I Had a Very Strange, Detailed, and Vivid Dream the Other Night.

Chevy Chase was on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. It was a typical late night interview when suddenly Chevy, Johnny and Ed began to reminisce on a musical project the three of them worked on together. The premise was effectively a Prog Rock joke-band, akin to Spinal Tap. They talked about the particulars — moments in the studio, what worked, what didn’t — prompting laughter from the audience met with repeated pleas from Johnny in the form of, “No, really, we’re being serious”. They had apparently worked on this project for over the course of 25 years before deciding to shelve it. Nearly 10 years had passed since then.

This interaction went on for about 15 minutes when finally, seemingly frustrated, Johnny said to the audience, “And just to show you all that we’re being serious, we’re releasing all of the material today in its unfinished state”. He pulled up an unassuming cardboard box from underneath his desk. Somehow I had a similar box at home because, well, that’s what happens in dreams. I unboxed mine as Johnny did his.

Inside the box were 47 160z-can-shaped bundles. Each package featured a unique primary color — sage, orange, sky blue, etc. — so that they could be easily distinguisable.

At the core of these packages were small figurines reminiscent of Incan and Polynesian statues, made of differing materials ranging anywhere from wood to jade to carbon fiber — just about any possible manufacturing material, both simple and precious.

The figurines were wrapped in an assortment of various paper-based goods. One was wrapped in a hand-stapled book of ink drawings. Another in a sheet of uncut, individually wrapped green tea bags. The third in a complicated multi-pocketed envelope, each pocked stuffed with either small hand-written notes or various stickers. Every paper-centric layer was unique.

The next layer was a single, double-sided Flexi Disc record, resulting in a total of 94 tracks. Each bundle was then meticulously wrapped cylindrically, protected by bubble wrap, and secured with a single rubber band.

The first song I played was a pop-centric tune similar to Klaatu’s “Calling Occupants of Inerplanetary Craft”. The second one was an oddly sporadic, single guitar. The third was an equally sporadic, single synthesizer. The fourth was a single, sparce tambourine. Suddenly I made a connection.

“Some of these are supposed to be played at the same time!”

I began to match records together. In some cases, certain records had multiple matches. There were overarching themes that interweaved with the complete songs. Different pairings, mixing and matching resulted in different moods. I found that the colors served as indicators, and that’s when I made another connection.

“This whole thing is a puzzle!”

The figurines, the various sheets of paper, the music, it all told a story. It was a massive puzzle that touched all five senses, vast, immersive, and enthralling. What was meant to be a joke wound up becoming an intimately personal multi-media art project — and it was fantastic, despite its unfinished state! It quickly became clear why Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon, and Chevy Chase shelved the project. As it became less of a joke to them, they found themselves inwardly exposed. Fear that no one would take them seriously grew. They opted to bury the project rather than open themselves to vulnerability.

It was never fully expressed as to why they ultimately decided to release the material — nothing beyond giving proof to the world of a project that no one ever knew or had imagined existed. I explored the puzzle further, layer by layer, and eventually woke up from my dream.

The moral of the story is that it’s probably a good thing that I don’t/can’t smoke weed because this is the kind of shit my brain comes up with without being high.

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