Jan 112017
 

 

 

“This is the practiced habit of jabbing out one’s eyes and forgetting the work of one’s hands. To acknowledge these horrors means turning away from the brightly rendered version of your country as it has always declared itself and turning toward something murkier and unknown. It is still too difficult for most Americans to do this. But this is your work. It must be, if only to preserve the sanctity of your mind.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates

 

Some thoughts on this book, this video, and the song by Olodum.

1. Guess what I got a green screen for Christmas! I pretended it was for my kids, wrapped it and put it under the tree, wrote a little card “Love, Santa.” They weren’t too thrilled about it. When they were busy playing with their other presents I opened the box and set it up in my office. I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with it.

2. These are sad days. January in NJ is cold and rainy. Trump about to be inaugurated. I don’t feel too good.

3. I’ve been listening to Olodum since the 90s when I went to Brazil. We spent some time in the city of Salvador, and I was fortunate enough to catch Olodum live. It’s possible they aren’t the most authentic representation of Brazilian music, and it’s also possible that they are the MOST authentic. I’m too lazy and busy (I get these qualities mixed up in my head) to do much research here. They might cater to tourists, as I was a tourist and saw them play and didn’t dig very deep into the music there. Salvador is music. That’s the impression I got. No need to dig, just go. I like the beat of Olodum, the drums make me feel like I can keep living.

4. I have a hard time pronouncing Ta-Nehisi Coates’ first name; this makes me feel like a racist. I get the H and the N mixed up. Then I found out the pronunciation is even more complicated than that. I’m pretty hard on myself in the “Am I Racist” department for reasons I explain in the video. I grew up with a confederate flag on the back of my banana seat bike. Figuratively, all right? Girls weren’t allowed to have banana seat bikes. I don’t know how much of the evil in the world I should blame myself for. Blame leads to shame which a non-doing state of mind. Do. What? Do. What? Do.

5.

6. All references to drugs and drug dealers are from the 1990s. I stopped taking drugs of all kinds a long time ago now. Although I would like to find a drug that could put me to sleep for the next four years. Alas, I have kids to raise. I can’t wake up when my daughter goes to college. I need to help her with her SATS. But they don’t call it that anymore. Must . . . stay . . . awake. Wake up. In order to sanctify your mind, you must stay awake. That’s the whole idea.

7. A quote from Bell Hooks: “While we often hear about privileged black men assuming a ghetto gangsta-boy style, we rarely hear about the pressure they get from white people to prove they are ‘really black.’ This pressure is part of the psychological racial arsenal for it constantly lets educated black people, especially black males, know that no amount of education will allow them to escape the imposition of racist stereotypes.”

8. I’m just trying to get to 10 now to make this a proper list. Here’s a picture of Ray, the cute kid in Jerry Maguire.

9. I love this scene from Psycho, which is playing in the back of my youtube book review. Marion’s boss walks in front of her car, and he doesn’t know she has stolen all that money, and she’s running away, leaving town. She’s supposed to be at work. And her boss, by coincidence, walks in front of her car at a traffic light. The look on his face, and the look on her face. It’s a shame she has to die.

10. The night before New Year’s Eve I watched a few minutes of people fighting. It was a national UFC championship for women, and they hit each other hard without padded gloves. I forgot until I was standing there at Hooters (haha not really) that I’m unable to watch this kind of fighting without feeling sick, and faint. But I think I’d be a good lady fighter. I still have gobs of pent-up rage. I’ve dispensed with some of it. But I could probably get very scrappy in the ring.

Next life.

Apr 082012
 

 

Billy Wilder: I made it a little bit more difficult for myself with Sunset Boulevard. It was about the closest of things, you know, to make a picture about Hollywood, about an old star, falling love with a young writer, and committing suicide, attempting suicide. Tough, and then, how are we going to end it? So we just had him shot. That was a tough decision to make.

Cameron  Crowe: How so?

Billy Wilder: He could have thrown everything away and gone back to Cleveland or wherever he was a reporter. That was not the solution. Because it came back to that line that we had discussed for a long time. He always wanted to have a pool. He got a pool. He died in the pool. That we hung on to. And they bought it. . .

Cameron  Crowe: Was there anyone around who said, “Let Gillis live! Let him go back to Cleveland!” Did the studio ask why you had to shoot him?

Billy Wilder: No. They were all for it.

From Conversations with Wilder, by Cameron Crowe

 

Jim Carroll wasn’t cool anymore by the time my provincial friends and I got wind of him, by way of a cassette tape with a song on it called “People Who Died.” In the song, Carroll manages to describe the deaths of at least ten youthful friends in a strikingly efficient delivery. Tony (see title of post) was one of these unfortunate creatures. Fell off a roof.

I saw Jim Carroll give a poetry reading in San Francisco. I had a “date” with me, a young man I had befriended in Golden Gate Park, which I wouldn’t do now but I was still under twenty then, and fresh from the provinces. The reading was at night on the side of a hill in a little bar. Everyone was waiting outside, and my friend started panhandling the people in line. I said, “Please don’t do that.” My friend said I was uncool. (He was right, I was uncool, but Jim Carroll wasn’t even cool at that point so things were bad all over.)

I gave my friend some money so he would stop panhandling. His parents had money, as I recall, but he didn’t want any of it so he was a hobo, a runaway of sorts, except he was in his early twenties; technically a person of that age is not a runaway. He was doing his Kerouac thing: he panhandled and hitchhiked and later stole $40 from my roommate, who was waiting tables and left her cash around the apartment. Thus ended my friendship with the runaway.

All this took place after a major earthquake. It was major at the time.