Friday, August 8, 2008

But It Was Only A Dream: Pvt. Doberman's Magic Johnny Otis Record

This post relates to a dream I had early this morning.
I awoke from it around dawn, thinking 'What the heck was that?'
I'm still trying to piece it together before it evaporates completely, and I feel compelled to share it with you.

To preface, I've always felt that dreaming is by far the best entertainment value for your money.
I love being able to remember a dream.
I revel in a wild dream, even if it scared the bejeebers out of me.

'Wow, where did that come from?'

It's like being an auteur filmmaker with an unlimited budget and no hassles from the studio.

Despite my love of a vivid dream, I've never had too much interest in dream interpretation.
Sometimes meaning will assert itself, and that's fine - - but otherwise my preference is to let the mystery be and just 'enjoy the show'.

This morning's 'show' was just about literally that, at least at first; The dream presented itself as an old TV sit-com, a strange episode of 'The Phil Silvers Show'.

With at least one vividly-colored exception, what I recall is the dream being in 1950's black and white, complete with laughter from the studio audience.
It included Sgt. Bilko and the rest of his platoon at Fort Baxter, but featured the slovenly, slow-witted and gullible Pvt. Duane Doberman ▼ (as played by Maurice Gosfield).

In the hazy 'plot' of this dream, Doberman is nuts over the new Rock & Roll music on the radio, and specifically he's crazy for the tune
'Willie and the Hand Jive', the latest number from
(R&B pioneer) Johnny Otis. ▼

Doberman begins to cause a stir among his fellow soldiers by constantly singing the song to himself as he goes about his day.

He keeps fudging the lyrics, but belts out the chorus, bellowing - -

"Han' Jive. Han' Jive.
"Han' Jive,
"Doon' That Crazy Han' Jive."

'Hilarity ensues' sit-com-style, as various members of the platoon are driven to distraction by Duane's singing - - telling him to be quiet, trying in vain to correct him on the lyrics of the song, getting in arguments over the lyrics with others, and ultimately finding themselves 'infected' by the hand jive as they themselves begin absent-mindedly singing it, unable to get the tune out of their heads.

The thread of the dream changes gears slightly around this point, with Pvt.Doberman announcing excitedly that he's just seen an advertisement in the back of a comic book for a new 'magic' Johnny Otis record available by mail order.

It's here that details of the dream get fuzzier.

I recall some speculation and doubt from 'cast members' about what a 'magic' Johnny Otis record could be, as well as general disgust with Doberman.

Somehow this leads to a 'Cinderella' situation, where all of the platoon gets to go to some special event except for Dobie, who's been restricted to barracks, likely for some sort of 'hand jive mania' hijinks.

I suppose if this were really a sit-com episode and not a strange dream, the special event would be a Johnny Otis Show concert & dance, perhaps engineered via some Bilko chicanery.
Some further subterfuge would probably then lead to Doberman being snuck out to attend, ending with his being on stage to sing 'Hand Jive' with the band.

As it played out though, the remainder of the dream centered around the magic record.

Doberman is dejected as the others are readying to depart for the special event, leaving him behind in the barracks.

Suddenly, Mail Call. A package for Doberman. It's the Magic Johnny Otis record!

The other soldiers are ready to leave, but hesitate, curious about the record as an elated Duane opens the package and prepares to play the record on a little portable record player.

Okay, here goes.

The record itself looks like a standard 12-inch black vinyl LP, but instead of standard concentric grooves, you can clearly see that at least one side of the record bears some sort of crazy jumble of a criss-crossing pattern etched into the vinyl.

"Dobe, I hate to say it," says one soldier, "- - but I think you got gypped. That nutty thing's never gonna play right."
Doberman replies: "Aw, gee! Maybe that's why it's a Magic Rekkid. Have a little faith, willya?"

There's a moment of silence as Duane places the tonearm on the edge of the record. By now there's a small group of soldiers with him, crowded around the player.

Music begins playing. There's a gasp. "Gee, wouldya look at that..."

Not only is the record player's needle somehow tracking along the maze of etched grooves, moving at odd angles without incident, but as it travels through the groove, it changes the color along that line from the vinyl's black to various different vivid colors.

The men crowd in closer to watch and listen. More colored lines are revealed as the record plays, and it becomes clear that they are beginning to form a picture. Not only that, but the movements and color changes seem to be correlating to changes in the music as it plays.

"Gosh, it's beeyootiful..."

How ANY of this could been seen and interpreted on a disc that's spinning is something I can't explain to you. I can tell you that it worked just fine in the dream.

As the 'witness' of this dream, I know I don't remember the music, except that it didn't sound like any Johnny Otis I've ever heard, and that in the context of the dream it was gorgeous.

My fuzzy recollection of the image on the Magic Record is that the finished product revealed when it finished playing was figurative artwork, but I can't remember what it depicted.

Watching it form was like watching the continuous line of an Etch A Sketch moving quickly in time to music, so I suppose when you add vividly changing colors it's also kinda reminiscent of my iTunes 'Visualizer' gizmo.

- - Though it reminded me more of the elementary school art projects where you'd put a full layer of black india ink over a sheet of paper you'd already scribbled full of rainbow crayon colors, and then scratch designs through the black with some kind of stylus or the sharp end of a pair of scissors.

The end result 'painted' picture on the record gave a feel that was similar to the old
Vogue label picture records
of the late 1940's, but with the angular continuous line in vivid color against black vinyl, I'm more reminded of some of
Jim Flora's artwork.
(see below) ▼

Huh. It was my dream, so I guess it can be an amalgam of all of those things, right?

As for Doberman and the rest of the Bilko crowd in the dream, my feeling is that by consensus the amazing Magic Johnny Otis record exonerated Duane of all of his transgressions, and that made a perfectly fitting end to the dream.

Again, had this nonsense somehow been a 'real' Bilko episode, it would have then ended with Dobie being sprung from the barracks to go rock out with the Johnny Otis Show.

In my dreams, I suppose. (And thanks for indulging me!)


Moogaboo said...

What a cool dream! That "magic record" sounds like something that could actually exist. Or at least it SHOULD, in a perfect world. ha ha. And I agree with you about dreams being the best form of entertainment.

Timmy said...

This could be the missing link of Einstein's theory of Relativaty. It certainly explains alot of things to me, ABOUT me. I once took Acid, around the time The Beatles' "White Album" came out, & saw much of what your feelings were described here-in, while listening to that Record, in my garage, on a drizzly afternoon.

Freshly-stirred links