Mark Gonzales skids one, back-lip style — it’s two o’clock somewhere, right? Photo: Ben Colen

Timbre #37

Illmatic

Hi. It’s me.

I’ve been sick and it’s got me concerned. Because in the process of adapting to the germs or infection or whatever it was, and taking legal drugs, and sweaty sleep, and bowls of salty soup with glorious titles like Chicken Noodle and Indian Spiciness, the thing I know as “me” might have changed.

How? Well there are all these slightly weird things in my head now. Like this question: What is rock ’n’ roll?

My old self thought it knew, I guess. That’s why it’s a weird question.

But to see myself go through change is even weirder. It’s something I can notice but I cannot help. Also, I have this idea that if I try to hold back the change or try to change on purpose and deny the prevalent current of my rivery life, I’d be faking it. No one might even notice, kind of like this new, changed me, but I’d rather not go there … I’ve faked it before, now and then, and it never really feels like more, always less.

So, yeah. I’m different now. And the things that changed weren’t the big shifts you might detect or even hope to detect. It wasn’t the stuff I wanted changed really, either. Like, you know, I’m not funnier now. I’m not suddenly brilliant. I’m not the charismatic leader of some cool cult. And none of my problems have gone away.

And I suppose that’s good. Change is here, but it’s not some giant deck-clearing sweeper of a change. Just a little tweak. A meander in a tiny tributary of my self.

This column, for example, is part of that new bend, which might bring you some relief. Not that it’s good, or that it makes any kind of profound sense, but through its bland and slightly recent onset, it lets you know (in contrast) how totally fucking awesome you are.

My gift to you.

But back to small change. Some have hypothesized that it may have been brought on by volumes TiVo’d Law and Order, or by parking my six-foot self on a five-foot couch for over a week, or by nothing. I did dream a lot differently during this transformation of the artist formerly known as me, and the memory of those dreams might also be about change.

I dreamt of skateboarding, which I seldom do in my sleep anymore.

• The spot near my house. The gate was open as I dreamt I was pushing by. A three-foot tranny to manny and a hipped bank were the main attractions. The trucker man explained that it was to back a trailer’s wheels up to, ensuring a flush connection between the loading dock and the trailer floor. The hip was to set his trailer hitch on, I guess. “Skate it as much as you’d like,” he told me.

• I met the Gonz at the big new park in Sacramento and we goofed around like only he and I do in dreams. I fastplanted out of the fullpipe and he back lipped far up its side — lifting back in around two o’clock.

• A tiled-and-bricked bank suddenly appeared that was so ripable it brought tears to everyone’s eyes within miles. I had to run away from something, though, and never found my way back.

• Tailsliding the holy heck out of this tall double-sided curb that went down a loooong driveway. I popped out bluntslide and went straight into the bass line from “I’ve Seen All Good People.”
“I’m both rocking and rolling,” I dreamt, as I blazed the hell out of all that is prog.

So what is this crap? A man changed by his own dreams? A dream altered by germs and sleeping arrangements? Or is it final notice that the million inevitable shifts of everything — those ignored and forgotten and hand-shaken how ya doin’s — have finally come calling?

Maybe that’s it.

Maybe they want to know what the hell happened, why you weren’t paying closer attention, or where the love went. They want to know who you are now and what you’ve been doing.

So if you’re not sure — of who you are, why you’re still here, or where all these nerds came from — you might want to hurry up and dream some ill dreams. Of lines, new wheels, tricks, the three Fs, or maybe some Yes song … any of the stuff that got you to this very second. If that ain’t happening, try dreaming about your old dreams. The daytime ones, the nighttime ones, the all-time ones — the skateboarding ones.

If they’ve been replaced by nightmares — small changes that you forgot to notice, were too scared to notice, or chose not to notice — just use the emancipation proclamation: “I’ve been sick.”

That one always frees things up.

Don’t forget to whisper to yourself, either. Something like, “But I think I’m getting better.”

I can’t get no worse.

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