Interpreting Dreams in the pre-Internet World

This witty article was published this week in the good ol’ Memphis Flyer, one of the weekly papers for which I used to co-write an “advice” column. It was called The Dream Zone, which I co-wrote with Lauri Loewenberg for a decade before the Internet “killed the newspaper star”.  I miss that pre-Internet era sometimes… our column appeared in over 30 papers around the country every week. I did not own a cellphone when we started, and barely had email. Lauri and I wondered if this guy is making fun of us, but we don’t care if he is.  (smile) He certainly brings up some bizarre dream interpretations with a supernatural twist, and chose obscure trivia regarding our ordination and online spiritual school. But I enjoyed reading every word, fondly remembering the bygone days when I was a “columnist” and the word “blogger” didn’t exist yet.  Sigh…

Looking Back at a Time When We Cared About Your Dreams

Readers of the Flyer got such awesome advice from a syndicated column called “The Dream Zone” that ran in the back of the paper in the early 2000s.

The Dream Zone was the work of two leading dream experts, Lauri Quinn Loewenberg and Dr. Katia Romanoff.

While the Dream Team (I apologize) split up in 2012, [I don’t remember spitting up — we are still here, just the 30+ papers we used to be in are barely surviving since the Internet took over the world] they fielded some wild stuff from the minds of sleeping people. All you had to do was write a letter about your confusing dreams, and these two would tell you what it really meant.

For instance, Shelly from Prophetstown, Illinois, had a scary recurring dream about her dad driving over the top of a bridge and almost wrecking his car into the river.

That one is pretty obvious:  [I interpreted this one!] “The fear of crossing bridges is an ancient one. Our ancestors feared there were trolls and other nasties under bridges. This was really just a fear of the unknown. Just cross your fingers before you move onto the bridge. Crossing your fingers is also a practice used by our ancestors to ward negativity and nasties in general. It was called ‘making the sign against the evil eye,’ and may indeed have a calming effect on the often-fearful subconscious. Try it some time for your bridge fright and rest assured you are using an ancient tried and true technique of your foremothers and forefathers.”

There you go. Problem solved.

Today, Loewenberg, a “certified dream analyst,” appears on all sorts of television programs and holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She was formerly a student of Dr. Katia Romanoff, who leads the Esoteric Theological Seminary from which you can get ordained in a boatload of priesthoods — the Chaldean Patriarchate of Babylon at Baghdad, for example — and sign up for the New Order of the Knights Templar or Third Millennium Angelic Alliance, which works “hand in hand with the angelic-warriors and divine messengers.”

These days, your weird dreams are your own damn problem. But back in the days before the internet could interpret your dreams with some fancy computer program, newspapers were full of syndicated columns of every variety. Columnists and cartoonists were pooled into services that papers could license from the syndicate.

According to a recent article in Editor & Publisher magazine, in the 1930s, there were 130 syndicates offering features and columns to more than 13,000 newspapers throughout the country. That number has dropped precipitously since then with the 2011 merger of United Media and Universal Uclick resulting in a single large syndicate offering some 100 features.

Everyone remembers News of the Weird, which we stopped running about two years ago. As if Memphis wasn’t weird enough. You don’t need to import weird to Memphis. Right next to the Dream Zone is Advice Goddess, whose face will be familiar to readers of a certain age.

Public-radio car gurus Click and Clack had a syndicated column, which I assume was 90 percent just them laughing.

But let’s return to the Dream Zone.

Carol, 43, from Ohio, wrote in June 2004 to complain about her dream in which she was house-hunting and almost got it on with the devil. To her chagrin, she woke up before things got properly sinful. Loewenberg told Carol that if she were really on the right track in her life, there would have been consummation. So, by logical extension, you’ll never know you’re on the right track in life until … oh dear.