30 Aug

I’ll throw this one down off-the-cuff with minimal edits. I have a handful of drop-dead deadline assignments today at work, so no time to dilly-dally and rewrite. All right? All right. By the way, the movie Drop Dead Fred? Worth seeing.

An hour ago I was lying flat in the dentist’s chair for a regular maintenance session. Always surreal, these situations. At least for me. Medical venues in general are not on the list of my oul’ stompin’ grounds. Neither are they my new ones. Anyway, so . . . here’s this little clinical room with the usual horrendous-looking devices, hooks, drills, and other spider-like machines that suck, rotate, push, pull, grind on your lovely, decayed bones. Tools that haven’t changed in the discipline of dentistry in over 100 years, maybe longer. Menacing. Devices that the Padres carrying out the Spanish Inquisition would have easily incorporated into their arsenal of conversion therapy or whatever it was they were doing to people (torture, murder) to accept a Catholic god into their lives.

These rooms, this particular room, but these rooms in general—as I’ve known them in my fairly limited experience (I hardly go to doctors and generally make it a rule to do everything I can in order to stay away from them. Doctors, and anyone involved in the law enforcement field—which also encompasses the legal field and its satellite disciplines that seem to profit from people’s legal misfortunes.) . . . these cold, clinical rooms in which a form of torture takes place (you say potato, I say dental torment and hyperactive blood pressure readings.) are always adorned by their resident occupant with personal, little signs, photos, tchotchkes, toys, and anything else that is working hard to show their patients a sign of humanity. A sign of empathy: Hark, a human being works here! Despite the prodding, drilling, surgery, and the list of other ghastly things we do to your teeth and gums. So among the hooks and tiny mirrors and suction machines, you have the home-made paintings, cards saying how great mom is, birthday presents from the hubby, those old-timey photographs in which the entire family is dressed like the Donner Party before the unpleasantness occurred. Or some memento from a bucket-list trip to France (a beret is always a good, unique one).

I was lying flat among this potpourri of sweet-and-savage avatars waiting for my annual cleaning to commence, listening to The Go-Go’s sing “We Got the Beat,” piped through the intra-office music service (really should be The GO-GOs, but who gives a rat’s posterior about plural vs. possessive nowadays), followed in succession by Phil Collins’s “Two Hearts,” thinking about the horrific images I had just seen on Reddit from last week. Images of Afghan people holding on to the landing gear and other lower parts of a U.S. transport plane, as the flying machine literally took off. Some let themselves go, hitting the tarmac at whatever speed the plane needed to reach to lift off (usually 100 knots). But some held on as the nose of the plane angled up and the entire flying beast lifted off the Earth and aimed for the blue of the Afghan sky. They held on until the plane reached an altitude high enough from which, if you let go, you would die. And that’s what they did. They let go. And they fell onto roofs, and some bounced off the ground. I watched these people let go the landing gear and fall to their deaths.

This is what I was thinking of in this clinical, sterilized, half-arsed personalized dentist room while listening to 1980s top-40, waiting for a high-tech cleaning session (some sort of water pressure machine; the kind you use to clean your roof or your sidewalk or your house exterior). I don’t know why I was thinking of this horrific, brutal scene on a late-August Monday early morning. Of course this line of thought connected to those still images as well as the footage of the jumpers from the burning, not-yet-collapsed Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. All these nightmarish images flooded my brain as Phil Collins advised: “if you don’t put your faith in what you believe in, it’s getting you nowhere. ‘Cause it hurts. You never let go. Don’t look down, just look up.” (Whoa, waaaay too apropos, God of Synchronicity and Coincidence!) The only connection I can think of for all of this is my thinking last week about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the events of 9/11/2001. Although the thoughts of people falling would have come in reverse: the Twin Tower jumpers followed by the Afghan jumpers. But sometimes my brain switches its own gears based on its own miles per hour.

More and more days and times lately are clocking in as surreal timeframes. With everything that transpires during these periods being, of course, unrealistic. I think. Not unrealistic in a dreamy-like, ethereal way. Just the opposite. In a harsh, true, gritty acknowledgement or as consequences of the perceived disorder of the universe. And things are particularly unrealistic and absurd because of the context in which they’re happening.

Think of the scene in Reservoir Dogs in which Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde, I think) is strollin’ around the tied-up cop hostage, dancing to Steeler’s Wheel “Stuck in the Middle with You,” dumping gasoline on the poor sod, his ear freshly cut off by Mr. Blonde’s switchblade. In seven seconds, Mr. Blonde is going to light this tortured cop a la ISIS setting that captured fighter pilot on fire in the cage. And yet, Jerry Rafferty (fun, well-known fact: lead singer of Steeler’s Wheel, and better known for his classic “Baker’s Street”) somehow provides this background, this weird context in which the savagery being performed reaches an almost laughable climax. I know, and I am truly sorry. But I laugh at that nightmarish scene every time I see it. I laugh because . . . it’s not possible. It just isn’t. It’s fiction, right? Pulp Fiction?

What about the awful scene in A Clockwork Orange when Alex and his Droogs bust into the writer’s house and commence physical and sexual mayhem to the tune of “Singin’ in the Rain” as performed by Alex himself. There is such a bizarre dissonance in the presentation of that visual, at least for my brain, that the disorientation I feel is on par with chopping up some magic mushrooms and serving them fried in a pan with a little garlic and olive oil. But it’s fiction, right? So it’s easy to just dismiss.

Is it?

I mean, it’s not possible that Afghan people are falling off the landing gear of an American C-5 Galaxy to an internal soundtrack of Phil Collins boppin’ and groovin’. Or people are flinging themselves off the 110th floor of a skyscraper to the sounds of five pop-punk women extolling their powers of staying in sync no matter what time signature you throw at them. 5/4? They got the beat. 7/8? They got it. Round and round and round . . .

It’s not possible. Then why the splicing of two radically different realms. Why does one go with an unrelated other. It’s an unrealistic way to think of trauma. Or a sickness maybe that puts things together like that as information to be accessed by short- and long-term memory. Or maybe just a way to heal through the absurd. I know for sure Ionesco does that for me.

When being spaghettified and juuuust there for a micro second on the frontier of the event-horizon of a black hole, will a person be able to see and feel all at once every event that humanity has ever experienced and that the universe has ever staged in 14 billion years and counting? To a Guns-n-Roses tune?

You ask me, (and you won’t) we may very well be able to disintegrate the ego and become one with the oneness that connects every living entity in the simultaneous histories of consciousness, but it ain’t gonna happen to Slash playing that famous opening riff to “Sweet Child O’Mine.” No sir.

It’ll be to this track.

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