On the Between-Song Patter on the Bob Dylan Bootleg Record “Peco’s Blues”


Behind any work of art, pretty much, there is some kind of “process.” The scope and complexity of this process differs across art forms, of course. The writer’s process is rather different than that of, let’s say, the magician David Copperfield. I find all artistic processes fascinating, and am drawn specifically to what happens “backstage.” Backstage is a world unto itself.

In the early 1970’s, the film director Sam Peckinpah was making a film called Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and he asked Bob Dylan to do the soundtrack. He also offered him a small role in the movie, a character called Alias. Dylan hadn’t really done a soundtrack before, nonetheless he headed down to Mexico to work on the film with Peckinpah. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid the film is ok; it’s not my favorite Peckinpah by any means. (That is reserved for Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, with the one and only Warren Oates in the lead role. Oates around this time also starred in the film Cockfighter, which features the greatest rejected tagline of any film even “he came into town with his cock in his hands and what he did with it was illegal in 48 states.”) The Pat Garrett soundtrack in many ways transcends the film, mostly because this is where we are first introduced to “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” which would go on to become one of Dylan’s best known songs, and is a really good soundtrack overall, however I am more interested in an extended set of outtakes from the sessions which are collected on a bootleg record called Peco’s Blues. Peco’s Blues features a number of alternate versions of the best known songs on the soundtrack, including Heaven’s Door and “Billy,” however the most interesting part of Peco’s Blues is the black and forth patter between Dylan, his sound engineer Chuck, and his band. This patter, I suggest, opens a fascinating and unique window into Dylan’s working methods and general approach to art. In what follows we will look at each incident of patter or conversation in the order they occur. All of the instances occur within the first 20 minutes of the nearly 70 minute recording as Dylan, his band, and the engineer endeavor to get on the same musical page.

Patter at the End of “Billy 2,” around the 7:34 Mark:

Dylan (D) wraps up a lengthy take of Billy 2 and asks his engineer Chuck (C):

D: Was that any good?

C: Pretty good Bob. What happened was was you hit the mic twice when you were moving around out there and we had a couple of clunks on it.

D: That’s too bad (…) Shit, I wish Sam was here. He’d know what to do.

C: That mic’s just a little more sensitive than the Sennheiser’s and I’m getting a little…

D: That’s too, uh…that’s…

C: And I’m getting a little puff of wind sometimes when you get real close to it when you sing.

D: That’s too sensitive.

C: Let me move it back a little for you Bob.

D: I think we must have got it though Chuck.

C: (with what sounds like a pencil in his mouth) Oh I recorded it, darn tootin’. I had a little puff from your voice once and you knocked the mic twice.

D: Well that might have been alls that we need.

C: You wanna, you wanna hear a playback on it?

D: Yeah, I would.


We see right away here that Dylan is the boss and that the engineer is walking on eggshells a little bit. This is made clear by Dylan’s reference to “Sam,” who he obviously thinks is a better engineer than Chuck. We have more than a little sympathy for Chuck, as it wasn’t he that knocked the mic and he is trying his best to give Dylan the relevant information.

I love how Dylan here, while implicitly criticizing Chuck, also picks up on Chuck’s framing of the microphone situation and agrees that “that’s too sensitive.” However, the relative sensitivity of the mic is not Dylan’s main concern. Dylan, famously, likes to work fast. For some of his records that has been a positive, on these the sound and performances come across as organic and coordinated, like all of the players grasped their roles and just ran with them. On other records, Dylan’s preference for speed let’s him down, and songs, and especially the production, can feel rushed, even a little sloppy. Dylan famously warred with Uber-producer Daniel Lanois, who had produced U2 and Peter Gabriel among others before Dylan asked him to produce 1989’s Oh Mercy. Oh Mercy sounds great and was Dylan’s “comeback” album after a mixed, to say the least, mid 80’s period, however Lanois’ sonic fingerprints are all over it. Too much so for Dylan, who wanted a faster, looser approach. Lanois is no pushover, and held his own with Dylan. We get the sense that Chuck is no Lanois.

So, despite the knocks on the mic and the puff of wind, Dylan is going to be fine with using this version on the record. Chuck, of course, is going to want Dylan to play it again. Chuck, or someone, would win this one because the extended take of Billy 2 here is not the one used on the final album. The little tussle between Dylan and Chuck ends in a draw as they agree to listen to the playback.

Patter at the Beginning of “Turkey,” around the 8:40 Mark:

D: Hey Roger, when I stop, when I stop, you stop. I’ll do something else and you figure it out. So it might go like this (Dylan starts playing and the band fills in a little hesitantly behind him).

D: Say Chuck, Chuck?

C: Yeah

D: Let’s take this down and mark it under, uh, Turkey…We got a buzz in the amp.

C: I’m not picking it up.

D: OK come on now.

The band plays on the instrumental Turkey for about a minute before Dylan stops.

D: OK, this is under Turkey.

Dylan begins again, and this time the band fills in much better, the song sounding fuller and tighter in all ways.


This is in my opinion the most illuminating of Dylan’s comments and gives us a window into his way of working throughout his career. As mentioned above, Dylan works fast and expects his musicians to do the same. Thus he instructs Roger that when he Dylan stops, Roger is to stop, Dylan will “do something else” and Roger needs to “figure it out.” Dylan’s instructions may not sound very fair to poor Roger, but I think they actually are. A musical team is in this case not unlike a sports team, say a basketball team, where even if an offense is running a designed play or “set,” players need to figure out what’s going on and adjust their own position and movements constantly and on the fly. There is no playbook, not set of absolute rules about how to accomplish this any more than there is a set of rules about how to follow Dylan musically. The musician, like the athlete, just has to work by feel, take in all the information around him or her, and figure it out. If they can, they will keep their job; if not, not.

Patter at the Beginning of “Billy Surrenders,” around the 18:10 Mark:

D: Let’s see now. You know, you know what we want when Billy starts (laughs) this guy Jerry Fielding’s gonna go nuts man when he hears this (laughs). You know what we want when like Pat Garrett comes down from the hills right, and all these guys come out like one by one. And Billy comes out, he’s almost standing in a circle you know, so like (indistinct) one by one and then there’s like a big pause and he stops and there’s silence. You know those big organ notes, those scary things (hums organ notes) (laughs). Can you get behind that? (Dylan and the band laughing.)


The recording of the Pat Garrett soundtrack was pretty complicated, in large part because Jerry Fielding, Peckinpah’s usual composer, was relegated to a supporting role and apparently resented it. Accounts differ as to whether Fielding quit, walked off set (and maybe came back), actually did try to advise Dylan as requested, or some combination of the above, however the history of the film makes clear that there was friction. Dylan is clearly aware of the tension with Fielding, and makes a joke about it in a place where it doesn’t even seem relevant. Dylan seems to almost revel in the conflict, setting up Fielding to his band as a “suit” who is not in the field so to speak, and who Dylan enjoys winding up with his musical choices. Whatever the exact situation with Fielding was, the issue is clearly a live one at the time of recording.

My sense is that Dylan is mostly talking to his band here, as there are a number of people in the background laughing along with Dylan through this monologue. Despite his reputation for playing fast and loose most of the time, Dylan shows a pretty good grasp of particular scenes in the film and clearly knows what he wants. The “big organ notes” he mentions do indeed feature on the soundtrack, however maybe not to the extent Dylan wanted. I have to laugh at the very 1970’s question “can you get behind that?”


Overall, Peco’s Blues provides a fascinating window into Dylan’s working methods and expectations for his crew. Of course not every musician works this way; many will give much more precise instructions I am sure, and in the era of computer aided music Dylan’s approach on Pat Garrett is certainly a old-fashioned one. But I like it. It is absolutely worth listening to the entirety of Peco’s Blues to get a sense of Dylan’s working methods as well as how a band, here playing together live and recorded live, “figures itself out” and gets from sketch to finished product. I am myself not a musician but a writer, and the writing process, although never exactly easy, is perhaps a little less complex, mostly because most writers write by themselves, with an editor or editing team looking over the work at a later date. There is nothing in writing quite like “I’ll do something else and you figure it out,” and it is the shifting, quicksilver like nature of Dylan’s approach to music making here that continues to interest me and draw me in.

I Have a Crush on Katie Park From Bad Moves

I love live music. More than that, I love live music fans, and music fans in general. This piece is basically about being a music fan, and was inspired when I saw the band Bad Moves open for The Hold Steady in 2018 at the Brooklyn Bowl. They were touring on the back of their first full length, Tell No One. While at the Bad Moves/ Hold Steady show a music geek introduced me to a band called Swearin’. Swearin’ has been around a little longer than Bad Moves, and in 2018 had released Fall Into the Sun. The two bands don’t really sound all that much alike (Bad Moves is basically “Power Pop” and Swearin’ is basically “Indie”) but they write somewhat similarly about matters of love and friendship.

Let’s play a game that we live in a world where a record by a band like Bad Moves or Swearin’ would produce radio hits. I want to live in that world. Or maybe I don’t; maybe it’s better for everyone that bands like these stay a little more on the DL. Let’s first take a look at Fall Into the Sun. (Swearin’s frontwoman is Allison Crutchfield, and the band is mostly her baby.) My pick for the single would be the lead off track, “Big Change.” It starts with a simple, slightly scratchy guitar line over which Crutchfield softly speak-sings:

The best years of our lives/ were spent in some stranger’s basement/ medley made of empty cans and ex’s/ and that radical romantic conversation/ about how we are like mutants/ who found each other by chance through rock ‘n roll music

clenched fist, eyes wild/ scream over the records, you artfully complied/ while I put my bad faith into practice/ sit at home on Saturday night/ ease into my false sense of superiority/ no art degree, no conservatory/ just Katie and me

I really like what Crutchfield does here. She is basically writing about a friendship solidified over a shared love of music. Now, I know a lot of people. I also have some friends. When you ask an adult, “How many real friends do you have?” the number will vary widely. A lot of people will say “four or five,” something like that. People in general have surprisingly few real friends. I have ten or fifteen, maybe more, but am only in regular contact with about half that number. A good friendship, in my opinion, is one where no matter how long you and your friend have not hung out, if you see them it’s as if not a day has passed. With this sort of friend, I’ve found, there is between yourself and them something fundamental shared. It can be anything really. For example, I first met my good buddy when we were both in graduate school in Arizona, and at first I thought he was a total dick. He was loud, interrupted people constantly, and loved being the center of attention. One night we were drinking as a department and he started razzing me there on the street, just casually insulting me left and right. Suddenly I got where he was coming from. This was, in fact, his way of offering to be friends. Once I understood this, I began to give it right back to him. Called him every name in the book. And he ate it up. By the end of the night we were fast friends and have been ever since, because we share an understanding that our friendship is based on ripping on each other. Music, obviously, is another great basis for a friendship.

When Crutchfield sings “no art degree, no conservatory/ just Katie and me,” I’m reminded of the refrain from Don DiLillo’s Underworld: “who’s better than us.” If they can do it, why not us? Fuck ’em. That’s what attitude looks like kids–take notes.

So “Big Change” is my single from Fall Into the Sun. (“My single” here just means the song I would choose as the single. For some records, the single is super obvious, while for other records it’s debatable. Bands and producers, in my opinion, do not always get this right.) A good record will tend to have at least two singles; three is a bonus.

For Fall Into the Sun’s second single I’ll go with “Grow into a Ghost.” It opens with a chugging guitar riff with an almost Krautrock drum line. The song is a perfect 3:10–in and out. Do you know anything about lost love? Swearin’ does–here’s verse II:

I write you ceaselessly and abstracted/ I hang out with old friends/ and they unknowingly remind me/ of who I was before we met/ you were somewhere out in the desert/ you frame the natural light perfectly/ will you come back soon and/ let me love you completely

and the chorus: “I watch you/ I watch you grow into a ghost.”

Swearin’ is good, but Bad Moves is better. And the star of Bad Moves is the exquisite Katie Park. (I know they are a collective, but my world is my world baby.) Before their show Katie was at the merch table selling…magic eye! That she made by hand. And what did it say? The magic eye said “Bad Moves.” Obviously. I checked it out and chatted for a few minutes with Katie, trying to play it cool. It was the highlight of my year. 20 minutes later she and the band were on stage, crushing it.

The single here is pretty easy. It’s “Crushed Out.” The band released “Crushed Out,” “Spirit FM” and “Cool Generator” as the singles, all of which are excellent. Maybe “Spirit FM” is catchier than “Crushed Out”? Possible. But “Crushed Out” has more lasting power in my opinion. “Crushed Out” is about exactly what it sounds like. It has a basically perfect power pop structure with a killer hook, a classic bridge, and a theme at once super obvious and super deep–the power of a crush.

It was a strange infatuation/ I couldn’t place it at the time/ but now it seems as if my mind/ was all stopped up with you/ I had no sense of aspiration/ I didn’t know, I guess it’s fine/ but now it seems so obvious/ did it seem so obvious?

through all my fits of desperation/ sharing looks and passing notes/ what did you make of what I wrote?/ what could I ask of you?/ the weeks of strained communication/ could you read between the lines/ or was it just so obvious?

Baby, if you are crush-prone that power never goes away. Bad Moves knows this–it’s kind of what the record is about. Crushing out that way can be pretty obvious–do you think I’m crushing out on Katie at all? Nah, this is just a piece of music appreciation.

Cool Generator is my second favorite song on the album, but my “sneaky favorite” is “Missing You.” A sneaky favorite is just what it sounds like: it’s that song that may fly under most people’s radar but that you have a special soft spot for. My all time sneaky favorite song is “Three Drinks” by Craig Finn of the aforementioned Hold Steady. Three Drinks shows up on Finn’s 2016 EP Newmyer’s Roof. It’s nearly acoustic, unlike most Hold Steady songs, and sounds just a little bit country. Three Drinks is about a woman (most great songs are) who may have been a child star once upon a time, and is now a drinker. It is an example of a certain type of song that Finn is amazing at, the deeply empathetic look at adult relationships in all of their gloriously flawed complexity. In this sense, Three Drinks fits in with “Spinners” from The Hold Steady’s 2014’s Teeth Dreams, “Tangletown” from Finn’s 2017 solo record We All Want the Same Things, and “Esther” a Hold Steady single from 2018. Finn’s writing on Three Drinks and Tangletown is at its absolute apex. Here’s the opening to verse two of Three Drinks:

There was bloodsucker blues in the lobby at dusk/ she blew smoke in my face and it felt like a bus/ the chef cut his finger off the waiter got fired/ I only took notes to try to come off inspired

Come on man. The refrain focuses on that magic hour between drinks 3 and 4, when matters begin to move from the slightly anxious first stage of the evening to something entirely other:

It takes 1 2 3 drinks/ and now she’s not so frightened/ it takes 4 and 5 and 6/ and then she’s sick/ but in the hour in between/ she feels holy and redeemed/ blessed and blissful/ painless and serene

And then Finn delivers this killer quatrain:

She left the room to put on her face/ I went through her purse/ it was all pills and mace/ she said its so hard to choose between space and time/ she mostly just smoked and drank wine

It was all pills and mace, baby. Man Craig Finn can write.

So anyway, my sneaky favorite on Tell No One is “Missing You.” The song starts like the others, high-speed power pop, and after two verses switches to a near-spoken word breakdown of the tug-of-war between a crush and the expectations of the world around. Guess which wins?

Something inside told me I shouldn’t do/ things that set my heart racing, the dreams I held to/ so I wrapped them up tight and hid them from view/ and gave them a name I called “Missing You”/

every cop in the city and the family I knew/ the church and the pastor all said I shouldn’t do/ but their pleas for contrition just couldn’t break through/ not one of them stronger than missing you

I officially support these sentiments. And look what the band does with the simplest rhyming possible: “knew,” “do,” “through,” and “you.” High level.

So that’s my sneaky favorite –doesn’t mean it’s better than “Crushed Out” (it isn’t) it’s just a little sneaky. I’m all about sneaky favorites, on all levels.

In addition to the Magic Eye, Bad Moves also engage in a little publishing. A little literature. Specifically they publish a pamphlet called “The Virtues of Wearing White.” Check this out:

Chatting with Katie, she acknowledged more than a passing familiarity with the literature of the Jehovah Witnesses. I love Witness literature. Both Witness and Bad Moves publications have a real “it’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day” vibe. If you know me this is not a secret, but I’m a hardcore closet New Ager. There, secret’s out. I’ve messed around with all kinds of New Age action. Once I attended a Kabbala meetup in Manhattan. There were some hardcore New Agers there too, seriously. Those folks were not in the closet at all. Shining eyes, whatever color they are wearing. Me, I like black because it’s easier to launder, but Bad Moves have me thinking. (One other publication you should take a look at if you are into this kind of thing is the Christian Science Monitor. It’s a serious piece of literature. God is great baby, god is great.)

When I was younger my parents had a friend called Tom Hutchinson, who, predictably, went by “Hutch.” Hutch owned a boutique coffee shop there in town and I drove a delivery van for him for a bit. But that’s another story. Anyway, Hutch was a weird guy and he hated the Witnesses. It was one of his favorite topics. He’d call them the “Witlesses,” and say: “When they come to my house I turn the hose on ’em.” People thought this was pretty funny, but I was not that into Hutch’s attitude to the Witnesses. I mean, he didn’t want anyone trying to convert him on his property, which is fair; however, I felt, and still feel, that if someone wants to come to my door, give me a little literature, and talk about how god loves me I’m gonna let them. I genuinely like the Witnesses. They seem like lovely people. Read more

Why It Is So Hard to Get Breakfast in Japan (with a dream cameo from the Gemini Donald Trump)

I live in Kyoto, Japan, and have over the years here traveled pretty widely, most especially in the greater Tokyo area. Traveling in Japan is pretty easy, as long as you have just a little spoken Japanese and can read a train map. Japanese trains are famously efficient and connect a great portion of the country, including all the major cities. I have not driven a car here for more than fifteen years, and don’t miss having a car at all. Trains and taxis get the job done just fine. Overall, I enjoy traveling in Japan, love exploring Tokyo, which contains worlds within worlds, and have no complaints about Japanese travel. Except for one. It is nearly impossible to get a good breakfast, or really any breakfast at all, when you are traveling.

Now, it is not true that Japanese people don’t eat breakfast. In fact, the archetypically standard breakfast of rice and miso soup is as well known in its way as the “full” English breakfast of sausages, toast, and beans. But the Japanese breakfast is most often eaten at home. For the traveler, the basic options are only really two, or two and a half.

I. The Hotel Breakfast

Mid-price and nicer hotels will have a breakfast option, usually a buffet with “Japanese” (e.g. rice and miso and maybe fish) and “Western” (bread and jam, possibly eggs) choices. Except in the very nicest hotels, these buffets are uniformly overpriced and also basically bad. The traveler is lucky to get away with an ¥1500-¥1800 (15 dollars or so before the recent yen devaluation) price and often has to pay north of ¥2000 for a pretty partly showing. And, budget hotels will often not have any breakfast options at all. Overall, Japanese hotel breakfasts are among the weakest I have encountered around the world, and I believe this to be symptomatic of the fact that Japanese people just do not care about breakfast when on the road, or really at all.

II. The Convenience Store (“Combini”) Breakfast

When I have raised the issue of the lack of decent breakfast in Japan, Japanese people will usually refer me to the convenience store. And, it is true that one can purchase food and coffee at any of the ubiquitous combinis, Family Mart, 7/11, Daily, Lawson, etc. Most combinis are open 24 hours a day, and they do stock a range of food items that theoretically could pass as breakfast. Hard boiled eggs, yogurt, rice balls, steamed buns, fried chicken, sometimes bananas, and hot and cold coffee are usually available in the early hours, and I have certainly been in a position to have to fall back on the combini for breakfast when traveling. And this is OK, to an extent, however most combinis don’t have places to eat said items, and in any case you can’t really call a combini breakfast “nice.” But most Japanese folks seem to regard a combini breakfast as just fine and dandy, desirable even. It is possible to admire the low expectations to a certain degree while still wishing for more.

III. Starbucks or a “Local” Coffee Shop:

Starbucks are pretty common in big cities and usually open at 7 AM (if you are lucky) or more commonly 8 AM. The food selections are overpriced and really Starbucks has never figured its food out, which is baffling; however one can grab a few combini items and smuggle them in to Starbucks, or settle for a 4 dollar piece of quiche with your Americano. I would not classify Starbucks as really having breakfast per se, however they are pleasant enough to sit in and one can create a simulacrum of breakfast there.

Then there are the local coffee shops. These, fortunately, often do open at 7 AM or even earlier, and serve strong coffee, often hand made at the counter with a drip filter, and breakfast which nearly always consists of a piece of white toast and an egg. White toast, egg, and handmade coffee with old guys reading the paper around you is, I have to admit, at least an approximation of breakfast, and I have certainly had this sort of breakfast while on the road. However still, it’s not really what we are looking for if we want a hearty and balanced breakfast. Here is no French Toast, no fruit bowl, no omelette, only very occasionally a piece of bacon, none of the staples of what we might expect in a decent and full breakfast.


And that’s about it. You can also find 24 hour beef bowl restaurants, however these are cheap as and really not the most appetizing start to the day. Other than the above options, most restaurants don’t open until 11:00 or 11:30 for lunch. The concept of brunch, dicey at the best of times, doesn’t exist outside of the swankiest of upmarket hotels. It is just really, really hard to find a good breakfast in Japan outside of one’s own home. And this, to me, is pretty strange. I mean, I acknowledge and accept that most folks in Japan have their rice and miso at home or settle for the convenience store, but metropolitan Tokyo, for example, has like 30 million people. None of these 30 million wants a full breakfast around 7 or 7:30 AM? This just seems incomprehensible. Incomprehensible as it may be, this appears to be the case. There is just no market for breakfast in Japan. I mean I’m in the market, but apparently I am not the demographic, or at least one man does not a demographic make. Go figure.

Now, I have covered the issue of Japanese breakfast, or lack thereof, to the best of my ability; however I want to say a few more things that may seem unrelated. Let’s see if we can get them to connect. Because the truth is, I dream about getting breakfast in Japan, and a number of these dreams feature the Trumpster. More precisely, they focus on the fact that the Trumpster and I share a birthday (June 14th) and are therefore both late Gemini. Late Gemini, I have good reason to believe, are uniquely dangerous and slippery, but in my dreams the Trumpster is not dangerous, and in fact he shows up in my dreams as basically an empty suit.

Trump/ Breakfast Dream I:

I am at a breakfast buffet in Japan. This is at a hotel that I am not staying at, and I may indeed be attempting to crash the buffet while masquerading as a hotel guest. Trump is there with an entourage, and he sees me staking out the buffet. I make a comment to him that we are both late Gemini, and he nods, curtly but with some minimal consideration. He sees me trying to steal the breakfast, does not care, and would probably provide cover if it came to that. He and I are not aligned, but nor are we enemies.

Trump/ Breakfast Dream II:

I am outside in the morning, standing on a dock or something of that nature. I am looking for breakfast, and not finding it. There is a commotion above me to the east, and I realize that Trump is being rolled out, literally on like coaster wheels, for a speech. He is on some kind of sliding seat and when this seat hits the balcony he stands up and postures about like Mussolini. I am watching and he sees me watching, but continues with his Mussolini act. I realize quickly that this is a total act and that he doesn’t even want to be there. He is not dangerous in this moment or in this speech, just faintly ridiculous. Still, no breakfast.


What do Trump and breakfast have to do with one another? I’m not sure yet. But I do know that Trump, although maligned by nearly everyone I know (I know a bunch of liberals), and apart from being an egotistical, mafia-adjacent, easily flattered, shape-shifting sociopath, is also pretty funny. Before I lose half of my readership, I’ll just nod to the comedian Shane Gillis, who made this point several months after Trump left office.

Has enough time passed that we can admit Trump was funny? Can we finally admit that he was funny? (…) He was funny (…) I saw it. I’d show my friends I’d say look at that. They’d be like “what?”

“It’s funny.”

“There’s nothing funny about Donald Trump.”

I don’t know, during Hurricane Dorian he was like “maybe we should nuke it” (…) Like that was a real suggestion from the President (…) “Hey we got a big storm coming, you want me to blow it up?”

They were like “no, what the fuck are you talking about?”

“I don’t know, I fuck around dude. It’s what I do.”

“I fuck around, it’s what I do,” is a great summary of Trump’s whole approach to governing. Now, is there anything funny about his terrible immigration policies, his attempted pressure of the Georgia secretary of state to “find” 1800 votes, his total disregard of democratic norms? No, not really. But is there anything funny about his speculation that maybe a little light and a little bleach could cure COVID? Why yes, there is. Is there anything funny about his noting that Frederick Douglas is getting bigger and bigger these days? Yes indeed. Is the way he pronounces “huge” funny? It’s funny to me anyway. And in my dreams, the two above being part of a series of about four or five total Trump breakfast dreams, he always shows up as semi-defanged, basically neutered, and non-dangerous. I think this is because, as a fellow late Gemini, I kind of have Trump’s number. It takes a late Gemini to know one, and I know this guy. In fact, I see right through him, to the extent that I know he’s not even there.

One other salient piece of data, there is an indie rock band called Japanese Breakfast that is getting bigger and bigger these days (they tell me “sir, this Japanese Breakfast is getting bigger and bigger these days, and I say look at that, wow, this Japanese Breakfast is really getting huge”). I don’t know them well, but they sound like the kind of band I would like. I do wonder though if their name is not an ironic nod to the fact that Japanese breakfast is not a thing. Is the band name self-effacing, or even self-erasing? Does Japanese Breakfast the band exist at all? Does Trump? There is a way in which the Trump presidential term has come to feel like a fever dream or collective delusion, a set of events that cannot really have occurred as we recall them. In this sense, the Trump presidency may in the future be subject to Phantom Time Hypothesis speculation. And he and his handlers have already played right into this speculation what with their first lady doubles, the totally unhinged press conferences with the ubiquitous helicopter waiting in the wings, and the classic Trumpism, “we’ll see what happens.”

Here is what I think. Japanese Breakfast as a band exists. The Trumpster exists, but his wife spent most of her time in the White House being doubled. Trump and I are dream doubles, and I have his number. Japanese people don’t care about breakfast. And I am always starving at around 9 AM when on the road in Japan. Someone should look into the matter. I hear the Trumpster is free these days, maybe he’s the guy for the job.

On Some Things I Find Interesting

Author’s Note: This is our second “list” piece, following our minor piece on airports. I happen to like “minor” pieces in general, and this piece is dedicated to a reader who said her our airport piece was her “sneaky favorite.” Here, we will simply list a few things I find interesting. There is no particular connection between these items, other than that I am interested in them.

I. Bradford Cox’s Stage Patter at a Deerhunter Concert in Osaka

A few years ago I went to see the band Deerhunter play live in Osaka. The original show I had tickets to was canceled and I didn’t get a notification, so I trekked all the way into Osaka only to find this out. This worked out ok though because I took a picture of some girls in fairy costumes on the trip. Anyway, the show was rescheduled for a few months later and the tickets were still valid.

The frontman for Deerhunter is called Bradford Cox. His side project is called Atlas Sound. Deerhunter is not one of my very favorite bands, but they are pretty awesome. I had seen Deerhunter before at a weekend long event called “Hostess Club Weekender” in Tokyo, which sounds a little edgy but was really just a series of Saturday and Sunday events featuring a bunch of bands. My favorite Deerhunter song is “T.H.M.” from 2013’s Monomania, however my favorite Cox song by far is “The Shakes” from his side project called Atlas Sound. The Shakes opens thusly:

Found money and fame/ but I found them really late

Uh huh. The Shakes is more than a sneaky favorite; it contains multitudes. In any case, the re-scheduled Deerhunter show was in January or something and I was excited to see them. They were the headliner, however unfortunately they had an inordinate number of opening bands and by the time Deerhunter took the stage they had like only 45 minutes until the venue had to close. Brief as the show may have been, Cox managed to build in quite a bit of between songs patter. I am a big fan of between songs patter, and wrote about this topic at length here.

The one piece of patter I remember from this show was when Cox addressed the issue of Japanese toilets. Now, without getting too graphic, most Japanese toilets these days have a built-in “washlet” which, true to its description, washes your sensitive areas with water after your business is done. Here is Cox on the subject (as I recall, more or less):

“I love your toilets here. In our hotel the toilet has a stream of water which cleans you up after you use it. As a gay man I have to say this is a great feature.”

Now, what was so interesting to me about this patter was not the content per se, which was fairly straightforward and only just a little risqué. What fascinated me was that Cox in various interviews in the American press had referred to himself as asexual. Cox suffers from a serious skin condition, as well as maybe some kind of eating disorder, is super thin and generally has a lot going on. He has been pretty open about all of this, including his supposed asexuality. However here he was in Japan, where maybe only a quarter or so of the audience understood enough English to fully understand what he was saying, identifying as a gay man.

Of course I was and am aware that people’s self-identification, sexual or otherwise, can fluctuate, however I don’t think this is what was going on. Rather, it is my supposition, unproven albeit, that Cox preferred to index his supposed asexuality in the American media for reasons of his own, however in Japan allowed himself to speak his truth as a gay man. Perhaps, as I like to imagine, he thought that no one in the crowd would notice this little slight of hand. In the immortal words of the Lone Gunmen in the X-Files, however, “someone is always paying attention, Mr. Mulder.” In this instance, I was paying attention. And I was interested.

II: The Difference between North Indian Food and Nepalese Food

In Japan, at least, there are a good number of both North Indian and Nepalese restaurants. The North Indian restaurants, for my money, are, without exception, way better. This is because of one simple reason, Nepalese food, as prepared in Japan, is full of sugar.

There is nothing I want less at lunch than a bunch of f***ing sugar. I understand of course that carbohydrates in general are full of sugar and all the rest, so I guess my position is that food already has more than enough sugar without adding more. However, Nepalese restaurants put excess sugar in the curry, and super extra sugar in the nan bread. Sugar is everywhere, and it leaves me feeling bloated and bad. North Indian restaurants do not seem to have this problem. These also feature nans and curries, however they are un-sugared and basically delicious.

Now, I do not wish to demean all Nepalese restaurants, nor indeed Nepali food culture in general as I have never been there. For all I know, Nepali restaurants in Japan just happen to add a bunch of sugar for some reason. But I doubt it. I suppose that somewhere on the North Indian plain there as you move north toward Nepal sugar factors more and more into the cuisine. To each their own, but I don’t like it. This whole matter is of interest to me.

III: Hostels

Hostels are interesting. I have only really stayed at a hostel once, on the South Island of New Zealand when I was checking out the New Zealand Alps. I don’t remember much about this, however the basic features of hostel stays were all in place: the shared room and concomitant lack of a private bathroom and shower, the slight anxiety about getting one’s stuff stolen, and the opposite sense of excitement that one might meet, say, a chick.

A few years ago my buddy “P” came to town and asked me to catch up. I said yes, and met him at his hostel near downtown. When I got there, he introduced me to two gorgeous and sophisticated Indian-American woman from California. They were his “hostel friends.” Paul is a very good looking guy, and this incident confirmed for me what I already suspected, that hostel life could be exciting, even action packed. Me and P and the ladies went out on the town and had a great time. My takeaway was that hostels rock.

On the other hand, my buddy Doug checked out of his life and into some Russian hostel action for about six months or so a while back. His plan, as I first heard it, sounded quite romantic, however when he returned from this sojourn he informed me that hostel life was not all it was cracked up to be. Hostel life in Russia, it turns out, was pretty dreary. I had no difficulty believing this, and arrived at a more balanced picture of hostels as a result.

All in all, hostels are interesting, however I don’t think hostel life is for me.

IV: People’s Working Speeds

I have noticed that folks tend to work at very different speeds. I am a teacher, and these days the job of a teacher is basically split between i) teaching in the classroom; ii) working on the computer: iii) taking breaks. Teachers, generally speaking, have a lot of flexibility with break taking, which is nice. And classroom teaching is bounded by the bell, so that’s settled. Which leaves computer work.

Some teachers rip through their computer work in a matter of minutes and are able to move on to other pursuits, such as Wordle. The top-end version of this type of teacher I admire greatly; they are marvels of efficiency and mange to go home on time every day. Other teachers are super slow, and pick at stuff for days, weeks even. While I respect the fact that everyone has their own process, this is not my style at all. Then there are the teachers in the middle, including myself. These folks are neither hyper-efficient nor super-slow. Rather, they tend to procrastinate around for a bit before settling in to serious work, after which they crunch and get things done.

As an ambivert myself, I like to gather just enough information, Goldilocks style, to be dangerous before I do my computer work. I neither need nor want all the information, however I function best when I have a general “feel” for the landscape. This is just how I work—like I said, everyone’s different.

V: Making Friends Quickly

When I was in university I was trying to hang around some artsy chicks, and was lucky enough to know a few. One day I was hanging out with them and a few girls I didn’t know came over. One of them was called Nadine. These new girls were super cool, and Nadine in particular was a little intimidating. She was from Eastern Europe. I definitely wanted to hang out with Nadine, and sure enough she invited me, right away, to accompany them all somewhere. I hesitated, for some reason. Maybe I didn’t know the first rule of improvisational theater, which is “yes and…” Yes and means, basically, follow the person that goes before you. I would have followed Nadine pretty much anywhere, however I said “I don’t really know you guys,” I said. “Well,” she replied, “this is how you get to know us.”

(The Nadine incident confirms one aspect of my social relations. I’m a Gemini sun with Mars in Leo in my 10th house. I am, basically speaking, not afraid of people. At the same time, I must admit that there is a certain class of beautiful women whom were I to meet them it might take me a second or two to find my tounge. This would include Brit Marling, actress and creator of The OA, Emily Haines, lead singer of Metric, and Kristin Stewart, actress in Personal Shopper. Nadine was not quite in this stratosphere, however she was pretty close.)

Nadine was right of course; I just wasn’t used to making friends quite so quickly. I came to my senses and went with Nadine and the crew. That was a good move.

I find Nadine’s approach to new people fantastic. It can be a little risky to apply it all the time, but in general it’s a good starting point. Love ya Nadine baby.

VI: The San Diego Chicken

Americans of a certain age may remember the San Diego Chicken. The San Diego Chicken was everywhere. As I recall, the San Diego Chicken was originally a mascot for the San Diego Padres baseball team that would run and jump around on the dugout and stuff. What the connection between the Padres (named after the Catholic priests that ran missions into California back in the day) and the chicken was, I have no idea. Nonetheless, the chicken, over time, somehow transcended the role of mere baseball mascot and became an all- purpose mascot for all types of situations. The chicken, in fact, became the uber-mascot, the mascot of mascots if you will.

I have an exact image in my head of the chicken; essentially the chicken was just a dude with a bunch of yellow feathers and a chicken-esque head. The resemblance to a real chicken was decent, however as mentioned the San Diego Chicken was super yellow. Also, the San Diego Chicken was ugly. Like seriously. Nonetheless, the chicken was huge, and became a meme before anyone even knew what a meme was. Therefore, the chicken must have had something going on. The chicken had his own baseball cards; the chicken was everywhere. At the time I didn’t get the chicken at all, and basically still don’t. But as with a lot of topics, there may be something I’m missing. That’s why I find the chicken interesting to this day.

Dedication: For AC, who likes lists, even though this barely is one.

Andrea Travels, Part III: A Little Mix-Up During Cocktail Hour

Dateline Seoul: The Lotte Hotel, Sunday, 10:17

As Andrea luxuriates on the 17th floor of the Lotte, the opening banalities of the industry conference waft through the hotel. The organizers have gotten at cross-purposes with talent, one Lord Duncan, some kind of a minor royal somebody or something, who had been promised a major speaking slot at the conference opening. This was rescinded at the last minute on account of his financial ties to one of the sponsors. Someone saw a conflict of interest, and the Lord’s press agent is seriously pissed. He’s been relegated to a couple of introductions, reduced to a laugh line. No less than three conference people have tried to explain the situation to the agent, three poor souls, three different stories. The agent is chewing her nails, chewing her nicorette. The Lord is putting a brave face on things, puffing and posing, Lord this and Lord that. Blah blah blah. Andrea’s in bed.

There are a number of other people from her firm at the conference, and a name list, so she’s going to have to put in an appearance at some point. She decides to roll down about 40 minutes before lunch. This way she can drop into a session, stroll the floor for a bit, beat the lunch line, and eat some SOUP.

“Area man’s plan to stay home all weekend and play video games goes off without a hitch.” Like the area man, Andrea’s plan is foolproof in its simplicity. Before leaving her room she tucks the key in her valise, just in case.

Andrea puts on a black dress, tasteful but not demure, and black heels. Dressed to kill and ready for soup, she takes the elevator.

Dateline The Lotte Hotel: Sunday, Late Morning

The soup was pumpkin, of course. Pumpkin soup is the staple of international hotels everywhere. Most pumpkin soup is so-so; today’s was at least decent. Her hunger is sated, but that’s about the only thing about her that is. She’s bowed and scraped to a dozen industry veterans and talked trade with the guys from her firm. She’s been seen.

Today’s closing remarks are underway and the conference, 1100 strong, is packed into the main ballroom. Andrea circles to the back to the sound and light booth. This is the nerve center of the room and the man with his finger on the buttons is Mouse. Mouse is a known quantity–he is sound man to the world and works events just like this one 280 days a year around the world. He used to work full time for Bausch and Lomb before going freelance. A total pro, but he has a weakness. A weakness for Andrea.

She slides her arm under his; it’s a hello.

“How’s it going Mouse?”

“Same old same old. Drinks at 16:30. We’ll see how we are in a few hours.”

Were you dear reader in the medical tubing industry you’d want to tie one on as well. In tumult lies opportunity, thought Andrea.

Andrea hangs with Mouse for half an hour or so, asking various questions about the boards. She’s a quick study, obviously; she’s got the hang of things.

Bathroom break and Andrea bumps into the press agent. “They stitched us up, the bastards,” she rails to Andrea as they stand at the mirror. It could be anybody. Andrea makes sympathetic murmurs.

“How much were you paid?”

“17,000 pounds, bloody hell. And all he gets are two lousy introductions. It’s a total embarrassment.”

Good work if you can get it thinks Andrea. A couple more murmurs and she exits.

Dateline The Lotte Hotel, Sunday, 17:10

White wine, red wine, crab cakes, an item on a Saltine. Conference drink hours are designed for maximum intoxication with minimum calories. Andrea takes two whites back to Mouse.

“Baby I can’t drink on duty.”

“Sure you can–everything’s under control right?”

Mouse looks around, a tic. A tip for you Mouse my man, no one cares. I’m straight up telling you brother. People don’t give a shit.

He takes a couple sips and turns to Andrea. “Bingo is next–I gotta go up front and set the mic up.” Andrea smiles, “I got ya” she says, “I’ll watch the boards.” Famous last words. Mouse heads off and Andrea puts her game face on.

10 minutes later and we are bingoing. A bingo master has been trotted out, and it’s… Lord Duncan. He lets rip with a call of “let’s biiiiiiiingo” and the first number is called. There is nothing quite as captivating for a mixed audience as bingo. Bingo works baby.

Character Analysis: What do we think? I mean Andrea is a gainfully employed professional. She has a rep. And she’s not, normally, an anarchist. But there’s something in the air, some combination of boredom, stasis, and jet leg that adds up. Press that button/ your ass gonna go.

The tension mounts; the room can feel that first bingo coming. Big time action. Mouse is still up front; Lord Duncan is ripping and running. Andrea takes a deep breath and hits the light switch. The room is plunged into darkness. The conference giggles. Titters before tatters. Phase two, Andrea activates the spotlight and turns it full force on Lord Duncan. He does a little pirouette, making the most of the moment. “Lights please” he calls. Not so fast. He steps back out the spotlight and Andrea follows him. “And the next number is…” he jokes, gamely. Spotlight off. Spotlight on. His head is on a swivel, beads of sweat turning to rivults. Andrea leans into the microphone and in her deepest and sultriest voice intones: “in the event of an emergency, the nearest exit may be behind you.” Then she throws the light back on and takes three lateral steps to her right. Grabs a white from the sideboard and surges into the conference space, sidling up right next to Duncan’s press agent.

“When it rains it pours eh?” she asks?

“Jesus Christ what next?” replies the agent.

Mouse is back at the booth, wondering what in the world happened. But on some level he knows. Andrea’s a handful. He’ll cover for her–has no choice. It’s Day 1 and all will be forgotten. Ces’t La Vie partner. Price of doing business.

The bingo has been short-circuited after the disruption. Lord Duncan is guzzling wine with the agent. Andrea approaches.

“Are you some kind of somebody?” she asks.

“I’m the jester at this here party,” says the Lord, “apparently.”

“Are you in the tubing industry,” she asks, innocently.

“Good god no, I give speeches for a living.”

“Speeches about what?”

“Well, about being me dear. I talk about being me.”

“He’s the best in the business, and they treat him like this,” says the agent. “It’s intolerable.”

“Ginny is a little bent out of shape,” says the Lord, “there was a mix-up.”

“A mix-up or a muddle-up?” asks Andrea.

“Bit of both,” says the Lord. “Bit of both.”

to be continued…

Dedication: For K.I. Always.

Andrea’s Travels, Part II: The Street Guy

Never ever been a blue calm sea/ I have always been a storm

Stevie Nicks

Dateline Seoul: Saturday Afternoon

Andrea gets off the second leg of the flight to Seoul around 14:30. She has quasi-slept, faded somewhere into her subconscious anyway, for an hour and a bit. Andrea is not a heavy explorer of her subconscious, more like she knows where it is. On the flight, up there under an ocean of ozone, black window spiders jousted with a velvet gloved countess and bunches of green grapes for supremacy of the space. That was all fine, she was essentially sober, Mr. Brown had been rendered comatose by hour one, and as she rolls into customs she feels, if not exactly happy, at least ready. Ready for the industry conference and its banalities, ready for the Lotte Hotel downtown with its wall of kimchi options at breakfast, ready, even, for a puleun or two. Maybe. We’ll just have to see.

The conference “event” is set to kick off at 8 Wednesday morning, and Andrea has no intention of being on time. Events, by and large, are well planned and poorly designed. They are programmed to run and be completed, and the narrative arc conception is, well, bad. The Seoul event would be no different. “An event should be eventful,” someone once told her, and Andrea has held on to that guy like a tailsman. Also, sometimes when an event lacks eventfulness, well, you gotta inject a little of that yourself. She giggles at the thought; the possibilities were many. She got game, our girl. Watch the f*** out boys.

(Jump cut on account of a lazy writer. Sorry Andrea, you just lost several hours. That’s the breaks baby.)

Dateline Seoul: Saturday, 22:47

Andrea is on the STREET. Can’t learn it in the office, gotta learn it on the STREET. Monsieur Puleun 1 is strolling with a feathered friend on the boulavard. Site of a protest from earlier in the day that Andrea missed. Another peanut tantrum? Korean scandels are unrivaled in their bizarre and byzantine nature. And, the assassin chick of the brother of the NK head dude wore an LOL shirt. So 2017. Check the video. Check the record/ check the guy’s track record. (Le) homo sapien sapiens, them’s bizarre. Puleun 1 sees Andrea; she sees him. Opportunity presents itself–Andrea, she needs a token, a takeaway, a reminder that she was here at all.  At the “event” site no doubt volunteers are cross-stressing before cross-dressing. She couldn’t care less—that’s all paid for by the company. Event spaces are super permeable. So is the puleun. Andrea swings into action.

“My friend, do you know how to get to Sungnyemun?”

“Yes I do. Go with me?”

Andrea pondered. On the one hand, well, you know. Street guy? Seriously? And on the other, well, she is on vacation. A. B, she has her needs. Not what you are thinking brother. Andrea’s needs are a little more, well, esoteric.

“For a little while. Let’s walk.” Andrea slips her arm under his and feels him thrill to her touch. Hooking, hooking is easy. She’s a natural, it’s pretty clear.

Sungnyemun is a no. Sungnyemun can wait. Andrea steers P1 toward the Lotte, before having second thoughts. That’s not the move girl, too predictable. Someone is always watching Mr. Mulder. She needs to re-frame.

“Let’s get a room,” says Andrea. Yes, it’s a high-level cliche, up there with “what’s your number,” and “baby, what’s your sign.” Cliched, therefore effective. The effect on P1 is immediate. Where, he asks? Right here, she says, pointing to a boutique environ that looms over the couple. An art hotel. Sure.

P1 pays with a card as the desk clerk smirks. I didn’t have to come to Maui, but then neither did you. Fast feel, he feels her material. Matters progress, fast. Bloodrush, bloodbuzz, and she is not immune. And yet, Andrea is playing a deeper game, the most dangerous one perhaps. Room ingress and second base. Time for her to make a move.

“Baby, I have to use the bathroom. Freshen up.” The meta-historical language of the female has a beauty all its own. Le floraison is off for our young suitor. Sorry pal. Hit the bricks.

But it’s not that simple. Andrea’s needs have been stimulated, not met. She emerges from the bathroom, face washed, mask of determination.

“Baby,” she says, “I need to go to the shop.”

“Room service will provide.”

“Room service is asleep at the wheel; I’ll be right back.”

Famous last words. Andrea carries a a tote bag–the remainder of her belongings are back at the Lotte. In the bag rests a white robe from the art hotel as well as a sampler of cosmetics from the bathroom. Not because she needs any of these items, more like, well, she wants them. She blows P-san an air kiss, the least she could do, a good trade. P1 collapses on the bed with a sigh. You get what you get P1; we won’t be seeing you again. With her would-be down for the count, Andrea takes a final, critical, step. She pockets the key, an actual metal object (!?!), and slides out the door. Now, remember the room is in his name. The robe, the robe is gone. As is the key. These are with Andrea. And Andrea is back at the Lotte in her PJs. Someone’s always paying for that banter baby.

to be continued…

Andrea’s Travels, Part I: The Flight to Seoul

She’s got the Eye of Fatima/ on the wall of her motel room.

Camper Van Beethoven

Dateline Buenos Aries: Friday Morning

The plane eases into its docking point, 15 minutes late. Andrea wasn’t fretting; she’d been around a bit and knew that things sometimes worked. Other times, well they didn’t.

She is not on the run, not exactly anyway. Nonetheless, the 27 hour trip from Buenos Aries to Seoul via Atlanta will put half a world of distance between her and M. Azur. Welcome distance for Andrea, as the formerly desultory attentions of her blue friend have recently taken a turn for the more incessant. In short, he’s been calling her daily, one thin pretext after another. “Everything’s thin,” she mused, and M. Azur could thin paint. A classy guy who makes decisions and implements is what she needed, not some milquetoast beta-male in the medical tubing industry.  For Christ’s sake already. So Seoul beckoned, and the plane, the plane was late.

Andrea scratches her nose, adjusts her glasses. The turnaround crew would need 20, 25 minutes minimum to turn the plane over for the flight. A quick scan of her messages shows three new bleats from her would-be paramour. Pretext, text, context—still a no. She could handle herself, could Andrea. “Many apologies, I have been so busy,” she texts. “Dinner meeting is not possible this week. Tubing sales are up—talk again.” M.Azur would be a blue mist in no time. Ground staff opens pre-boarding, and Andrea, zoned in section 4, makes a lateral move into zone 3 to make sure her carry-on has the room it needed. “Who’s better than me?”

Andrea settles into 14A, a window seat. Bottle of water, headphones and a sleeping mask. Structured correctly, a plane flight can be made to feel like an undersea journey. All it requires is a little imagination.

Andrea has all she needs to swim a little up there in the ether. Her phone is set to airplane mode and the seat next to her is vacant. Bonus, she tells herself. A non-descript business traveler has the aisle. He looks more like a brown than a blue. Won’t be an issue.

Andrea is a lady, a women really, somewhere in her later 20s, probably. We won’t ask. Attractive, but no waif, she enjoys fine dining and a glass or three of wine. When she drinks her cheeks get rosy red which accentuates her dimples. The gym is not the place to find a girl of her kind; the Mr. Blues of the world are advised to try the patisserie instead. Buy her a piece of pie. Cherry, lemon, coconut cream. Pumpkin, peach, pecan. Andrea might be a little picky with her guys; her pie game is more omnivorous. Without really trying, she has the attention of a half-dozen men within a thirty-year age range, all of whom she deflects with the grace of a fencer. Buenos Aries, Rome, Tampa, Algiers it doesn’t seem to matter where she goes there will be a guy or two. Boys on board and boys on deck. What’s the opposite of a chick magnet? Andrea might not be quite that, but she has options. A passing funny thought, so she dials up an early Bitch Magnet record on her phone.  That was Sooyoung Park’s first band, pre-Seam. Little Park, big city, Korean heritage. Going to Seoul, apropos. Bitch Magnet rocks.

What does Andrea do? It’s a question she can’t quite answer herself. Broadly speaking, she is in sales, a cog in the vast machinery of deal making between multi-nationals. In other words, she is around transactions, helps to facilitate them. An “industry conference” awaits in Seoul. The Korean word for blue is “puleun.” Will there be any puleuns at the industry event? almost surely. Andrea sighs at the smallness of it all. White wine please, make it a double.

The plane is well up over the Pacific by now and Andrea is tipsy at thirty-thousand feet. Where is she really from? It would take a month of pies to get that out of her.  A month of pies and a month of Sundays. So we shall say she is post-racial, like the women in Code 46.

“In a dystopian future, insurance fraud investigator William Gold (Tim Robbins) arrives in Shanghai to investigate a forgery ring for “papelles,” futuristic passports that record people’s identities and genetics. Gold falls for Maria Gonzalez (Samantha Morton), the woman in charge of the forgeries.”

Is “topian” the opposite of dystopian, she wonders? Three drinks and an hour of Bitch Magnet in and she’s feeling a little topian herself. Andrea would be fine in the world of Code 46. Hell, she’d probably thrive.

to be continued…

Zombie Dream

Author’s Note: I dream sometimes. Maybe you do too. And I had this dream, or this dream had me, several years ago, around 2013 as I recall. I have a pretty good idea of what it means. However communication is what the listener does, so if you have an idea feel free to post it in the comments.

I am scheduled to compete in the world wiffle ball championship match against the Chinese national team. I am batting second. The game takes place in a large indoor hall with rafters, etc. The pitcher is a regular looking Chinese man in his early 20s.

No audience is technically visible, but there is a lot of light on the situation. I am somewhat nervous. Before the first batter steps up to the plate, I sneak into the bathroom, taking an artificially long time to avoid having to bat. However, I sense that the game is waiting for me, and eventually return to the field of play. Shift scenes, and I am still competing in the wiffle ball championship but now instead of a large open space I am batting across a table like a ping pong table. There is about 5 feet between me and where the pitcher will stand. There is no pitcher. I swing my bat and try to look composed.

From the far end of the hall, a new pitcher emerges. He is clearly Chinese, but his face is swaddled in bandages. He wears a grey cloth cap with ear flaps. What little of his face is visible is snowy white. He is a zombie. The new pitcher is flanked by military men who prop him up to some degree. It is clear that he had been disinterred only for this occasion. Grey from head to toe. He takes his place across the table, but before the first pitch one of the military escorts tells me that the pitcher wishes for me to kiss him. This seems like an unnecessary form of gamesmanship, but not wanting to offend I agree.

The pitcher rounds the table and raises his left arm high in the air. He is wearing a grey T-shirt. The area where I am supposed to kiss turns out to be a kind of bumpy lymph node. It is fully revolting. Two hecklers behind me suggest that the lymph node is coated with cyanide. I try to ignore this suggestion, feeling that this is simply more gamesmanship. The zombie pitcher lines up to pitch. I dig in and focus. The pitch comes, and I hit it toward center field.

Suddenly, the zombie transforms himself into the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. She is also Chinese, but an archetype of all women. She fields the ball herself and tries to tag me out as I reach for second base. Too late, and I double. But, she clearly could have tagged me if she wanted to–this is clear to both she and I. Nonetheless, I am relieved. I’ll take the double. The zombie is nowhere to be seen, but a sense of unease lingers. The archetypal female is also the zombie. This is unsettling.

People are looking at me as if in expectation of some kind of comment. I have nothing to say.


The lingering image from the dream is the grey cloth cap and the white face. The zombie is both terrifyingly composed and also a little pitiable as he clearly serves such a narrow function for the glory of the state. And, I doubled off of him/her.

The Anima and the Animus: Dreams as Predictors of Mid-life Re-orientation

Author’s Note: The following is a draft of a conference presentation I was due to give at the International Association for the Study of Dreams (IASD) in 2019. Life, as they say, intervened, and I was not able to give the presentation. The draft below is way too long, and was set to be edited a lot before prime time, however I do think there is material of interest here, perhaps especially for men (and hopefully women) in mid-life.


The dream examples in this presentation lean heavily toward “anima” dreams, as this is my own experience. I hope that in the discussion period we can re-balance this weighting.

Advance Notice:

This presentation contains frank discussion about sexuality within the context of the main topic.

Postulate I:

The “mid-life crisis” is no less universal and acute than the challenging teenage period. It’s predictably is such that it is better termed “re-orientation” than “crisis.”

Postulate II:

Dreams can provide advanced warning and guidance about how to navigate this period.

Postulate III:

Following Carl Jung, the anima archetype (most commonly in the male) and the animus archetype (most commonly in the female) are the most commonly associated archetypes with the mid-life period, and therefore deserve especially close attention.

Postulate IV:

Although it is not clear how changing norms around gender (e.g. increased visibility of non-binary and other identities) might impact our understanding of the anima and animus in mid-life, we are advised to make space for the possibility that these archetypes develop/ evolve alongside culture.

Question #1:

What dreams have you had that might relate to the anima/ animus archetypes, and to what extent have they predicted/ informed a mid-life re-orientation?

Question #2:

Jung stresses the universal or near-universal nature of the anima/ animus archetypes (as well as other archetypes). To what extent is holding to Jung’s universalistic perspective helpful/ unhelpful for understanding the play of these archetypes today?

Question #3:

Jung says that “when a situation occurs which corresponds to a given archetype, that archetype becomes activated and a compulsiveness appears which {…} gains its way against all reason.” This not a very hopeful prognosis, even if it has an ample experiential basis. To what extent can understanding and attention to our dreams and unconscious decrease the force of an activated archetype?

Question #4: What other kind of dreams/ dream archetypes might also predict/ presage a mid-life re-orientation?

Postulate II expanded:

Dreams, if treated as basically integrative, give us both a heads up and also a faith/ confidence that we can survive and navigate mid-life re-orientation, although when we are in it we can feel totally overwhelmed.

Dream #: 1


I am in a battle with some quasi-army people, running around a rainy landscape, ducking behind and in and out of cars. I am carrying a very small pistol, possible a “Derringer.” This action goes on for a long time. Finally, the two army factions meet in a parking lot. I am off to to side of where two groups are arguing heatedly. I try to fire my weapon to get everyone’s attention; it makes only a small sound and no one pays attention. However, just then a group forms beside me, to my right. There are quite a lot of people, more than the two factions combined. These people are aligned with one or the other sides in the battle, and are now trying to bring the two sides together. One women, middle aged or a little older and Caucasian, speaks to me very passionately about reconciliation, and grabs me. I put my hands on her shoulders and look deeply into her eyes. The argument is still going; there is a contest to see which group’s energy would prevail.

I disengage from the first women, and there is a younger woman, maybe early 20s with blondish hair. We embrace deeply; I am holding her and stroking her hair. She is “Dusty.” As with the first woman, Dusty and I are involved in some kind of structural reconciliation–we are not simply two people but representing two sides of a conflict.

Dusty has a friend, a thin girl, also in her 20s. The thin girl and Dusty are loosely connected to the older women’s movement. However, the thin girl seems like the prime mover and Dusty is just along for the ride. I get the distinct feeling that Dusty had been around a bit, young as she is. The three of us retire to a sofa—the argument is left behind. Dusty is on my lap, stretched out, while the thin girl, who is also sort of tanned, is to our left. We chat casually, as if we had all known each other for ages. I say, “you are foot soldiers in the women’s movement,” and the thin girl laughs and says yes. I am not in love with Dusty, rather I feel happy and blessed to be able to be connected with her for any amount of time.


Dream #: 2


I arrive late to a pool party with a very deep swimming pool. I am wearing a suit. A lady in an elaborate purple gown falls in the pool (or maybe she jumps in on purpose). In any case, she begins to sink to the bottom. She is underwater for too long, and I decide to jump in and try to save her. I hesitate for a fraction of a second, either because I am fully dressed, or because I am afraid. I feel shame with this delay and dive down. The dive is successful and I go to the bottom of the pool. The woman is only a few feet away however when I try to swim over to her it is like I am swimming through jelly. I can barely move through the water. She drifts away slightly, and I keep trying to make progress aware that my own breath is limited. I resolve to take a few more hard strokes and in so doing try to kind of push the water under her to lift her up because I can’t reach her. Then I head back for the surface and emerge with labored breath—I have used about 90% of my capacity down there. The woman has already surfaced and has been pulled out of the pool by several people on the other side of the pool (the pool is quite large). She is seated on a raised platform kind of similar to a throne. I get out and only one or two people notice that I have been in the pool at all. Later though the woman thanks me for my efforts.

A few noticeable things about this dream are that I had the sense that the woman threw herself in on purpose and also that I knew through the dream that she would get out OK one way or the other. In fact, it was me that was in more danger than her even though she was under water for much longer.


Dream #: 3


I am at an underground concert/ art event late at night. There are multiple acts playing in a series of narrow hallways and spaces between pipes as such with an audience, including myself, who is kind of milling about. All the acts are simultaneously being fed into an audio feed and there is a second audience in a separate, possibly more subterranean, room. I am not in this second room however somehow know of and can visualize it. The audio feed is being controlled be either Richard Branson or Jann Wenner or someone of that stature. This is kind of a big deal in a weird way—definitely an art event.

I am attached to a show that is beginning. The group is the Red Krayola, and the leader is a youngish female with short hair, creamy skin, a little Asian, probably in her mid-twenties. At first, I am appointed to be the lead singer, which is terrifying. Fortunately, the first part of the first song has a long, chugging, guitar and bass buildup which is transporting and awesome. Also fortunately, for me, the leader starts to sign or hum, no words only sounds. Maybe she will be the lead vocal after all? I begin to try to harmonize as best I can and it goes OK. I am deeply hopeful that my harmonies will stay down in the mix and that at no time will I need to be the lead singer as I know I will not be equal to the task.

The lead-in to the song goes on for several minutes, at least three or four, and it is the best music I have ever heard, which is amazing because the act is almost totally unknown—perhaps this is our debut? I start to fall in love with the leading lady, slowly, totally.

Suddenly, the electricity cuts off and so does the music. I hear a voice from the other audience room ask for our band’s signal to be brought back up. People are asking for more. However, Jann’s voice comes over the speaker and says we have lost power. The show is over.

I am both relieved (because I don’t need to sing anymore) and disappointed (because I wanted to hear the rest of the song). The disappointment registers in my stomach. Before she gets swept into the crowd (which is large and active), I approach the leading lady. She is gorgeous, slight, with earrings. She has a range of cards like small index cards with Taoist symbols in front of her as well as some jewellery and beads, not ostentatious—very tasteful. She asks me where I am from, where I live, and my spiritual orientation. I tell her, wondering if I should describe myself as a Taoist or whether she would see that as pretentious. I tell her I am a new-ager, but only in order to access ancient wisdom—things we have always known and have forgotten. As I tell her, we lean closer together and I am falling head over heels for her. I am sure that she has a line of people waiting for her and will move me along soon, however instead we began to kiss as we lean together. This operation is made difficult by a single metal spike in her lower left lip—a piercing that you sometimes see. The piercing is difficult for me to navigate and a little painful.

Scene cut and we are in bed together, unclothed, coupling. However, it turns out she has multiple piercings all over her body and no matter what arrangement we make the operation is too difficult. The dream ends, with a memory of the music.


Dream #: 4


I am in a parking lot with somebody, perhaps the parking lot of a gas station. There is a van that a woman is living in, traveling around in. I know this before seeing the woman. The woman leans out of the van which looks a bit like a food truck and may be. She is Asian but also not Asian and she leans right down in front of me. I kiss her, briefly, and she kisses me back, briefly. Then she pulls back and talks about her life on the road. She says her name is Mary. She is very attractive, with curls in the front of her pretty short hair and big cheeks. She gives me a business card that is handmade. The business card calls her “Wild Mary” and there is a drawing of a map which is full of squiggles and impossible to follow. She says this is a map to her live music event which I need to come to. I want to go, however feel like there is no way I will decipher the map.


Dream #: 5


I am in a pool like a large whirlpool, maybe 8 feet deep or so, with a bunch of other people, mostly Japanese women. One woman is kind of sleeping in the pool and she leans on me like people sometimes will on trains. She is in a bathing suit and young and pretty good looking, wearing glasses. I allow her to lean on me, she floats away, then comes back. She appears to be relaxing. Then, everyone is getting out of the pool which appears to be closing. The woman becomes totally horizontal and looks at me. She asks for a doctor—just says “doctor.” She is unwell and can’t move herself. I scoop her up and swim to the side where various people are getting out and starting to dress. I tell another woman she needs a doctor and then repeat this in Japanese. Several people move off to find a doctor who will be downstairs (we are in some kind of complex and a doctor will be on hand.) The woman is laying comatose by the side of the pool and I hope the doctor comes soon. Then, my wife is there and I try to explain the situation with the woman. While I am doing this I look up and the woman is gone. She has rallied and disappeared without a word. The doctor never arrives.


Dream #: 6


I have been chasing a man I think I know up to the 7th floor of a tall building. Although I am athletic and running hard, I can’t catch him, and face a variety of set backs. Giving up, I retreat to the back of a dentist’s office where there are an assortment of rooms up some steps. Entering the highest room all the way in the back of this building I see a woman I know. She is from my college and I have a longstanding relationship with her. She is wearing a beige blouse which is buttoned at the neck and looks to be of Asian design. She comes over to me from the wall where she has apparently been waiting. We embrace and are very glad to see one another. We will spend the next few days together and I know in the course of those days I will be unfaithful to her in some way. I hope not to lose her as a consequence.

After waking briefly I try to renter the dream space to find her again. I am unable to do so–instead I see a bunch of filament-like strands in space. A voice says “maybe everything is connected.” It is possible that a single strand connects all elements in the unconscious and in the universe. Still, no woman.


Dream #: 7


I have a distinct feeling I am being called. This is not the first time I have had this feeling however this time it is as or more insistent than ever.

I dream I am seeking wisdom from some underground women spirits/ half women half spirits. They are locked behind a door and only accessible through an intermediary, also a woman. The intermediary takes my request for wisdom and something more to the women and comes back empty handed. She says the women rejected my request because I have the keys to the door. This is not saying that I have the wisdom, only that I have the keys and need to unlock it myself.

Later I dream of a teacher. I am walking down a hillside and there is a kind of encampment on my left. Here there is a teacher. The teacher quickly vacates the encampment. I see a man in purple on the far shore. He is bearded and serene. Perhaps he is a fisherman. I get a full body chill because he is the teacher. Then, another man appears closer to me on a more accessible bank. He is wearing flannel and also bearded. It is clear that the first man, though dignified, is not the teacher and this second man is. I consider approaching him but instead wind up in the encampment. There is a youngish woman, not so young but younger than me, there. She is the real teacher and she is in town for only a day or so. I go over to her and am ecstatic to be with her. She allows me to nuzzle her neck and we begin talking. She has signs like the dao on her body—not exactly tattoos more sort of birthmarks. A man is there who is kind of her minder and he lets me be close to her. I will take her teaching in a day or so.

I am seeking wisdom and instead of getting it from the underground women I need to make my own way. I see a vertical rectangle with three square boxes at the base. In the boxes are letter like SO, XOS, SXO. These are a symbolic alphabet and indicate a deeper knowledge that I should have access too. I understand that these symbols are the key to unlocking the door to the underworld.


Dream #: 8


I am skiing on a smallish yet pretty steep hill. There are some very good skiers who are blasting down and somehow also skiing back uphill, quite quickly. I am getting down ok but can only ski-walk partway back to the top each time. I am capable yet not fully confident on the skis.

A tall young Asian woman is there and I need to protect her a bit. Probably it is her first time on skis. Later, it is suggested that she does a ski jump. The ski jumps are supposed to take place over a 4-5 foot spiral cone of water but the cones aren’t ready today so I hold out a pointed object like a stick laterally at chest height instead. This seems a little dangerous and also I want her to succeed so I resolve to lower the stick as need be without telling anyone. There is a bit of a crowd around and some delay. Then, she is ready to go.

Suddenly I look up and realize that we are in a carpeted room which is only about 10 feet in depth and that there is a wooden ceiling closing the room from the ski slope. To do the jump, she will need to come across from the left side, jump diagonally, and stop almost immediately on carpet. This seems impossible so I try to call off the jump. The crowd protests and the skier also indicates willingness to continue. This is madness, so I try to demonstrate how little space she has by simulating a landing. I feel like I’m calling attention to something super obvious and the others are dense and irresponsible.


Dream # 9:


Last day in Bali. Dreams here have been intense and long. This dream is loaded with metaphysics. I will try to describe it carefully.

The dream starts with an image of a large whisky bottle. The bottle is very fat and also ceremic. So in fact it looks nothing like a normal whisky bottle. It is perhaps of Suntory brand. I know before I know that a story of some kind will unfold inside the bottle. I am reminded somehow of a ship inside a bottle. Suddenly I am inside the bottle itself. There is a whole word here and all sorts of people in a city-scape. I come to understand that everyone lives in relative fear of a species or group of overlords.

The overlords are both omni-present and also very distant. They rule by fear and have the power to rub out anyone at any time. Sort of. When a person is marked for removal their status is updated. Their status is displayed on a kind of glowing chip in their shoulder. There are basically theft types of statuses. First is “needing to have the life wrung out of them.” There are marked people and their time is limited. Apparently they are political criminals, thought criminals. Oddly, even when marked these people continue to circulate and take part in oppositional activity. I never actually see one of them removed, although their actions do take on a greater sense of urgency.

The second category is another worded status. This one is more elliptical and I forget the wording. Though safer than the first, this is still a status to be avoided if possible.

Third is a number. A voice tells the city that statuses will be updated and that anything under 40000 is a safe score. I check my update with bated breath, fearing the dreaded worded status. My number is 49500. Not bad I think—although not under 40000 this is perhaps for young people. 49500 seems reasonable for my age.

Suddenly the view shifts and I can see into the bottle from the outside. All of the people and various creatures and scrambling for the mouth of the body. The bottle begins to approach a wall into which is will soon merge. Here, the entrance to he bottle will be sealed. The I character in the dream is also scrambling for the exit although he doesn’t seem to stand much of a chance. Creatures spill over one another and one baby creature somewhere between a human baby and a little mouse slips through the mouth of the bottle to the other side of the wall. The bottle snaps closed and I am once again staring at the large ceremony bottle from the beginning of the dream. I feel a sense of relief that the perfect creature has escaped.


Dream # 10


Car crash dream

Dream # 11


Only the second real dream since August and the first since the car crash dream three months ago.

I am in a large and ramshackle house which is apparently part of a larger complex of cabins. This may be some kind of resort, certainly it is out of town. There is a ranger hut as well so I guess we are in the woods.

After some interactions with the ranger which are painless (it is clear that I am welcome here) I begin exploring the house with a small team of people, maybe three or four. We are doing some kind of catalogue or space survey, and every space I see I have to climb in and have my picture taken in it. This means like alcoves, cubby spaces, closets, skylights, etc. Sometimes one of the other people also gets in the space, but I always do. It is unclear what the survey is for, however it is obvious that we need to do it. This process goes on for a long time and we cover much of this large house.

Eventually we come to a kind of alcove carved above a hallway, a space that doesn’t really exist in nature. An attractive Caucasian women in a white swimsuit climbs into the space and someone takes a picture. This picture becomes the definitive record of our whole trip. I don’t think I enter this space.

The group moves to a basement floor and suddenly there are a lot more people, maybe 20 or more. It’s crowded and a little noisy. The complexion of the group has changed. There is a trap door to a sub-basement and I open it and drop down. One person at least follows me, perhaps two, an older couple maybe. The sub-basement is about 4 and a half feet high and I have to stoop. It is full of junk, large foam blocks, other boxes. There is barely any room to move and nothing to see or find. I feel immediately claustrophobic and also have a flash of fear that one of the larger group will close the trap door. This fear comes and goes quickly, but it’s enough for me to ask myself why I have to always be the one exploring the spaces. If there is a group of twenty we can share the load. And, I don’t want to be in this claustrophobic sub-basement anymore.


On the Phrase “I Got a Guy For That”

The broker said that he should sell the wine/ they got this guy that can arrange a buy.

Craig Finn

There are different types of marketplaces in the world. First there are legitimate, above-board markets, the shops and such you go to everyday. Then there are black markets, the so-called underground economy. Poised somewhere in between the legitimate and the underground, however, lies another type of market. This is a liminal sort of market, a market for which we need an experienced navigator. This is the realm of “the guy for that.”

We know we are in the realm of this kind of guy whenever we hear someone say “I got a guy for that.” Need a passport in three days? There’s a guy for that. Want to build a greenhouse but don’t want to drop thousands at the home center? There’s a guy for that too. Need to dump some garbage from a construction job but the landfill rates are exorbitant? Go get a guy. Need a prescription but your country doesn’t allow generic pills to cross the border? Another guy. Need to offload your wine cellar to pay the alimony? Craig Finn can find you a guy.

Now the great thing about the guy for that is, although in some cases all the above may be different guys, there are some guys that do it all. This is the type of guy who can get you cut-rate auto parts one day, scalped tickets to the Garden the next, and a little something something for your loft party on the third. Life is divided into specialists and generalists, and here we have the generalist version of the guy for that. Mike Ehrmantraut from the Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul TV series is a classic example of a generalist guy for that.

How does one become a generalist guy for that I wonder? What winding set of life ways leads someone to be able to source whatever you need at short notice? What even are the essential skills of such a guy? I don’t know, but I think the generalist form of the guy for that pops up fairly regularly in the army. Soldiers, whether confined to base or in the field, generally have tightly restricted access to the many pleasures that life can afford. An abundance of rules, meals ready to eat, and a dreary PX may be all they have to work with. That’s where the guy for that comes in. This is the guy who knows when a few ladies are coming through town, down to party. This guy has a line of a van full of meats, has those sweet French cigarettes from across the border. This guy is on top of it. Army fiction is full of these kinds of guys, scamps and scoundrels who are yet always portrayed quite sympathetically by the author. The reason for this is easy to see—if the author has actually been in the army (as a great many nineteenth and mid-twentieth century writers were) he (usually he here) would know and appreciate the many benefits of having a guy for that around, no matter what other undesirable qualities the guy might possess. After all, anyone who hooks you up with quality meats is easily forgiven.

And then there is the specialist guy for that. The specialist guy for that usually possesses a certain rare and highly developed technical skill of some kind. While the generalist guy for that is basically a fixer, good at procuring items and turning them over at a mark up, the specialist guy for that is a technician, an artist even. Here we have the counterfeiter and the stamp forger. The guy who can jailbreak your phone, the safecracker. Here too we have the saboteur, and, of course, the bomb maker. As is easily apparent from this run down, the specialist guy for that tends more toward outright criminality than does the generalist.

There is a great scene in the film The Battle of Algiers where the Algerian rebels who are involved in an insurrection against the French are planning some bombings in the city. They go to a bomb maker, a guy in the back of a dingy shop, naturally, who leisurely and precisely wires the bomb. The scene is entirely wordless, and features close-ups of the bomb maker’s hands as he arms the bomb. The director Steven Soderberg has said that he could watch a whole film about this guy, and I know what he means. He means, I think, that there is a whole world behind the bomb maker guy that could be explored. Who is he? Where does he come from? How did he come to be the go-to-guy for bomb wiring in Algiers in 1961? What does he do in his spare time? We get answers to none of these questions, just a sparely presented introduction to his art. But that’s enough to know for certain that he’s the guy for that.

We will close with a couple of questions. First, what about the gal for that? My theory is that while the gal for that surely exists somewhere, it is more likely that proximal to the guy for that is the gal that plays a slightly different role. Shady guys hang with shady gals, no doubt, I just think the gals play another, perhaps larger and certainly less easily definable, role in the proceedings. This is perhaps a subject for a future post. Second, what will happen to the guy for that in a future where more of our movements, financial transactions, and even thoughts are tracked and monitored? Will the guy for that slowly go extinct? I don’t think so, or at least I hope not. I think there will always be a place for the guy for that, a hustler who can see the angles, play the edges, middle the situation.

All in all, regardless of the relative morality of guy for that activities, I salute him. Also, I gotta go build a greenhouse. I got a guy for that.