Posted by: normanlgreen | February 18, 2012

Dream, February 18, 2012 subversive book burning & Chicano rock


Dream, home, 9:20 am

An author and writing teacher has set up a prank on a young woman, a student of his. At the last minute I have been brought into the conspiracy. The author considers the woman to have been sheltered from the body of subversive literature of the nineteen fifties and sixties.

His other students have gathered hundred of paperbacks – Robert Gover, Terry Southern, Hubert Selby, and many I do not recognize. We take the books to a nightclub that is unused in the afternoon. Inside a dancehall at the back of the restaurant/club, we stack the books in lines along the floor, up both side walls, up parallel sets of steps at the left and right, and pile the greatest portion of used paperbacks against the rail of a mezzanine that overlooks the floor.

One of the conspirators sprinkles the books with a combination of gold dust and gunpowder. This turns the lines of books leading to the large stacks into fuses. The woman who is to receive this odd object lesson is lead into the dancehall. A match is struck and dropped onto the beginning of the fuse of books. Fortunately, the accelerant powder does not catch fire very well, but burns in sparkly fits. There is plenty of time for the young student to save the books. Will she let them burn or save them? I leave before I can see how she chooses.

Passing through the club, I see a poster for a Chicano rock band. Their picture shows them in matching white shirts, black pants and all playing matching Fender Stratocasters. I have some recollection of having enjoyed them in the past. Outside, a truck is pulled up at the curb. It holds the band’s equipment. On the tailgate, an open case, something between a guitar case and a gun rack, displays the band’s five Fenders. They are stepped down in size from a two octave neck down to a 3/4 scale student model. I have concern that someone will steal the guitars, so step back into the dim lobby with a low ceiling.

Standing in the square room are the members of the band. They wave to my greeting, but only one speaks – a man in his middle twenties wearing a thick mustache asks me if the club is always this dead. I tell him that on some nights they set up tables in the lobby, which is roughly the same size as the main room. I point out that it is early, and no one in this town decides to attend anything until the last minute. Having been outside, I know that the sun is setting, but hope for the best for this group.

Thick, square, white plaster columns divide the lobby from the main floor of the club. Three young men, blond, athletic, dressed in expensive casual wear, lurk near the second furthest column. They mutter among themselves. I walk over to them and hear that they are happy that there is no audience for the Chicano band. I face the leader, a lantern jawed youth with barbered hair who wears a football jersey. I ask him if his name is Bob or Dave. He answers that his name is Brad. I pretend that this is an unusual name. I ask what they are up to this evening. They have found a bag with the band’s street clothes. Brad pulls out the items one by one as they make fun of the fashions. A worn wine-colored long-sleeve shirt emerges. I recognize it from my own closet. I thank him sarcastically, pull off my jacket and shirt and put on the old shirt. I divide into two selves but my consciousness remains in the lobby as the other self sits in with the band, unseen, in the next room. I hear myself play one of the Stratocasters over a blues rock progression. My figures sound more like those played by Woody Allen when he improvises on his clarinet. Strangely, it works, and there is a great energy from the next room.

The portion of me that is not playing the music passes through the back dancehall where we had set-up the book burning prank. A door is open to the alley. Outside, the young woman presents a lecture on the books that she retrieved from the fire. She speaks with knowledge and confidence about her subject and is particularly enthusiastic about Gover’s JC and Kitten Trilogy. An audience has gathered around to hear her opinions.

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