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Recurring Dream : Hard Rock Cafe


For about ten days I'd had a recurring dream about the Hard Rock Cafe. According to dreambible.com to dream of a restaurant means: "To dream of a restaurant represents feelings about how easy it is to be "served" particular feelings or experiences in waking life. Specific types of feelings or experiences that you are choosing to have. Consciously making the choice to feel a certain way or to easily have a certain type of experience. The freedom to have a certain type of experience that is always available to you.

Negatively, dreaming about a restaurant may reflect feelings about expectations for certain types of experiences to be easily given to you by others. Using others to keep feeling a particular way with ease. The idea that you can simply "show up" whenever you want to experience whatever you want.

Advertisements for restaurants may reflect people in your life with offers of easy experiences or easy access to something you enjoy. The option to feel a certain way if you want to.

To dream of eating dinner at a restaurant represents feelings about a finalizing type experience made easy. Feelings about other people helping you to finalize wedding, funeral, or business arrangements."


As I almost never dream about brand names, and this being my second dream about a brand name in under a year I felt the need to go check it out and try to figure out what I was subconsciously trying to resolve.

I visited the location within Universal Citywalk (Los Angeles is home to two Hard Rock Cafes), because it had the more traditional interior that I'd been used to around twenty years ago when I frequented them. 


I walked in and looked around a little before sitting at the bar. As an adult I really had more perspective on the absurdity of some of the artifacts on display. For example one of these guitars was autographed by the members of School of Fish, a band that broke up in 1994 and whose lead singer died five years or so later. It's an extremely unique piece in that the dollar value and interest in this item is relatively low compared to the pieces around it which are autographed by huge celebrities, and yet it was something I was genuinely interested in. Having had no idea it was on display it seemed irrelevant to my trying to understand this dream.



I sat at the bar and looked around, there was a poster advertising the Rolling Stones "Forty Licks" which was brand new the last time I ate at Hard Rock Cafe on a semi-regular basis. It was the newest poster in the restaurant, and it was around 16 years old. I started watching the music videos on the TV, they were all old as well. I started to look around the restaurant and realized almost no one was looking at their cell phones. At one point not one person even had a phone visible. It was as if I'd stepped into a time machine and gone back twenty years. Almost everything was exactly the same as I'd remembered it. "This must have something to do with this dream", I thought. I kept my phone in my pocket for a very long time and just looked around and tried to remember as much as I could about how my life felt at that place and time. 


My obligatory hamburger arrived. It was the only thing that had changed. A Janet Jackson video started playing. I noticed a CBGB poster on the wall that I knew must have been fake (a closer inspection confirmed this). I don't think about CBGBs much at all anymore. It was (what seemed like) the center of my world for so long. I'd never understood why in the final week of the club David Byrne had refused to play. It made sense to me now. I looked at all the gold records that were merely issued to "Hard Rock Cafe" as if the restaurant was somehow responsible in any way for the album's sales. The waitstaff basically ignored me. The bar was half empty. I noticed some lyrics printed in big letters on the walls and adorning the lighting fixture on the ceiling. I thought about how both Hard Rock Cafe and it's competitor House of Blues often used vague slogans endorsing kindness and love among each other. It contrasted sharply with the iconography it was selling of rock stars who are inherently selfish and egocentric (and celebrated as such).   


I ate the burger. I sat there for a while. I thought about my phone. Twenty years ago we were all still on AOL, weren't we? In the same way I kind of hate myself for wasting days on Facebook, I used to hate myself for wasting days on AOL. I had certainly gotten to a point in life where I'd looked back at that time and thought it was wasteful and swore I'd never go back into that pattern. Here I am, kind of back in that pattern. "What did we do on AOL all day?" I wondered. And that's when it all sort of hit me. 


On AOL there was a secret chat room called "The Velvet Rope". It was for the music industry. It's where the majority of the friends I made in my late teens and early twenties came from. It's where I met my ex wife. It's where all the friends I lost after my divorce came from as well. It was a festering incubator for the self-centered egocentric people who didn't have the talent to be artists all congregated. The same people that fed the now irrelevant culture propagated by what remains of the Hard Rock Cafe. 

When I used to visit these restaurants I would flash my "All Access" card, the bartender would pretend to be my best friend, I was treated like a long-lost relative. The whole city I was in was at my feet, a network of strangers willing to help me explore and open otherwise closed doors. That was both from the Velvet Rope, the local record stores, the restaurant, everything. And then one day it all imploded. 

All that dark, primal, crying that went on for all those months wasn't entirely about my divorce, it was about my reconciliation that all these people, this whole world I'd believed in was complete and total bullshit. I've never recovered from that, and in a way I'll probably never recover from that. My family was always dependable at disappointing me, so I'd run away from home and joined the circus with the hopes of finding other people who'd been in the same boat and we could rely on each other. Guess what? They disappointed me just as much (if not more). 

Moving to Hollywood only exasperated this. 

I don't want to talk about other people's private lives when they intersect with mine, but it became clear that the dreams were trying to remind me not to believe in other people. I hope some of you have other people that you can really believe in, but as for me, I kinda don't really. I have five close friends who will always do as much as they can to help me when I'm down and out, but they can only do so much. When it comes to really believing in people, I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to do that again. The curtain has been drawn back too far and I've seen all the flaws. 

The thing to do, of course, is be insular and make art about it, but I've found that less than rewarding lately. This is probably why I'm having such vivid dreams as an outlet for these feelings instead. 

I doubt that Gwen Stefani ever goes to the Hard Rock Cafe, but I'm sure she must have equally confused thoughts walking in a restaurant and seeing her high school yearbook on the wall with a giant arrow pointing to her photo. I can't even imagine what Keith Richards makes out of literally seeing his garbage framed and hung on the wall. 


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