Monday, May 25, 2009

House of Dreams, Home of the Blues--db Chirot---Visuals & Words

House of Dreams, Home of the Blues

For Covay, a lifelong friend of Johnny Cash

Just around the corner there's heart ache,
down the street that losers use,
if you can wade in through the teardrops, my friend--
you'll find me, at the home of the blues.

. . . the sun never shines through this window of mine,
it's dark, at the home of the blues.

“Home of the Blues” sung by Johnny Cash
Lyrics & Music: Cash, McAllin & Tubb

El Autorro worked, it was discovered at some obscure point lost in time, in a rundown ruin of a movie palace, relic of a resplendent era that had never existed outside of yellowing Hollywood fan magazines. Not surprisingly, it was named La Casa de Suenos, the House of Dreams. The interior resembled the popular images of Chinese opium dens of a previous century, with bodies sprawled on the floors and mezzanines, in the balcony and along the stairs leading to the projection booth. From there, as the projectionist was proud of saying, one had the cat bird’s seat, with a bird’s eye view of the drifting heaps of debris and dreaming figures silhouetted in the projector’s beams of dust and smoke choked illumination.

The projectionist, as El Autorro knew well, loved saying those phrases next to each other—the cat bird’s seat, the bird’s eye view. Why couldn’t all language be as surprisingly vivid as these time worn sports clichés, the projectionist would wonder aloud, loudly, above the noise of the machines, loading the next reel into the projector. The language of sports has provided more poetry than poetry itself, he would say to his friends at the bar after work. Yes, sports announcers give us this colorful language, so vivid, so true, so real, so striking in imagery. His friends would nod and say yes, yes, this is true. It is because the language of sports is a language of action, that makes it so alive-- and a language of seeing, of observation—a pun, don’t you see--?---- “observations made on observing the spectacle”--that is what makes it so vivid.

The audience at La Casa de Suenos, however, were neither observant nor making observations. Their eyes gazing fixedly at points in space which were “framed’ by the screen, at least giving the appearance of watching a film, the bodies dreamed, dreamed vividly, lost in a haze of marijuana, cheap alcohol and glue fumes.

Negotiating his way among these Fallen of the Psychic Wars, El Autorro’s job was to keep an eye on the various dreamers and make sure no one expired or grew violent during the screenings. In between these, he helped at the ticket booth, ran errands for the projectionist, and did some of the cleaning at the end of the nights’ dream voyages. The rest of the time, he was free to sit anywhere he pleased and take in the spectacles of the House of Dreams and its devotees.

Often, to the tune of Johnny Cash’s “Home of the Blues,” he’d compose for himself little ditties recounting the legendary happenings of the “House of Dreams,” bathing them in the sepia tones of old Westerns’ posters. These he had found in heaps in the old basement underneath the stage before the gigantic screen, which served at times as the site of theatrical and musical productions and before which still lay the moat of the long unused orchestra pit. The piano and an old organ left from the Silent Movie Days had been hauled down into the basement, and reposed quietly amid the chaotic heaps of movie posters and stills, old theater bills and the garishly colored, screaming flyers for musical events now at best part of some one’s dim memories or footnotes in histories of the “Golden Age of Entertainment.”

All in all, a House of Dreams that was a Haunted House, with half glimpsed ghosts and phosphorescent Presences moving in and out of the flickering illusory images on screen and among the dreaming bodies scattered and shawled by the all embracing darkness which made its way sinuously as a fog among the disintegrating chairs, carpets, stairs and walls.

Just around the corner there's heart ache,
down the street that losers' use,
if you can wade in through the teardrops, my friend--
you'll find me, at the home of the blues.

Or—if you will—hummed El Autorro—call it the House of Dust Choked Light . . . Knee deep in Bodies and Trash . . . Expiration Date: yesterday-- stamped on their eyes . . . . staring at the screen of scenes never seen and dreaming—at the Home of the Blues--

the sun never shines through this window of mine,
it's dark, at the home of the blues.

With his thumbs and forefingers El Autorro shaped a “camera eye’s view” to film the movies he sang of in the sagging chairs of the cinema. These featured staggering, lyrical actions carried out against a backdrop of wide spaces, harsh skies and heat mirages. There the Man in Black strode among the figures of the cinema, raising them like so many Lazaruses from their living deaths and filling them with the desire to follow him to find the “Splendid City.”

This Utopia, El Autorro had heard somewhere along the line of his life, was apparently the invention of a French poet turned explorer named Rimbaud. It wasn’t to be the usual El Dorado with streets paved with gold, but instead an Anarchist Utopia, a Utopia realizable through the power of poetry and actions which followed poetry rather than the other way round. A Utopia of the People. El Autorro had also picked up someplace the fact that Johnny Cash shared his birth date with Victor Hugo, who he knew to be another French writer, but nothing more, except for seeing an image of him someplace sometime. A bearded man with strange eyes . . . The triangulations of Johnny Cash, this Rimbaud character and Victor Hugo created for El Autorro a structure which he “filmed” with his “hand held camera,” and found it to be a sturdy structure, one built to outlast all the planned obsolescences now strangling the world, places that were built with only their own ruins in mind.

El Autorro saw them –the preplanned ruins timed carefully to appear when the market for new buildings and “prime location” real estate was deemed most propitious. And out of these precisely timed and triggered “sleeper cell” structures’ ruins would rise ever larger, ever more expensive and ever more lucrative buildings chasing ever more people out of the cites and on to the overburdened roads where, like so many Pilgrims, making their way on foot through every extremity of human and natural creation, in search of even the humblest of mangers . . . or tent cities . . . shanty towns, slums . . . to lay their heads down . . .

I walk and cry while my heart beat
keeps time with the drag of my shoe . . .

I just want to lay down and die . . .

La Casa de Suenos, though, El Autorro clearly saw, would go on existing forever . . . like Johnny Cash, Victor Hugo and the poet-explorer Rimbaud.

Even though he had never read their works, El Autorro had grasped the “immortality” of these poets, these giants who strode the world like the Man in Black, pouring out words that people kept on wanting to hear, and hearing them, keeping on, moving—to the Splendid City? Pipe dream Utopias no better than opium dens and la Casa de Suenos . ...? Or on to something even more powerful, like the lines that emerge from the holes in the immense rocks high in the mountains, the lines made deep in the earth and emerging –high, high in the mountain air, among the low lying clouds of the sky-- . . . a writing even more powerful perhaps . . . a writing as yet unread . . . hidden in plain sight . . . a writing that exists everywhere—around, above, below, to the side, straight ahead—running,. Flying, jumping, soaring—walking, swimming---a writing which exists while al the others erase and rewrite each other---repeat each other--

Later, when people asked him how, when and where he had found his vocation, El Autorro would say, in the House of Dreams, in the Home of the Blues.

And some of these people would go off to ponder the ineffable significance of these strange words, what it was they meant in the lexicons of poetry known and unknown---

Yes, El Autorro would say with a smile, teeth glinting in the dimness of the café-bar—yes, I found my vocation literally in the House of Dreams and the Home of the Blues.

And the ponderers would wonder, how is it that he is saying these things are literal when they seem to be more literary”—more “figurative’—“encoded”—

And El Autorro would smile and walk off into the night, humming, humming always the ditty, his own words and those of the original—humming—

Just around the corner there's heart ache,
down the street that losers use--
if you can wade in through the teardrops, my friend--
you'll find me, at the home of the blues.

I walk and cry while my heart beat,
keeps time with the drag of my shoe,
the sun never shines through this window of mine,
it's dark, at the home of the blues.

Yes, it was dark alright in the House of Dreams too, El Autorro would laugh softly to himself as he walked in the rain . . .

if you can wade in through the teardrops, my friend--
you'll find me, at the home of the blues.

But all the same, he laughed even harder, though still softly—yes all the same in the Home of the Blues I found my “Illuminations,” raised from the living dead by a Man in Black walking among ghosts and illusory big screen “stars” . . . humming to myself as I watched him go among the silhouetted semi conscious and unconscious bodies, filming it all with “my handheld camera” . . .

Oh but the place is filled with the sweetest mem’ries,
mem’ries so sweet that I cried.
dreams that i've had,
left me feelin' so bad,
I just wanna give up and lay down and die.

Yes, many wanted to die in La Casa de Suenos, and some actually did--but some, too, wanted to find a way to live . . .

Lyrics of a song heard on a no longer existing radio station, unread poems by unread poets, dimly heard of at third or fourth hand, hand made movies never “really” made . . .pianos and organs unused, their keyboards covered in dust and dead flies mummified in long abandoned spider webs-- . . . playbills of vanished theater performances . . . fading flyers and posters for long forgotten bands . . . flickering films unwatched by stupefied, sleeping or blacked out, barely breathing viewers . . .

It was not the “enduring, immortal works” of Literature, Poesy, Cinema, Drama, and Music that inspired El Autorro—

It was simply that unheard, unseen, unread, unrecalled, they went on existing---hidden in plain sight---completely free, independent, unpossesed, unpurchasable, unnoticed . . . unperturbed . . .

And that –even when read, seen, heard, remembered—they often remained, al the same, unnoticed, unknown, unexplained, unnamed, untamed . . .

Yes, this was the Illumination which inspired El Autorro—

That these things exist—

-living lives of their own—in a reality which El Autorro had stumbled on and found himself in in the House of Dreams while humming the Home of the Blues . . .

It was only fitting no one took him seriously nor understood him when he tried to tell them this . . .