Saturday, June 03, 2006

Tried to write on this blog yesterady, and it didn't work. Hopefully, today will be better....

Anyway, finally the illness seems to have lifted. When the cold morphed into gout, i had a horrible feeling. I remember when Marie Vachon (Christine's mother) tried to describe her memory of the period in her life when she had Christine and her brother Michael (Michael is only ten months younger than Christine), and she said she felt as if her body had been taken over, and all she remembers is one inhumanly long pregnancy. (I remember the way she said the word "long" with this underlying horror!) That's how i felt: the cold then the gout and i'm stuck here... from here to eternity.

Sometimes, when i make jokes about Christine Vachon, people misinterpret. I don't really care that (in a business sense) she fucked me up. That's neither here nor there. It's the fact that she was my friend (and i don't really make friends that easily) and that the betrayal wasn't just business, it was personal. That's what hurts. (And, to this day, i have not made another "art friend": Christine Vachon was the very last.) Debbie S. and Christine Y. (of course) are the two friends from high school, but in my last year of college, i started to go to the movies with Dione Hemberger, and she was the first of my art friends. When Dione moved back to San Francisco, my art friend became Mary Lucier, which was actually very important for me, because i was strictly a film person (as well i should have been), but Mary taught me about video, at the time (late 1970s-early 1980s) how video was different from film, not just the technology, but how the differences informed the possibilities and the aesthetics. Mary introduced me to Elizabeth Streb, and when Mary got too busy (her art career started to take off, and she was doing residencies, etc.), Elizabeth became my art friend. I had already been interested in dance (post-modern, "new dance", whatever the post-Judson dance movement was called), but this clinched it. Then Elizabeth started getting popular in her field, and started touring, etc. And then my art friend became Theodora Skipitares, and she helped me to reconcile the idea of "theater" as a performance mode. Previouslty, i had considered that "performance art" (and i considered myself a "performance artist") was utterly distinct from theater, i.e., that performance art was created by artists who were doing something live but not from a background in theater, but from a background in other art fields (painting/sculpture, music, in my case, experimental film). Then Theodora started really touring, etc.

And then my art friend became Pauline Kael. Which lasted the longest (from 1984 - i can date it, because she called me up - her comment was "I decided it was time for us to meet" - to invite me to accompany her to a screening of "Splash" - until she retired), and it overlapped with my friendship with Christine Vachon....

My friendship with Pauline never ended, but she stopped coming in to New York City, but we talked on the phone maybe twice a month until about two months before she died. One of the odd commonalities we had was the fact that i knew a lot of the people she had known in San Francisco. Not that i knew them well, but i was acquainted with them, i knew their work, etc. People like James Broughton (of course) and Sidney Peterson and Anna Halprin and Chick Strand and Robert Nelson and Bruce Baillie, etc. And so if i had done something (like gone to a screening of Chick Strand's films, in those days, screenings were invariably accompanied by the filmmaker, who spoke afterwards; that was how most of the filmmakers made some sort of living, from the speaker's fees), this would often prompt Pauline to reminisce about her life in San Francisco....

Just as Mary taught me about video, and Elizabeth taught me about dance, and Theodora taught me about theater, so Pauline... well, she didn't teach me about film (since i was pretty much a conceited know-it-all about film from a very young age), but she taught me about the continuity of the "avantgarde" from the 1930s on. Not just film, but poetry and politics and dance and music... before "film" took over her life, Pauline had dabbled in a lot of different things, as did a lot of people she knew. (Before he became a poet and a filmmaker, James Broughton had spent time dancing; Pauline told me that James had toured for at least one season with Charles Weidman's company... and it was that connection that formed his friendship with Anna Halprin... one thing that James Broughton said about Pauline - it was in the essay that Philip Lopate wrote - was that she liked to sneer at the pretensions of his friends, especially Sidney Peterson and Anna Halprin!)

But after Pauline there was Christine Vachon, and after Christine Vachon.... nothing.

In The Advocate this week, there was an article about gays and polygamy: how many gay relationships are not founded on the simple model of monogamy, how so many gay relationships are more "various" than that....

When Larry and i moved into 141 Wooster Street, Gil Johnson and John Robinson lived on the 5th floor. But they lived with Billy. Now: Gil and John were both in their 40s, and Billy was in his 20s. But the exact nature of that relationship....

This is hard to explain. I don't consider myself "married" in any way. I know i live with Larry, and i don't expect that to change. But... it's like years ago, Larry Maxwell and JanieMar Werum were together since college, and had been living together for... maybe 15 years by the time we knew them. But they never considered themselves "married" and, in fact, i remember talking with Larry and JanieMar about that. But people in the 1980s were always open to trying new things, not just going along with the status quo.

Of course, the whole idea of a gay couple with a child... i mean, it was part of the final episode of "Will & Grace"! And Larry and i have always been ambivalent about that kind of "conventionality"... yet what happened? Larry and i wound up being a gay couple with a child, first with Michael in San Diego, and then with Kenny....

How the hell did that happen?

Anyway, Larry and i have watched "Slutty Summer" and "Sugar", two more DVDs from TLA. "Sugar" is actually quite fascinating, but there's no excuse for "Slutty Summer".

This afternoon, i watched "The Fugitive" on TV. That's the 1948 John Ford movie, based on Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory". It's one of those situations where... in the 1950s, when he was interviewed, Ford used to claim that "The Fugitive" was one of his favorite films. It's certainly one of his most "art-conscious" movies, with the most incredible expressionistic black-and-white cinematography (by Gabriel Figueroa, who would become Bunuel's favorite cinematographer during the 1950s). But the situation is similar to Hitchcock's situation: in the 1950s and early 1960s, Hitchcock would often cite "Shadow of a Doubt" as one of his favorite films. In both cases, you can see what Ford and Hitchcock are doing: they are appealing to criteria of "seriousness" (in the case of "The Fugitive", the religious-symbolic imagery and the fact that the material is based on a novel by one of the most important Anglo-Catholic writers of the 20th Century; in the case of "Shadow of a Doubt", the fact that the screenplay was written mostly by Thornton Wilder, by that point one of the most important writers in America, winner of the Pulitzer Prize twice for drama and once in fiction, a feat that no other American writer has accomplished; Hitchcock underscored this point by dedicating the film to Wilder). But by the end of the 1960s, the politique des auteurs had decided that these films were "impersonal" and instead lauded films like "Steamboat Round the Bend" and "The Searchers" for Ford or "Notorious" and "Vertigo" for Hitchcock. And this unhinged Ford and Hitchcock: in later interviews, you can tell that they're uncomfortable, they're trying to say "the right things" (yes, "Steamboat Round the Bend" is better than "The Informer"; well, "they" like "Shadow of a Doubt" but my favorite is really "Rear Window").

The New York Review of Books came today; we hadn't subscribed in about two years, and e finally decided to start up again. And Elizabeth Drew's article on how Bush is intent on destroying the entire constitutional way of government is... it's not frightening, because it's what everyone i know here in NYC has been saying, but we keep getting shouted down by people like Ann Coulter and Pat Robertson and... well, it's hopeless. But now it's been argued with great precision, and i hope it has an effect.

Stephen Holden's article on Antonioni (on behalf of the upcoming retrospective at BAM) in the Arts & Leisure section of the NY Times is really excellent: i was surprised at the depth and real consideration for Antonioni's artistry.

Because of the heavy rains, i stayed in rather than tried to go out (yesterday, subway service was a mess, all subway service in Queens was suspended and a lot of the lines were having delays or were being diverted), and read three of the scripts for Asian Cinevision. I have two more to go, but it's as depressing as most of the shorts for the IFP: competent, but without that spark.

But it's like people, i guess. On Thursday, Larry and i did go to the opening night reception for the New Festival (or NewFest, as it's now called) at the Heartland Brewery in the Empire State Building. Debbie showed up, and we go to talk to her.... i had planned to go to see the King Vidor restored films from 1920 at MoMA but the rains started and i decided to stay put, and i;m glad i did... i'm sorry to have missed the films (i love King Vidor, he's one of my favorite american directors) but i might have gotten stuck in the subway somewhere! But Christine did make it to the King Vidor movies, and she said they were charming, and she loves those tinted prints of silent movies.

I guess this is leading up to the fact that i ordered some of those silent films that Kino is putting out on DVD, the restored prints of three of Stiller's movies, "Erotikon", "Sir Arne's Treasure" and "Gosta Berling's Saga". How long ago was it when MoMA did its Stiller retrospective, with the restored prints from the Swedish Film Institute? Though i love "Gosta Berling's Saga" (what's not to love? it's such a rich, ripe tapestry of a film), "Sir Arne's Treasure" and "Gunnar Hede's Saga" are (i think) my two favorites. I wish someone would put out some of Sjostrom's films. Warner Home Video should put out "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Wind", Sjostrom's two classics with Lillian Gish.

But one reason i wanted to get those films is that one day, i want to show them to Brett. I'd like to be able to show him the history of Swedish cinema....

But one thing: because i stayed at home, instead of going out to see the King Vidor movies, i watched the Quick Fix Meals show on the Food Network, and i learned a recipe for tzantziki. It's really easy, and it's really good. Plus it's a good way to use dill, which is growing all over our back yard!

But if there's anyone i'm thinking of as a boyfriend, it's Brett, and i've never thought that i should "limit" myself. But (of course) Brett's in San Francisco, and i'm in... Brooklyn!


Blogger jlix said...

what did Christine DO to you?????

2:53 PM


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