Wherein I have my nightmares from the three-day festival analyzed by a psychologist.
Back about as far as I can remember (five years or so, sadly) I’ve had a recurring nightmare. I’m back in high school, a senior, and graduation is looming. It’s a day before finals, and I’m as prepped as can be—studied up, ready to go: English, science, government, a couple electives.
All except for math. I’m not ready for it. In fact, I’ve skipped my math class all semester, and won’t be taking the final. This will keep me from walking on graduation day, as it’s the one credit I need to earn my diploma.
I won’t graduate with friends. I will have to go to summer school. Worse still, I’ll have to tell my parents about the ditching I’ve been doing. This is going. to. suck.
And then, just as I’m preparing to tell my parents what an absolutely huge fuck-up I am—a quitter, a liar, a class-cutter—I wake up in a cold sweat. In my drowsy panic it takes me a second to realize it was just a dream. I did graduate. I didn’t skip class (except homeroom, but c’mon!). I did take all my tests, and passed them. I walked with my classmates.
All is well.
Except it’s not. Because I have this dream a lot, countless times since I graduated back in the Paleozoic era. Only I should’ve written “had” in that last sentence. The good news is, I don’t have that nightmare anymore. The bad news is, I have a new one.
For about the past year or so my new nightmare goes like this: I’m in a tent during a driving rain and hail storm in the middle of bum-fuck New York state, freezing cold, sleeping in icy water, surrounded by drug-addled zombies who are pissing all around where I’m trying to sleep, some of their urine doubtlessly seeping through the tent. There is music blaring at deafening levels. Laser lights pierce through blindingly. I want to leave, but know I can’t. “I’ve got to live through this for 36 more hours,” I think to myself.
Then I wake up.
The difference between these two dreams—besides the piss—is that I actually lived through the second, at Camp Bisco 8, the three-day festival curated by Philly’s self-described “Super jamband” Disco Biscuits. At Camp Bisco hippies known as “wookies” do “wookie shit” like eat copious amounts of Ecstasy, gobble shrooms by the handful and smoke DMT. Then they twirl around and pee wherever they like. It’s an event that attracts 10,000 people a year.
The dream is vividly real to me. I distinctly remember having that exact thought during Bisco: “I’ve got to live through this for 36 more hours.” It was while Nas and Damian Marley were wrapping up their set late Friday night, and I had a full day and night ahead of me before catching the train out of Mariaville, N.Y. There was nothing to do but grin and bear it. So I got shit-faced and slept in zombie piss while trying to stave off hypothermia and resisting the urge to buy drugs at insanely discounted prices.
But still, I wonder what the dream represents. Was Camp Bisco 8 so awful as to give me post-traumatic stress? (Seriously.) Could I sue? (Joking.)
I called a professional to find out. His name is Dr. Doug Osman, and he’s got a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Osman works with schizophrenics primarily, but was nice enough to get his Freud on with me. I described both dreams to him, asked his opinion.
So, what up, doc? (Sorry.)
Osman tells me that the first, about not graduating, or failing to do what’s necessary to complete a task, is a fairly common anxiety dream, “anticipating something unpleasant in the future.” The second is an anxiety dream too, he says, although not typical.
“Do you often have this dream on nights when you know you have some pretty serious and possibly unpleasant things to do the next day or days?” Osman asks me.
Well, that was pretty easy.
The fact I actually lived through the events that occur in the nightmare, indeed, suggests it was emotionally stressful enough to cause me post-traumatic stress, Osman says.
PW's Music Issue 2014