Oct 19, 2021


"Is a dream a lie if it don't come true?"

Back in college, a few friends were studying in the UK. One night they walked into a pub, saw a bar-band playing and fell in love. They made excited calls back to us in the States; they mailed cassettes of the band playing, the handwritten setlists filled with exclamation marks.

A plan was hatched.

We knew nothing about anything but were avid readers of music books and biographies, of Rolling Stone articles.

We decided we would fly the band over for a week, put them up in dorms throughout the school, introduce them to everyone, and end the week with a big house party on a Saturday night where the band would perform. Fame and fortune would result. The band readily accepted, we offered to pay them in free room and board and contraband.

A few months later the plan became reality and the band was in the US. The week was spectacular, they cruised around campus as wannabe celebrities. As newly-minted managers and promoters, we realized we needed a PA system. We took up a collection and bought one along with high-quality speakers. We hired a crew with a stage and lights to set up and break down. Saturday night - the night of the concert - expectations and nerves were high. The house was packed. We DJ'ed the first few hours before the band took the stage around 9 pm.

They launched into their first song, the sound was great, the crowd was surging.

Halfway through that song someone pulled the fire alarm in the building. Lights went on, alarms blared loud. Firefighters and police showed up. The party was over, the show was over, the evening ended.

And just like that, our illusions  - delusions - were finished (and when the hangovers ended sometime the next day, we discovered someone had stolen the PA system and speakers).

*  *  *

In high school, we knew this kid - D - who dreamed of competing in the Golden Gloves boxing tournament. He trained all year for his opening match. We bought him a robe with his name stitched on the back. We traveled to Queens for D's first match in his march for the title. For that march, he drew an opponent - I still recall his name: Julio "El Gato" Cruz. We sat in the front row screaming our heads off. The bell rang, D and El Gato met in center ring, tapped gloves and the fight began. El Gato swung once, hitting D on the chin with an uppercut. It was as if D's body floated upwards in slow motion, feet first head second, to where his body was perpendicular with the ring for a split second. His body then came slamming down. He was out. Match over. El Gato maybe went on to win the tournament.

*  *  *

When the fire alarm went off and the party ended, the band was playing the REM song Driver 8. When that Golden Gloves fight ended, we drove back in this kids parents’ car - a decommissioned yellow checker cab repainted grey, fold up back seats intact

*  *  *

I wrote a business plan back in 1998 for a direct-to-consumer digital book service. Pre-Kindle, pre-iPad. I recently found the plan - “digital delivery of previously unavailable titles, author compensated directly.”


Those words read today like anachronisms.

*  *  *

Is there a way to evaluate the almost-dreams that became forgotten-memories? Or is there value in them simply having occurred? Maybe they aren't lies. Instead, the "adjacent possible" reminds us that there is a "shadow future, hovering on the edges of the present, a map or guide to all the ways in which the present can reinvent itself."

In other words, maybe the expense of emotional courage in and of itself is enough.

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