From Chris Wayan's journal, 1993/4/18 and 5/18
My friends Mark, Roxana and I go to check the Bay Area Dreamworkers' Group (BADG, pronounced "badge"), meeting this month in a member's flat high in a beautiful old tower with views of Angel Island and the Golden Gate.
Eric, a psychic dreamer and lecturer I know slightly, shows up late because the doorman wouldn't let him in! He didn't look respectable enough.
A dream has been troubling Eric: he met God, who told him "You're a hypocrite, you only half-believe in the spiritual plane you talk about so much. You talk, but you don't live the talk." I don't know quite what to say: to me, he seems a sweet guy close to an ascetic saint--so un-sellout he scares doormen in San Francisco who even let ME by! How far does he have to go, God?
Jill Gregory, the leader of BADG, introduces tonight's speaker, Barbara Druker. To demonstrate her techniques, Barbara works with several of Jill's own dreams:
After the demo, I talk with book-artist Betsy Davids, who LOVED my comix, buys some, and wants to put them in her show in Washington DC. She plans to show them to Mary Jane Westbrook, a local artist I worship, after seeing her Berkeley window-installations. I'm excited.
Talk only a little with Jill. I hoped to join for free in exchange for labor, but she says there's no work to do right now. She sounds a little shocked how low my income is. But I give her my black and white comics I GOT OUT and MY THREE HUSBANDS, for her dream library, and lend her a color book to read, BROWN DRESS.
I do offer to host the next meeting, since they need a place.
Mark mentions a woman he called who's running a group on Peninsula under the BADG name, but for profit; Jill says she's been concerned about it.
After the meeting, Mark shows me a dent I made in his car door with my hip! I never felt a thing. He says my energy at social events is always the same--a slow rise, a slow fade, then a nervous, hyperactive spike afterward, when I'm accident-prone.
At home, tired of lugging my dreamtales and comix around loose, I carve a bas-relief out of foamboard to use as a cover for a big art portfolio, and paint it. If I'm gonna show my dream-art, show it properly!
Long dream of a bus ride to a theater... then people start treating me as trouble, a bum, crazy even. I grew up an outcast in my community, so when things like this happen now, I usually just numb out and endure it. But this time, when these people get strange, I wonder if they were TOLD something about me! So I do some checking and soon I find it's true--in fact, several people went around spreading horrible stories about me.
I know why. They're mad at me over the affair of the wallet. I suspected they'd been stealing things, and left my wallet out as bait with my money removed, in my pocket. And I catch them lifting and pocketing the wallet! I didn't call the cops, but they still hate me for exposing them for the crooks they were.
So now they go around slandering me. I finally confront them on the bus, accuse them in public, lay it out in front of witnesses. But it's just my word against theirs. So they just mock me and deny it all.
Still, I feel good that I've gone ahead, and know I'll go to court about the financial side of it and go all out to win--and MY WORD CARRIES WEIGHT. I'm not a nobody any more.
Stand up to slander! Don't shrug it off like a good hippie! But what specifically? No one at the party was bad-mouthing me. They were nice. Inner critics, maybe? I was nervous, it's true. But then I always am, at parties. Nothing new there.
What's this dream warning of? I don't get it.
ONE MONTH LATER
I get a notice there's a registered package at my local post office. It returns all the dream-comics I submitted to Jill Gregory's dream-library. Rejected! I feel hurt and rather surprised.
There's an accompanying letter. After reading it I'm no longer surprised. Now, I'm shocked. It says:
We are writing this letter with regards to your recent involvement with the Bay Area Dreamworkers Group. We want you to know that we are strongly offended by your suggestion that the Bay Area Dreamworker's Group is falsely advertising free services and then charging for them. We are equally offended by your contention that our $10 yearly membership fee is a profiteering scheme. We have difficulty understanding why anyone would consider that amount of money to be worth the trouble. We are puzzled how anyone could belive that such a small membership fee would still leave a profit after the expenses of running a group, sponsoring events, and doing mailings.
It seems quite inappropriate for you to volunteer to invite the entire group into your own home for one of the group's scheduled meetings when you mistrust the group to such a degree.
We have decided that we do not wish to have you participate in any way with the Bay Area Dreamworkers' Group. We decline your offer to host the June meeting. We request that you not attend any of our future meetings, parties, projects or group events. If you apply for membership, it will be denied.
We recommend that you find a more appropriate group for yourself. We wish you well.
I only met one of the five signers, as far as I know: Jill, the leader. The other four are complete strangers!
I made no such accusations. Either someone else made some sort of accusation (Mark did say he called one BADG number and got a woman who pitched her for-profit therapy group... and I think he mentioned it at the party, so maybe someone confused me and Mark, and didn't bother to check?)... or Jill just plain lied to them.
I called up three friends who are BADG members, and they tell me that what REALLY happened is, Jill freaked out when she saw my dream-comics; she's Christian, and the pagan/shamanic sexuality appalled her. Obscene, bestial, insane. My three friends were unanimous in thinking that Jill and Jill alone set out to ban me, on the basis of her personal feelings; these strange financial accusations in the letter were just an excuse.
Whether that's true or not, I'm even angrier at the four co-signers I never met, than at Jill, who I did. Tried, judged guilty, and sentenced in absentia? With no hearing, not even basic fact-checking? Inexcusable!
I spun into quite a depression--I thought I'd found a group of kindred spirits, and instead they slammed the door in my face.
But weeks later, still hurting from it, whining to my friends... one of them points out "You don't even know for sure that the other four really condemned you, sight unseen! Jill could have just forged their names to add weight to the letter and scare you off. It worked, too."
I prefer to think that, rather than that all five of them lack even a child's sense of fair play, but I don't really know if I'm dealing with one despicable person or five merely contemptible ones.
For despite a psychic dream urging me to fight, I never challenged Jill, the slander, the ban. I never went back.
This was, as the date shows, a long time ago. It's probable the leadership of BADG has changed a bit since then! My links page lists an affiliated organization, the Association for the Study of Dreams, whose website describes many quite positive BADG projects, including a good booklist on dreams by Jill Gregory (her dream library in Novato, the one I submitted my work to, is apparently closed now). In any case, my experience of BADG was atypical--indeed, my friends in the dreamworking community find it as inexplicable as I do.
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