A Midsummer Night's Dream

The setting: downtown Knoxville

Midpoint on Gay street

by Jack Mauro

Last night I had the strangest dream and, before I even slap a period on the end of that sentence, I'd like you to know how very aware I am of how deadly a sentence that is. Dreams are like ugly babies; we cherish our own and have not a stitch of patience for other people's. But this was a Knoxville dream so it deserves, perhaps, your cursory attention. It was wild and sexy and dangerous, too. If I have prophetic abilities suddenly surfacing, we may all be in deep shit. For this was one scary festival/landscape, I can tell you.

You see, I was both living where I liveâ"in the Sterchiâ"and simultaneously trying to survive the new Knoxville Mardi Gras. Kate Mulgrew (of Voyager fame) was my neighbor and companion. This I shan't even try to trace. Just know that it was me and Captain Janeway, running errands in the Old City. First, though, my teensy celebrity as a writer apparently ballooned like mad in my sleeping head and I was asked to consult at a combination party and film shoot in a hopelessly dramatic penthouse apartment in my building. Something massively high-tech and clearly very expensive was going on, with lots of video cameras, models flying about and a good deal of vodka on ice. I looked down to see Gay Street belowâ"it looked like a war zone bedecked in Chinese lanternsâ"only to be seized by someone who looked like Ron Howard, in need of my opinion. What he sought help with turned out to be many naked models having furious sex in a large tub. Then I remember being somewhat naked myself, spilling much vodka, and thinking this was too wild a scene for the likes of me. I excused myself. Ron Howard was pissed, but what can you do?

Cut to: the Dali-esque street affair going on outside. Kate and I were scooting down Jackson in what I distinctly recall as a very smart black car. Yet rubble was all over, the debris of buildings half-demolished and serving as a backdrop for the party. By way of increasing trade the city had declared that, not only would we be the new New Orleans, certain laws and standards of behavior were to be blithely ignored. For a few days, anyway. And this translated to strangers jumping into the back of our car as though it were a taxi. Kate assured me it was the norm, yet I was uneasy, a state of mind augmented by my pants not having reappeared from the earlier scene.

Huge and brilliant costumes moved down Central, and I had the sense that many little crimes were going on all around us. Kate needed coffee (fans of the show will recall that this was a Janeway passion), so we purchased it at Java. You know that fascinating porthole thing they've got in the wall? Well, there was Ron Howard, shaking a fist at me through it, presumably for deserting him. The anger struck me as irrational; I mean, how much help does anyone need in tweaking footage of a bunch of hot models going at it in a tub?

There was more but my hold on those wisps we call dreams slips away. I know I made it back to the Sterchi. I know as well that Kate grabbed all the coffee and scrammed. Star Fleet. Yeah, right.

But, whence all this psycho hoopla, to begin with? Some dots I can connect. The rubble of the Old City was my sloppy interpretation of the construction still deconstructing all around us. The sex scene I was witness to doubtless stems from my own ambiguity regarding the prurient work I do for a certain online site. The pants off and me being naked? Well, it was a dream. The vodka? I'm sure that was born from continued admiration for the sleek and unexpectedly roomy interior of the new Downtown Wines & Spirits. Ron Howard? Oh, hell, who could ever explain Ron Howard?

Ultimately, though, I think my psyche just decided to riotously express my mistrust of the progress happening here. I see the Regal Cinema beginning to look like a cinema. I see the gleaming hardwood of the wine store floor. I see, in fact as in prognostication, more and more people on Gay, with more and more for them to do. Just a few weeks ago an errand took me down the street at around 8 p.m. It wasn't a Mardi Gras and it didn't seem criminal, but it was a genuinely bustling scene.

Ah, change. Progress. I think I hate them as people better than me hate racism.

P.S. About Kate Mulgrewâ I can't be sure but I think that may be what you get when you feverishly try to program yourself to dream about Sean Lamont.


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