lunes, agosto 30, 2004

Fire Breathing Dragons and All

Walking past Madison Square Garden this afternoon with hundreds of thousands of protesters was like walking past a grave -- the day was full of people happily displaying their joviality and eccentricity, and then there they were: polo shirts, khakis, bulging stomachs and laminated necklaces. And the sense was not so much of hatred, even thought there were a few older people around me that just began yelling until their faces were red and their eyes were watering, like a baby screaming, but one of mourning, because even if there is a chance to put a halt to it, what is done is done. The moment after a joke told at a memorial service maybe, that makes everyone laugh and then in the silence that follows a much deeper sadness seeps in, that was the sadness in front of Madison Square Garden.

We turned the corner and waited for a friend under the Old Navy marquee on 34th Street. While waiting behind the barrier on the sidewalk, a scuffle appeared to break out to our left, people began running and the police cleared 34th Street completely and halted the march. It was strange, there was a bizarre smell, and then we saw a bunch of smoke wafting by from around the corner (in front of Madison Square Garden). There was no way to see what was happening, but all of a sudden the FOX News jumbotron across the street cut from some talking head to what was less than a block from us, the large paper mache dragon on fire. How strange that we were learning about what was going on around the corner at the same time some potato in Ohio was. Very strange, all this television business.

Later on the walk back downtown, there was some discussion from the marchers about what had happened. "I heard that a wagon was on fire," said one of the curious. "No," we said, "It was a dragon."

Indeed, the dragon we had passed only a short time before, its wings the breadth of the street, led by a fleshy product of post-punk wearing the tapestries of a sultan from the rococco and twirling a baton. Somewhere from beneath its wings London Calling was emanating. My friend Sara said that hearing the song gave her the chills - perhaps the icy hands of death were merely brushing by on their way to an inescapable grip around the neck of the monster.

It was a wonderful day, probably the only day of my life in which five strangers will ask to take my picture. And, that night, at the Downtown for Democracy event, the first person I saw upon opening the door to a bar was a sad and aged-looking Telly, from Kids. He looked so old, it was strange. Like all of that fuss, this movie depicting these delinquents and there he is, alive and well, with thinning hair. What was supposed to be so scary about that movie, if this is how we all end up anyway? Innocuous, and pale, quite ready to admit that an argyle sweater vest would complete the look - and probably make us so very happy besides.

Waiting for the subway on the way home a man came and played us a song on a trombone made entirely out of PVC piping. It was utterly charming, and the fog of drunken exhaustion and the creeping malaise that anticipates arriving home with a sigh cleared for one moment and everything was good.

viernes, agosto 27, 2004

He has a backbone

New jaw grown on patient's back! wow.

In case you weren't there

"And it’s not that I have a particular animus against self-help philosophy. I think it works; it’s even worked for me on a short-term basis. But no matter how much it’s spun as philanthropic, how it’s really about spreading the good vibes to everyone, self-help is a self-ish philosophy: The source of happiness or unhappiness, of health and disease, is always within, your fault rather than the product of political or cultural, forces, the flawed nature of human nature and the societies it gives rise to. Or the fault of the moral order (or lack of one) of the cosmos."

This essay, by the delightful Ron Rosenbaum, who brought us Manhattan Passions (that essential element to any well-rounded collection of 1980s literature), has now very nicely summarized a certain aspect of my play. Not so much in the quote above, but certainly in Mr. Rosenbaum's questioning the validity of an optimistic mandate. It's something that has found itself into much of my writing of late.

The following passage in particular -- I think this is perhaps a rite of passage for many of us:

"Pessimism is impermissible because it challenges the American orthodoxy that there’s always an answer, always a solution to every problem. And if there’s an answer, a solution, there’s no need to despair, because eventually we’ll find the answer and act accordingly. As if "acting accordingly" was a given. I know I grew up thinking, in a very American way, this was true. That eventually reason would prevail and all parties in any dispute, however grave, would come together on a compromise. No matter what the dispute, it could be resolved, with patience and good will. Some have called this, after a school of optimistic British historians, "Whig history," history as inexorable progress.

I don’t believe in it any more. My answer to Rodney King: Sorry, my friend, on the evidence, in fact, we can’t all get along. We’re too twisted by the irresistible push and pull of bad impulses and bad ideas. If history teaches us anything, it teaches us that. History is the nightmare we can’t escape from."

The rest of the story: Errol Morris Has A Very Blue Line: Curse Darkness

By the way, if anyone would like to *read* the play I will happily provide.

jueves, agosto 26, 2004

Star Crossed

I just saw Fassbinder's IN A YEAR OF THIRTEEN MOONS. Now, the introduction to the movie is the following explanation:

"Every seventh year is a lunar year. Those people whose lives are essentially dominated by their emotions suffer particularly strongly from depressions in these lunar years. The same is also true of years with thirteen new moons, although not quite so strongly. And if a lunar year also happens to be a year with thirteen new moons, the result is often a personal catastrophe."

The year 1978, when Meier (Fassbinder's lover) killed himself and Fassbinder made this film, was one of thirteen new moons that was also a "lunar" year. Supposedly. I wanted to verify. First of all, what is a lunar year? Typically it is defined as the normal, calendar year. Second, the moon does not seem to follow any sort of seven-year cycle whatsoever. 1971, moon-wise at least, does not bear much striking resemblance at all to 1978. I was trying to find some small characteristic indicative of a seven year feature and couldn't see any. 1978 was, however, a year that had 13 new moons, but that is something that happens not so infrequently, approximately once every 2.5 years.

1971 was a year of thirteen full moons.
1978 was a year of thirteen new moons.
1985 full moons.
1992 new moons.

But 2004 is a year of thirteen full moons too, although it isn't part of the alleged seven year lunar cycle. And most years will have either thirteen new or thirteen full moons (not so 2002, which had thirteen 3rd quarter moons). Anyway, I was looking for answers, and found none. I thought maybe the idea was that these years had BOTH 13 full moons and 13 new moons but that is impossible.

Silly. I liked the movie anyway, even though I thought it was Thursday instead of Wednesday and thought I was going to see Scorpio Rising and Vinyl instead of Fassbinder. It was rather Hedwig-ish, with some very poignant moments. For the past few days I've been feeling twitchy and sweaty and dizzy in a very uncomfortable way, like I am able to feel my fingernails growing and it is unpleasant. I had a hard time sitting still is what I mean. Now that I'm thinking a bit deeper about the movie though there are parts that I deeply loved.

The scene where they butcher the cows is amazing. I couldn't really read the subtitles because watching the cows get strung up and have their throats cut was such a visual spectacle. They're so nice the cows are. Pretty eyes. If anyone is in Minnesota right now make sure to catch the State Fair while the guernseys are on display because they're the prettiest. I also usually scheduled my visits around the rabbit contests, because I believe there are very few places on the planet that amass such a large collection of bizarre and extroardinary rabbits. Same goes for chickens.

People who grow up in the megalopolis are never afforded the opportunity to watch farm boys from 4-H have their projects judged. It makes you feel like life is worth living to see a smartly dressed Minnesotan child demonstrating the skills of their well-behaved sheep to a panel of judges in a small arena of green sawdust.

Anyway, if you would like to know the exact dates of every blue moon since 1700, the US Navy is only too happy to provide, right HERE.

I interviewed the director of Open Water today and was too shamefaced to admit that I hadn't seen it because it looks sort of scary. And sort of bad maybe.

lunes, agosto 23, 2004

I like #11

Naturist One-Act Playwrighting Competition
Suggested storylines:

Following are some suggestions for a story line. These are offered merely to help get your creative juices flowing. They should, in no way, limit or restrict your creativity. A play built from one of these ideas has no advantage over any other plot you may conceive.

1. A first experience.

2. A Naturist man or woman who introduces a reluctant spouse or girlfriend to Naturism.

3. Historical – When did we begin wearing clothes; When did we start wearing swim suits; When did it become mandatory to wear a swim suit?

4. Religious – Prophets used to strip and preach naked. What would happen if a modern prophet were to preach that way?

5.Contemporary society.

6. Hippies.

7. Being raised as a Naturist and then learning how different you are from the other kids.

8. What happens when Westerners come into contact with cultures less compulsive about dress.

9. An office staff discovers one of their co-workers is a Naturist.

10. A family accidently comes across a clothing-optional beach while on vacation.

11. SciFi – A space traveler (or time traveler) discovers another (or future) civilization which is highly advanced. Everyone there is naked.

Nota bene: I did not write this. Someone thought I did, but no, look at the website. Also look at the "Photos" section, for a pleasing visual poetry arrangement. ed.

martes, agosto 17, 2004

Man in Tutu Interrupts Diving
Security has been tightened at the Athens Games after a man in a tutu jumped into the pool from the diving board during the men's synchronized springboard event.



I was wondering about this. Every time I got on a subway as school was getting out it was like a teenage boy mumu-fest.

The little slide show on this is so sad. Its organs were crushed by its own weight? My head feels like that right now.

Two-armed robot top candidate for saving Hubble. More.

jueves, agosto 12, 2004

The most literate U.S. cities:
1. Minneapolis, Minnesota
2. Seattle, Washington
3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
4. Madison, Wisconsin
5. Cincinnati, Ohio
6. Washington, D.C.
7. Denver, Colorado
8. Boston, Massachusetts
9. Portland, Oregon
10. San Francisco, California

Hmmmm... More.

The top 10 stingiest cities:
1. Hartford, Connecticut: 4.7 percent
2. Providence-Fall River-Warwick, Rhode Island: 5.1 percent
3. Boston-Worcester-Lawrence, Massachusetts: 5.2 percent
4. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, New York: 5.8 percent
5. (tie) New Orleans, Louisiana: 5.9 percent
5. (tie) Las Vegas, Nevada: 5.9 percent
7. Austin-San Marcos, Texas: 6.0 percent
8. (tie) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 6.1 percent
8. (tie) Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Florida: 6.1 percent
8. (tie) Philadelphia-Wilmington, Delaware-Atlantic City, New Jersey: 6.1 percent

If I had to guess the top three I definitely would have said New England. Explains why it's such a shithole.

The top 10 most generous cities:
1. Salt Lake City-Ogden, Utah: 14.9 percent
2. Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, Michigan: 10 percent
3. (tie) Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota: 8.5 percent
3. (tie) Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point, North Carolina: 8.5 percent
5. (tie) Memphis, Tennessee: 8.4 percent
5. (tie) Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas: 8.4 percent
7. Nashville, Tennessee: 8.3 percent
8. (tie) San Antonio, Texas: 8.1 percent
8. (tie) Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, Texas: 8.1 percent
10. (tie) Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: 8 percent
10. (tie) Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, Virginia: 8 percent


Takako is the very best.

So I think the woman that cut my hair the last time it was cut is the coolest ever, like even if she can't speak English really and calls it Engrish, she has the best sneakers in NYC and tonight I saw her at a sushi restaurant in Brooklyn. How crazy! She is in Brooklyn? I thought she lived some Japanese ex-pat high life. I wanted to say hi but I didn't think she would remember me. I want to be like Takako. She gives excellent hair cuts and her own hair looks like it was run through some destructive machine, all split ends and roots, and she doesn't give a fuck. Best of all, she doesn't put your hair up in sections in those stupid clippy-things, she does it all freestyle, yet it's even and perfect. And she eats at the sushi place on Flatbush, where my waitress tonight tried very hard to remember the word "quiche" to describe what Tofu Tamago was.

Maria cheia de graca, venha me soccorer. Maria cheia de graca, eu tambem quero viver. Eu quero ser malandro, para ver como e que e...

Pois malandro pra ser malandro tem que ter fe, tem que usar a cabeca e o pe, tira gimbo de quem tem, e da gimbo de quem nao tem. How fucking good is Jorge Ben? I saw Maria Full of Grace yesterday, and this song is in my head ever since, just because of the name. It was a really stressful movie. Thinking about inhaling a drug that was carried around in someone's large intestine certainly does make one rather repulsed, particularly if it had to be cut out of a cadaver. Four hundred people died en route in thirty years said that article in the Times: The director, Joshua Marston, lives in Williamsburg apparently and did his research in Queens and at JFK. I suppose that depriving America's noses would also deprive Columbia some 5% of its GDP, although recent estimates put it more at 2.3%, since the fall of Pablo and friends and the rise of Mexican cartels. And as the movie shows, if it's not cocaine, than it's flowers, which Colombia exports more of than any other country except Holland. So nothing is really resolved as to what is the problem and what is the solution, or maybe I should say reduced. In the end what it becomes is the moving story of a malcontent in a really amazing performance I thought.

miércoles, agosto 11, 2004

Fitzgerald grew up in St. Paul Anyway

I have been unable to read anything about college lately. Who knows why This Side of Paradise makes me unbearably sad, even though it was written eighty years ago, and F.'s chum-filled experience at Princeton is so cheerfully composed? The description of Minneapolis actually, of bobbing parties on Nicollet Ave. Even though I have no idea what a bobbing party actually is. A recent traveller told me the thing about the Minnesota is that the clouds are just puffier. I always found it to be rather hypercolored in comparison to New York's sepia, but only in the summer. Like when you land at the airport the first thing you see is so much grass, and everyone looks so pretty and well-fed. Gosh I'm homesick. I wish I could go back.

The description of "The Slicker" from TSoP:
1. Clever. Sense of social values.
2. Dresses well. Pretends that dress is superficial - but knows it isn't.
3. Goes into such activites as he can shine in.
4. Gets to college and is, in a worldly way, successful.
5. Hair slicked.

"The slickers of that year had adopted tortoise-shell spectacles as badges of their slickerhood, and this made them so easy to recognize that Amory and Rahill never missed one... Amory's secret ideal had all the slicker qualifications, but, in addition, courage and tremendous brains and talents - also Amory conceded him a bizarre streak that was quite irreconcilable to the slicker proper."

How did F. Scott know his hipsters so well? All this in opposition to
"The Big Man":
1. Inclined to stupidity and unconscious of social values.
2. Thinks dress is superficial and is inclined to be careless about it.
3. Goes out for everything from a sense of duty.
4. Gets to college and has a problematical future. Feels lost without his circle and always says that school days were happiest after all.
5. Hair not slicked.

lunes, agosto 09, 2004

Fellow Robot Goes to War

Friend and neighbor Frank Lesser's much anticipated Danny Bot is now available online. What I gather from the song's lyrics is that robot war is like Alien vs. Predator: whoever wins, we lose. An interesting factoid is that I just wrote a profile of the site's designer, Stefan Lawrence, for The Brooklyn Daily Eagle and had no idea we had Frank Lesser in common. Imagine. How very charming everything is. Watch the saga of a fellow robot, it is both mournful and poignant. I however, am a sight to be pitied and scorned, so its probably best to get out of here as fast as you can. Danny Bot

Oh my boat is empty, oh my head is empty

It was a beautiful weekend, beautiful people, beautiful weather, but I have a preoccupied head and therefore was already occupied while the beauty raged. For the past couple of weeks I was working on the play and then working out a post-play malaise, that hasn't exactly subsided but one must keep a stiff upper lip. As the title of this post indicates, I got a new Caetano Veloso album, which has made the week, musically at least, so much nicer. That and Mr. Softee. There is more than this isn't there? I saw The Manchurian Candidate, which lacked my favorite part of the old one, replacing the hydrangea convention for lots of bloody tubes and vaguely ethnic bedouin-type women with facial tattoos warbling. I actually love Denzel Washington so much though. I don't know what it is, his face I suppose, his glasses, his inability to smile, that makes looking at him interesting even if the movie is not so much. Maybe it is just Tak Fujimoto, who was DP on Badlands as well, and everyone knows how I feel about Badlands. I have a special bond with Terrence Malick, if you hadn't heard, which is why Jim Caveziel's character in The Thin Red Line is named Witt. Like me. And then Jim Caveziel went and played Jesus. Didn't he understand what a step down that was?