Friday, February 19, 2016


The Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City is one of the Midwest's greatest showcases for music, art, literature, and comedy. What began as a small local festival has transformed into a mini-Lollapalooza, drawing big names and talent to a neck of the woods that seldom sees A-list performers who aren't named Donald Trump. Naturally, I hate it.

More specifically, I hate that this year's headliner sold out before I even knew it was happening. Mission Creek draws great bands but even better lecturers, and this year they somehow managed to pull in director Kevin Smith for one of his legendary Q-&-A sessions. I am a huuuuge Kevin Smith fan. His movies can occasionally be hit-or-miss, but his weekly podcasts fall somewhere between raindrops-on-roses and whiskers-on-kittens on the list of my favorite things. If you see me in my car and I'm laughing hysterically to myself, I promise you I'm not insane -- I've got just a Kevin Smith podcast on. It's the comic oxygen that gets me through any given week. Smith once read one of my letters on his Hollywood Babble-On podcast and it remains among my finest hours.

But here I am, thinking I'm an ardent fan, and I had no idea he was even coming to Iowa until I saw it on Facebook. After skillfully executing the obligatory "WHAT THE...?!" double-take and racing to the website, I was greeted with the two suckiest words in the English language: SOLD OUT. I am seriously gutted.

The GOOD news, though, was that I managed to score a couple tickets to see the festival's OTHER headliner, comedian Marc Maron. That's a pretty decent consolation prize. Maron's been one of my favorite comedians ever since the early days of Conan O'Brien, and his cultural skewering has become even more refined since. These days, he's best known for the weekly podcast he hosts out of his garage where he interviews pretty much anyone and everyone that you've ever considered cool, from Zach Galifianakis to President Obama.

But in MY world, he's probably best known for stealing things from me in my dreams.

The act of dreaming is one of the most complex neurological wonders in all of biology. While our body rests, parts of our mind light up and take us on a revelatory journey without any limits whatsoever. In the dream world, anything is possible and boundaries cease to exist as you ride a wave of pure imagination into a land of absolute possibility.

So what was MY dream about the other night? I was sitting at a desk looking up news stories on the internet.

Yes, the dreamscape -- where I could be flying a chartreuse dragon across wind-swept fields en route to a golden palace filled with an infinite number of Katie Holmeses. A reality where I could scale Mt. Everest or dive to the deepest depths, travel to parts unknown, save the world from killer robots, or even turn INTO a killer robot and destroy the world. The possibilities are endless.

And given those endless possibilities, I apparently opt to sit around and surf the internet. If this is what a being a mature adult's all about, I'd like a do-over on my childhood, please.

So within this world's most boring dream, I'm sitting there Googling news stories when I come across a recently updated headline that reads: "COMEDIAN MARC MARON SHARES MIXTAPE; SOME DECLARE IT TO BE WORLD'S BEST." The accompanying article explains how Marc Maron sent out a tweet that simply said "ENJOY!" along with a link to a 90-minute music mix that was setting download records, trending on websites, and was rapidly becoming the toast of the internet. Reviewers were applauding its bravery in song selection, the depth of meaning and intricate symbolism behind each chosen track, and describing how this simple mixtape was bringing people out of chronic depression and shedding a new light on the human condition. Basically, this mixtape was my dream's equivalent of the music of Bill & Ted's Wyld Stallyns.

Even in my dreams, I'm still a music nerd, so I had to hear it for myself. Imagine my dream-surprise when I dream-downloaded it and quickly dream-discovered that it was one of MY mixtapes. And ooh, was my dream self upset. And then I woke up. The end.

NOTE: In the real, non-dream world, I really DID meet Marc Maron once. Well, except that I didn't. And yes, I realize this column is starting to resemble the plot of Inception. Let me explain. Years ago, I ran an online indie music blog, and we once launched a very ambitious project. To celebrate Valentine's Day, we asked some of our favorite bands to contribute love songs and then we put them online as a free giveaway album. It was a neat idea, but I wanted something to tie the songs together, so I randomly e-mailed Marc Maron to see if he'd be willing to contribute some spoken word bits that we could include with the download. To my surprise, he wrote back within the hour and sent us twenty minutes of brilliant off-the-cuff material, for which he still has my eternal thanks.

The one thing he does NOT have, however, is my mixtape. Few people on Earth have ever been graced with a Shane-curated mixtape, and those people fall squarely into three distinct camps: girlfriends, crushes, and fellow music nerds. My DREAM self, however, apparently remains convinced that I repay celebrities for their assistance with the currency of home-recorded music of questionable legality.

So what was the most unsettling part of this absolutely pointless dream? Was it the realization that, given a free ticket into the endless void of possibility, the best I can come up with is dream-Googling? Or perhaps it's the disturbing reality that I dream about making mixtapes for middle-aged male comedians? No, I think what TRULY deserves careful examination and deep psychological analysis is the tiny piece of my subconscious that apparently believes I'm capable of making a mixtape that cures depression, heals humanity, and elicits universal critical acclaim. This seems a bit far-fetched, although I DO make a mean mixtape...

Perhaps, come this April, I'll go to see Marc Maron in Iowa City, and as he's leaving the stage, I'll be able to yell, "Hey Marc, remember a decade-and-a-half ago when some guy e-mailed you and asked you to donate some material to a website that you'd never heard of? And then you said okay? And then you did it? Yeah, I'm that guy. And let me tell you, I had the craaaaziest dream the other night..." and then we can all have a good laugh.

Or maybe I should just keep my dreams to myself. Either way, I'm still mad about missing Kevin Smith. If you've got a hookup for tickets, e-mail me. There might just be a mixtape in your future.

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