Jonah of Free Time interpreted by Noah of Yuppies

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Traps In the Midst of Dreams

In another installment of Traps in the Midst of Dreams, I continue to comb the musical landscape for only its dreamiest inhabitants and their nocturnal terrors or fantasies. Then, I farm the recollections out to a stable of deft decipherers. This week, Jonah Maurer, guitarist of wonderfully understated NYC group Free Time, projects himself into an Aladdin video game and fails to defeat the snake. Yuppies' Noah Sterba Omaha take the long view of this dream, opting to interpret it as a symptom of a larger social affliction he wishes to critique. Like most installments, one musicians’ ego curls around another’s id, though Sterba imparts some sage-like gaming advice at the end.


I'm looking at a huge 2-D screen/stage. It’s like a fight in Mortal Kombat or Marvel Vs. Capcom being projected in a movie theater. The setting is a busy market place, similar to a country level in Street Fighter – except Aladdin themed. It’s the Aladdin marketplace scene turned into a 2D fighting stage. Those huge wicker/woven baskets line the street with heads popping out every once in a while, making the basket tops temporary umbrella hats. The guards and street vendors from that Aladdin scene (the “Street Rat” song) are all there, repeating small movements and dances as the background people in those video games often do. Everyone is thrusting those wide curved swords into the air, excited to watch the fight. One of the large baskets appears in the foreground on the right side and I see myself climb out of it. It looks like I'm gonna get to fight, and it looks kind of fun!

Unfortunately this good feeling doesn't last very long. The huge snake that Jafar turns into at the end of Aladdin slides onto the screen from the left side, so big that it can't entirely fit. Parts of its head and body disappear above the screen, and I only almost see the whole thing when it clutches itself into a knot, shaking and rippling. It's brown and pink, shiny when lights hit it right. Suddenly I have one of those swords and it becomes a fun, goofy fight. When I jump it's always the same height and distance. When I swipe the sword it's always the same way, and doesn't cut into the snake. After a few moments of regular videogame fighting however, the snake becomes angry and starts to uncurl, preparing to fight back. Suddenly I see the snake from the perspective of my fighting avatar. It is 3-D and huge and bulging. I become very scared and try to run, but I can't. The last seconds of the dream I am frozen and the snake is tensing to strike. In the end it lunges and eats me in one bite. I wake up instantly.


Clearly, this dream deals with the growing passivity of our human race. We are watching our lives drift by on screens, and though communication is easier and quicker than ever, our connection with each other seems to be weaker. We are driving on some dark and unfamiliar back roads, hoping we can make it out without too many breakdowns. It is and always has been a fight between us and some unseeable serpent. We know danger is always looming, but have never been ones to shy away from that. If we can’t see beyond our eyes, one of these days, the serpent will show its fangs with a coy little smirk on its face and slither out of the screen with its eyes on our necks. Could this dream be a premonition of the poison to come? I don’t know, but I do know, on Super Nintendo, to defeat the serpent all you have to do is jump on its head three times.

Free Time's self-titled LP is out now on Underwater Peoples. Yuppies' self-ttield debut is out now on Dull Tools.