"Adam" is the final song in Abel’s seven-movement orchestral cycle The Dream Gallery. The Dream Gallery depicts people, places and psyches throughout California, and “Adam” is set in the North Coast college town of Arcata. Its protagonist, in his early 20s, displays thinking that is alternately perceptive and muddled as he wrestles with life’s options as he perceives them. The music is shot through with the unquenchable energy of youth, occasionally giving way to episodes of languid introspection.

Date: 2010Composer: Mark AbelText: Mark AbelSong Collection: The Dream Gallery

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(Arcata/Humboldt County)

Welcome to your future. …
You Boomers made one helluva mess.
“Old Guys Rule,“ the T-shirts say,
but for not much longer.
It’s the turning of the tide; inexorable.

We’re fed up. Enough of your bullshit!
You communed with the cosmos but forgot about the planet.
Now the piper must be paid (like all pipers),
and we’re stuck with a terrible tab.
Thanks, Mom! And you too, Dad!
We’ll slave to keep Social Security afloat. Fat chance!
Our kids will grow up in trailer parks, living a sci-fi nightmare.
And the damnedest thing of all: It didn’t have to be this way.
I’m melting down over nothing; best to chill for a while.

Drive past dear old Humboldt State —
hillside haven for alternate realities, the North Coast’s coolest girls.
Memories of sweet surrender, nude beneath the redwoods,
gently fading now. …

Head for the java hut just off the square,
step over the sidewalk scruffies who kissed off the material world.
Now here’s my man Zeke;
we’ll take our kayaks to Mad River Slough.
Floating on God’s creation, the seabirds wheeling high.
So near and yet so far from the answers that we seek.
We want to contribute!
So many pathways, how can I be sure?
Zeke laughs at my mistrust of the universe.
Gina is teaching kids in the slums of East Timor,
Gary is gonna be helping a scientist to map the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Phil is doing free web designs from a storefront in Harlem.
Chuck, the most brilliant of all, went back to the family farm in Garberville
— a one-crop town. (Cash crop, you might say.)
Kimberly sold out and moved to Redmond;
the graduation Lexus must have sealed the deal.
And that pretty much covers my crew.

What now?

Praise be to idleness, Zeke says.
Born too many centuries too late to be a Roman patrician
or a hunter-gatherer striding through the fields of ancient Eurasia.
I love him like a brother, but I have a different destiny.

Clarity’s elusive in this misty backwater;
jobs are scarce, girlfriends scarcer.
At long last, this may be the hour
when I ponder the unthinkable.
“California is an island drifting far from the continent,”
Matthias McKinley, my favorite professor, said.
“You’ll never understand America ‘til you have seen it all.”
Soon I will leave the patchouli womb.

I don’t know where I’m going,
but it’s probably far from here.
Maybe they need me in Cleveland or in dying Detroit.
I’ll aid their transition to the post-industrial age.

I will remember all the fun we had,
chasing utopias and rarely sad.
Picture the setting sun over the Pacific’s horizon,
it will inspire eternally.

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