The Brundibar Sea
Dreamed 2005/12/18 by Wayan
Work all day on tours of Tharn, my model of an arid Mars-sized moon teeming with life. I'm a little in love with the place.
My mom calls. "My friend is sick, want to go to a play at the Berkeley Rep?"
Ride BART from Glen Park to Berkeley. See two Eastern European one-act operas from the Nazi era:
Original cast of Brundibar in Terezin, a concentration camp
Comedy on the Bridge--dark comedy indeed. A split town; guards of each regime let you LEAVE but not ENTER. So five people end up trapped on the bridge between, as a war starts--concerned only with their own personal lives. Choppy music, choppy dialogue, but wonderful staging, sets--airships, psychedelic fish...
Brundibar ("Bumblebee"). A children's opera composed in Terezin, a Nazi fake town for Jews, really a concentration camp behind the facade. The composer, Hans Krasa, and the child actors and chorus were all eventually shipped to Auschwitz and killed.
The story's bland but then they were working under Nazi eyes; the organ-grinder isn't explicitly Hitler, but everyone knew what his moustache meant. Though he could just as well be Dubya, these days.
Krasa's score is good--better than Comedy on the Bridge. Singable sweet simple lyrics by Tony Kushner.
The sets are by Maurice Sendak--an interview with him in the program says:
"I didn't have much confidence in myself--never. And so I hid inside...this modest form called the children's book and expressed myself entirely. I wasn't gonna paint. And I wasn't gonna do ostentatious drawings. I wasn't gonna have gallery shows. I was gonna hide somewhere where nobody would find me, and express myself entirely. I'm like a guerilla warrior in my best books..."
Exactly what, and why, I do MY art in unmarketable media. Obscurity leaves me free.
That evening I'm tired, but I hike up Bernal Hill to my bandmates Mike & Nic's christmas/solstice party. Sing a little, talk a lot...
...but do I listen?
I live in Berkeley. Bike to Psychodrama at Prometheus Center (nearby, in the hills), to a contact improv dance/encounter group. A skinny little guy is the first to lean into the center. He asks two girls to flank and support him like living wires; he tilts forward, longing, singing, leaning so far he'd fall if they weren't pulling him back. All three are small and cartoonlike, jerky as birds. More people jump in--all the sexy ones. All of us sidelined, shy watchers look plain and asexual. Which is cause, which effect? I feel sad that I can't, won't, don't... but I don't.
Bike back home, but get lost on these Berkeley ridgetop roads. Have a map, but I'm unsure where Prometheus was or my home is. Hit a dead end. Another. Then, a gravel alley heads the right way, but is it a street or a private driveway? Curves down behind houses into a valley... a park! Water below. A lake? It LOOKS more like an arm of the sea! A fjord. Tide-undercut rocks. People are swimming. Some nude. The water steams. A hot sea.
The path goes into the water. I ride in. Bike along a sea-floor path, waist-deep. Soon I'm just wading, up to my neck, then swimming--my bike just dissolved! The water's hot as a bath. A huge hotspring. It's relaxing, feels lovely...
Yet I turn around. I want to get home. And where's my bike? Can't find it. On shore, I find the gravel alley's turned to a concrete spiral stair. Two women, also leaving, notice I look puzzled and ask "Did you lose something?" "Yeah, my bike." "Oh, the Brundibar Sea does that--dissolves stuff. But it makes stuff too. Try visualizing."
I do, hazily, in parts. So vague! Embarrassing. Seems 'bike' is more a feeling to me than a structure: what it does, not what it is. A bike's responsive steering--instant sharp turns, unlike a car's wide radius. But you can't ride a mere feeling! One woman tries to materialize a 'starter' bike I could tweak and build on. Her picture of bikes is crude too--she's not, I think, a regular biker. The hazy bike she summons is more a fragmentary motorcycle--a powertrain with wobbly steering. Still, it's a foundation...
I firm up the steering, the seat. Better. But is it complete? Half a bike's not ridable. And for a while that's how it looks. A unicycle? Even when I firm up the back wheel and think it's complete... I nearly forget the brakes. And I'm in hill country!
NOTES IN THE MORNING
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