3:15 am: I’ve not slept a wink for the past 2 1/2 hours.  I’m in a bathrobe, hunched in a tight curl on this office-type swivel chair, feeling like I’ve snorted too much cocaine.  Except I haven’t snorted too much cocaine, in fact I haven’t imbibed any mind-altering substances in years. I am merely one of the many to whom getting Behind the Wall of Sleep no longer comes naturally.

I’m squinting at a computer screen that’s got a thin crack running across the bottom of it.  The crack is filled by a dark-blue inky blackness, which is spreading gradually in a flood plane-like pattern, obscuring more and more of the lower part of the screen. I am solely to blame for this, since I was the one who slammed a coffee cup into the computer some six weeks ago, in similar fit of sleepless desperation.

My thoughts are not particularly rational.  For instance I have this niggling suspicion that if I tensed up all the muscles in my head at exactly same instant, my face might shatter like a glass mask in 1000 shards onto this faux-parque floor beneath me.  Earlier, I wondered if the unnatural silence surrounding me had actual arms, hands, fingers – appendages that could reach out toward me from the shadows if I fell asleep.  Not rational at all.

But a task of some gravity lies in front of me. It’s the search of my I-Tunes library for just the right mid-80’s AOR pop/rock album to act as antidote for this near-psychotic sleepless state I’m caught in.  This will force me to re-consider any number of derided but not altogether unworthy acts who once worshiped at the Altar of Gated Reverb: Mr. Mister, Starship, Mike + The Mechanics and an assortment of torrid Desmond Child vehicles.

Now I’m not sure why I believe there is an mid-80’s AOR pop/rock album that holds the alchemical key to release me from this Purgatory.  Nonetheless the conviction is strong.  Indeed I am only vaguely aware of the how: some sort of a sonic detox of my head, earhole-to-eyehole.  Part of a wider psychick sleep hygiene ritual. Regardless, it has to work.

I must now go listen very closely at a number of bombastic pop albums.  Don’t wait up for me; this will take some time.

The Lattisaw Fold-In


I’m in the gym fitness suite at 8:15 am on a Sunday morning, along with a half dozen or so pensioners also trying not to sag into so much formless body-mush.  I’m warming up with an even-paced, 17+ min. jog on the Cybex® treadmill, the one mounted with the annoying screen broadcasting nothing but repo-man reality TV programming along side an endless stream of updates on the encroaching Ebola crisis. I’ve not added any incline to my run, but my heart rate’s hovering up above 155. I’m breathing evenly, working up a nice sweat. The 70+ year old guy jogging next to me is wearing royal blue lycra bodysuit with matching headband.

On my earbuds, I’m listening to the expanded reissue of Stacy Lattisaw‘s 1986 Take It All the Way album – a synth-heavy but not entirely forgettable R&B record, due primarily to some attractive song-writing contributions by 80’s wunderkind John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez. And though I didn’t always, I am finding that I actually enjoy this sort of exercise: all-too-brief moments when I’m focused squarely on moving, grooving, and (theoretically) improving, temporarily lost in the blissful, endorphin-sated O-Mind. For once, I’m allowed to forget about all the pain, shit, and utter nonsense I endure every day of my life as a human on the surface of this scorched, dying wreck of a planet. For such moments I am thankful.

But something is going amiss. Stacy’s started into “The Hard Way” – arguably, the most dynamic track on the album, far better than her bombastic, garish hit “Nail It To The Wall” was. Every few measures, the track abruptly ruptures with a harsh POP! and folds back in on itself to an earlier verse, before leaping forward to resume somewhere near to where it all began. Apparently, sometime during my last illegal-download music marathon, I ended up with a Lattisaw mp3 that’s in a particularly dire state of degraded disrepair. It’s now coming at me (POP!) full-blast, and I’ve no way to rectify the situation without stopping the Cybex® which would whither that elusive mid-jog elation I’ve still got a line on. Weighing things up, I stay the course.

Yet this is one truly messed up mp3. Not only is the minor-key melody and song structure chopped beyond all recognition, but the processed, sequenced beats – so vital to keeping the body on track during mindless physical endeavour! – is now irreparably staggered. Further, I’m now being bombarded with cryptic lyrical cut-ups, Lattisaw reconfigurations only the likes of William S. Burroughs might have approved of:

Right now I wanna touch your POP! senses gone

You never get something for POP! your eyes

It’s like I’m in another POP! own mind

I’ll tell you every POP! magic disappears

It’s a fantasy and it POP! won’t let go

I become aware that the lycra-clad grey head next to me has stopped running and is now standing still, watching me. I’m still jogging, but getting lost; my mind is struggling with non sequitur meaning suggested from lyrics (POP!) that didn’t make much sense to begin with. Confusion and fragmentation . . . I’m starting to dissociate. Yes my body is moving mechanically in it’s Lattisaw groove on the treadmill, but my thoughts? They are f-l-o-a-t-i-n-g . . .

What am I doing POP! here?

Do I still POP! have control over my actions?

Does anything POP! make sense anymore?

From the corner of my eye, I see the man standing next to me has turned in my direction, and is now pointing directly in front of my treadmill. I look forward and –

see my disembodied head lolling back and forth, Weeble-like, on the ground. It’s staring back at me with a wide, ear-to-ear grin, looking more gleefully idiotic than I’ve seen in the mirror for decades.