—From EF—

On Saturday the 12th, we participated as writer/readers in a special version of LitQuake. This is a San Francisco literary word-fest that is now in its 20th year, and consequently spawned 20 satellite events throughout the Bay Area. Ours was in Occidental, at a magical place that I hope will develop its own quirky and enchanting series of events.

We were an evening’s-worth of writers and poets, each sharing a short segment of our work, then sharing a group paella. The paella’s subjects were saffron rice, chicken, andouille, peppers, and loads of garlic. When I saw the first whole garlic clove, which I mistook for a white bean, I thought, this is gonna be heaven. The readings’ subjects were equally tasty.

Our own reading was a scene from our first published novel, Realists. Its genesis was in 2001, a theatre project at Juniata College (Huntingdon Pa), and its sprawling story, with a cast of eighteen, dictated that this would be its only staging. But the opportunity to work with such a lavish palette allowed some pretty outrageous ideas to take shape. In fact, we inadvertently forecast the political landscape of today. Sorry, folks.

The basic premise was that at some time in the near future, an incompetent fascist (Bud Pert) would be elected President, largely because too many folks chose not to vote. His party, called the Realists, campaigned on a broad platform: “The other guys babble about the issues. Bud Pert says two words: ‘Get Real.’ Vote Realists in 2020. Give it to’em. Hard.”

The resulting victory enabled making dreaming illegal. Pornographic, frightening, a waste of energy, dreaming was unpatriotic and would be eradicated by adding anti-dream meds to the public water system.

In our play (not the novel), we had a Motown-style trio tempting folks to drop their meds:


Hey, baby take a walk with me
Open the gate, let’s go down to the river
Hey, baby take a walk with me
        Unlock the door, you know
         You’ve been there before
And you wanna go again (and again and again and again)

Hey, baby take a walk with me
There’s a brand new surprise at the back of your eyes
         And it’s gonna make you shiver
        When you step in the river
And you’re gonna take a walk with me

If you can’t dream, you’re likely to go nuts. And in the novel, a far-out physicist predicts that subjecting groups of dream-starved people to extreme stress would rupture the fabric of reality and result in floating islands of people who can’t communicate with each other. Sound familiar?

Long story short, the Dreamers win, at a bizarre cost, but they win. And we, the LitQuake and other merchants of the written/spoken word, believe that somehow we will win. If we all connect and dream together, maybe anything’s possible. So go on, dream, read to your kids, and talk to each other.


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