Category Archives: Philosophy

What I’m Thinking About When I Run Red Lights ~ g. kinyon

I used to play Russian roulette but I was never very good at it.

Sometimes in the thought balloon over my head there’s just a schwa.

I wonder how they train corpse dogs.

Don’t just visit Ferguson, Mo. Visit Trip Advisor Ferguson,Mo, bitch-ass punk.

They’ve gotten exceptionally crafty at making it hard to find the expiration dates on many date-sensitive products. I gotta say, hats off.

You’d repeat yourself too if your friends were as stupid as mine. But no, I don’t repeat myself. I emphasize.

I’ve never been a very good “Tear Here” guy.

In the week running up to February 14th, the prison commissaries run out of “Be My Bitch” cards.

Executioner: “Hey Buddy. Don’t let anybody know I told you, but you’ll be the last person ever put to death in this state.” 

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I wonder how many trees have been cut down to accommodate useless letters in the French language?

Sean Connery—Ancient 007.

I’m in the old folks home and I walk by this table of old men playing cards. One’s bragging he can still have a wet nap every once in a while.

Yeah, but in my defense I was drunk.

Me? I’m a professor of Antarctic history.

Getting a birthday greeting from Facebook itself is kind of like getting an anonymous photo of your kid on the school playground in the mail.

Go ahead. Unsubscribe. Two others will pop up in its place.

What would we ever do without toenails?

Two black holes drift too close to each other…

The Firmament

You know that awkward feeling I’m talking about—like when the chick in the tragic news story is kind of hot?

So I reminded the IRS auditor that I pay his freakin’ salary. If I paid my taxes.

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Don’t hear that like you used to.

Plausible deniability? I don’t know what that means.

I had to get a new computer keyboard. My old one was writing things I didn’t approve of.

No, YOU da parrot.

How many doomsday preppers have prescriptions they have to take?

So was Jesus an alpha male?

It’s no different than the other times, sir. Put on that serious look and tell the microphone it’s a matter of grave concern. Then we can go knock out eighteen holes.

I could go on a diet, but what if I lost too much weight? Ever think of that? Huh?

It’s a movie about Nazis hunting Jews house to house. The working title is “Oys in the Attic.”

When the Hindus gave shapes to numbers, they didn’t think the 6 and the 9 through at  all.

The dude’s a walking pen-starter.

Dear Lord, please give our side the win.

…but that was before I found out the locals whiz on the Blarney Stone at night.

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Turns out Einstein’s brain really was in a beer cooler in little Weston, Missouri for a few years. Somebody was trepanning for gold.

My doctor says when a finger grows back it’ll never look the same.

I had sex with a Chinese girl once. I was horny an hour later.

Leaves of three picked just for thee.

A thousand bucks if you name your twins Judas and Adolph.

The McDonald’s menu board at CIA headquarters: “Neither confirm nor deny your order here.”

This kick me tattoo. I knew at the time it was gonna be trouble.

They say if you ever forget what you came into the room for, it’s all over.

Anything for you my little thumbscrew.

A switchblade will open properly a specific number of times, yet I’ll flip mine open a hundred times watching TV. Story of my life.

I envy Eminem and Metallica. I want “Original music used by the US military to torment the enemy” on my list of credits.

The Ancient Hindu goddesses had four or six arms, and the Ancient Roman and Greek ones all seem to have had none or maybe one or a half of one. I really don’t know what should come next.

I was just watching some old footage of Einstein enjoying his tobacco. Suddenly I don’t feel so stupid.

I sent my youthful self a message through the time tube. I regretted to inform me we never went any farther than the moon, but Trojan did run a television add for dildos around Christmas last year.

The optimist that I am, I see myself as half sane.

That cable show, Ancient Aliens, would be better I think, if they used circus music in the background.

LUCID DREAMS: When Conscious Meets Subconscious ~ g. kinyon

Standing on a polished wood floor, I looked across the length of a room in which I’d never been. I didn’t know what the outside of the house looked like; this room, in fact, was all I knew. It was appointed cozily enough: three standard pieces of white cloth furniture plus a shaggy white throw rug in the center, wood paneling, artistic wall hangings, light entering from a patio door to my right. Another room was beyond an arched passageway on the far side of this one. I stood behind the sofa, which was positioned width-wise and in my way. Rather than walk around it, I did what I usually do in these situations: I levitated about head-high and propelled myself forward, not a skill everyone enjoys. The next room had black walls and red leather furniture with brass stays. The table tops were glass. Along the left wall at the top extended a room-length sheetrock box where ductwork had apparently been covered. At the far side, carpeted stairs rose six steps to a landing and cut 180 degrees before ascending to the next floor from there. I wanted to see the upstairs, naturally, but another interest delayed that proposition. The ceiling of this black room was not itself black, but white with a bluish tint. I flew higher and closer. In burnt-red, images straight off of bowls and vases from ancient Greece were scattered as overhead décor. Paper trim with representations of Doric columns added to the classical effect. I studied this to my heart’s content. But before shooting to the staircase, I alighted. I announced with my arms spread wide that I was the designer of all I surveyed. I added, so there’d be no mistake, that I was fully aware of the paradox. “I don’t know what will be up those stairs, but I will have created it.” And onward I flew, the paradox blowing my mind to atoms.

For the second time in my life, I had intentionally pulled off a lucid dream. I’d had lucid dreams before—several times—I just didn’t know they had a name. Nor did I know a person could will them to happen. But like any of the things that make living a positive, lucid dreams take effort. Conjuring them requires practice, study, repetition, and determination. I am only in the apprenticeship stages of this conceit, and I fully intend to tack on a part two after I’ve got a better handle on it all.

When the human mind becomes aware that it is existing in the course of a dream, the fantastic happens. One realizes he need only imagine earthly or heavenly delights for them to appear. The senses are intact. The universe in this plane is at the dreamer’s fingertips. And at his caprice. The three things LD beginners will inevitably do once they know what’s going on are 1) Jump up and down and shout to the world that they’re dreaming and they know it. 2) Fly—if they can figure out how, anyway. 3) Have sex. Again, all the senses are intact. It’s a natural, primal impulse. To make that person materialize, though—the person you want to do it with the most—requires a few spins around the block. Early on you’ll have to settle with what shows up, which seems instructive of real life in some vague fashion. Remaining in a conscious dream long enough to get much out of it takes practice too, by the way. The initial excitement of having accomplished it on purpose, the jumping around and shouting, will often be enough to ruin it. To scare it off, if you will. You’ll either wake up or slip into a standard dream, lucky if you can remember later it happened at all.

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The dream I described above is an example of having a slight amount of experience. Rather than getting overexcited and carried away with controlling everything around me by way of conscious intent (as I did the first time), I allowed my subconscious to have its head. I explored the world of my imagination, let it come to me on its own, show me things it wanted me to see. This approach earned a reward—that of recognizing the paradox. Before I flew up the steps, I knew that in the insignificant span of time it would take me to round a corner, I would have designed and built a complete environment, with all the detail that can be imagined–but I wouldn’t know what was there until I arrived. And I was in awe of my abilities when I saw what I could do. Today’s leaders of lucid dream experimentation report employing their skills to better understand the universe. A master can go forward or backward in time and observe, shrink to explore the infinitesimal, or examine distant solar systems.

Tibetan Buddhism probably represents the oldest known culture to gain a true understanding of lucid dreaming. The Tibetan monks have apparently devised techniques of dream yoga that can send the adept to deeper levels of conscious dreaming than the typical practitioner can reach. In fact, in lucid dreaming one can find a nexus of many of the Eastern spiritual philosophies. Lucid dreaming is a goal of meditation and proper breathing. The goal of kundalini yoga is called, interestingly, the kundalini awakening. As with kundalini and the chakras, achieving lucidity may follow the course of visualization of colors and focal points of the body. Certain sounds and even chants, along with control of the breathe cycle, can help one dive into a dream with full consciousness. The same is used with qigong, practiced by Taoists to achieve the Tao, or the divine emptiness—a superior state of being. Dream lucidity can be as frivolous, as spiritual, or as empirical as one wants to make it. While there is no harm in using it to placate the id, (even kundalini and qigong are consciously libido-friendly) there seems to be a saturation point with conscious dreaming where temporal thrills lose their luster. In the material realm, we often hear of the person who has it all (Kurt Cobain comes to mind) committing suicide. Wealth, fame, and sex are no longer fulfilling. The accomplished lucid dreamer need never get bored, but simply move on to the next grand adventure. The options are limitless. As to how often the LD old-timers–the for-the-sake-of-science masters–take a dream-world break from study to get laid…that’s anybody’s guess.

You can cheat your way to…well, if not to lucid dreams, at least to some wild ones, via dream herbs and chemicals. These are easily found online. The first dream chemical I discovered was in a nicotine patch. The warnings on nicotine patches even mention disturbing dreams. I like disturbing. I’ve tried them solely for the sake of a short cut to lucidity, but to no avail. I’ll order some of the other goodies before it’s all over, I can pretty well promise. Part two.

As a point of further interest, Paul McCartney famously found the music for “Yesterday” in a dream. Srinivasa Ramanujan, the mathematical genius, claimed he received his formulae from a Hindu Goddess in his dreams. The Jekyll/Hyde story came from the dream world. So did Frankenstein. Philosopher Renee Descartes was a lucid dreamer, as were/are a host of other famous names. Like Goethe and Tesla.

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The one critical tool for becoming a lucid dreamer is maintaining a personal dream journal. This is not easy to do and it proves you’re serious. Imagine you fail to check your inbox for a few days. When you do check it, let’s say you have a hundred messages. Now imagine deleting them all without reading. Once you start keeping a dream log, you’ll know you’ve deleted a hell of a lot of unread messages over the years. Your dream journal speaks to you–it sends you messages. It shows you patterns with your dreams you never knew existed. You’ll read it and think…wow. The number of false awakenings–where you dream you wake up, think you’re awake, and then dream you awaken again and again–the number of those I’ve recorded is astounding. As for help in accomplishing lucidity, it’s the act of waking up in the dark and scribbling shit on paper that habituates you to moving from the dream to the temporal worlds and back. The sooner one gets comfortable manipulating things in the hypnagogic state, the sooner one masters LD.  Also, in your journal you’ll find dream signs you can learn to recognize to verify you’re dreaming. But I’ve come across something else by way of the journal, something that has validated–for me, at least–the concept of synchronicity. I’ve given Freud his due here, and now it’s Jung’s turn.

Two nights ago as I write, March 8, 2014, I went to a poetry reading in an eatery/drinkery I’d never heard of, in a town where I don’t reside: Grandview, MO. On my way out of the place, Cafe Main, I passed by this big glass pastry case, loaded with some of the finest-looking, most tempting bakery products I’d ever seen. I hesitated. I wanted one. But I knew those things were bad for me. I watch what I eat for the most part and I dragged myself out of there. The following morning, yesterday, I woke up with no dreams to record. I was disappointingly blank. Of a sudden, something triggered my memory, and I commenced to setting a dream journal record by packing four legal-size notebook pages tight with the description of a single dream. I usually wait a week or so before I go over what I’ve recently written–it’s more interesting that way: I forget what I’ve recorded just as completely as I forget what I’ve dreamt. After I transcribed my marathon dream, I decided to read over the last few entries. Here’s what I see as if for the first time: I’m in some kind of retail establishment in Grandview. Floor to ceiling glass walls. I have an item to buy, a rolled-up mattress. A salesman takes it from me and disappears. I go to look for him. I pass a big glass pastry case full of delicious-looking treats. They look wonderful, but I know they’re bad for me and I leave. Date: Friday morning, March 7, 2014.

Make of it what you will.  

The Other Thing McDonald’s Does Well

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If you were blessed with healthy children, congratulations. That is a powerful bit of good fortune. If said children are still little, you should ready yourself for something that’s coming no matter what: There’ll be one crack in that sheetrock of parent-child relations you’ll have to slap some spackle on, and you won’t know the best way to do it. That imperfection is called laziness. I hated chores when I was a kid and so did you. And so do/did/will your kids. Childhood laziness isn’t limited to dumping the trash or pulling weeds, either. Sometimes chores come in the form of studying, in the form of homework and putting in the effort to get good grades. It’s all work and every kid hopes if they ignore it it’ll go away. I still do. Sometimes it’s easier to do things yourself and let the little leeches keep watching television or playing games, but you know you’ll create a serial loser if you make a habit of that. So what do you do?

Sorry, no magic answer here. But I can tell you how I dealt with it. One of the ways at least. When my kids had not gotten to an assigned duty by the time they should’ve, or when they came home with a lousy grade simply because they blew off the studying and I knew it, I made them stand before me and repeat a particular sentence: Would you like fries with that?

English: French fries currently sold at restau...

English: French fries currently sold at restaurant of McDonald’s Co. Japan Ltd. 日本語: 日本マクドナルドで販売されているフライドポテト(マックフライポテト)。(Mサイズ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes I made them repeat it like a mantra. This attitude toward work and school they’d adopted being what it was, getting this phrase down early would prepare them for the futures that certainly awaited. Look on the bright side, I’d say. You’ll get lots of fries, maybe a burger every once in a while, for free. And depending on which store they stick you in, you’ll probably get to see lots of your friends from inside the drive-through window.

At fourteen my daughter landed her first job: McDonald’s. I hadn’t even known kids under sixteen were legal to put on the payroll. In our state fourteen was the minimum legal age for employment, but strict rules regarding school and working-hours were enforced. I remember taking her to work that first day. She was so nervous and unsure of herself that I was helpless to put the kibosh on the lame-ass platitudes. Watching her slump alone into McDonald’s swamped me with that same wave of daddy gut-wrench that twisted me all up when I watched her hesitate halfway into a school bus her first time. There goes my baby. Don’t nobody do her wrong.

I remember thinking that I couldn’t do it—I couldn’t collect money, engage a hundred personalities, or prepare food and bag it day after day. And particularly not with all that mercurial movement and timing. My poor little girl. And to make things worse, it hit me how I had in essence laid waste the dignity of her new job throughout all the years of being her dad. Would you like fries with that?  I had been so clever, so effing funny. I hoped she’d forgot all that. About me. But really, what reason did I have to worry? This job thing wouldn’t last a week. Maybe not a whole day. She was too lazy around the house. I hadn’t done my job well enough for something like this.

When I picked her up at the end of her shift, she was wearing her new uniform—along with the very last thing I expected to see on her: a smile. Instead of announcing she’d had enough, she was proud of herself and ready to earn a paycheck. She was worn out, but the good kind of worn out, she said. Her bosses were helpful and everybody was really nice. Even a school friend of hers worked there, and they were put on the same shift for the coming week. So I took her to work the next day, and the difference from yesterday was the difference between plummet and soar. Now she wasn’t panicked. I took her to work many more times. I met the store supervisor, who told me how proud I should be of my daughter. I heard that I had raised a one-of-a-kind little girl there. She was hard-working and efficient and friendly and all kinds of good stuff that I sensed (really really hoped) was no schmooze. And I must’ve been right about that because they promoted my shiftless and sofa-bound offspring to assistant manager surprisingly fast, and to store manager soon as she turned sixteen.

I felt the jerk for my fries with that punishment-humor. Always will. The internet is puke-full of McDonald’s horror stories. I get it. I’m rubbing kitty-fur backwards here. Doesn’t change what was. McDonald’s did my job, really. They took a timid and couch-friendly fourteen-year-old and gave her a work ethic. She was proud of that first paycheck and she had every reason to be. She was even pissed off about the taxes, I remember, just like a grown-up. Wah…Dad?  She stayed at her first real-world job, not for a week, but for over two years before she accepted another offer. All the good stuff she picked up at McDonald’s though—the stay-with-it, the set-an-example, the find-the-funny—remained with her from then on. And maybe, too, I didn’t do all that bad for my own part. Helps to think so.

Today she passed the week-long battery of finals on her way to nurse-angel. Yeah, proud.

NORWEGIAN WOODS: John Lennon, Volker Park, and the Night We Said Goodbye

December of 2013

December of 2013

There really is no way of saying this without it sounding something like the product of a typewriter in carnal congress with a sewing machine tumbling down a mountain: I walked on the Earth with people who walked on the Earth during the Civil War, and I am walking on the Earth with people who will walk on the Earth in the 22nd century. Verbal acrobat training camp and your calculator aside, that’s a deep concept to my easily-amused mind. I came of age during an era for which my own offspring has expressed envy. “I wish I would’ve grown up in the 70s.” And I have heard the same from others in her age group. For all their sakes I’m glad they didn’t, and apparently we’ve somehow managed to romanticize the devil which is our faults, but what can you expect from people who came up in the 70s? Nonetheless, I emerged from that mess and for some reason I probably wouldn’t trade it. Not without a few guarantees.

I hitchhiked. Not as the grown-up derelict I was setting up to become, but as a kid. A child. Twelve—hell, eleven—years-old. Imagine something like that now. Picture yourself as a cop in a cruiser; you’d be on that shit right quick. Good-hearted 21st-century adults would pull over, although in the capacity of a rescue effort—The poor boy’s doomed for a target!—then keep going after thinking it through—But what suspicions will this cast on me? It wasn’t an unusual thing to do, though, hitchhiking wasn’t, in 1970; nor was the sight of a kid with his thumb out evocative of any special ponderations for non-degenerate people. It’s how we got around. No cabals existed then of neighborhood mothers setting neighborhood standards for dress, speech, birthday soirees, vehicle purchases and child-rearing. Not that hitchhiking was sanctioned by my parents or others. It wasn’t for the most part. But sometimes parents know which battles to choose; and as a suburban version of a street-smart kid, you catch on quickly how to prepare for conversational contingencies long before you go home for the night. Frank’s mom gave me a ride. Sure, you remember Frank. And so forth.

When I was thirteen I discovered a place called Volker Park. Volker was Kansas City’s Haight-Ashbury, except with fountains, grass, and evergreen groves rather than building-fronts and hidden passageways. Drugs and music and guys with hair down to their knees speaking words of wisdom. The music was limited to Sundays, but it was especially cool because the only electricity was provided by somebody’s generator and the hat had to be passed through the crowd each week for gas money for the machine. I don’t know how bands got gigs there, or how organizers got bands there, but everything was voluntary, and at eye-level at least, it worked pretty well. The first time I ever heard Chain of Fools was there. A cute girl was bringing it home out in front of her band. Forever after, I’d have this thing for chicks who could sing. I remember thinking how fun that must be, to stand up there and do that.

What I don’t remember is how I even learned about Volker Park or how long it had been happening, but my friends and I would hitchhike down there of a Sunday in groups of three or four or five and we always got rides. The only humans younger than our kaleidoscope-eyed selves at Volker were toddlers, and you didn’t see a whole lot of those. People sold things there: Crafts, artwork, fresh fruit, and back in the spruce groves, substances. We, the gang, might pool our money, or one of us may have saved his paper-route income to be treated as the day’s hero, and we’d follow the call of the sirens straight back to the woods, to those mystical, soulful, druidic trees that grew so incredibly high. (And if you didn’t get that reference, you won’t get the one I’m omitting about Itchycoo Park, either.) And in their cedary, shadowy, evergreeny midst, the pagans would have set up shop. Over here, the affordable Mexican goodies. There, the pricey Colombian. A few steps farther, Jamaican. Ounces, my friend, and three-finger lids. Dime-bags, nickel-bags, and for the likes of a growing thirteen or fourteen-year-old boy, there would always be the one guy on his blanket, his nimble fingers busy rolling up joints with one hand and collecting two bucks with the other. “Are you ripping me off?” I was compelled once by my peach fuzz world-wisery to ask the guy as he tucked my two bills into his purse. “Yeah, man. Yeah. I’m ripping you off.” Well, he better not have been because I was nobody to trifle with. Clouds of smoke enveloped those evergreens like mists in the fjords. But that’s not all, my child. Come this way. I bought my first four-dollar micro-square of Scotch Tape in those trees. Except I bought it under a different label and the culprit didn’t stick around to groove on the virtually-free music while I was learning what adhesive tastes like. Target indeed.

The Grove and its new day trippers

The Grove and its new day trippers

Sometimes I would hitchhike my determined little way there by myself if no one else was into it. Or if I was into no one else going with me. The mesmerizing Volker milieu super-charged my burgeoning awareness. And accommodated my fogginess. And I met people. I met people just passin’ through as the T-shirts and VW bumper stickers and junior-high notebook adornments would say in those clever 1970s. Some of the hippies were disinclined to opine for the amusement of a punk kid, but others didn’t mind so much. They came from all over the country, from the Black Mountain hills of Dakota to Tucson, Arizona. I asked a guy from California, a guy driving to some state in the East for a big outdoor concert, how he knew to come to Volker Park. “I don’t know, man. I just heard about it.” Insignificant as that was, I was impressed enough to remember it four decades in the future. And I remember a little Sunday-comics-like handout publication that you could find anywhere in and around Volker called “The Westport Trucker.” It had nothing to do with trucking, though. If I remember right, it had to do with local Birkenstock-and-ponytail graphic artists and humorists moving the boundaries. Seeing what they could get away with. A comic book for the substance-based life. A showcase for the F-word. Far out drawings of bouncing boobies and dancing dongs. It was an element of Volker Park.

English: John Lennon and Yoko Ono

English: John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In time, without anybody really noticing, the Trucker and Haight-Ashbury and hippies and head shops and Volker Park went away. By 1977, by the time Elvis took his final dump let’s say, the Park was just…just grass that city workers had to mow in the summer. A stroller, a Frisbee, maybe a blanket, maybe some sweat pants, a paperback on someone’s knee. Maybe nothing at all. No more riding on that merry-go-round. Then, on the 8th of December in the Anno of our Domini 1980 and all that…boom. Instant karma. This dumbass shot and killed John Lennon. It was a big deal. Probably not JFK big, and certainly not 9-11 big, but we remember where we were when we heard the news that day. Ohhhh boy. A split second of time passed, and no matter what else happened, there never again would be The Beatles. Not in our maybe-random slice of history. Heavy, man. I don’t know who initiated it, but word went round regarding a candlelight vigil—whatever the fuck that was—at Volker Park, not to mourn the death, but to celebrate the life of…aw, whom the hell were they kidding? It was to mourn the murderous passing of John Lennon into eternity. So I loaded up my guitar in somebody’s car and a bunch of us went to the ol’ haunt to see what a candlelight vigil was.

We were bummed—deep-in-the-gut, we’ve-been-had bummed—to find out it was nowhere, man. The park was crowded enough—more than any time in the past it was crowded by the old crowd with a contingent of new crowd added into the count—but outside of somebody somewhere playing a Beatles 8-track through speakers on his car roof while a few candles were waved over heads…nothing. It was boring. It was boring, it was dark, it was cold. Screw this. 

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The bands who played at Volker on those sunny Sundays still fresh in our memories had set up near the fountains, and that’s where I took my guitar. That’s where my would-be sweetheart sang chain chain chain and that’s where I plopped my ass down cross-legged and commenced to unleashing Beatles and John Lennon masterpiecelets. Hooray for me. People dug it. They sang along. Louder and louder, more and more into it. By the time I got to A Day in the Life, a wide circle had formed with me and an old acoustic in the middle. Applause, applause. And candles. “Do you know Strawberry Fields?” Yep. A blonde girl with glasses ran up and pinned a gold-colored strawberry on my jacket for that one. Another girl slipped a card with a quote by Carl Sagan into my chest pocket. (?) Another one—another girl, hell yeah—gave me a piece of scratch paper with her number on it (which for whatever reason I never followed up on) and we all had a pretty good time for an ash spreading. That night, John Lennon and Volker Park—and I suppose if I want to get philosophical, an era—were ushered out in my town with more of a bang (unintended, John) than the whimper it was all destined to be. Damn right.

Imagine There Was Music (it's easy if you try)

Imagine There Was Music (it’s easy if you try)

Volker Park is still there, but it’s not. Not really. It has a different name now, a name I don’t even remember. Okay, I do but I’m not going to say it. Just like I didn’t say the name of the dumbass who shot John Lennon. Not because the Volker zeitgeist was some great crucible of human virtue deserving of veneration—not by any stretch of the Scotch Tape-powered imagination—but because, well, you know. Because he might be unruly and not house-trained, and probably has rabies, but who the hell are you to rename my puppy?

You’ll see a film today–oh boy! A couple of videos of the Park in the day http://youtu.be/pBR5BMYOdjs        http://youtu.be/MkT6MrFejhk

And a great trailer for a documentary about Cowtown Ballroom in Kansas City, Missouri a few blocks from Volker Park during the same era. http://youtu.be/1OFsE2uyxE8