Around 1972 I was working in 1440 Broadway. At the time it was Good Vibrations Sound Studio. We had already lease purchased it from RKO and renamed it Good Vibes. My brother Manny had done a “Happening” at Lincoln Center where Salvador Dali was to get inside a plastic dome or bubble and from the inside, paint during the music, in front of the audience. That’s how Dali found out about my studio.
Around this time Salvador Dali had made a trip to see the main studio at Good Vibes. This was a large room that would have seated a fifty piece orchestra. It was column free and was about 50×40 with 25ft ceilings. It of course was very quiet, being a recording studio.
After looking at the space Dali said to me He wanted to rent the space for 2 days. I told him “he could not rent it”. I said, “He was Salvador Dali and he could not rent it, I would give it to him.” Taken aback, but not much, he left, and scheduled a painting session and much to my surprise a holographic film shoot.
He came in with a crew. They constructed a large turntable in the middle of the room. On the slowly revolving turntable he put a couch (a divan), his easel behind it, and some kind of structure in the middle. His wife Gala laid on the divan with her back exposed and a cloth just draped over her front and hips. Dali was dressed like and old French painter with smock and large hat all in white. He looked almost like a pastry chef except not, clearly a old French painter’s smock. On his wooden thin easel, he had a small canvas.
In a short time he had a picture on the canvas. It was of him from the back, painting himself and Gala from the back. (Strange, but not if you know Dali’s work).
After this was done he brought in some cameras to shoot what he was doing.
At dinner that night I sat to his left. We got into a conversation about how one thinks.
I explained I had Spinal Meningitis as a teenager and could remember what it was like to not be able to think. He listened intently. I told him the doctors, to check on my brain condition, asked some verbal questions. “What was the difference between and apple and an orange?” I told him my response. “Oh that’s easy I know what an apple is, what’s the question?” I could not remember what the question was while I was remembering what an apple was.
Over the next few months I came mostly back from the brink of being brainless. I did this by developing my own methods for coming back. I stood on my head a long time every day. I developed really sharp Eye and Hand Co-ordination, buying a Colt Single Action Six, old western style hand gun and learning how to draw and fire. I thought that drawing and firing would improve my eye and hand coordination. It did. The gun has no rear sights. All the motion becomes Zen-like. You don’t aim, you think. The Meningitis had developed so far it caused inability to think. As I recovered, I came up with a mental picture of how the mind connects things and how the connections made, are in a hierarchy with different strengths.
Dali stopped me and drew a 3 dimensional picture of sphere/ with a cube-like structure within with points all equal-distant from the center. Like he was agreeing with my description, he went on to explain that the brain has a pocket for a thought, and there are connections between the points of these pockets. With stronger connections between these points, thoughts made easier connections. And you could even bypass certain points if the connections become strong enough. Kind of like a pianist practicing. You look at the notes, and think what to play, and after a while practicing, you don’t think what to play anymore, you just play it. You have bypassed or rapidly traversed a point, because the pathway to the next point is so strong.
Dali went on to explain that most people could not even think on 3 paths between the points at the same time. Dali said, 9 paths was unusual. Dali also said the great composers usually made no more than 9 Symphonies, because of these 9 paths. And to get to ten meant a jump, to a more complex structural level. He said “Dali thinks on 9.”
I have thought about what he said for many years. I agree with his structure to neuron leaps; like there is a ball or dot at the end of a nerve cell. And a thought could go in a number if directions off this point. The angle off the point of the jump to the next point is determined by how well your brain can keep several angles functioning at the same time. I took this thinking to another level. Brain alterations from food or lack of sleep or drugs, or oxygen, or practice (brain exercise), controls the ease of transmission of little leaps of thought, through the brain.
Whatever it is, it is a conversation started by my talk with Dali and still continuing with myself to this day.
A few weeks after the shoot, Dali gave me and a small group of others from the studio who helped, a 2.5 by 3.5 negative of this holographic image of the shoot. I stuck mine in an envelope in a book. I wish I could find it.
Jimmy Hebron was at the shoot. He was my whole front office at the time. Dali left his pallet at the studio. Jimmy kept that pallet. He was a good person. I wish I could find Jimmy too.