By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Admittedly, I feel kind of guilty for lying about being in the band, but most of all I can't help but wonder if one of these peeps is gonna sniff me out. After all, they're psychic, right?
The first person I call is Madame Davis. The phone rings a few times before a sweet, geriatric voice answers.
"Hello," says Madame Davis (Note: She doesn't say, "Hello, Madame Davis," which would seem to make sense if you run a business and the phone rings during business hours).
"Hello," I say. "Madame Davis?"
"I know who this is," she says.
"This is the gentleman whose wife left him. We've spoken before, correct?"
"Uh, no. I don't believe so," I say, wondering if every grown man who calls a psychic has the same problem. Nonetheless, as I explain my situation, it becomes clear that she cannot help me. She recommends the Berkeley Psychic Institute, which, according to its Web site, is "a psychic kindergarten which teaches students how to recognize and develop their own psychic abilities."
But they can't help me either. As a matter of fact, almost no one can. I get a hold of a lot of shysters who tell me that I'd have to come down for a reading--at $25 to $50!--before they can even tell me whether or not they can help me, and a few people who inform me that the kind of request I'm making, where I need to talk to a specific spirit, not to mention play music in the psychic's office for the spirit to listen to, is simply not something they do. Apparently what's considered the norm for most psychics is that one initiate a regular series of meetings, and, not unlike going to see a psychiatrist, only after considerable time and money have been spent can answers be expected. To think that I was the one who felt guilty about lying to them.
Finally, after dozens of calls, I settle on the Aquarian Institute, run by Allen David Young, Ph.D. Speaking eloquently and sincerely, not sounding like he was three Tom Collinses into his afternoon, Young was the only one who made any sense on the phone. He explained that, since I've already played the music in question with my band, it's likely that Curtis has already heard it, perhaps even sat in on a few "jam sessions," so there was no need to bring in a boom box (damn!). Further, he didn't try and con me into multiple sessions or feed me some line about how the more money I spend the more likely it is we'll make contact (yeah, that's right, Madame Star in Lakeshore, I saw through your flimsy little game). At $200 an hour, he wasn't exactly cheap either, but he offered me a shorter session at a reduced price. If I really wanted to find out what Curtis thinks about Interpol, Young seemed to be my only hope.
The Aquarian Institute could really be renamed the Aquarian Duplex, because it's nothing more than Young's house. Ringing the doorbell, I run through my lines in my head again, praying that all this psychic shit is as fake as I think it is and that Young isn't going to be able to "sense" my true identity. But as he greets me at the door, his warm smile and polite handshake put me at ease. Standing a few inches above 6 feet tall, Young is a clean-cut black man with salt-and-pepper facial hair. And he's wearing a sweat suit.
Sitting across from me in his office, a charming room lined with books on subjects ranging from linear algebra to Freud, Young reviews with me the intention of my visit.
"You feel that you want to basically get Ian's impressions about what you're doing," says the clairvoyant, in a slow, soothing voice that suggests he may also hypnotize people in his spare time. "You want to know, are you indeed extending his music and honoring it, or are you doing what some of the critics are saying, perhaps not being innovative. And you want to get it from the horse's mouth."
You got it, doc.
And so we begin.
Still pretending to be a shy, nervous guitarist, member of Interpol, and true believer, I try not to laugh as Young slips into a trance in order to contact Ian Curtis on the other side. I sit there, stroking my chin, waiting for him to out me or start speaking in tongues or reciting the lyrics to "Love Will Tear Us Apart." But none of this happens. Young remains still, eyes closed, and jots down notes. He is transcribing what Curtis is telling him, word for word. He stays entranced for a good five minutes--which is a long time when you make $200 an hour--then returns to "this world" to relay the results of his conversation.
"First, [Curtis] says, 'Continue to do what you're doing.' And he's very busy when he says that," Young says. "When I first tune in, I just get this concert going on. And it's not like a live thing; it's more like a jam session, so I had to sort of get his attention."