a sort of prologue
There’s an urban legend out there that if you start a recording of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” at the exact second the MGM lion roars at the beginning of “The Wizard of Oz” that the 70’s prog rock album will match up exquisitely to the 40’s film. I tried this once in high school with a few friends, and the effect was unnerving. At the exact moment a black-and-white Dorothy perches on the fence of a pig sty, mouthing the lyrics to “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, the Pink Floyd album chants ominously “balanced on the biggest wave…”. When the nasty
If you think into it for a few seconds, the theory that Pink Floyd spent the extra studio time just to cue their album up to “The Wizard of Oz” is pretty ridiculous. Especially considering the album was made way before anyone imagined home video, and the thought of the band constantly rewinding a massive film projector just to cue up a guitar riff to a farm girl, a tin can, a hay sack and an lion skipping down a road is pretty hard to swallow. Like any record exec would pay for that kind of studio time. The whole thing was just one of nature’s happy accidents.
Which was confirmed last night when a buddy of mine mentioned the whole Oz-Pink Floyd connection and mentioned that he’d tried “The Wizard of Oz” with some other albums. “Man, everything goes with that movie. I cued it up to this hip-hop album, and there was this surreal bit where Dorothy skips on ahead, stops (just as the beat cuts), spins around, and then begins to sing right as the lyrics pop in. Like, insanely good timing. I love shit like that.”
I. The Future.
I also love shit like that. You open your ears and eyes and suddenly the whole world turns synesthetic, senses popping off of each other like a pinball machine. You can talk about GOD or you can just enjoy the ride. I was all set to enjoy the ride a few weeks ago when I stuffed a backpack with clothes, a sleeping bag and 13 pages sliced out of the middle of the 1998 edition of Lonely Plant:
Fortunetellers are a common sight on the streets of
Sakuma-san made sure I was aware of the 2000 yen fee up front. I had already made up my mind, so the twenty dollars didn’t really bother me. Seemed like a decent price for a good story.
Actually, he was pretty good. First off he asked me a few of the basics: what do you want to find out? (Leaving for a trip with no destination, how’s it gonna turn out?) What kind of work do you do? (I work for a photo agency in
“Wow!” I said, keeping on my gee-golly voice. “You’re pretty much right on! (actually, he had been) What can I possibly do in those hard times, what I can do to overcome those obstacles?”
“I’m glad you asked. Sometimes, we need to clean up. Like in your house, little bits of yourself flake off and pile up, and then we can see our house is dusty, and we need to vacuum it, right?” I nodded. “ Well, our souls are the same way, but we can’t see our souls, so we don’t know that they need cleaning.” Hmmm… “So, if you are interested, I could initiate a three day course where I pray for you and make offers at the local shrine for you, imploring the god to clear away the confusion in your soul, just like vacuuming a room! This would be three times a day, morning, noon and night, for three days. You’ll be surprised at the results!”
“And how much does this service cost? To vacuum my soul?”
The figure he quoted could have bought me weekend in Korea, hotel, hot peppers and all.
But it didn’t stop there. Sakuma-san kept himself busy. Why, just next month he was arranging a bus trip to the Ise shrine. Was I interested in paying my respects at the most holy (and most ignored) shrine in
I have a friend who spends his time as a graduate student in modern Japanese religions. According to him, modern street-side palm readers provide a convenient alternative to religion, dispensing spiritual advice in easily digestible chunks. The advantage is that people can approach them not as believers tied to a specific religious dogma, but as individual consumers, seeking a service. God knows that’s all I was looking for. That and a front seat to
(Note from the ed. I found Sakuma-san's contact info folded in my wallet this afternoon between the a restaurant coupon and the local bike shop's calling card. I missed my ride to the shrine, so that's the end of that story. But I'll be writing about my Golden Week trip in chunks. )