Monday, April 22, 2013
Dark Side of the Rainbow. Sunday Edition.
Little Babe was awake at 9 this morning, an unusual event for a Sunday morning.
In the time-honored custom of American adolescents, my youngest child tends to sleep in on weekend mornings, but today he was hunched over his laptop in a posture of intense alertness as I shuffled, zombie-like, into the kitchen in search of my Zabar's Dark Espresso blend.
"Hey, Mom. I downloaded Dark Side of the Rainbow," he informed me. "You gotta see this. It'll blow your mind."
Dark Side of the Rainbow is a pop culture phenomenon, a "wacky coincidence," according to Little Babe, of synchronicity that results from the creative coupling of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon album and The Wizard of Oz.
When Little Babe first explained Dark Side of the Rainbow to me, I had a vague notion of a stoner experience invented by teenage boys, a musical-cinematic pairing that would likely have as much appeal as, say, Cheetos and red wine.
Indeed, when I mentioned it to a group of twenty-something lads at Funkadelic Studios last night (I had come with my drum sticks for their twice-monthly Open Jam), they nodded sagely.
One guy said something about dropping acid to enhance the experience.
Another described it as "far out."
I tried not to smirk, so as not to sully my image as a rocker chick, that is, morph back into the very thing that I am -- a mom of people their very age.
So this morning, when Little Babe offered to show it to me pre-caffeine, I was disinclined to believe that Dark Side of the Rainbow would have any appeal.
However, his desire to share this cultural find with me was so sincere that I relented, settling down next to him at the dining room table with my coffee mug in hand.
"Check it," he said, pressing play.
Within moments, the haunting Pink Floyd music I first fell in love with at his age animated The Wizard of Oz in a marvelous, magical way, replacing the dialogue, giving the film an eerie, hallucinogenic quality. Without its original score, The Wizard of Oz became a disturbing dreamscape, evoking the sensibility of Maurice Sendak.
Serving as curator, Little Babe showed me key scenes, cutting to incidents of especial coincidence, showing how here the lyrics perfectly illustrated the action on the screen, how there, the music fit the mood, how everywhere The Dark Side of the Moon served as midrash for the MGM movie.
His tour was a great success. I sat transfixed to the computer screen, witness to a fascinating, if strange, artistic collaboration across decades and genres, something providential, if not intentional.
Shortly, Little Babe had to finish a school paper so I dove into my day -- one of my favorite kinds of days -- filled with too many things and plenty of wacky coincidences: a conference call with a favorite client about a forthcoming trip to Japan; vigorous morning exercise; a trip to a used book and record shop on West 72nd Street to buy a turntable for Little Babe who has become a vinyl enthusiast; a visit to my 35th High School Reunion (cue to the years of my most intense Floyd fandom); an Earth Day fair in Union Square where a cover band was playing The Wall just as I showed up; an extraordinary Ballroom dance workshop in the Flatiron district where the instructor channeled me, stating that the key to successful dance partnership was being Picasso-like, with both eyes on one side of the face; a late afternoon walk and sunbath with HOBB along the High Line; a leisurely bus ride up 10th Avenue on the M11; delicious Shabbat leftovers for dinner back home; old episodes of Homeland; an attempt to watch the new episode of MadMen before our television set lost sound.
I was uplifted by the group goodheartedness that accompanies the arrival of a bonafide (if chilly) spring day in this winter-weary city, the collective gratitude for the gift of sunshine, the thrilling, thrashing multi-media symphony of sounds and smells and attitudes and offerings and hassles and spectacles and excessive everything.
Today, there was the marvelous too-muchness of Manhattan.
Because I crave too-muchness, I am often at one with this city, deliberately designing days that are full-unto-bursting, reaching for excess of emotion and sensory overload.
Living according to the credo that to feel properly is to feel deeply, I aspire to be overwhelmed and enveloped. I know that I should also pursue serenity and sometimes I do, but my default mode is the extreme.
When I first experienced it this morning, I was seduced by Dark Side of the Rainbow, for what it does is utterly overload one's sense receptors. It also messes with one's mind, producing a rush like that of revelation.
Conceptually, Dark Side of the Rainbow is completely contemporary, though it was produced in the late 90's. It is a multi-media mash-up, about ten years ahead of its time.
I have repeatedly marveled at the extent to which my sensibilities have been shaped by each of my children. Big Babe has sent me books and operas and films and Middle Babe has been a personal guru on the zeitgeist of her generation. Little Babe fuses the music of my adolescence with his own, expanding my oeuvre and appreciation. I see this upward vertical influence as a unique feature of my generation, stemming from a new and widespread willingness of adults to listen to the younger generation. It didn't happen when I was a kid; my parents would not have cared to listen with me to The Dark Side of the Moon when I stumbled onto it as an awestruck young teen.
Dashing and dipping into today's offerings, I heard Pink Floyd's music in my head, animating the drama around me, providing midrash, rooting me to my past, linking me to Little Babe, giving me far-out insights and a mind-blowing sense of synesthetic wholeness.