Friday, November 06, 2015

Dream • Rainbows from a Train

A fragment of a dream that returned upon reading about aurora's on Mars (How the Sun Helped Murder Mars: 
I am speeding along on board a silver train with large windows. There are others aboard and we are suddenly aware that rainbows are appearing on the horizon. Not just one or a double but many with standard appearance and varying sizes. They seem to emanate from everywhere and excitement mounts on the train as new ones sporadically appear and are pointed out by the passengers who ooh and aaah. At first appreciation is in unison, then, because of the unexpected number, the shouts are more singular alerts as to a new version in the sky. The larger ones are multi-concentric and variegated with complex designs and color patterns, somewhat geometric but still in a circular arch formation. The windows on the train don't seem to accommodate the magnitude of their scope and I must bob and weave my head to take in the full arches between the mullions. Passengers crowd around the southern windows of this west-bound train to witness the unfolding phenomenon and accumulation of rainbows. I am entranced, but begin to question the puzzle and scientific reason for this happening …quietly to myself.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Dream • X-Town Sprint

I have arrived from a dream-forgotten locale at a miniaturized chapel version of Grace Cathedral. The building has rough hewn light-colored stones and is elevated from the street at the crest of this (Nob?) Hill orientation and location. There is much street traffic below and people are arriving and milling about in anticipation of this production of Little Shop of Horrors on the elevated plaza near the box office and entry. I am waiting for a friend/Diane Komater and decide to enter and simultaneously realize I have left my ticket at home. I gauge the time it will take to retrieve it for this rather expensive production and decide I can traverse the City and return in time. I give a BRB signal to the ticket-taker and head down to the street to catch a cab. There are none in sight and I proceed down California to further my forward progress toward Van Ness. I pass Komater on her way to the show and quickly explain I will meet her when I return. I keep checking over my shoulder hoping to snag a taxi. I am resigned to hurrying toward home on foot while estimating my remaining time. Along the way I pass various street life happenings and a small homeless encampment at Market. I cross Market and realize I am near Komater's studio and decide to duck in as it is raining and I am drenched. (It is raining IRL this AM) Komater is there and calmly working, she has decided to forego the show despite having her own ticket that I have paid for. She apparently has caught a cab back and arrived here before me. We are joined by Bill Murray from a back room. He offers to drive me home and we prepare to leave in his old woody station wagon. It is parked in the studio so there is much back and forth maneuvering to turn it around. As we are near escaping the driveway space, a large truck filled with vinyl records backs into and blocks our egress. As Bill and the drivers negotiate, I rejoin Komater and begin to acquiesce to the inevitability of not making it back to the theatre. There is a physical sense of 'letting go' of my mission while Komater is oblivious or uncaring of its perceived importance to me.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dream • Audience Recruitment

I am working closely for and with a club owner producer. We have a great friendly relationship beyond his high-powered business dealings. He considers me a valuable right-hand to his business. I am privy to all, but my initial and intended services are a small part of a larger show business venture. Very Glenn Schwartz (though I have never met him IRL)
The club he uses as home base is in a cluster of similar venues in a North Beach-feel part of downtown (Banana Republic corner of Union Square) It is all but invisible during the day until the nightlife springs full-bloom at dusk. Access from the street is down a flight of stairs to a dark, brick-walled, painted black showroom. The nook/office we sit in to to conduct business is near the entrance door. The club spreads out and there seems to be 2 stages. The main stage is glowing, well-lit and blindingly hazy even during the day, while the other on the opposite wall doubles and converts as easily to theatre seating. The wooden structure raised platform creaks like bleachers as you walk up to your seats. Access is a collapsing spiral stairway that fans out to create steps down to the floor. I traverse this more than once and am always intrigued by its construction and the height of this stage cum ad hoc table-less seating. 
We are dealing with day details when a call to inform him comes in, as his venue is to host a secret show for a high-level visiting performer. There is such secrecy, the name is dream forgotten or consensually known as a BFD. Think Eddie Murphy or Robin Williams. Understandably, there is much excitement and the handful of people privy to this knowledge know to keep it under wraps. We flip into high gear to prepare for the one-time event. There is much scurrying around, alerting interested and deserving parties and ramping up in general. I am allowed to invite my close associates and racking my brain to alert one particular dream forgotten industry person to this special event. but am having trouble remembering and dialing a specific number on a brick of an antiquated smart phone I have borrowed from Mike Lynch. The numbers keep eluding me, even as they are repeated patiently by Mike. They are an amber, early calculator display font. I go upstairs and outside to clear the place before the arrival, get a breath of fresh air, and meet some invitees into the stealth entrance.
Outdoors, street life parades by and as we collect around the corner, away from the front door to await for the club to be readied for our entry time and the star's big show. A young bespectacled girl approaches with sheet music in hand and a question as to where to audition as a jazz singer. We point out some nearby clubs and we ask her to entertain us until they open for business. She is anxious to show off her chops. There is an upright piano on the street and she does a sufficient job to qualify for more recommendations. She is invited to join us as we enter the club back around the corner as showtime nears. The invitees are sparse, not cause for alarm, but I fret and continue to call friends so they won't miss out on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this will surely be.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Dream • Bright Ideas and Gummy Pills

I'm working on a large scale film production on location in one of the Embarcadero high rises. My contribution is a small cog part of the bigger endeavor. There is much activity and my small crew is pulling its weight and representing well. I have a clever idea to add to the movie or have found some sort of shortcut to make things roll along easier. I am about to explain at a production meeting, but a crisis arises and I am asked to finish up with one of the producers who sees the brilliance in the beginning statements. As the crew disperses to address the issue, I am told to meet with the producer, Allison Janney in another part of the building to continue laying out my plan/idea. I am excited as I know the idea is a winner and will likely garner me seat at the bigger creative table. Allison Janney is attentive and encouraging. We get along as old friends and I quickly become her confidant and sounding board. The collaboration will bear fruit for both of us. There are more meetings planned and I must stay in the vicinity of the Embarcadero to be available for them.

The dream dissolves to an adjacent familial place where I am awakening from the activity below. Kathy Hughes is in the house and pills have been replaced in a regimen intended for her feminine issues. I have the instructions taken upon delivery. They are heart-shaped and gummy and fit into a recessed tray. They keep getting jostled and I repeatedly realign them. The ragged Berber rug remnant by the bed has some industrial end-of-the-roll markings in a fluorescent lavender spray paint. This is a makeshift bedroom to accommodate my lingering. Hugh is around and busy with the hubbub below this bedroom alcove. He is attending to family, which seems to include Kathy as his wife. Upon hearing of the replacement pills, he devolves into Mark and regrets that he was the one that took them by accident in the rush and misunderstanding of his life. This version of him/Hugh is less friendly and sweet and caught up in the overwhelming busy schedule of his daily existence.
This dream is likely a product of watching the Side by Side documentary and the noise of the Canadian families' morning activities at Ron's in Montreal.

Monday, June 29, 2015

We interrupt this dream journal, to bring you a dream come true.

The delightful Miss Dornacker and Miss Goldberg, with hats.
Some years ago one of my photographs was included in a feature on's blog. There is plenty of nostalgia for those days in the Bay area and many die-hard fans –gods bless them! Enterprising journalist, Peter Hartlaub, haunted the SF Chronicle's photo morgue to unearth some gems. The dream-come-true: receiving a proper photo credit for this photograph of yore. Even more amazing that it survived along with this timeless image. Seems just like yesterday…

Whoopi arrived for the session early, so we perched in my front window-seat and talked 'comedy' while we waited for Jane. At the time, she was working with Berkeley's Blake Street Hawkeyes and already honing her characters—the junkie Fontaine, the Surfer Chick, the Crippled Lady and the Jamaican Woman—that would become part of The Spook Show. These staples were likely part of her show at the upcoming Great American Music Hall with Jane.

At that time, many comediennes chose the stand-up joke telling model which assured them booking in nightclubs and bars, where the short attention span of drinking patrons was rewarded with quick get-to-the-point punchlines. The tougher road to forge was character sketches, which seemed an inherent female talent and the province of theatrically trained actresses. Those that ventured into character work were a tougher sell to the club bookers and their audiences. Conversely, as a showcase for television or films, it was ideal to show ingenuity, range and versatility to possible casting agents in the crowd… if you could book yourself on the club circuit to pay the bills while waiting for your big break.

The most memorable part of our conversation, was her certitude of success and fame. She knew she was going to be a big star, and said so, out loud, in so many words, with conviction. Impressed with her confidence and long a believer in 'naming your intent', I had no argument with her sharing her mantra and plans for destiny. I understood the ego required for performing, so it was familiar in my world, not arrogant, rather matter-of-fact. She knew fame —big fame— was coming, maybe not knowing how it would transpire, but assured it was within her grasp. This was nearly a year before her off-broadway debut, Mike Nichols's 'discovery' of her talents, and 'the rest is history' inevitability…

Jane finally arrived in true glamazon style, costume changes, props and make-up bag in tow. The style contrast between the two was apparent, unimportant, so unmentioned. We got down to the business/fun of capturing the right image for what would become a flyer for the show. As an improviser, I was ready to play with their ideas and add mine to the mix, on-the-fly. Good photographic practices call for a variety of poses to yield surprises during the session and a range of choices afterwards. A bit like bracketing for exposure, it's a way of covering the bases while the talent is in the studio. During the shoot, despite encouragement from Jane, then me, Whoopi was reluctant to remove her hat for some alternate looks. It may have been the vanity of a bad hair day, but she was not having it, demurring our requests with a child-like reticence. After the bravado of her future trajectory talk, it seemed like a contradiction to her fearlessness and self-assurance. To this day her reaction still puzzles, and while we did convince her to de-hat for a dozen shots, I will honor her mysterious reasons and keep those in the vault for a while longer.

By the way, I believe Whoopi's dreams came true, as well.

Re-animated fun from that shoot…
an ill-advised and out-of-character idea from Jane's prop bag. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dream • Row U Seat 22

Walking and exploring a neighborhood, somewhat familiar as around the Market Safeway and around and down Bartlett at a leisurely pace. There are stops along the way, a motel balcony where friends are conversed with and many dream forgotten incidents relating to school, bushes of lilies that are quite fragrant and beautiful, children of others coming home from school and ?. As I meander on my way home, I encounter Carrie Snow who tells me of a large concert event being held in an armory like building on the west side of Bartlett. It may be just a speaker of some import and interest, but I can still get tickets at the venue and double back to do so. There is much confusion with a Philippine man at the door as to whether I have a ticket. He assumes I am in need of two tickets and charges my cc around 40 bucks with handling fees. The tickets come with hotel accommodations as it is assumed everyone attending is from out of town. I realize he has given me two room keys with small medallion fobs. I am not concerned with the overcharging and rationalize the low cost overage. He gestures to my seat: U 22, which is uncharacteristicly  in the front row among other unoccupied seats in the filling up amphitheater. I notice most of the attendees are my age or a bit older. I have some time before the show starts so I decide to walk up the wide stairs to further explore the hall toward where U 22 would logically be, although I realize these seats are numbered laterally across the room in alphabetical sections. There is a projection area that has a certain amount of rusty cave coloring on the white walls. No one is manning the space and I am free to marvel at the huge stalagmite that inhabits and bifurcates the space. It is a crusty, crystallized formation, mostly orange red in color and it seems the building may have been built around it. The speaker is about to commence and I know I must return to my seat in Row U seat 22.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Dream • Food Expedition

Kathy Jones and I are taking care of her gangly teenage cousin as we walk around a small town of hers, possibly Fremont, shopping and taking in a bit of touristy stuff. We decide to eat and are joined by Jimmy Kimmel. Jones and I decide to impress them with a well known and well worn approach to the restaurant row of this town. The entrances are secret and back-room, underground and near-kitchen access.
We jump up on a counter located at the back of a bar, swing our legs over to jump into a dirt basement, the bar's freight-receiving cellar and proceed up stairs with brick walls in one of many passageways to our destination. It is meandering and byzantine, also fun to lead the group and show our prowess and knowledge of this little-known back of the house approach. There are some outdoor segments but is is long and convoluted skirting the restaurants we are working our way around and past. The restaurants' noises of conviviality are muffled but heard as we finally make our way to the destination of an Italian restaurant. Jones usually eats heartily and this is her favorite cravings place. There is much anticipation from Kimmel as he has bought enthusiastically into the adventure. The cantankerous counter waitress that will take our order says we must partake of their new setup/menu that includes a Wednesday-Friday inclusion of a comedy night, beyond the food offerings. Jones's young cousin announces she has $1.81 to spend and I make a note to self that I will cover her meal. Jones has pulled away and is mumbling about not being hungry. I believe it is because of lack of funds and assure her repeatedly "I got this". Meanwhile Jimmy Kimmel is making his dinner choice from the huge price fixe meals which include many courses. Jones and I have always come here for our favorite salmon entree with antipasto.
We finally find it buried in the new color xeroxed menu and proceed to order. There is entertainment going on in an adjacent room, but we are uninterested as it is not our style or we have seen it many times before. Everyone in our intrepid party is in good spirits and impressed with the path and trail we took to get to this special place with amazing food. It feels like Bruno's in decor, but the waitress has a NY vibe and no-nonsense manner about her.