Saturday, January 31, 2015

Shadowland



I went outside this morning. The foothills all the way from La Crescenta to Sierra Madre, top to bottom, were draped with a black cloth. Remarkably, this massive project had required just four men, two dogs, and one night.

I interviewed one of the men. Tall and blond, he didn't seem the least bit tired, just very hungry. I gave him half of my salmon sandwich.

Me: Did the state pay for this? Isn't it terribly expensive?
He: We're protecting the hills. A forest fire is more expensive.
Me: How were you able to cover the entire range?
He: A helicopter delivered the material. Then we used a technique called the lunar maneuver. Basically, you're prone on the ground and ironing and stretching the cloth with your body.
Me: What about the dogs? What's their technique?
He: The same. They're bred for it.

I drove into Pasadena to see the cloth-covered hills from a distance, from the vantage point of a soccer field. I turned to the nice woman standing next to me and said, "You're smiling. It's amazing, right? Not sure what it means -- maybe an art installation."

And she said, "No, I'm smiling because we're winning."

But I was busy composing my article. I'd title it Shadowland, and the first line would begin -- "While you were sleeping..."


I'm reading this book about Neuropsychology, and there's a chapter on RL Stevenson. Stevenson believed his dreams were the result of the Little People who visited him at night and put on a show. In fact, he attributed 90% of Jekyll and Hyde to the Little People. He only had to intervene twice: The first time to train the Little People to work with chapters or scenes -- continue the same show night after night. And the second time when it came to the ending because, "The Little People have no conscience."

30 comments:

  1. If my dreams are the work of Little People then I'm not sure I want to meet them. They must be very very strange, minutely attentive to detail within a surreal mis-en-scene. And the people they know! Mostly I hope never to meet them on this side of realty and wish they would stop eating up all the food before I get to it.

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  2. My little people are scattered. They start a story then interrupt themselves to tell another one, then maybe go back to the first one and maybe not. Maybe try to convince me there's a highway through that dress shop where I was just locking up, or a dark man-beast climbing in through the back window. It's definitely a story, just not a shapely one.

    I like the dark cloth on the hills.

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    1. I often ask myself what a monkey would do.

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  3. Yesterday I decided that I could fly to Chicago for one day to see an Allan Sherman concert. I flew to Chicago. Didn't have to pack much because I'd only be staying overnight. When I got to the hotel, I realized I didn't know where Sherman was playing or even if there were still tickets available. I asked the concierge, who didn't seem to know. I decided I needed to go to ask at another hotel. I was annoyed at myself for flying to Chicago without even knowing if I could get tickets to the concert. I also forgot to make plans for my return trip.

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    1. That's nothing. Think of those who've gone into a tizzy over Rod McKuen.

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    2. I liked Rod's music. Even saw him live once. I have a signed copy of an early edition of his first book. But tizzy? Not here.

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  4. I was at Roberta Martinez's house. She skateboarded into the living room, carrying a pie tin of quiche crust. "It's good with candied pecans," she said. Just then, we heard drums outside. She skateboarded over to the front door, opened it, and we saw a parade marching down the street. Her cat ran out the door and bit the conductor's hand.

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    1. Was it during the LA County Pecan Festival? A busy weekend.

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  5. I love visiting Roberta. There's always something fun going on.

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  6. My little people have been pretty quiet lately...either that or I'm repressing my memories!!!

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  7. Tagging the wee one's presence to Dystopian, encompassing shadow, clean-limbed naturalists with scientifically tasked dogs - it all makes sense now.

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  8. I can't stop laughing about Roberta on a skateboard. I hope she invites me to visit before seeing the parade. My Little People buzz off so quickly. I was having a wonderful adventure last night until the little dog wanted to be let out into the garden, which woke up the old dog and the cat, after which I couldn't get back into my adventure, no matter how hard I tried. Please give us more of the Shadowland series.

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  9. The little people visit me every night. I'm still waiting for them to come back with my daughter's green 1966 Bonneville, which they said was in my driveway on Thanksgiving night. And I saw it that night, but it was gone in the morning. She and her father were both most disappointed when I told them about it the next morning.

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  10. Do you ever eat food in your dreams? I do, usually sweets. Sometimes it's delicious, and other times I'm surprised that it has no taste whatsoever.

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  11. I feel as if I should report from Skaterville. Been years since I've been on one. I do have a fond memory of riding down my neighbor's driveway. I suspect it might have looked funny to others. I was in my full Cadette G.S. uniform - heels and all. Didn't take place in a dream. Although I find myself dreaming of time in East Los. Oh, I'd love to look through the door and see a parade going down the street. Must have been a cat other than our Larry who bit the conductor. Larry would just yawn and readjust his sleeping position.

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  12. You do skateboard -- and in heels. My Little People rule!

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  13. My little people are very hit and miss. Haven't had any visits from them in a while.

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  14. Do you return to places in your dreams, metaphoric or physical?

    I worked at a theater in my 20s; it was a competitive atmosphere and I was not happy there. I often go back and either relive the unhappiness or defeat my enemies. Last night was a combination: I left my enemies behind, riding a burned-out car on a roller coaster track. I was eating pieces of the car--tasty but socially unacceptable, I realized. I also realized a big train was catching up to me on the track. I guess it didn't catch me because here I am.

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  15. I've never eaten a car, not in my wildest dreams.

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  16. I thought it was a little heavy on the oil.

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  17. I Google and I saw an aerial view of Altadena. So beautiful these huge mountains!

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    1. Sonia -- Within 20 minutes from Downtown LA, you could be at a trailhead and about to walk along a mountain stream.

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  18. I'm reading "Something Wicked This Way Comes." Bradbury calls the dream people "ulmers and goffs." Those are the bad dream people.

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  19. That's so nice you did that, Sonia. As you know, I love our mountains.

    P -- that sounds interesting. Did you ever read Roald Dahl's BFG? It's about a giant who wanders the streets late at night and catches other people's dreams in his mason jar. Quite wonderful.

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  20. I haven't read any Dahl, but that sounds good to me. On my list it goes.
    The dark poetry of SWTWC is a vortex of dangerous joy for my beating, reading heart.

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  22. I used to always keep a dream journal on my nightstand. I was really good about writing down what I could remember. I would write up a storm, but when I read it back in the morning (or whenever I was done sleeping), it was usually gibberish and very LSD'ish.

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  23. I will never, never, ever, sign up for a class, show up the first day, and then forget about it until finals.

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  24. That's a great shot of the San Gabes. I can practically smell the chaparral.

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  25. John, why does that college dream persist? In mine, I signed up for history (why history, I'd never sign up for history), and then panic that I may not ace the final as I never turned up for class.

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