Sunday, July 18, 2010
La La Land
the following is a script idea I had for an illustrated book; a sort of idealistic dream. I put it on hold but may get back to it sometime. Somehow managed to accidentally delete all the artwork completed for this from my computer. In the meantime, here is the somewhat disjointed text.
I was having the Indian Dream:
Rich white men who have been partying all night
mock us from their yacht.
Patting hands to their mouths,
like Hollywood's idea of an injun brave
& belting out a loud
"WOO WOO WOO".
Chief and I try not to let this bother us.
We are no longer in our civilian clothes.
Instead, we have donned our head dresses and mocassins.
We have approached the island costumed as if this were some ephemeral documentary of America's past.
It is 1969 and we are Alcatraz Island.
We are here to claim what is ours.
This place may have few resources & services but that is fine by us.
We grew up as the silent majority on the reservation.
Equal rights were never part of the picture.
Now, we yearn for freedom.
We have landed on the rock and made it our turtle.
We will turn this penitentiary into a home.
The lighthouse will become a huge totem pole.
It is here that we will be free of government control and regulations.
Free of capitalism and the American Way.
Free now to truly make our choices.
The time to be alive is now.
We are no longer relics.
Wooden figures in front of cigar stores
souvenir shops selling trinkets.
No, this is our peaceful rebellion.
I climb up the water tower.
I paint the words for all to see.
This is our uprising.
You are now on Indian land!
Mom's hand is on my shoulder. She is attempting to wake me from the dream. I open my eyes and realize I am much further away from San Francisco than I thought. I am in bed, in my room, in my mother's house in suburban Long Island. It is time to go to work. I left high school early because I was bored. But mom doesn't care that I have a job. She wants me to apply for college. She wants me to have a future. So I get up out of bed with some reluctance. "Did you mail in the application" she asks? "Yes", I lie.
(two images - home exterior/ bedroom interior).
These homes built in the 1950's
stick to you like rock & roll
with a syrupy nostalgia
that does not age well
I never questioned it in my youth
But now, at age 18, it seems so phony
To cling to your parent's aspirations
To believe in the American Dream.
High tension wires
that could snap at any moment
make it dangerous
to walk down the street
but they hardly ever snap
Instead, they poison us slowly,
overtime. they infect us like cancer
but we are blind to the fact.
Computers, cell phones and mobile devices are killing us.
This sort of progress will be the death of me.
Once there were Indians here.
But we stripped them of their land.
Built farms and cultivated war.
Destroyed the farms to make way for roads.
Then highways, parkways,
Now, with all this traffic,
can't you see it didn't quicken the pace?
Strip malls with neon signs
Promising to make our lives easier.
But the faces in the cars adjacent look miserable.
Struggling just to keep up the pace.
It makes me want to drive faster.
It makes me want to crash.
I have a job but if they knew the truth, I'd be fired. I'm a thief. Stealing for good reason. This place was once stocked with an incredible collection of space paintings. Everything from detailed gouche pictures of Mars, Nebulae, constellations, black holes and aliens. Eventually, funding ceased, staff were fired and the hottest ticket on the planetarium bill became the Pink Floyd laser light show. I figure that by banking the artwork used to create the slides in the original Night Sky program, I am basically saving what will be thrown out later. One dude's trash is another's treasure. In this sense, I like to think of myself as a conservationist/ an archivist.
(the planetarium with projector)
The most expensive piece of equipment remains dead center. The Goto star projector cost over a million in 1970. Within the darkened dome it creates the illusion of the night sky with each star carefully aligned to the correct coordinates. However, years of abuse have caused the machine to make a slight grinding noise when turning and rotating. And it is not that uncommon for a fuse to blow during the middle of the show, often causing the stars in the entire Western Hemisphere's Night Sky to vanish.
I operate the machine from the console in the back of the planetarium. The show runs automatically on a DOS program. I was hired to make repairs, such as replacing light bulbs on the slide projectors that align the perimeter of the dome. The console is lit up with a colorful series of buttons, knobs and levers that can be used to manually control the show. Their glow beckons to me from the darkness as I look in upon the disappointed and bored looks of the paying audience. After seeing the show for the 100th time, I feel the need to set aside science in the name of entertainment. Directly against my supervisor's instructions, I flick off the auto pilot switch. With a new sense of power, I grin with the realization that I now have complete control over this mini universe.
(dome with stars/ homes)
The dry narration over the speakers continues with a description of the constellations. However, the constellations are almost impossible to find now. This is because I have turned the knob that controls the rotation dead right. The machine is slowly clunking and turning, but gaining momentum. Above, the stars are rushing by in the sky as if they were filmed using time lapse photography. But even better. Because the dome takes up the entire ceiling, this creates the illusion that the room is actually spinning. I see a few kids hold tight onto their seats. I click off the tape and announce into the microphone, "We are now entering hyperspace".
(the crowd - public audience)
I pop my mix of heavy metal songs from the 1980's out of my walkman and into the planetarium's main cassette deck, replacing "The Constellations Are Your Friend". Black Sabbath sounds terrific on this sound system. I attempt to coordinate effects to drum rolls and guitar solos. As the stars to continue to spin, I press the play button on the laserdisc player. Over to the West, a realistic rendition of a supernovae explodes onto the dome. I then press a button labeled Aurora Borealis.
Colorful glowing lights appear behind me, shimmering to the North. I turn a knob to dim them, so as not to take away the dizzying effect of the stars. I switch on the lever labeled lightning which creates a continuous strobe effect throughout the room. As it blinks, I notice faces in the crowd looking unsettled, possibly nauseaus. Finally, I grab the super soaker water gun used for the purpose of modestly sprinkling the crowd during the rainstorm sequence. I proceed to douse them.
(fire and chaos)
Some begin shrieking while others applaud. The crowd is a mix of confusion and amusement. But even I am surprised when the sturdy 30+ year old Goto, my monstrous star projector, starts shining with an inner glow of orange, rather than white light. The thing has caught on fire from the inside and bulbs are beginning to burst. POP POP POP. I try to reduce the friction that has caused the overheating, but not even the emergency button will stop its momentum now. Flames are beginning to pop out of the tiny holes designated for light. As the goto continues to spin, now in flames, the night sky replica on the domed ceiling is transformed into what looks like the pit of hell. I quickly pop on the magnets to the electric emergency exits. The crowd begins scurrying out in a panic. I am left alone to battle the blast with the small amount of water that remains in my super soaker.
(empty and out)
I hurdle over the console with my weapon and begin pumping and spraying. But with flames now appearing on the ceiling it's hard to tell if it's any use. It's hot in here and I am beginning to feel anxiety over the repercussions of this incredibly irresponsible fuck-up. Then, this anxiety quickly turns to fear as I realize that I too am on fire. Remembering what I learned in grade school, I immediately "stop, drop and roll". The roll however is done with such force that I hit my head against the metal arm of a chair and almost immediately knock myself unconscious.
I was having the Indian nightmare:
It is nighttime and one of our buildings is on fire.
This is not the first accident. We have been here only over a year
and already we have been besieged by difficulties. A child has died
because of our efforts. And we grieve. It is 1970.
Chief and I had talked about one day destroying these buildings.
Some complain of ghosts. I just want to see them replaced by teepees.
But the timing isn't right. It's obviously too soon. Or too late?
The government has invaded, removing the water barge last May. In effect this has left us
without fresh water or firefighting capability.
This particular fire was set by a white man, but no doubt the blame will
fall on us. Will the public take our side? Or are stereotypes too strong?
We are not dirty, lazy misfits.
The building burns to the ground which leaves us only one thing
left to do. We form a circle. And we sing. We dance.
For our dead ancestors.
For all that is lost.
For our pride.
Indians of all tribes --- It is time to UNITE!
I wake up in a hospital room. I'm in bed and there are bandages on my left hand. It feels numb. The rest of me looks okay, but I check myself out under the blankets to make sure. It seems like only my hand got burnt. And there is a large bump on my head. The room is small and I am alone.
It seems to me that someone will enter this room soon. I'll have some explaining to do. This frightens me. Can I say it was an accident? Did anyone else get hurt? Will I be sued, putting myself and my family in debt for all eternity?
Dizzy as I am, I slide my legs to the edge of the bed and sit up. I am draped in a hospital gown, my clothes nowhere to be found. Even so, I feel like I need to escape. To run away from whatever fate is facing me.
As I am about to get up, the door slides open and the most beautiful girl I have ever seen enters the room...
In all of my fantasies, if there had ever been an answer to my prayers, Lisa Lightfoot is it. She has gentler, rounder features than most Indians and her naturally dark skin contrasts beautifully with her candy-striper uniform. She is the only reason I hadn't dropped out of High School earlier. I yearned to talk to her, but never had the nerve. Yet now, here she is. And here am I, practically naked besides a hospital gown that barely covers my bottom.
"Hi, how are you feeling?"
I smile at her. Her voice relaxes me.
"You go to Plainview High, right? I used to sit behind you in Math class."
"Yeah, that's right. Steve isn't it?"
"No, it's David. You're Lisa, right?"
"Yes," she smiles.
"I didn't know you worked here".
"Yeah, well my father made me take the job. He's a doctor".
"Do you know how bad my hand is?"
I hold it up so she could see the bandages. She looks at her chart.
"The burns are only minor, except for on your ring finger. It's pretty severe there, but the Doctor's given you some local anesthetic. Are you in any pain?"
"No, just a bit dizzy from this bump on my head. Do you know how long I've been here?"
"Since earlier this evening. It's 2am now."
"Do you know if my parents are here?"
"They were earlier, but the Doctor thought it best not to wake you. You had a pretty bad concussion."
"I'm feeling okay now. A little worried though. I started a fire. It was an accident. Do you know if anyone else was hurt?"
"I don't think so"
"Were my parents upset?"
"No, but they did seem concerned."
I sigh, still sitting on the edge of the bed.
Lisa is close now, standing next to me.
"You really should lay down, get some rest."
"No, it's okay. I feel okay. I'm just worried. I mean, I think I screwed up. That fire...what if I did something awful?"
"Well, it's probably fine. I haven't heard anything."
"Yeah, but that machine, the projector, it'll probably cost thousands to repair..."
She places her hand on my leg.
I look up at her.
She really is beautiful.
"How come you don't come to math class anymore. Did you drop-out?"
"No, I accelerated. Graduated early."
"You must be smart."
"Not really. I just couldn't stand school. I want to be a cartoonist."
She sits down on the bed next to me.
"I think I know what you mean. I can't stand this nursing gig. To be honest, hospitals give me the creeps. My father makes me do it...says it will look good when I apply to Med Schools.
"Do you want to be a Doctor?"
"No, I don't think so. I mean, I'm seventeen years old. I don't know what I want to do with the rest of my life. All I know is that tonight is Friday night and I should be out having fun. Not stuck here checking up on old, sick people."
"Well, I'm not sick or old...just a bit burnt."
"You know, I'm surprised you remember me. I sometimes felt like the invisible man in High School."
"Well, maybe it would be better if you looked up once in a while from doodling in your notebook."
"I did from time to time. And the person I noticed was you."
"I know your name is David. I was just trying not to be obvious. I actually had a crush on you in school but was too shy to say anything. Then you left and I thought I'd never see you again."
"You're putting me on. I'm the one who had a crush on you. You're the prettiest girl in the school."
"The only Indian girl. I think most boys are afraid of me."
"Not afraid, just intimidated. You look so self-confident."
"I'm not. I'm totally insecure. If I was able to stand up for myself, I'd say no to my father. I wouldn't even be working here."
"But I'm glad you're here now."
"Me too. I'm not even supposed to be in this Unit tonight. But I recognized you when they brought you in, so i switched with another candy striper. I thought, what the hell, this might be a way for us to introduce ourselves."
"I couldn't be happier".
I lean over and kiss her.
To my surprise, she kisses me back.
"Does this add some excitement to your Friday evening?"
"Just a bit. But to be honest, I'm a bit tired and really don't feel like doing the rounds. Would you mind if I hid out in here?"
"Not at all".
She gets up and locks the door.
"Mind if I shut the lights?"
I am speechless.
She flicks them off and there is darkness.
I rest my head on the pillow and put my legs back under the blanket. A moment more...Lisa Lightfoot is beside me. I touch her hand to make sure I'm not dreaming. My heart is pounding.
Everything is going to be alright.
The Big Bang Theory
The universe was once small and dense. Too dense for its own good. It exploded and that explosion continues to this day. Our world is constantly expanding. Now, it's so large that we have no idea of the vastness of it all. The universe is large and mysterious. So is sex.
The act of making love couldn't be simpler but it's filled with complications. Is it a momentous spark, a shudder of joy or is it real slow and easy? Will it turn into affection, compassion and extend throughout an eternity, a lifetime? On this subject, I do feel dense. But I'm not quite ready to explode. I'm afraid that when I do, things will become more complicated. That feelings/emotions will stretch beyond my control.
In the movies, people fall for each other and "do it". Rough and tumble with heavy breathing and a an orchestrated rock soundtrack. Here, it is different. Lisa Lightfoot lays beside me. It is quiet. She is sleeping. Why in the world would I want to ruin this moment.
I close my eyes and dream. I dream of a world without capitalism. I dream of a world where art isn't made for money. I dream of a world without automobiles. I imagine a family who cares for their land; a family that cares for each other. Of people who are not distanced because of economics. Of people with high moral standards. Of freeing people from the 9 to 5 work/slave ethic. Of people who have suffered and thrived.
AND eventually I fall asleep, drifting further into La La Land.
These are lofty dreams. Dreams beyond my control. But I do not care about saving the world so much. When it comes down to it, I just want to smile. To feel happy. to have Lisa Lightfoot, this beautiful stranger, by my side. So I smile.