Friday, May 20, 2005

Bleach-Blonde Performance Artists Collective Disaster

I am at work at my university ... but it isn't my university.

My co-workers and I are in a building something like the student center on campus, combined with a fine arts center I used to work in at a different university.

Our offices are in little cubicles in rooms that seem older than the rest of the building; they have big wooden doors and bright open windows all around the space.

It is a sunny day and the warmth of the sun streams in upon us.

My boss is there, conducting a meeting with several of us.

It is time for lunch.

I exit the room and wander around the building, chatting with my coworkers as we go our separate ways.

I find myself alone in the hallways of the building. I continue walking, aimlessly.

I stand in an area something like the main entrance of the art gallery side of the fine arts center I used to work in -- there is an open walkway around the top, on the third floor, that looks down into an open area in front of the gallery. From there, I can see into a glass-enclosed rehearsal space.

The room is something like a dance studio, with mirrors all around and a black floor. There are three people in the room, rehearsing some type of performance art piece.

One of the men there is a wonderfully cute man -- he reminds me a bit of Jason (but it isn't). He wears a black t-shirt and black pants. He has a neatly trimmed beard and his hair cut is close on the sides.

The top of his hair is longer and falls to one side. The longer part of his hair, on top, is bleached blonde.

He directs an actor and musician in a performance piece. It uses keyboards, excerpts of some CD's and miscellaneous props. It reminds me of a modern take on ancient theater; in parts they put on masks or play a handheld instrument and do some kind of chanting, like a Greek chorus.

I just stand there, watching them for a while. Then, I decide to move closer.

I am on the second floor where they are, standing in the hallway near the performance space. I look on as they rehearse some more.

The rehearsal breaks up and they walk out of the room. The man who is sort of like Jason smiles. He says hello to me as he passes by, carrying out a bag of instruments. I smile and say hello back to him.

I do not know him or who he is.

They leave the hallway and I am alone again.

I decide to walk down to the ground level. I stand in the open entrance in front of the gallery and look at the strange wooden bird-like sculpture hanging from the ceiling, three floors up.

I glance outside through the large windows of the lobby.

It looks dark, like some great storm is coming up.

I hear all kinds of alarms and sirens suddenly going off. It starts to grow even darker.

I see people rushing around outside. I walk out of the lobby towards them.

"Go home!" a man yells at me.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

The man tells me that some kind of lynching happened this morning. There are riots breaking out in different cities all over the country.

He tells me they have called off work. Everyone has been ordered to go home.

I decide to go for my car that’s sitting in a far away parking lot.

I head out on to the lawn in front of the arts center, then onto a sidewalk. I keep walking through different parts of the neat campus, then through neighborhoods and city streets.

The clouds grow darker; I hear alarms and sirens and, in the distance in all directions, I see buildings on fire. Some people rush by me, in a panic.

For some reason, I do not feel afraid or concerned. I am just confused about why this is happening.

Turning a corner on a little city street, I run into the sort-of Jason performance artist again.

"It looks dangerous out here," he says. "Why don't you come with me?"

I agree.

We walk together, talking about the performance piece I saw him rehearsing. He tells me what it was about and the intention behind it.

Soon, we arrive at a kind of brownstone, the type of building you might see in older parts of New York or San Francisco. We walk inside the building into a living room.

The room is filled with all manner of bric-a-brac and artwork, from floor to ceiling.

There are several men there -- some older, some younger, some thin, some bearish. All wear black t-shirts but have different types of pants ­ camouflage, blue jeans, dockers.

They all have haircuts similar to the sort-of Jason that brought me there. They have different hair colors, but all have the same longer bleach blond hair on top of their heads.

Sort-of Jason introduces me to a man who seems to be the leader of the place.

The man is about my age, a little taller than me and heavy set. He is blond and has a beard.

He has a similar haircut to the other men there, but the long hair on the top of his head is dyed black. (Or, perhaps, it is the other way around - he is naturally black-headed and dyes the rest of his hair blonde.)

He welcomes me there. He turns to one of the other men and chats about some type of underground magazine they are putting together.

Another man walks up and the leader answers some questions about an exhibit they are staging.

The leader tells sort-of Jason to show me around.

The house has several spacious rooms, all pretty much like the living room. It is an older place with high ceilings and wooden floors; some of the rooms are studios for painting, drawing or sculpture, while others are like recording studios or video editing facilities.

All the men seem to be working -- preparing dinner, assembling some kind of artwork or just moving things around the house.

Soon, we are back in the living room and sort-of Jason turns me back over to the leader.

"We've been watching you closely," he says.

"You have?” I ask, “Why?”

"We have an opening in our little group here,” he says, “We've been watching your work and feel you'd be perfect for us."

He explains that this is an artist's collective, or commune, and that they all work together and live in this house. He said they all make decisions together, as a group.

"We try to comment on the world, but do not wish to remain a part of it,” he says.

I wonder what he is talking about. I don’t exactly consider myself an artist.

He explains that I what I do can fit nicely with their work. He says I might learn something there.

I tell him I have to think about it.

"We just had a space open up,” he says, “We wouldn't want to offer it to anyone else until you have an answer."

"We try to balance things out,” he says, “We could use a Democrat here."

Then I woke up.

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