M. E. McMullen
They’re always throwing goodness at you,
But with a little bit of luck, a man can duck.
—Lerner and Lowe
“If you’re six four and weigh two hundred eighty pounds, maybe
you should give up your dream of becoming a jockey.” Those are
the immortal words of the mythic Prussian martial philosopher, Hans
Aough, and I’ve tried to make them my words to live by, in
governing my own dreams. The thing about dreams for the future is
that they have to be elastic because they usually have a whole lot
of ass to cover with just a small patch of chintz.
I never dreamed Times Square could be ruined, but it was.
Used to be, you could go down there, score porn, find a hooker,
black or white, boy or girl, didn’t matter. They had everything
from mouthy midgets to aggressive cross-dressers, and drugs
galore. A junkie could go down to Times Square with any jones you
could name, score his pegs of large animal tranquilizer in less
time than it takes to tell. They had grainy snuff films, every
kind of fuck film you can imagine. They had that famous fuck film
where this Texas stud and this young babe with huge tits have one
going out on the wing of this small plane. Now, things are going
good, and this guy is really putting the wood to this babe as
they fly along. In the long shots, you see them gyrating around
on the wing like a couple of rag dolls in a hurricane. The
babe’s husband, the pilot, who they’ve drugged so they could
get this big bang going, wakes up.
If you saw this one, you remember what happens next. The pilot sees
his wife out there on the wing, goes berserk, flies into a jealous
rage, starts doing loops and dives and all this stuff to shake the
unfaithful whore and her all too willing swain off the wing.
They’re buck naked, hanging on to the wing struts for dear life,
and this guy’s hung like the proverbial horse, of course, so, his
gigantic wang is flipping and flopping out there like a hooked
giant eel, and if that isn’t bad enough, the babe’s hooters are waving in the breeze like the Union Jack on Trafalgar Square.
You couldn’t go down there now and see something like that.
It’s all Walt Dizzy and family stuff. Bring the family. It’s a
family place. Bring the family. Go down there now, all you see is
tourists looking up at the tall buildings, Long lines of yokels
trying to buy theatre tickets. No more outrageous pretty boys in
Little Miss Muffet outfits. Hell, I got to thinking about it,
thinking what they’ve done to Times Square. My old voice trailed
off, I kind of swallowed hard, got caught up in the sudden eruption
of a blender, -- vvvvrrrreeeeee -- which only Jake and I are tuned
to, sitting across the table from each other like a couple of
stoned Buddhas, bag-headed alkies that we are, graduated to
semi-street folk because Jake has been staying with a lady friend,
and I’ve been bagging at Jake’s flat, living the life of
`Jake’, answering to Jake when I’m there, all having to do with
a bunch of rent control bullshit you don’t want to hear about.
Of the forty-odd folk within hearing distance of the blender, this
being on the Friday night end of a broken-hearted weekend odyssey,
us barely out of the gate when the hammer falls, us already one
wavelength above the pack, due to recent involvement with a mutual
friend of ours, from Panama, named Red, if you get my drift, I see
in Jake’s eyes that he’s tuned right to that blender, and from
there, to the tune that’s ripping on the speakers above the bar,
`When the Whip Comes Down’, with Mick and the boys blaring out
over some fairly sassy woofers and tweeters flanking the moose
head, which is the kind of oddball stuff you used to see down on
Times Square, but don’t anymore because of who’s taken over.
That was my first dream, and it proved to be true.
I told Jake to mark my words. I saw it clear as Hell itself. The
scum like us, the street people, all the armies of the slightly
whacked-out alkie professors like me, all the pill-ridden, sweat
drenched perverts, our day was done. Times Square was being taken
over by families on tour, every last one of them more starchy and
scrubbed than the next, and there wasn’t a thing to be done. They
rounded up the crazy old dude, Reverend Tuck, who was always
pushing Jesus down everybody’s throat. They stuck his ass in a
big old gray brick asylum in Brooklyn where he could rant all day
and all night, and nobody but the rats and cockroaches could hear
his ravin’ ass. Jake sat him down one day, gave him a Snickers
Bar, which the blind old dude loved, telling how he’d sat at the
feet of the Lord in Paradise and how the Lord told him that
everybody was given three dreams in their life, and that the three
dreams told the story of their life in three parts, past, present
and future, and it didn’t matter one flaming fuck if they liked
it or didn’t because that was the way it was. Period. Which I
thought was, you know, kind of arbitrary, not to mention petty
autocratic, coming from Somebody Who’s supposed to act and think
Godly, but I let it go with the Reverend Tuck because that
motherfucker was battier than Carl’s Bat Cave, and might’ve
come across the table, put a blade on your ass, like I saw him do
one time when some low life street preacher named Pantheon Jones,
was talking around the yard like Jesus, Buddha, the Shinto guy,
Mohammed, all those guys were really the same guy, like Peter
Sellers playing all those parts in Dr. Strangelove.
Somebody said it sounded like they could’ve been sent by the
fucking devil himself, considering all the pure evil, all the
turmoil, death, destruction, war, hatred and revenge had all been
fucking carried out in their name, pretty much across the board.
Well, old Reverend Tuck went after that motherfucker with a blade
he pulled from nowhere, and would’ve iced him for sure, for
lumping Jesus in with all these ‘false idols’, which set some
of the Muslim brothers on edge, muttering, ‘who you calling a
false idol, motherfucker?
It could’ve gotten ugly.
My second dream only lasted half a second. I dreamed a raccoon was up on my bed crawling across my face, and it woke me up. I figured that was the ‘present’ dream, because the present is a fairly
elusive deal, here one second, gone the next. As for the raccoon,
what can I say? A raccoon’s a raccoon, right? You say that word
over and over again, any word, enough times, you get stuck in the
present, and you see the naked reality. You say that word, you let
the sound of that word raccoon, raccoon, raccoon, raccoon, bury
itself in your brain long enough, you reach a state they call on
the street, stuck in the fucking present. It’s a technical,
psychological term you hear around. It means ‘muddle headed’,
‘fucked up’, and there’s a lot of it going around. Stuck in
the present, you have that same dream, over and over. Everybody’s
selling something in the dream, just like a life down on the new
Times Square. Listen to what they’re saying down there. They’re
If you don’t think so, listen closer. Say raccoon, say any word,
over enough times, even your own name, and the meaning behind the
sound you’re making will disappear. Right before your eyes, it
will dissipate and be gone, until it’s just a sound, like a clap
or a rustling of the wind, and doesn’t stand for anything
If it doesn’t work, I’m sorry for you. You’ll be missing something. Maybe the fog in your head is too thick. I’m sorry,
but it’s your problem if you can’t be bothered. For sure, if it
freaks you to be disoriented, out of control, maybe you shouldn’t
try the word repeating mantra. If it’s too much trouble, or, if
you’re otherwise not up to it, don’t do it.
In the third dream, the one about the future, I’m down on Times
Square, and run into one of the old rummies they ran off when the
place was sterilized years ago. Old Pistol Pete, they called
him. Damned if he wasn’t down around his old spot, near where the
orange bar used to be, where all the sexual predators and derelicts
used to hang out, harassing the tourists, leering at the young
girls in their tight skirts, throwing smooches to the virile young
college boys, having slavered over himself, having lost somewhere
in his alcohol-ridden brain any memory of that dark spot on his
pants where he’s pissed himself.
He gives me a grin. “Have you found Jesus, brother?” he says.
“I didn’t know He was lost,” says I.
It was an old joke but he smiled, shook his head, gave me a blank,
happy stare that made me realize he didn’t remember me from the
days before the do-gooders cleaned up Times Square. “Any spare
change?” says he, so I give old Pistol Pete a fiver. He turns it
over, snaps it a couple of times. His lips part in silent thanks,
and he’s on his way down Broadway heading for a place where he
can buy a shortie Rose, which is a bottle of Wild Irish Rose
wine, get his head messed up.
Running into Pistol Pete that way, even if it was only in a dream,
made me feel warm inside, like at least one of the old derelicts
was still around, stinking up Times Square, bothering the tourists,
leaving the face of human degradation out there for everybody to
see, the pissed pants of a lost human soul. Yeah, I know, Pistol
Pete died in a drunk tank a long time ago, and those people in that
porn film weren’t really out on the wing during all the dives and
I’m not stupid.
As old Hans Aough, my personal spiritual and philosophical compass,
used to say, “Dreams, you know, don’t care about space or