Monday, January 29, 2007

Not A 9/11 Dream

Maybe it was the barley mushroom stew I made for dinner. Maybe it's the head cold that caught me over the weekend. Maybe it has just hit me that really, no REALLY really, the United States military is in the hands of psychopaths.

(No, really. It really is. And there is much more killing to come.)

Anyway, it was a night of very vivid dreams, in a continuous stream, ranging from hilariously cracked to spooky.

It started with a movie. Somebody made a Hollywood comedy with a featured cameo by our Vice-President, Dick Cheney. Somehow, Cheney agreed to play the role of a man-sized talking squirrel who looked and spoke very much like, well, Vice-President Dick Cheney.

The result was a clamour for interviews with the Vice-President about his new career as a film comedian, but he did not want to talk about the movie in which he played a squirrel. Soon, in fact, he was cutting interviewers off and demanding that journalists leave. In the dream, I watched him ordering journalists removed from Air Force One. Right around then, something started feeling Not Right.

Journalists are suddenly being shooed out of the capitol buildings, and all access to the Administration is cut off. Nobody knows what is going on.

The house shakes and something very terrible has happened, something I don't see in the dream or else I am not remembering, and I am walking alongside a great mass of people, walking away from a scene, not stopping, just keep on walking. I leave the city limits and keep on walking until, literally, I walk into a concrete barrier by a reservoir just outside a metropolis. I sit on the ground, back against the concrete barrier. It's a cool, sunny day.

Still in the dream, the thought appears: I've never had a 9/11 dream before.

A voice coming out of nowhere wakes me up with these words:

It isn't a 9/11 dream.

Good morning!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Passing Scoundrel

Personalities and actions do not always illustrate one another.

You meet people who may be very nice outwardly, yet are not kind. You may also have met guys who make a negative impression until you get to know them for real, and realize you weren't seeing clearly. For me, Bill is an experience in the latter.

Bill and I met on a show we did in Los Angeles in 2005. Bill was new to the company, so I met him at rehearsal. At first, I was intimidated by him. It wasn't his tall and muscular stature and intense eyes, but rather an assumption I made about him. He was very smart, the kind of guy who doesn't miss a thing, very confident, and prone to saying very blunt things with a grin on his face. I assumed at first that he was a cocky bastard and I held that idea for a couple of days. Pretty soon, I began to notice things that left me feeling very embarrassed.

What became clear right away was that Bill was a highly skilled actor, always early and well prepared. More came into focus later: he made no display of being kind or friendly, yet it's hard to keep secrets when you share a dressing room. He was the kind of man who will empty the trash cans and never be caught doing it. I gravitated towards his dark sense of humor. It was a pranky show, and he joined in the fun. When his laughter really got going, it was a boyish belly laugh that was utterly contagious.

We found lots to talk about when it became clear he knew a lot about Buddhism - a surprising amount, in fact. He was not religious in any conventional sense, but he had a daily practice in his life that clearly worked. When the show was out of rehearsal, we had long conversations about meditation, living in vow, life and death - always finding so much humor in the human condition and our frailties.

In particular, we found anger fascinating and amusing. We exchanged stories about road rage, obsessions, our own bad tempers, and those times when things go up your ass for no apparent reason.

Saturday night was one of those times. I watched myself reacting strangely to a normal circumstance, and feeling very irritated about it. You see, I was very annoyed about being prevented from making a left-hand turn.

I needed to go to the grocery store, and to go there I had to make a left onto Hyperion. As I arrived, however, the parking police was just starting to set out cones and flares, and with a shake of his head he told me I couldn't go. Instead, I would have to go straight - once traffic permitted me.

Breathing irritation through my nose, I went straight, made the next left, and the next left after that. Damn it, I was going to that grocery store! Coming down the side street leading me, I hoped, to Trader Joe's, I soon encountered more yellow tape and more flares. The intersection with Hyperion was closed here, as well. The tape and the flares detoured me into the parking lot of Gelson's.

Nothing is wrong with Gelson's, except that I wanted it to be a choice. Feeling very annoyed, I drove into the lot and parked.

For some hidden reason, I just felt irritated by the whole situation. Hyperion was blocked off on one side. What could be going on? Instead of going into the market, I walked to the curb. I just felt nosy. One vehicle was parked at the curb: a white SUV with one corner of its front side smashed. The driver was pacing around, talking on a cell phone. Up a little further, there was one LAPD vehicle with its lights flashing. I did not see any police walking around. Still, the tape and the flares suggested a fatality or a major injury had taken place. None of the onlookers seemed to know what had happened. Something about it went right up my ass, but I wasn't getting any satisfaction about it. So I went into the damn store and bought food.

Last night, just as I was leaving my office, I got the news from a friend. There had indeed been a fatality at that accident on Saturday night. That SUV had struck Bill while he was crossing the street.

We have lost a fine, disciplined actor, and a genuinely compassionate scoundrel. I have lost a friend and I regret to say, so have you.

* * *

Bill's accident made the news.

In the days that followed, Bill's friends and neighbors got activated.

One morning, I called the Los Angeles DOT and spoke to a lovely engineer over the phone who made several good suggestions about that intersection. Following that conversation, I wrote some letters and made phone calls. Sharing that information with others, the ball got rolling: people called the businesses in the area where Bill was hit, and found them no less concerned. Within days, the DOT confirmed to us that a signal light will be placed at that intersection by July of this year; and the City Council will adjourn early on Friday in honor of Bill Wingard.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Come On, Baby, Light My Labyrinth

It has been a while, but I have a new post to offer. The illustrations are very important, and Blogger always gives me a miserable time uploading photos, so I am simply going to link you to the post. Clicca qui and please enjoy.