feeling I realize that if I get back upriver and contact the friendly and talented pilot, I'll be able to convince him of my plans and collect a finder's fee.