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Campion's Warning

Dreamed 1994/6/12 by Chris Wayan

Jane Campion, director of "The Piano", is on a rocky beach, sitting next to a man on a piano bench. They're playing a concert grand on the wet sand near the waterline, facing away from the sea. This seems risky, as the waves are rising fast. White tongues reach for them, but don't quite lick their heels--yet.

Jane, seeing me, yells over the dual pounding of the piano and the surf: "Stay out of Hollywood! Lacking contacts is GOOD: the deal-makers just snip at your vision till it's not yours."

A wave suddenly crashes into the low rock rib behind them and leaps in a splash-fan around their heads, splatting into the open mouth of the piano. Salt water on piano guts! That can't be good. They curse and leap up and drag the piano up the beach to the dry part.

I recall just reading a Jane Campion interview in Mirabella, and she did say basically this. But I wonder... I'm practicing piano, and taking a class at the local college. Is this a warning about the overcrowding and slow pace there? I might be better off just practicing at home, though my keyboard's not great.

Film director Jane Campion at a piano being drenched in surf. Dream sketch by Wayan.

THE NEXT DAY

Wake late--I slept ten hours! It's the first day of summer school.

No time to shower, barely time to eat, not enough time to bike, so I must drive.

Piano class is jammed. Two to a keyboard, as in the dream. I have to share a bench with a talkative old man who:

  1. Reeks horribly, like he's carved of dogshit and putrid cheese
  2. Orders me to eat meat, because I look bad and need to gain weight
  3. Demands over and over that I become an extra in an opera
  4. Hogs the keyboard, ignoring me and the teacher. I've met six-year-olds more mature...
So when a solo keyboard opens up, I grab it. It's an old one facing away from the teacher. Gives me a sore neck in minutes. The headphones? One ear roars like surf, and there's no way to turn it down. The other ear's dead. Move to another. It's merely bad--very faint keys with loud ones mixed in--unlikely I'll learn touch sensitivity on these practice keyboards, they're terrible for that.

The keyboards toward the front of class are much newer, but I'll have to come early. Or leave, and use the beat-up pianos in the practice room. But I need a regular playing time! Maybe I can arrange a 3-day-a week independent study using the practice-room pianos. I don't think I can take this.

The teacher says "The practice pianos are in Room 149."

I hunt through the whole art complex, the annex, the temporary bungalows... no Room 149! Go ask at the office. The student worker there says "Oh, that's on the 4th floor in the main building." It figures--only at City College would they put 149 on the 4th floor! I climb the stair...

There is no fourth floor.

Scour the third. Nothing. Go to the music office and ask a teacher, who says "No, not 149, there is no 149, she got it wrong; it's 190. Eight pianos in there."

I go see. Yes! Pianos! Though seven are being used--clashing dimly through the inadequate sound-barriers. I grab the last one. Hmm, tinny, out of tune, but it works.

Oh. No wonder it's unused. Two keys in the middle octave are dead.

Now, think positive. My cup is more than half full. Many of the keys do work.

I practice, despite the gaps. Though I notice I'm playing softly. Carefully. While waiting for the next wave to pounce.

Thumbnail of a piano being drenched in surf. Dream sketch by Wayan.



LISTS AND LINKS: the beach - instruments - career advice in dreams - splat! - disasters - dream humor - work and school - music - predictive dreams - ESP in general - digital dream art - George Antheil plays piano on the beach for real, in Three Sevens - wet pianos? A piano boat in I Tossed Music

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