Thursday, August 17, 2006

Quite a lot in a week. Last week, screenings of "Born Yesterday" and "The Marrying Kind"; this week, screenings of "The Girl Can't Help It" and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" Some other films: Fernando Leon de Aranoa's "Princesas" and Yilmaz Arslan's "Fratricide". But also got some books at the Unoppressive Bookstore: "Crome Yellow and Other Works" by Aldous Huxley, the James Legge translation of the "I Ching", "What Did I Do?" by Larry Rivers (with Arnold Weinstein); "Republic of Dreams Greenwich Village: The American Bohemia, 1910-1960" by Ross Wetzseon.

At the screening of "Fratricide", ran into a number of people, including Robin Holland, Tony Pipolo, and Adrienne Mancia. The film was quite strong; it's another of the German films made by immigrant "ethnic" filmmakers (another example: "Head On"), and this was quite gripping and very strong.

But afterwards, had a little talk with Adrienne. I mean: Adrienne is one of those people i've known since... the very beginning of my "professional" life, so that's more than 35 years. And we talked about the fact that this summer has been hard for the "nonprofit" film scene, and the fact that there is no "community" anymore. The default mechanism of the "indie" scene (which is not the "experimental" film scene; the experimental scene is bearly hanging in there) has utterly destroyed the cohesion of whatever community used to exist.

This week, i had been thinking of that, and the fact that there is no history any longer. That's one of the consequences of the Internet: there's this eternal present-tense. I don't even want to go into this whole lapse of memory. A few days ago, i got an e.mail from Wellington, asking me what i thought of "Red Doors"; it was fine, but i had nothing to really say about it. And then, thinking about it, and the other recent Asian-American female-directed films ("Face", "Saving Face", "East Broadway"), i suddenly became very angry. I was angry at the absolute tepidness of these films, the fact that they really took no chances (the fact that two of them were family comedies with a lesbian romance attached isn't being courageous, not when "Chutney Popcorn" and "Junky Punky Girlz" and other films from the 1990s had already happened). And in reading the press releases, all of these directors took such pains to distance themselves from being classified as "Asian-American". Yet what else are their films, if not typical Asian-American features?

If there had been any "innovation", perhaps i wouldn't have felt so angry. But these films were all so ordinary! Actually, well-done, but ordinary.

Maybe that's the problem, i'm so tired of ordinary. The reason i loved the whole "scene" in NYC was that nothing was ordinary. It's like last year there was that documentary that Chuck Ignacio did on Charles Busch. It was charming, and i enjoyed it, but then i remembered actually seeing some of his plays. How pitiful they were! There was the time Larry and i went with Meredith Brody and Warren Sonbert to... it was playing on Second Avenue, and it was a play in which Charles Busch was making like Joan Crawford from one of her 1940s MGM war melodramas. During the intermission, Warren just turned to the rest of us and said, i can't believe it's come to this. And we all agreed to go to some new restaurant that Meredith was supposed to review for the Voice. I mean: from Jack Smith and Charles Ludlum, Charles Busch just seemed so ordinary. (At least, that was Warren's view; he was shocked at the declension from Jack to Charles Busch, at the way that Charles Busch seemed so domesticated, how Busch's work wasn't even that different from the Hollywood movies he was parodying.)

And now, you don't even get things with the competence of Charles Busch.

And there's so little sense of community, of shared interests. Of course, what i love is the absolute self-interest of people. In "Push Comes to Shove", Twyla Tharp never mentions any other artist in terms of the congruity of their aesthetic interests. For example, "The Bix Pieces" and the section in which the narrator explains "Why They Were Made", this was congruent with other works in which the "subject" was the act of creation, in which the work was about the work being created, such as Hollis Frampton's film "nostalgia" or Robert Morris's sculpture "The Box With the Sound of Its Own Making". (And both Frampton and Morris are mentioned in Tharp's book, as two people who became part of her social circle once she started living - and then marrying - Bob Huot.) I'm used to this kind of self-interest: i grew up with it, with all those people and their absolute self-centeredness.

When i mentioned that Jonas lied in his little piece in The Brooklyn Rail a few months ago, i meant that Jonas claimed that he was so meek, that he would never try to hurt anyone. Well, i know that's not true. I saw Jonas when he was scheming and trying to get even with people. And then he turned against me. For about a year, whenever he was interviewed, he would slam me, talk about how i had been a "disappointment", how i was damaging the cause of avantgarde cinema, and so on. And i knew why Jonas was slamming me, so i finally got sick of it and wrote Jonas a letter saying that if he wasn't going to say anything nice about me, just don't mention me at all.

(So the question always is: what did you do to Jonas that he was angry? Actually, i didn't do anything to him, it was Annette Michelson who wanted - as i was told by Nadia, the ex-librarian at Anthology - to kill me. She was angry. So how did i get even with Jonas and Annette? I did my usual: with Jonas, i nominated him for the Rockefeller Intercultural Film/Video Grant, and then i campaigned hard - behind the scenes - to make sure he got it, and in the case of Annette, well, if people know her, they know she can be accident-prone, and there were at least three times when - as her neighbor on Wooster Street - i saved her life. Like the time i came home from Thanksgiving at my parents', and in the hallway, i smelled gas. So i rushed into our loft, but it wasn't there, and finally i banged on Annette's door, and then i went and got to housekey, and opened Annette's door, and was almost overpowered by the smell of gas, and then i found Annette on the floor, and i banged on the door of my uncle's loft, and Rocco came out, and the two of us dragged Annette to the windows, which we opened, and he called 911 while i tried to get Annette to start breathing.... Annette had been offended by me because Robert Breer and Ken Jacobs had told her about my work, my performances which were "critiques" of the artworld, i simply thought they were reportage, but other people took them as critical and satirical, and Annette was mortified that people were laughing at her words... a lot of times, when i wrote my plays, i tried to duplicate the speech of the people i knew. So Annette went on the warpath, and Jonas joined her. And then i kept saving her life....)

I'm never going to get anywhere if i don't go for the kill.


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