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Franklin's Tower

Dreamed 2008/2/13 by Wayan

I'm driving down by the harbor in Santa Cruz, California. I park in a government lot, worried I'll get ticketed--it's reserved for the staff of a National Park Service headquarters. But I've come here to consult someone. Quiet pleasant place, atop low cliffs looking down at a kelp-rippling cove. But I feel shy and confused. What'd I come for? I wander around the parking lot feeling nervous; won't go in.

A middle-aged woman comes out, muttering about a Revolutionary War figure--Ben Franklin I think. Mainly because... suddenly I find myself singing "Franklin's Tower" by the Grateful Dead!

In another time's forgotten space
Your eyes looked from your mother's face
Wildflower seed in sand and stone
May the four winds blow you safely home

Roll away the dew...

I'll tell you where the four winds dwell
In Franklin's Tower there hangs a bell
It can ring--turn night to day
It can ring like fire when you lose your way

Roll away the dew...

God save the child who rings that bell
May have one good ring--baby, you can't tell
One watch by night, one watch by day
If you get confused, listen to the music play

Roll away the dew...

Some come to laugh the past away
Some come to make it just one more day
Whichever way your pleasure tends
If you plant ice, you're going to harvest wind

Roll away the dew...

In Franklin's tower, the four winds sleep
Like four lean hounds the lighthouse keep
Wildflower seed in sand and wind
May the four winds blow you home again

Roll away the dew...

Lyrics by the Grateful Dead.
Dreamed without permission.

And as I sing it, I think:

"How this dates me! I was raised in unquestioning admiration for classic liberalism. That admiration got nuanced and qualified as I grew up, but it's still my core faith. And the Dead shared that faith. The hippie movement really revived classic Jeffersonian liberalism. They saw individual freedom and social justice not as rivals but in harmony.

"The song describes liberty in terms Ben Franklin would've understood--Deism, really. The psychedelic STYLE might puzzle him, but not the content of the song. The liberty bell, Paul Revere's beacons, the vigilance of the four winds, the dew that rolls away at sunrise; they all call us to awake and resume the hard work of guarding freedom after a long complacent sleep. We must become the four lean hounds...

"And that faith is not bad. Way better than no moral or political compass at all, and that's what middle America offers: delusional fundamentalism or corporate amorality! Alternatives are censored--hippie Deism, the Goddess of feminism, Gaian ecology and animal rights, Gandhi's ahimsa and satyagraha, Buddhist compassion, and scientific ethicism. In the heartland your only choices are: right-wing churches or the mall."

So I follow this ranger muttering about Franklin... hoping she can guide me.

She walks up the driveway to a bar. The sign says

FRANKLIN'S

Oops. Did I mishear her? Maybe she was never thinking of Ben Franklin OR the Grateful Dead--just of getting a drink. If she's a spirit guide, it's to the wrong kind of spirits!

My own rant, and the Dead playing in my heart, will have to lead me on.

NOTES IN THE MORNING



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