Fuck Me, I Think I’m Elder

Is this like something you have to be?

Or automatically become?

And why are there these special, all-cringeworthy words for getting older?

Why aren’t I the same person, granted in somewhat different form?

More bouts with that chronic illness that periodically take me off to OtherLand. You know, the one where you don’t live. Least not if you take life for granted. Your physical life, your mind. Which my illness blows all to hell. The body produces some killer chemicals, trying to keep it all in check. Whereas you, you lucky dogs, you just piss it out.

Naw, not during this whole time that I haven’t posted here. What that’s about is … I don’t know what that’s about, except I think it’s lousy to walk away from a blog without a word, which is what it looked like. Continue reading “Fuck Me, I Think I’m Elder”

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The Shock of the New

plane

On Richard Brody’s New Yorker Blog, the DVD of the Week is that fave, that treasure, Terrence Malick’s Badlands.

Brody writes:

It’s a jolt to see “Badlands” again after having seen the new movie; what seems, in the earlier film, to have been mere hints, adornments, and suggestions—background gleams, silhouettes, shots of nature and landscape, a fascination with the celestial, a sense of the cosmic …

And I am like, stop right there! What about those crickets and other night cries in “Days of Heaven.” What about those “background gleams” that sure as hell came to the forefront in the prairie fire. Silhouettes—Richard Gere, Brooke Adams, swiping at the fire with what was it, their shirts? Tricky fire, it seemed so small, so manageable, before it swept the plains. Just clumps of grass.

Grass. What a motif, throughout Malick’s work. The New World … nothing but grass whispers, until, y, Colin Farrell appears like a god, from nowhere the natives had imagined, ever had reason to imagine. The Thin Red Line. Must I go on? It is a pleasure to go on.

Then a commenter gets his pants in a knot. I make it a rule not to read comments, because they always spoil the damn piece.

… Kael’s opinion wasn’t based solely on the performance style of the actors. She says, “Kit (Martin Sheen) and Holly (Sissy Spacek) are emotionless, and the film looks at them emotionlessly.” She says that “Kit and Holly are kept at a distance, doing things for no explained purpose; it’s as if the director had taped gauze over their characters, so we wouldn’t be able to take a reading on them.” If any “mistake” has been made, it’s been made by you, Richard Brody, in your consistently skewed interpretations of Kael’s words.

Like Pauline Kael was someone to look to on the subject of emotion? Kael, as quoted here, is so misguided, I can’t help but think she was threatened by all that Malick foretold—not her kind of film. And film was hers, then.

For if Kit and Holly represented anyone, it was precisely nowhere kids like them: bored, without resource, without a future. Kit grabbed at what everyone grabs at now: fame. Via murder? Does the shooter care?

And Holly? Didn’t you know phlegmatic girls like Holly back in school?

Then you didn’t grow up in a small town. Where no one gave a thought to a college education. Where your life held no surprises. Only risk.

I left Mr. Pants a reply. Funny how you can care about a film.

Maybe it’s an age thing, or where you grew up, but nothing could convey that empty forward push of people like Kit and Holly than their “emotionless” demeanor. Which shows them as all the more lost, in the modern world to come.

Time Is Like An Arrow, Isn’t It?

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“Why does time slow down when we fear for our lives?” asks Burkhard Bilger in The New Yorker.

Oh, but it doesn’t—or rather, not only then. Not at all. Anything fantastic enough, witnessed, will do the trick.

I’ve seen it. Following closely behind a vineyard tractor as it slowly chugged down the narrow dirt road that ran along the creek at the bottom of our ranch. Two kids squeezed together on the tractor seat, distracting each other. A car came from the other direction, and the girl suddenly put the tractor in reverse, apparently thinking there was room for anyone to pass. I watched the tractor’s right rear wheel roll to the crumbly edge of the road and hang in air, inches beyond. The edge gave way, and the tractor went airborne, flying into a slow ballet of a complete somersault, as it rolled off the edge and backwards, moving through what seemed like an excess of air, floating in a high and graceful loop. There was no noise. I would never see anything so beautiful again – every color, every outline unnaturally clear. Never know again this eerie pause in the onrush of normal events.

But this was, of course, not normal.It is the improbable-unexpected that jars loose these long, still moments. The tractor bounced off the nearly vertical creek bank and came to rest upside down in the shallow creek, its wheels spinning like the paws of a great beast unable to right itself. I left my car, because you have to have nerve, but found instead of crushed bodies at the bottom, pinned between the huge and pointy rocks, the girl was sitting gingerly halfway down the rocky, loose bank, nursing her shoulder, the young man already scrambling up to her side, both thrown free, lucky souls.

I had a car phone, back then, and called the sheriff. In a short time, the chopper, patched through, was calling me back, hovering anxiously above. But we were hidden inside a cathedral of trees, with no way to see each other, air or ground. I verbally herded them to the field across the creek, telling the paramedics to just head west, no matter what.

We heard them crashing through the underbrush, cursing as they slipped on half-submerged rocks. Soon they came clambered up the bank, insofar as the stretcher, which they still bore, would allow. But no one, as it turned out, needed rescue. By stretcher or by air. The girl and the young man were flown off anyway. Remarkably, they were mostly unhurt—but it made sense, I supposed, that in its wondrous, strange flight, the tractor would have thrown them free.

I don’t have to tell you that time assumed its clock pace again. But the question remains: did time slow down? Or is time far more mutable than, in our daily struggles, we usually ever know.

Burning the Hajib

hajibBurning down the cloth house. Have you a shred of a chance of realizing all that you know in your heart are your dreams withheld, stifled, lost? And does this loss, what you have already lost and what will come, does it resonate anywhere? Or do your struggles as women rise and disappear like waves in the ocean, what does one woman matter, in a world you know is Wrong. Misguided, stupid to the core. Could you do better with one little finger than the men you refuse to call, anymore, leaders. And don’t you have to live with the terrible obviousness. Your perfect skill to find the moral balance midst conflict. Isn’t it all a big pissing contest, no more than gang behavior … and aren’t you, as a woman, with your maternal, familial skills, aren’t you the hope of the world?

{ fin }

My Problem

The genuine, albeit grim, fun will be to watch the media profile Thompson in a way that proves they still don’t get it. HST once wrote, ‘No point mentioning the bats … the poor bastard will see them soon enough.’

What is my problem? Among other things, that … I grew up in New England? Yes, as a matter of fact. One of them. And long enough ago that the Yankee principle still held: the more deeply you Feel, the less you Show. And a lovely principle it was. Then. Never mind that it got my life fucked every whichway from Sunday, including falling in with the Wrong Kind, the Kind that didn’t Show for the simple reason (I didn’t know anyone could be that simple) that there was nothing to Show. That wasn’t old-fashioned reserve, you dunce, you utter fucking blockhead, that was—no, never mind what it was. Let us just say, one of the Occupants ran my carcass over like a truck and kept on going, because, well, because they were a truck, inside. I still don’t get it—I don’t get why the really important lessons in life have to use up great honking chunks of said life, at least in some cases—nor do I get, nor shall I ever, the Big Why.

Must I embroider. Alright—though you already know this, it is in some way your own question too, it is the bones of the human question. Though I do sometimes feel I have been specially singled out, jesus christ, take that away and what the hell is left? No, this is too dreary; I am not going to spell it out, not list my misfortunes (why bother, they’ll shove their way to the forefront anyway, in time.) Everyone and her sister is in the business of listing their misfortunes, a.k.a. fate. Look at it this way: when the time comes that every person in America has been on Oprah … will we implode? As a nation?

Is it possible to introspect Too Much? Is your life as existentially interesting as mine? Really? Then why am I not reading you.

Because it’s a crap shoot. Because God giveth on the one hand, and with the other hand, the mo’facker taketh away. What the TV and the Web leave upon our doorstep, much like the bird guts my cat throws up (just the gall bladder, clever animal) is the general concept: Whoa! Other people have it better than me!

Disturbing. They are also sinful shits, Other People, in a multitude of ways, most of which I wish I’d never known about. Most of which my grandmother, born in 1897 New Hampshire, never dreamt. She turned on the television only for Bishop Sheen, who I dimly remember as a flickering figure in the funny hat, who delivered sermons and said prayers on the new, new thing, TV. That these were Catholic sermons—okay, mass, then—and Catholic prayers took a back seat to the astonishment of having church broadcast into her living room. And a far back seat it was, my grandmother so Protestant, the family arrived two years after the Mayflower. Where was I.

Oh, right: the homage to gonzo. Which is to say, to caring, to good writing, to breathtaking phrases, to goodness and purity of heart, all of which must be layered over with complex and beautiful strategies of reserve, the same way paintings on paper, with their fugitive colors, must be protected under glass. Only, being human, capable of employing all manner of transparency, we get to disguise our god-face from one another, and why the fuck not? Would it not shatter you? The light?

It would shatter me.

3.6.05–3.21.05

Send Me A Letter

Come down here and be my house monk. Course you can’t do that. Kids and all. And I am so much older than I used to be. I no longer look or feel very foxy, although god knows of course that I am a good-looking woman. Some things never change. I was watching Otis Redding at Monterey Pop, a time seemed to last forever, then. I don’t think I could bear to watch it if I didn’t, in some far corner of my dreams, think it could all happen again. Or never ended. Right, and Otis is not dead. He was twenty-five at the time of those incredible recordings. Twenty-five and bursting with a talent it’s hard to account for, with soul and good looks. Good moves. What if someone like that had lived?
Continue reading “Send Me A Letter”

Late Afternoon 1967

Late Afternoon 1967

“We are but a moment’s sunlight fading in the grass …” I was kneeling on the floor next to the big radio, weaving to the music. It was late afternoon. We had drunk perhaps foulest concoction ever, boiled dope tea, never to do so again. But the stoned-ness, ah, the stoned-ness. The extent to which one was stoned, the way in which one knew oneself to be utterly, thoroughly, completely stoned, washed over me in that special dope way, a feeling of both sinking and rising at the same time, much as a feather might float this way and that upon the air. Continue reading “Late Afternoon 1967”

The Silence of the iPad

iPad

It is also dead quiet—no fan, no humming, nada. This is the future of computing. Daring Fireball.

I don’t doubt it. Did I mention? I bought an iPad? Did you imagine I would not?

Like so much of the future, the iPad tiptoes in on little cats’ feet. I wasn’t knocked out by Steve’s unveiling, I don’t think anyone was. Nothing like the time the big screen zeroed in on his right front pocket and he withdrew, not from the pocket of his jeans, but from the watch pocket, that itty-bitty Shuffle. Now that was a wow moment.
Continue reading “The Silence of the iPad”