Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Jaguar, The Tattoo & the Three Stooges

I've heard that the images you see in your dreams are symbolic of other things going on in your life. I've also read that when we're at the Rapid Eye Movement stage of slumber our brains are just getting rid of psychic flotsam and jetsam -- a mental wiggling of the sub-conscious commode handle, if you will. Personally, I think there might be a little truth in both of these positions but that's neither here nor there. Sometimes reading/trying to decipher the yarns that your mind conjures up is about as easy as understanding the prose imbedded in one of those "Rockie Horoscopes" -- sometimes you get it straightaway and sometimes you don't...like this dream I had last week...


For some strange reason I got a vision of my deceased grandmother with totally white hair but she's walking (one of her legs got amputated because of her diabetes). She informs me without speaking that she left me something in a secret location yet I inately seem to know exactly where it is- it's a parking structure. When I get there I'm given a stub to a parked car that's been left there for me (the piece of paper is dated the year my grandmother died). The vehicle is in a space on the fourth floor so I start for the elevator to go up. When I get to the doors, I realize that the lift is broken, so I must walk up via the automobile corridors. The structure is crowded but nobody's leaving so I make it upstairs without incident. When I get to the fourth floor the grade in the passageway steepens until I can barely walk up (like reaching the peak of a very tall mountain, but it's only four stories up). I reached in my pocket to get the ticket and reverify the numbers on the ticket. The top level is barely occupied and at the other side of the deck I notice the car. A new model silver/grey Jaguar...


Even though there's only a smattering of sunlight, the hood ornament shines brilliantly once I notice the huge silver cat- I remember reading somewhere that the Aztec name "jaguar" loosely means "the cat that kills in one leap." It's been nearly a decade since my grandmother passed on but this car is this year's newest line. Peculiar. I get in and it starts as smoothly as if it had just been rolled off the assembly line. I look down the corridor shaft and the slope of the passageway doesn't appear as steep as it had just a few seconds ago. I drive down to street-level and smoothly merge into the traffic. I know I'm in California because the sun is broadcasting rays with that intense yellowish-white tint it has out here in L.A....just after the smog dissipates...


When your plane touches down at LAX, and you've never been out here before, you'll find that the weather is the first thing to sneak up on you and after a few months you let your guard down. Your umbrellas get rusty as your old rain slicker calcifies in your closet. I'd taken a red-eye straight out of La Guardia on my first trip out here. I got picked up by a friend who'd been living out in North Hollywood for a minute. Early one morning while talking to him over the phone back in my Spartan digs back on the Upper West Side, he eventually conviced me to convince myself that Hollywood was where I wanted to be - and I bought it, yo. I'll pick curtain number two, Monty. For a while the palm trees and pretty women made me believe that I'd made the correct choice but time has a strange way of working on you out here. Like any other large city, Los Angeles is stacked to the rim with burnt-out dreamers from all over the country, primarily middle American rubes from out in the thick sticks of the heartland; places where the buses don't run -- coastal dwellers call them "fly over people."


After a while, the feeling that everything and the people around you are contrived from some alternate reality will either absorb or repulse. One either realizes that he can't make it, tucks tail and runs on back home or he learns "to accept the things he doesn't have the power to change" as that little folk prayer goes. By nature, the human animal is a migratory beast. Our ability to adapt to changes in climate -- and a wander lust hard-wired in genes -- is what made our Australopithecine ancestors walk out of the Olduvai Gorge and across the entire planet. We need variety to grow, its in our DNA. While the climes in most other geographic locations offer varied and sundry forms of precipitation, Southern California is dry and warm for 10 months out of the year on average. You'll be hard pressed to recall a story of a fruitcake who's killed everyone in his building because he's been snowed in his apartment for 2 weeks. As quiet as it's kept, out here only washed-up sitcom actors do that. Essentially, the weather's so sweet out here that people are forced to act happy by default - no point in "appearing" to be an asshole when it's 85 degrees with mild cloud coverage. But I'm digressing...back to the dream...


...I don't recall how I get there but although the weather at the parking structure's ground level tells my senses I'm in L.A., my brain feels like I'm in Atlanta, Georgia. I realize that I'm sitting perched up in one of those 3-legged stool-chairs on the patio outside this yuppie bar across the street from the Euclid Avenue Yacht Club in Atlanta's Little Five Points that I rarely patronized- even though I lived less than a block away. As I sat beneath the fronds of fake potted palm trees, I stared blankly across the parking lot into the Zesto's feeling way too old to be kicking it amongst the pink-hair and pierced nipple crowd that have overrun the place like cockroaches. I laugh to nobody in particular. I check my watch and still don't know what time it is. I haven't ordered a drink because, apparently, I'm waiting for someone, I just don't know whom...yet...


Although it is still legal to smoke indoors in the southern states, the practice has been banned in NYC and L.A for years now, thus I have been conditioned to sit outside whenever I do smoke, like a leper. I notice that more and more yuppies are starting to flock onto the patio, in that prattle-on-your-cell-phone-so-everyone-the-room-can-hear way that they nauseatingly tend to do in cities everywhere. I just try not to inhale the second-hand conversations blowing in my face. I didn't bring anything to read, as I normally tend to do, and the Creative Loafing kiosk was empty - only remnants of the one in the little display cage had been ripped out. After reading the menu from appetizers to wine list twice I look up and Tanya, young woman from another episode walked up to me from the sidewalk and launched into a play-by-play on negotiating the traffic on the 101.


Tanya continued to reflect on how she should've cut through town on the rarely SIG alerted 2 "freeway" and shot over on Franklin Street instead. - "Wait a minute, hold the phone," my brain interjected, "aren't we in in Hot-lanta, where the interstates are properly called highways?" Whatever, yo. As Tanya's tale unfolded, she wrapped a napkin around a glass of melted ice and water that was covered with beads of condensation and downed half of it in two gulps-- sometimes, even in REM sleeps, I'm awed by how effortlessly sensual a woman can be even while doing something as mundane as taking a swig of tepid water while sitting across the table from me in a bar. Relaizing that the Julie on on the other side of the table might soon crave a beverage with some "stank" on it, I offered to buy a pitcher. "I don't believe they serve pitchers in here," Tanya says as I rise to walk over to the bar to order a bucket of suds. Sure enough, the bar tender (who's sporting an eye-patch), informs me that they don't serve pitchers of draught beer -- only pints -- because the yuppies stopped spending as much money and left as soon as the happy hour ended. I got two bottles of Grolsch lager instead and thought -- "I didn't realize that it was that late in the afternoon."


When I got back to the table the yuppie herd had expanded and annexed my table in the name of conspicuous martini consumption and they've started placing empties on it. Tanya had absented herself but somehow I know that she hasn't gone far because my smokes, Zippo and her suede jacket are still waiting for me to return with the oat sodas. It's at this moment that a busser in a beer-soaked apron comes over and begins to collect green and brown empties while wiping off the dozen or so curly-cues of water on the tabletop. "The chica went for the inside," he informed me through a Pancho Villa-sized crumb catcher. He gestured toward the door leading down to the basement lounge with his head. "Gracias," he nodded while tucking the tip I handed him into his apron's pocket. Once inside, I took off my sunglasses and after my eyes adjusted I walked in further...


I continued on toward the back where I found Tanya waiting. She beamed a smile in my direction -- a 1000 mega-watt blast of polarized warmth. I noted that she was wearing a tight, sleeveless, cleavage-hugging T-shirt with a picture of Larry, Curly and Moe. The Three Stooges never looked so happy -- especially Larry and Moe. Tanya reached for the beer that I'd placed in front of her and took another one of those wood-inducing sips. As she drank, the sides of her Tee yawned open a little and I noticed that a blue and red ink painting was peeking through the gape in the fabric around her shoulders. "I didn't know that she had gotten so many tattoos since I'd been with her last," I thought. I asked her to show it to me and she informed me that to do so would be too revealing for such a public place. "However, you could take a gander through the arm holes," she offered with a naughty curve of her lips while suggestively stroking the mole on her neck with manicured fingernails. Right. I did as I was instructed after she pulled her limbs through the straps of her brassiere to unveil the art inked onto the skin on her back...


The tattoo's design spanned her entire upper torso from shoulder blade to shoulder blade and down to the outer sides of the dorsal flanks of her rib cage. The section of artistry that immediately drew my gaze was the curled edge of a scrolling banner underneath a huge black and white eagle clutching arrows in the talons of one foot and a laurel sprig in the other - like the Federal seal on the backside of a U.S. dollar bill. Instead of "E Pluribus Unum," however, in all-capped 3 inch tall blood crimson Roman letters, the scroll that appeared to crackle in the implicated winds just above the screaming beak of the raptor's immense head read: KING OF BEERS..."You've got mail!" that AOL dude yelled from somewhere behind me...I bolted upright in my bed; I'd fallen asleep and left the computer running with the speakers on the night before. The L.A. Times had just delivered my morning news update through cyberspace - it was 3 o'clock in the morning... I couldn't go to sleep for hours after that... What in the hell did all that mean?...Somebody zap Carl Jung on the blower...Laters...

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