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Anarchist Fair

Dreamed 2005/4/5 by Chris Wayan

TEN DAYS BEFORE...

I spent the afternoon in the Anarchist Book Fair in the Hall of Flowers, in Golden Gate Park. Sounds like a funny place for an anarchist's convention, but here in San Francisco anarchism's almost mainstream--half the town votes Green. Think of it as a flowershow full of big, talking, political, musical, black-petaled orchids, some with green spiky stamens or pistils. No pistols though--it was an activist crowd, not an angry one. In it for the long haul.

Eric Drooker came back from his trip through Palestine with a slideshow on political art projects on the Wall itself. He had a few copies of his new book with Alan Ginsberg; I bought one. Leafing through it later, at home, it got me thinking how long it's been since I've written poetry or music. Ginsberg never quit, never seems to have agonized if the work was flawed--just learned from it and did the next. Drooker's bold rough graphics have that same strength.

Over the next week, I practiced music and tried songwriting. But one key on my synthesizer kept going silent! Took it apart, cleaned it; fixing it for a day or two, but then it'd die again. Maddening. Well, I got it for free, what did I expect? Time to face it--I have to buy a keyboard. Artistic flaws are one thing, but unreliable tools aren't. Our band can't play like this! But I delayed a few more days...

THAT DAY (2005/4/5)

I do some art work, but I'm tired, sore-jointed, with a headache. Are my allergies acting up? Dust my room, then leave the house to air out. Go to the gym for the first time in weeks. But the moment I start exercising, a wave of achy fatigue hits me! This is no sinus headache; exercise clears that up. It's a relapse of that mysterious nagging illness I caught at Burning Man. It's been months! Thought I was over it at last. Not!

In the evening, just read comics--it's all I'm good for. Neil Gaiman's THE WAKE: the last of the Sandman series. Shakespeare's retirement, his regrets, the parallels with Gaiman's own long run. Of course, Shakespeare had a choice, a life as well as an art-obsession. He chose the work. Did I? Sick my whole life, what else have I had but art?

Sorry, self-pity there. Slightly feverish.

THAT NIGHT

      E
I dream I'm in the Hall of Flowers,
F
at the Anarchist Fair.
  C
Politics from Green to Black!
   G
Hot teen radicals everywhere.

     E
I pause at a nook among roses where
        F                                F7
this little punk kid with a black guitar
   C
Plays an old Sinatra song?!
           G
Could any choice be more bizarre?
     Am                               Bb
"When I was 17, it was a very good year..."

(slower, altered rhythm: //-/)
       Eb
But she's changed the words--sings
   Am7
"When I was 13"
  Fm
Looks about that young
   G4                                             G
Under those 9-inch spikes of green!

   Dm               Bb                          G
Haunted by an anarchist! What does this punker mean?
Cm                            G#                  F
And how did I get lost inside another singer's dream?

(back to verse-rhythm)
        Em
She sings of childhood anarchy,
             F                    F7
How free we are before sex hits
   C
Then the tsunami takes you down...
    B
Shyness, vaginas and zits! (Oh, my!)

G#m
In her next verse, teens grow bolder
   E
Romance like a rollercoaster
  Am
Hate one minute, love the next:
             D
Your mates seem gods--or monsters!

         Em
"By twenty-five, you stabilize--
   F                            F7
No more practice! Open eyes!
   C
Sex and friendship fuse to love,
     G
a gentler hand in the hormone-glove..."

(Sinatra croon)
        Am                                            Bb
Well, I stood stunned by this precocious little thing...
(altered rhythm again: //-/)
         Eb
She sang of pitfalls
Am6
years ahead
Fm
And then her song began to
G4,7                 G
sting...

   Dm               Bb                          G
Haunted by an anarchist! What have I settled for?
Cm                 G#                  F
Pacified by gettin' by but once I wanted more
Dm                         Bb                      G
Thirties, forties--job and kids! Learn to act your age
Cm                           G#                 F
Hope for kinder keepers--you falcon in a cage!

     Em
"What's adulthood for?" she snarled,
         F                       F7
And ended! I stood shaken
         A7
This baby punk foresaw my life.
       Dm                     G
I'm sleepwalking. Awaken!

(Sinatra again)
     Am                                   Bb
I awoke in dread; it was a very good fear...

   Cm               G#                      F
Haunted by an anarchist! What have I settled for?
Dm                            Bb                              G
Next day I brought home this keyboard from the music store, cuz it's
Cm                       Bb                           G
Time to sing my nightmares out regardless of the sting--and
Dm                                 Bb                       G
What does your dream-anarchist want YOU to sing?

NOTES IN THE MORNING A NOTE FROM 2006

It turned out my perpetual "flu" wasn't moodiness, but a persistent virus or parasite (I'm still sick as I write this a year later). Not HIV, thank God, but something equally tenacious! So after years of being sidelined by environmental illness, I had a few years of tentative adult freedom, began to grow up at last--and now the door's slammed shut again.

On the other hand, I won't let it stop me. The dream made me quit delaying--I got a decent keyboard the next day. A major investment, given my poverty; but the dream made it clear I've got nothing to invest in but my art.

Because life's not giving me a damn thing for free.

A PROMISE

I swear, I swear, I swear on Kropotkin's grave that I'll somehow learn to play this damn song and get it recorded and post it here, OK? I'm still struggling to learn the chords. To my own song.

Or is it my song? As far as I can tell, a thirteen-year-old genius I met in my dreams wrote it, not me...

But send me the royalties, OK?



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