After all this time I’m finally going to be releasing “Afghan Dust” my first novel. I’m really proud of this baby. A lot has been put into it and it’s a huge relief to get it out and be done with it.
I have the pleasure of releasing my book with a fellow musician and author, Stephen Grey. We’ll be doing readings, a Q & A, and signing books. All are welcome down @ The Round in Kensington Market on Nov 4 to celebrate. Things kick off a 7:00 am.
For those of you who like the Facebook, here’s the event page:
I love Pink Floyd. Love might be an understatement, I fucking worship Pink Floyd. For three years in high school I listened to Dark Side of the Moon just about every single day when I got home. Every time I’d fall asleep during “On The Run” and wake up during the heart beat at the end. It was a perfect forty minute nap. I never need an alarm.
The idea that Dark Side syncs up with The Wizard of Oz is far from being a new one. People have been talking about this since before I was born. However, for some reason, I’ve always done the sync up differently from everybody else. To be honest, I don’t know why. This is the way I was told to do it.
The weird part is, nobody syncs it up the way I do. The most common method is to sync up the album with the third lion’s roar during the MGM intro. I’ve tried that. To me, it doesn’t make any sense.
Now, if you line up the album with the entrance of the Tin Man, it’s a completely different story. It’s uncanny how many lyrics and song changes line up with the film. For myself, it’s impossible to deny that one syncs with the other.
Do I believe that Pink Floyd did this intentionally? Not necessarily. I don’t believe that we always have control of the things we do. We often deliver messages we don’t consciously intend on delivering. Could the band have done this intentionally? Of course, it’s not rocket science to do so. Either way, I don’t think obsessing over the how this happened matters. It just is.
I’ve taken it upon myself to provide a video syncing up the two. I’ve also gone thru the movie and listed all the uncanny coincidences that tell me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the two sync up. I listed them below under the times they occur at during the video.
Some things I list are stronger than others. I also offer some interpretations as to what I think the meaning of the new sync is. The strongest syncing occurs between 12:00 and 20:00, specifically during the poppy field scene.
Here is a download link to the video: https://www.dropbox.com/s/l6po54z1gpvjkgv/Dark%20side%20of%20OZ.mp4?dl=0
***You’ll have to download it to view the whole vid. Only the first 15 minutes will stream.
You can also do it yourself by playing the album as soon as you see the Tin Man’s foot in the film. Dorothy will be on her knees after wandering off the yellow brick road.
One thing to bear in mind is that the story is now centered around the Tin Man. The italicized text are lyrics from the album.
Begins at the entrance of the Tin Man. The heartbeat is the Tin Man’s. It’s as if to say, “What if the Tin Man had a heart?” and “What if he’d been stuck there for years, frozen, yet feeling?”
I’ve been mad for fucking years. Positively years - The Tin Man has been frozen there for an indefinite time. Hear the sound of gears and clocks as one would expect in a Tin Man’s head. Also, the gift given to the Tin Man later in the film by the wizard is a heart shaped clock.
Laugher begins as the sight of the oil can at realizing he’s going to be freed. Voice starts when mouth opens.
Beat comes in with the axe hitting the ground.
Dance a dance - Tin Man gets up from the log on his way to his dance. Also, he does a little dance move as he tries to loosen his knee.
Race towards an early grave - Tin Man runs on road.
Steps come in as Dorothy and the Scarecrow begin running around the Tin Man.
Here for today. Gone tomorrow - Laughter is heard. Witch laughs and disappears.
Mechanical sounding laugh comes in as Tin Man is laughing.
Scene ends with the track.
Footsteps are hear in the track while the posse is running up the road.
“Time” starts with the lion.
Lyrics start with the lion whining.
And you run, and you run, to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking - The posse is running down the yellow brick road which shortly after sinks.
Song changes with the appearance of the poppy field.
Far away across the field the tolling of the iron bell calls the faithful to their knees to hear the softly spoken magic spells - The posse faces the poppy field and the emerald city across from it. The city looks like a bunch of bells. While crossing the field the witch’s spell lulls them to sleep.
And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I don’t mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There’s no reason for it, you’ve gotta go sometime - The lion and Dorothy give up and pass out.
Enter the White Witch with the female vocal.
Posse reaches other side of the field in sync with musical sense of relief.
“Money” starts as they enter the Emerald City.
Scene changes with sax solo entering the Witch.
Vocal for “Us and them” starts as guard weeps from behind wall.
God only knows it’s not what we would choose to do - As the posse reluctantly makes their way toward the wizard.
“Forward” he cried. - The wizard in the actually movie commands the posse “Forward.”
Who knows which is which and who is who? - Entrance of the wizard’s pyro/magic display.
Down and Out - Just as the lion jumps down and out of the hallway through the window.
Synth comes in as witches hands get zapped by the ruby slippers.
Song changes with Toto escaping.
You rearrange me ‘til I’m sane – They are rearranging the Scarecrow’s insides.
Heart beat ends the album as the posse marches into the witch’s castle.
There is a language in the world. It is spoken in words, sounds, shapes, colour, and feeling. You can hear it with your ears, eyes, touch, heart, and mind. It speaks to everyone uniquely and persistently. If you wait and listen, and listen as long as you need to wait, you will hear it. Multiple truths can occupy the same space at the same time…
My eyes opened in the darkness of my cocoon. Gasping for air, I peeled back my sleeping bag. Between the cracks of stone, I could see grey clouds overhead. The sun had risen.
The winds still raged but the rain had stopped. I crawled to the entrance of my stone hut and looked up to the sky. A thick layer of cloud still blanketed the sky. A sense of helplessness remained with me while I looked up from my knees. For a brief moment, the clouds thinned enough for me to make out the hazy orb of the sun through the clouds.
I was overcome with joy. “The Sun! I didn’t come to this fucking mountain to die.” I yelled up to the sky. I went inside and packed as fast as I could. I left the cheese, the bread, and the wine. I threw my pack over my head and onto my shoulders. Starting on my knees, I began my down-going.
Fatigued and well-laden, I paid the utmost attention to every step I took. I knew my survival was not guaranteed. Any misstep could have still been my last. My thoughts and realizations from the night before filled my spirit. Every step was a physical affirmation of lessons learned. What I had gained through suffering filled my heart with joy. I knew I would see her eyes again.
I was already half-way down the mountain when I began to hear voices that weren’t the trickery of the wind. “Bom dia.” I said to the middle aged couple below me.
“Bom dia. Hi.” The man returned in a French accent. “How is it up there?”
“I don’t know.” I replied. “It’s been some time since I left. I don’t know what you will find.”
“Did you sleep on the mountain?” He asked.
“How was it?” He asked.
“A lot of wind. A lot of rain. A lot of cold.” I said in the simplest way I knew how. I wished them luck and continued my down-going. I was so grateful for them. I was so grateful for everything. I offered thanks for my aching knees, sore shoulders, and blistered feet. That suffering would end with me. I would not be a mirror. I would be a sponge. There was already enough pain on the path before them. They didn’t need to hear about mine as well.
Thoughtfully, I did my best to choose the best paths before descending. Once a path was chosen, I took each step with care and respect. If my path proved to be the wrong one, I turned back. If I could not, I did my best to learn from my mistakes so as to not make the same error again.
I made many mistakes during my down-going. I’m sure I could have descended faster and cleverer than I did. However, I took my time and did my best. I had not gone to that mountain to die.
I encountered many people along the way. I did my best to ignore my petty and personal suffering in order to welcome them with warm and loving eyes. If I was able to hear what language they were speaking and could speak it, I would welcome them in their language. If not, or if I didn’t know what language they spoke, I welcomed them by saying, “Portugues, English, Francais, Deutsch?” No matter what language they spoke, we all found a way to communicate. Most importantly, I did my best to be sincere, warm, and concerned with their well-being above my own. I warned them of dangers ahead and difficulties in the path. Most commonly, I mentioned post 34, where I fell on the edge of the abyss.
With every step down the mountain, the air became warmer. The winds gradually calmed. The rains became less and less menacing. The waters refreshed me. I prayed. I reflected. I wept. I thought of Kaitlin and prayed to see her again. I needed to hear the voice of my Madalena.
It was a struggle the whole way back to the Casa da Montanha. My feet only got more blistered and my pack heavier. My knees ached from constantly stopping my weight from uncontrollably falling down the slope. I did my best to maintain focus and moved down with care. I listened to the language of the path before me, then thought, then responded in action. When I reached the final steps at the Casa da Montanha I turned and faced Pico. It was still covered in cloud. I prayed. I thanked God for my suffering and begged forgiveness if I had fallen short in any way. Very carefully, still aware of the danger before me, I descended the last stone steps of my journey.
Andre was the first person I saw. He turned to me and said, “Ola, Moises. Gostava a montanha, o que?” He took this picture of me after I dropped my pack.
They had been following my progress up and down the mountain using my GPS. Apparently there were moments when they thought I had died or was injured. A few hours after I had left, I’m guessing at post 32, they closed the mountain due to excessive winds. They had exceeded 80 km/h. They received one of my calls for help (I tried at least twenty) but could do nothing given the weather conditions. Once they were in a position to send help, I was already making my way down the mountain, and there was no need.
They let me know I had often veered off the proper path. I was the only person who had slept on the mountain that night. The rest of the people who had passed me going upwards had made it down safely. Due to the excessive weather and my constant need for shelter, neither they nor I had visually crossed paths.
I saw the woman of the Casa and the joy my return gave her. In Portuguese she said, “And that’s why I told you not to go up there. It’s very dangerous. We were scared for you.” She made me a ham and cheese sandwich I happily ate.
Many people asked me about what had happened and what it was like up there. I gave them all the same reply, “A lot of wind. A lot of rain. A lot of cold.”
I asked Andre about the stone hut that had kept my safe through the night. He said that no one knew who put it there. It has been there as long as anyone could remember. Once, he was trapped up on the crater and had sought shelter there as well. I wasn’t the first, nor would I be the last person that shelter had saved.
Andre made what he called a “special” certificate for me. It represented the horrible weather conditions and the fact that I never reached nor saw Pequeno, the ultimate summit of Pico. I’ve decided, should I return, that I’ll never set foot on Pequeno. Here is a pic of my certificate.
He called a taxi for me. I thanked him for everything. He asked if I’d be attending the festival in Lages do Pico the following night. “Acho que sim.” I said.
I thanked the woman of the Casa very sincerely. “Obrigado para tudo.” I said. She gave me a warm, yet concerned look, and said goodbye.
The taxi took me straight to the hotel. I immediately called Kaitlin after taking a moment to get down on my knees and pray.
I took a moment before moving forward. Braced by post 45, looked inwards towards the crater…
There was only one thing I wanted to find there. Among all the scattered images and confusions littering my mind, only one hope stood clear. It was the hope that other people would be at the summit. I imagined all the others who had passed me along the way, huddled up and protecting each other. They would see me and would be expecting me. They’d embrace me into their safety. We’d take care of each other and make sure we all made it safely through the night.
That was not the case. As I looked down into the crater, all I saw between the blasts of wind and rain was lifeless rock. The wind seemed to speak. Throughout my ascent it had begun to sound like voices, yells and whispers, calling out to me. By then, I knew the voices I heard were lies. Although everything in me hoped otherwise, I knew I was completely alone.
I descended into the volcanic crater, still only able to see a couple of metres ahead of me. The winds, which I thought might me more tame at the summit, were stronger than ever. It blasted from all directions free from any obstructions in its path. I continuously fell to my knees under its power. My knees were scabbed and bloodied.
My first objective was to find shelter from the wind and the rain. Only twenty metres from post 45, I came across a stone hut. It stood about one metre tall, one metre wide, and two metres long. I looked down at it, figured I could do better, and decided to follow the edge of the crater. After being thrown onto the sharp volcanic rocks three times over with almost every step I took, I retreated back to the stone hut. At first, I couldn’t see it through the haze and feared I wouldn’t find it again. Thankfully, I did.
I took off my pack and entered the stone hut on my hands and knees. As I entered I saw that same brown bird that had taken interest in me the night before at the Casa. I said, “Olá pássaro.” It looked at me for a moment with the same curiosity as before. Then, it hopped into a crack between the stones and flew out of the hut. I took the bird as a good omen and decided to stay there for the night.
I began to prepare. It was still daytime, but not for long. Once I had committed to this shelter, there was no turning back. I arranged some stones inside to make room to lay there. I lifted one revealing a long, multi-legged insect. It immediately scurried out of the hut, ”There is no place for you here.” I yelled at the fleeing insect.
The wind and rain blasted through the entrance. I decided to take the neon orange water cover that came with my pack and make a door with it. The thing was worthless anyhow seeing how everything in my pack was soaked. I cut its elastics with a knife and, using two rocks, spread it across the entrance. With a third rock, I weighed it down. I was only able to cover part of the hole but it was enough to slow most of the wind and rain. It would have to do. Once it was done, its shape was triangular and an exclamation mark had been printed on it. I tried to take a picture of it but my camera wouldn’t work. This drawing of the door is from my journal:
I pulled out my inflatable mattress, my sleeping bag, my food, my water, the wine, my head lamp, and a change of clothes. I changed my clothes, inflated the mattress, and laid out my semi-soaked sleeping bag. Water was dripping from between the stones overhead. I knew that soon, the bag would be completely soaked. I also knew I was better off in a soaked bag, somewhat protected from the winds and the rains, than outside of it. I did my best not to panic and think out my every move. It was not an easy thing to do.
I took off my shoes and laid them upside-down hoping they’d dry somewhat overnight. I emptied one water bottle into another making my latrine for the night. I laid out all my food and tools within arms reach. I crawled into my sleeping bag. I ate some canned tuna with my hands thinking I’d need the protein to repair my muscles for my eventual descent. I put my headlamp on and pulled my bread and cheese into the sleeping back with me.
I looked upwards and realized the size of the stones forming the roof above me. They were massive, much larger than I’d be able to lift alone. If they fell, say because of a relentless 100 km/h wind storm, I’d be crushed instantly. At times the stones making the walls were only connected my single sharp edges in the rock. The construction didn’t appear very reliable. I imagined myself getting crushed from overhead. I engulfed myself in my sleeping bag and waited.
The winds raged. The temperature dropped. I cursed myself for leaving my beautiful Kaitlin. I begged God forgiveness for my arrogance and thanked him for the beautiful life he had given me. I apologized to my mother for all the pain my danger seeking had caused her. I pictured Kaitlin’s loving face and warm, innocent eyes. I prayed that if I died on the mountain, God would help her move on and find love again. I thanked him for a wonderful life knowing that every breath had been a gift and every moment a blessing. I asked why I had been called there. My only response was the raging wind. I asked myself why I had done this to myself. There was so much waiting for me back home. What the fuck was I thinking?
I prayed. I ate and drank often, but little at a time. The rain kept falling. Before long, my bag was completely soaked. I began to hear a whistling. My air mattress was punctured. The ground became harder. A constant, throbbing pain began to develop in my left knee and hip. I was sleeping in a puddle.
I began to shiver uncontrollably. I knew from my experience in the army that my body needed food to maintain core temperature. Every time I shivered I ate a little bread and a little cheese. The shivering would stop for a bit, then restart. The process continued all night.
I decided I might as well open the wine. I grabbed my hotel cup, the bottle, and the corkscrew. I drilled the corkscrew into the cork and tried to lift it. The tool broke, leaving the screw lodged inside. I tried several times to open the bottle with my shoe. I gave up after a couple failed attempts after the cold got the better of me.
I huddled into my cocoon. After some time, I began to notice I was breathing uncontrollably. From my air medical training I realized that the inability of air to pass into my cocoon was causing me to hyperventilate. I continued to monitor my breathing and made sure to come up for air as needed. I knew the cold wasn’t going to be strong enough to kill me. Worst case scenario, I knew if I was smart and didn’t get crushed, I could hold out until a rescue team came for me. The weather report I had seen before leaving the Casa said the system would last another two days.
I looked up between the stones above me and saw the sun had set. I wondered who had built this hut sheltering me. I stared at the massive stones above my face and prayed. As night fell I knew I had no choice but to wait until morning, occasionally eating, peeing, drinking, and coming up for air. I waited for a message.
No message came. I thought about Moses and his ascent to his fire god. Was he a phoney? Did he write those words on those tablets? I thought about Mohammed in his mountain cave. Did Gabriel really tell him all those things or was he just power hungry? Did he just manipulate those people and send them on a murderous rampage raiding caravans from Persia to Morocco. Should I come down from the mountain and tell a big lie for my own glory and ego? Should I renounce my faith because God hadn’t acted in the manner than I had deemed fit after I had come all that way. No! No! Thrice no! That was ego. That was a lie. I had not come all that way to yell lies from the mountain top. I would receive what I was meant to be given, it anything at all. If there was nothing waiting for me, so be it. Every breath is a gift, every moment is a blessing. Oxalá!
I checked continuously for the sun. I had no watch and lost all conception of time. I felt like day would never arrive. Although the rains came in and out (more in than out), the winds never ceased. The pain in my leg and knee only grew with time. My hands shriveled beyond anything I see before. I begged for sleep but I was not that lucky.
I had this idea that if I slept, I’d wake up and the sun would be up. Everything would be clear. The warmth would dry my clothes. I’d look out over the edge of the crater and watch the sun rise over the Azores. Everything I had been through would make sense and feel justified. I would happily descend the mountain with the sun on my back. I think that idea, like so many, came from too many books and movies.
My impatience grew. After what felt like an eternity, panic began to overwhelm me. I lost all control. I knew it was suicide to try and descend the mountain at night with the weather as it was, tired as I was, and with my pack heavier than ever. But fear, not reason, was in control. I packed my gear, left the wine, bread, and cheese, and tried to leave.
Only two steps from the hut and a violent gust threw me to the ground. Two steps later and I was thrown down harder than the first time. On my hands and knees I crawled back into the stone hut. I removed my sleeping bag from my pack and draped it over my head as I sat cross legged. I begged for forgiveness. I cried uncontrollably. I have never been more frightened.
I grabbed for the emergency satellite phone given to me at the Casa da Montanha. I tried the first number. It didn’t work. I tried the second number. It didn’t work. The third number was the 2000 Euro rescue line. I tried the first two numbers over and over again. The girl at the Casa told me that sometimes you need to walk to the crater’s edge for the phone to work. I ran out for post 45 and tried again. No luck. On my knees I begged that fucking piece of shit phone to dial. It didn’t. I pressed the third number. It was my last option. It had to work. It did not.
Unable to endure the wind and rain, I crawled back into the hut. I stretched out my cocoon and crawled back inside. I began to understand. We don’t deserve God anymore. He had come too many times. He has held our hand too many times. What have we done with his gifts? We’ve killed each other, put ourselves first, lied, robbed, raped, and made war, all in his name. We’re all guilty. He’s sick of us and our stupidity. He isn’t going to help us this time. This time we have to figure this out on our own. He’s willing to let us die. If we can’t save ourselves, then he doesn’t give a fuck. He exists. He exists in every way and for every one. Many truths can occupy the same space at the same time. All of his cultural manifestations are valid. We’ve abused and misused them all. Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, Capitalists, Communists, Nationalists, Scientists, Atheists, Buddhists, we’re all on our own. If we can’t find a good reason to make this work, it isn’t going to. He decides. We submit.
I thought about the only thing I wanted to find when I reached the crater. It was other people. I didn’t care who they were. I didn’t care what language they spoke, what country they came from, or who they prayed to. The immense solitude and despair of the mountain had crushed me. Nothing, not a single thing I had been through during my life could have prepared me for what true hopelessness felt like.
We can’t afford to live on mountains anymore. We need to work together. We need to listen, then think, then speak. Speak last. Listen first. If we don’t, we’re fucked.
I prayed for survival unsure of whether or not it would be granted. I wanted every day, every moment that followed, to be a conscientious action. I wanted the opportunity to bear more weight, to endure greater sufferings. I begged for labour and hardship and struggles. I wanted the opportunity to bear the weight of all my crimes and failings yet still do my best to welcome every man I met with love and good intent. It is heaviness of burden that causes one to float. So many men bear so many burdens. There is so much weight to carry. Why do it then? Because someone has to do it. Someone has to lift our weight up the mountain to where it can defy gravity. No one is special. Not one of us has a greater claim than the other to existence. Death is swift and just and real. Ego and individuality and selfishness once made us strong. Now, they blind and deceive us. They belong to a fire god whose flame has dwindled. We cannot stop the waters from rising. It is their time. Now, we are drowning. Water is filling our lungs. Only those who know how to float will survive.
A calm came over me in the darkness of my cocoon. A voice, my voice but not my own, asked, “Why did you come here?”
I started to reply, “To save…” but stopped myself. That was ego. That was a lie.
I started to reply. “To know and learn…” but stopped myself. That was ego. That was a lie.
Finally, I decided to really listen and think. “Because you asked me to.” I replied.
Calmly and peacefully, I faded into darkness…