Friday, July 30, 2010

How to Fly - May Day Scenarios

For an explanation/introduction to How to Fly, click here. In the segment below, dreamers describe a variety of flying locales.

Gravity Gone Wrong

What I do is not so much flying, it's more like
a loss of gravity. I start floating up and away
from the earth. It's upsetting. It's not a pleasant
experience. I do know that I never wear
my glasses when I'm flying.
- James Howard, Age 46, Psychologist

Free Falling

Normally I just rise projectile-like, usually
from a field. But it's not always pleasant.
Sometimes I'll go into, like, dives. There's a
sensation of falling. Sometimes I'll just be
falling and then I fly. It's not like I take off.
I'm falling and say, "Oh, I'm not falling, I'm
flying," and then I fly.
When you're flying there's a sweetness and
affection to it. It's always exhilarating. Like,
"Woah, we're doing it again!"
- Bart Paugh, Age 40-something, Poet, Publication Designer

Aerial Rescue

I'm usually a little girl when I'm flying. I fly
like a dragonfly or a butterfly, but my arms
aren't moving. I fly around and see people
being attacked and I save them. I dive
down and snatch them away, or I attack the
perpetrator, mainly by falling on them or
pushing them away. When I was young it was
fun and I was happy saving people. Now it's
more like a nightmare.
- Brendalynn Goodall, Age 46, Director, Program on Ageing

Hovering Infant

I was really young when I flew. I wasn't even
walking yet, so my flying was like a float and a
kick. I would only fly as high as the top of a
doorway, right above the reach of an adult
male hand. I wasn't going any farther, I wasn't
going anywhere. I was actually stalled, but I
was safe.
- Laura Powers, Age 43, Legal Secretary, Former Resident of Soleri Arcology

Fleeing the Fall Semester

My flying is pretty purposeful. I always fly
to get away from someone or something
trying to get me. I'm always leaving a difficult
situation, always. Fall is a good season for flying,
when the school year starts.

You would like to be with me when I fly. I'm
great! To take off I kind of jump off, leap. I
swim along doing the breast stroke upward
until I reach a safe distance above tree level,
and then I go horizontal.
- Judy Richter, Ph.D., Age 50, Professor of Nursing, University of Northern Colorado

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How to Fly - Locations

For an explanation/introduction to How to Fly, click here. In the segment below, dreamers describe a variety of flying locales.

Visiting Lesley Gore

I don't know how I get up there. I'm all of a
sudden just flying, and it feels so wonderful. I
can see a patchwork of green fields below. I
circle above houses until I find the one I want,
and then I fly right in through the window.
All of a sudden, I've landed and just start talking
and no one is surprised.

One time I zoomed into a sort of southern
California-style ranch house and saw Lesley
Gore. She had short red hair and was wearing
bell bottoms and a shell top. I remember the
clothes, and I remember how nice she was—
she was my friend.

- Jim Allio, Age 50, Postal Clerk, Writer, Singer

Corner Crouching

I've been flying as far back as I can remember.
I always start up near the ceiling in a corner of
the room in a semi-crouch. I don't know how
I get there. Then I just glide down into the
room. I don't know how, something steers me.
I land very comfortably.

I never fly around outside. Except once, at the
end of the world, I flew straight up into intense

- Denise Davis, M.D., Age 39, Internist

Window Peeping

When I was younger I did a whole lot of
flying, looking out of windows, aerial views,
sort of swooping down.

- Pam O'Connell, Age 45, Interior Designer Specializing
in Window Treatments

This Must Be Chicago

I remember flying dreams at least from my
preteen years. I just kind of go up and usually
have the ability to go up whenever I want to. I
can choose how high I go up. Usually it's over
people's heads, about two or three stories
high. Recently I saw a whole group of people
flying in the same direction. That's unusual.
Usually it's just me. I fly a lot in cities—there
are trees, buildings. I think it's Chicago.

- Deborah Goldsmith, Age 47, Community College
Economics Instructor

Next Segment: May Day Scenarios 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Fly - Aerobatic Styles

For an introduction to How to Fly, click here, and to see the first chapter, "Takeoff and Landing," click here. Below, dream flyers share a range of aeronautical maneuvers.

Toy Plane Steering

My parents have a house up in Clear Lake. I start out on top of the mountain and I have one of those balsa flying planes in my hand. When I move the plane, my body moves in the same direction. I fly looking down so I can always see where I'm going, and I always land in the water.   - Chris Van Horn, Age 21, Guitar Player

The Vertical Hover

I've been flying all my life, and I'm so accustomed to it that I don't pay much attention to how I do it. I know I'm standing upright. I just sort of go this way and that way. I don't know how I steer—it's effortless.

My dad, who was a Navy flier, was a dream flier too, and we used to talk about our dream flying experiences. He told me that the first time he piloted a plane, he looked down and had an overwhelming sense of deja vu—he'd already done it before, in his dreams.   - Dan Seymour, Age 42, Owner, Aarco Transmissions, Oakland, CA


I fly with a group of people in a V-formation, and I'm always at the head of the V. I'm the head goose. I don't know who the people behind me are. The landscape I fly over looks like the African veldt. I can coast and bounce along, come down, spring up—sort of like those movies you see as a kid with aerial shots of giraffes or antelopes in the wild.   - Paul Supton, Age 57, Labor Lawyer


I stay upright when I fly and use hand movements to get around. It's sort of like sculling in water ballet—it's a little thing with the arm. I don't go up a fantastic distance, maybe thirty or forty feet, just above tree level. I know because I've had to watch out for power lines.   - Chris Carroll, Age 51, Artist

Adrenaline Swoops

I like to dive, to swoop down. I do it for the adrenaline rush. I like changing my level and direction. I can do it at will, for fun, sort of like playing while flying.  - Julie Johnson, Age 36, Director of Education, New Jersey State Aquarium

Winged Flight

I have wings on my ankles that help me fly, and when I want to steer I move my arms like this.   - Tim Sage, Age 9, Third Grader

Contour Cruising

I'm bigger than usual, so I can go across lots and lots of terrain. I sort of hover over grasslands and rolling hills, following the contours of the land. I can feel the grass as I whoosh by. I never really thought of this as flying.   - Anne Jennings, Age 30-something, Project Manager, Exploratorium

Elegant Arm Flapping

I flap my arms very slowly. This has nothing to do with staying aloft or the physics of flight, it's more a matter of style. The best is when I fly in space, looking at galaxies. This is what I'd like to do when I die.   - Kevin McGowan, Age 47, Head Paralegal, U.C. Berkeley

Never-Never Navigation

I fly like Peter Pan. I just sort of lift off and lean to steer. In the morning, after I wake up, I always jump off my bed to see if I can fly. I always fly over water. You know the roof of my house? I fly that high above the water. I don't know how many feet that is.   - Julie Richter, Age 11, Third Grader


I'm just three or four feet off the ground. There isn't any sensation of taking off, I just start off tumbling from above or jump up and start rolling. Since I am never very high, landing is a non-issue—I can just sort of alight. Because it's something you can easily do in water, it was something I was able to do in the air in my dream. If I kept in motion I wouldn't fall, so if I rolled with a fall I could keep rolling indefinitely in the air.   - Sam Hurwitt, Age 30, Writer, Arts Editor, Express

Moon Walk

I'm way up above you guys and you wish you could fly like me. I'm floating over the neighborhood and the other kids are jealous, like when you're riding a bicycle. Takeoff is a mind thing—you have to have confidence to do it. I can take giant steps too, like moon walking, when I get tired of the other way. - Eric Buechley, Age 56, Tree Surgeon

Next segment: "Locations" 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How to Fly - Takeoff and Landing

For an introduction/explanation regarding How to Fly, click here . Below, a range of dream flyers describe their takeoff and landing strategies.

The Fence Flip

I always fly in places that I know. The first time I flew I was fooling around, running as high as I could up the fence on the side of my back yard. We'd do that sometimes for fun, just start running across the yard and then keep going and try to run as high as we could up the fence.

This time I just kept going. I ran all the way up the fence and straight up into the air and then flew through the air all the way across the yard and landed on the other side, right on my feet. It was neat.   - Chris Van Horn, Age 21, Guitar Player

Kick Start

I have bad, evil people surrounding my feet, so I need to fly to escape. I flap my arms and kick my feet and once I rise to a level where they can almost catch me, I soar above them. And I dip sometimes, and I can feel my stomach dropping.

I've had flying dreams ever since I was a little girl.   
- Amanda Ducat, Age 17, High School Senior

Back Flip

I do a back flip when I start. I go up and around, and then I just take right off flying. I do the same thing when I land. I come in low and do a back flip and land on my feet.  - Tim Sage, 9 Years Old, Third Grader

Jumping for Joy

The first time I flew, I came home from school and saw a trunk outside our door that had the name of that guy in the Partridge Family on it. I was so happy I started jumping for joy out in this big circle of grass. Each time I jumped higher and higher until I was flying! I sort of levitated and floated when I flew. 

I stopped flying for a while and then had to retrain myself by concentrating on it before I went to sleep. Now I fly horizontally, but it's not as much fun. It's more forced, and I don't get very high off the ground. That first time was the best.  - Cathy Allen, Age 41, Symphony Cellist


I learned how to fly on an escalator. I was going down and realized I could somehow elevate myself right up. This was in a department store. That's the critical thing—I always did like department stores.

I feel like I taught myself how to fly. Sometimes I do it for effect. Usually there's a small group of people around who start looking at me. They're all amazed: "Look at that will you!" I don't want to go down and talk to them afterwards. I usually look for a place to land that's not near those people so I can make a quick get away.  - Chris Carroll, 51 Years Old, Artist

Up next:  Aerobatic Styles 

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to Fly - Introduction

The following posts are excerpts from a limited edition art book I made a few years ago. Postings will be divided into chapters, starting with this introduction.

Every night a portion of the earth's population closes its eyes and soars aloft, defying the bounds of gravity and reason. Recorded accounts of dream flight date back as far as the fifth century B.C. Night fliers of yesteryear demonstrated the ability to envision a landscape from an aeronautical perspective long before the technology existed
to do so in real life.

Conduct a random survey of friends, relatives, and acquaintances and you will find that about half are fliers, irrespective of sex, race, age, or cultural origins. Those who fly become animated as they relate their flight experience; those who don't will have no idea what you are talking about.

Why some of us fly and others don't remains a mystery, as does the function or origin of dream flight itself, though theories about dream flight abound. Some contend that it stems from a lingering genetic memory from an era when we swung with our prehensile cousins through a forest canopy. Others argue that dream flight serves as evidence that our planet was seeded by beings from a world with less gravitational pull. The simplest explanation may be that it is merely an exercise in imagination, provoked by observing birds.

Freud theorized that dream flight is based on infant and early childhood recollections of being swung aloft by a doting relative. At the same time, he concurred with Adler's hypothesis that flight is a convincing metaphor for the gravity-defying feat achieved by a male erection—a theory that fails to account for the fact that roughly half of all dream fliers are female.

For those who fly, the reasons don't matter. It is enough to fall asleep, kick off the bounds of reality, and take to the air. If you are not among them, don't despair. Peruse the dream flight postings that follow before  falling asleep, and as you turn off the light and place your head on the pillow, whisper to yourself, "Tonight, I fly!"

My thanks to the dream fliers who participated in these interviews, which took place over a period of approximately ten years. The fliers' ages and occupations are those recorded at the time of their interviews. The illustrations are based on photographs taken with a disposable camera as the interviewees did their best to demonstrate their dream flying maneuvers despite being wide awake and gravity-bound.

See next chapter: "Takeoff and Landing ."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Birds Gone Wild - C

This is the end of embroidered birds for a while—I promise. Here is the last batch.

Ruddy Turnstones




Royal Terns

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Birds Gone Wild - B

More embroidered birds being incorporated into a crazy quilt.

Bald Eagle - click on images to see larger version

Least Tern

Least Tern - detail

White Pelican

Great Egret
Meadow Lark

Barnyard Chick

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