Thursday, September 28, 2006

The press office at the Film Society of Lincoln Center is having problems. Yesterday, the screening of "The Go Master" proved that: 1) they got the time wrong again, the film was longer than 100 minutes as announced; 2) in none of the schedules (blue, pink, green) was it announced that there would be a press conference and that Tian Zhuangzhuang would be there. Now: no one can just drop in from China unannounced. So why wasn't this posted? Plus there were no press materials on the film when i got there. (Did they run out? It wasn't that crowded.) I would have liked to know who the cinematographer was....

Anyway, rushing to another screening, but tonight's a real memento mori marathon: Jonas Mekas is displaying items from the George Macuinas archives at the Maya Stendhal Gallery and Ken jacobs is showing "Two Wrenching Departures" at MoMA. It's claimed that "Two Wrenching Departures" is a world premiere, but i saw it years (could it be decades) ago.... was it at the Collective for Living Cinema? Or Anthology? Whatever....

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The last few days have been seeing press screenings at the NY Film Festival. The last two days have been loaded: four or five screenings a day. Killer days, because it's not like seeing 5 or 6 screenings a day at some place like Toronto or Montreal, where you go at your own pace, and you pick and choose. For example: today, the screenings started at 10 AM with the South Korean film "Woman on the Beach" then there was the Iranian film "Offside" and then the film from Mali "Bamako" and then Otar Iosseliani's "Gardens in Autumn".... with less than half an hour in between each. Now: how is anyone supposed to eat? Obviously, you're not supposed to.... and then there was the screening of Guillermo del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" but i just couldn't do it: four in a row (plus shorts... plus - and here's the cute part - they got the time wrong on almost ALL the movies - they initially claimed that "Woman on the Beach" was 110 minutes... plus a 10 minute short... then it turned out that the movie was 127 minutes.... and "Gardens in Autumn" was not 115 minutes, as claimed... it was 121 minutes). When Larry and i go to a festival like Toronto, we average about 6 movies a day... but we do it at a pace where we have time for lunch, we have time for dinner.... this was ridiculous!

Anyway: Saturday, i did get up and got to the 9 AM press screening (!) of Saul Levine's "Notes from the Underground" and the films of Paolo Gioli; Sunday Larry and i went to a special IFP screening of Michel Gondry's "The Science of Sleep" (Larry thought it was forced and cutesy, i thought it was very charming in a precious sort of way). Monday went to press screenings of "August Days", "Mafioso" and "Belle Toujours". The shorts included "Jimmy Blue", "The Caretakers", "Les Matines", "Fourteen", "L'Innocence" and "Alice Sees the Light". An immediate comment on "Fourteen" (little "idyll" about a girl who is being married on her 14th birthday in a polygamous family; it's done without dialogue and is skillfully done) is that Billy and Mark (with their TV series "Big Love") have a lot to answer for....

"August Days" was intriguing... but there was no press notes... instead, there was a little DVD press kit... ok. What i didn't realize is that the movie is about "David" and "Marc", twin brothers (fraternal twins) who are almost incestuously close.... and the movie practically moons over David's body (and he's naked through about half the movie). Well: the writer-director is Marc Recha, who also plays Marc... and David is played by David Recha... that's the kind of information that just creeped me out. But it was a very beautiful movie.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Holy sh*t! What is wrong with this country? (Reportedly Johnny Knoxville's response when told that "Jackass Number Two" was the Number One movie at the box office this weekend; the original "Jackass" movie was also Number One in its respective opening weekend.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I'm EXHAUSTED. Have been spending the last few days at the IFP Market/Filmmaker's Conference. Also went to the NYFF press screening of Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Syndromes and a Century".

The IFP Market has become a really well-oiled machine: it's running very smoothly, and it's actually working. That is: it is a forum where the filmmaker gets a chance to interface with the industry. Every filmmaker coming in (of those selected, which was a real chore this year; the amount of time we had to select shorts, screenplays, works-in-progress, was cut i half, because the process couldn't begin until there were commitments from "industry" that they would actually look at the projects and have serious meetings with the filmmakers) was guaranteed at least three meetings, and everyone worked really hard to make sure that this happened. On the part of Michelle Byrd and the IFP staff: gettuing real commitments from producers and reps that they would really look at the projects; on the part of the selection committees: making sure that the projects showed, not just talent and skill, but real professionalism, that these filmmakers were ready to meet with industry. And the meetings weren't just perfunctory: the producers actually had to read the synopses, or look at the shorts, or look at the works-in-progress, and they selected the filmmakers they wanted to meet with, so it wasn't just blind meetings where the filmmakers were pitching to producers trying to pretend to be polite. The producers were really interested: they wanted to see if the project was something they could actually get involved with.

So from all sides i heard that the IFP Market is working. But (of course) i miss the crazy, hectic, catch-as-catch-can days, because when the place was a madhouse, there was space for some real crazies.

So many things have happened, but one thing: yesterday, after the last screening and before the "Liquid Lounge" party, i had about an hour, so i walked up to the Strand... i should mention that, on Tuesday, the special event at the "Liquid Lounge" was a conversation and book signing with Christine Vachon! It was like getting haunted.... anyway, on Wednesday, i'm at the Strand, and i see Christine's new book! I can get it on sale! But also on sale is Yvonne Rainer's book "Feelings Are Facts". Let's see: Christine Vachon.... Yvonne Rainer. On the one hand, on the other hand.... ok, so i got Yvonne's book.

One of the things about Yvonne's book is that most of it is concerned with her life before the age of 40 (she's now 72)... her childhood (which is certainly Dickensian), her trying to find her identity as an artist, the intensity of her concerns as a choreographer, and the most intense relationship of her life, her relationship with Robert Morris. (One of the most stinging comments that Yvonne makes - and Twyla Tharp makes the same comments - is how women were always condescended to, always made to feel as if their careers, ambitions, ideas weren't as "important" as the men in their lives - be it Al Held, Ronald Bladen, Robert Morris, Robert Huot, whomever. And that... well, things start to make sense, because from the outside all those of us who were looking at the disintegration of the marriage between Twyla and Bob Huot... it was hard to understand Twyla's emnity, which burst into pure hatred at times, at Huot, because we all saw this jovial teddy-bear of a man... but if i'd been Twyla, and, after Jesse was born, Bob suddenly started acting as if Twyla's ambitions - aesthetically, philosophically, eventually commercially - should now be stilled so that she can concentrate on her true woman's duties as wife and mother... hell, Bob Huot's lucky he's alive.)

One of the craziest things in Yvonne's book is that the conclusion of her relationship with Robert Morris was his affair with someone Yvonne simply refers to as "Meredith"; she keeps mentioning Meredith, Meredith, but never mentioning the last name. I check the index: no listing. Even when she refers to Meredith by her full name (ok, so it's Meredith Monk) because Yvonne, Meredith (and Twyla) were part of the Billy Rose Foundation's dance festival in 1969 (Yvonne notes that they all received notoriously bad reviews... Clive Barnes's denunciation of Yvonne was classic)... there's no mention in the index of "Meredith Monk". If that isn't a Freudian slip, i don't know what is! Yvonne felt so terrible, she tried to kill herself, wound up institutionalized (all of this is chronicled in her book, so i'm not speaking out of turn)... her relationship with Morris is really dead-on-arrival, though she keeps hoping for some reconciliation, and then Morris ups and marries Poppy Johnson!

And people wonder why i'll never write a "critical" study of the art from the 1950s on. How the hell can i do that, when i know all these stories? You think Claes Oldenburg wants me to write all the stuff that Hannah Wilke used to tell me? Please!

But (as long as it's not happening to me) it's amusing, in a grisly sort of way.

I remember there used to be a "art" rock band called Theoretical Girls. Now, there are Theoretical Lesbians. Let's not get into that one!

(Yvonne doesn't even get into that one: the whole last part of her life, the last 20 years, is treated as a footnote.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dave Kehr's NY Times column has a review of the Flicker Alley DVD of Murnau's "Phantom"; when Dave is in his film-historian mode, he can be very illuminating. I thought his review of the Jayne Mansfield boxset from Fox was brilliant. (Reminds me that Mickey Hargitay died two days ago. He lived long enough to see his daughter have a baby and win an Emmy.) If the DVD of "Phantom" is anything like the print that was shown on TCM a while ago, it should be stunning.

George Robinson is working on a piece about Su Friedrich, who will be having a retrospective at MoMA at the end of the month. I'm looking forward to George's piece, and to seeing Su's new work. (George has some interesting thoughts on some unusual DVDs, including the "Unseen Cinema" boxset; check him out of to find out his other recommendations.) My short piece on the DVD series that Robert Haller is producing for Anthology Film Archives ("Meet The Kuchar Brothers", "Curtis Harrington at Anthology Film Archives" and "Stan Brakhage on Gregory Markopoulos & Jim Davis") is now up at Masters of Cinema (; last week, in The Village Voice, J. Hoberman did a pieec (compare-and-contrast) about "The Black Dahlia" and Pat O'Neill's "The Decay of Fiction" so my instincts about the confluence of those movies (plus "Hollywoodland") were not off.

Where is the little grey-and-white kitten? I've heard that kitten's little mewling over the last few days; obviously, it's looking for its mother. That kitten is a runt: it's very small and it's already six months old.

Anyway, yesterday had a bunch of things to do, including finally getting my IFP stuff (no problem) and my NY Film Festival press stuff (no problem). Didn't get to see anything yesterday, because of all the running around, but will try to catch some of the things screening at the IFP today. Today's NYFF screening is "Marie Antoinette" but will try to catch it later. Couldn't sleep last night: all the pollen and stuff in the air from all the flowering things (jasmine, dill, etc.) in the backyard really got to me, hives all over. But looked through the IFP materials. Interesting to see how people are representing themselves.

Ran into Godfrey Chesire and Nora Jacobson. Godfrey has a work-in-progress doc; Nora has a script. They both said that the market was going well: they were set up with meetings, and the people they met really had an interest in their projects. That was important: when we were looking through the shorts, it was with an eye to the fact that the people would be set up with meetings. It took a real effort on the part of the IFP to ensure that there really were producers interested in the projects.

On the one hand, it's good to know that the IFP has finally been able to revamp itself so that the Market is really a viable commercial tool for the filmmakers. On the other hand, the insane circus atmosphere of the past, the hectic craziness and the masses of people coming and going... that's all been streamlined, but in streamlining the Market, a lot of the crazies have been weeded out.

In short: the Market is now running as a professional service organization, but i miss the madness, because there are some of us who went into this movie business for the madness.

The latest issue of Vanity Fair came last week, after i had completed one of those polls about reading Vanity Fair. I stated that my favorite columnist was James Wolcott. Which is true. Though Dominic Dunne is also amusing, especially when he goes into one of those "cases", as in the recent Brooke Astor contretemps. But my point: the whole Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes article (with photos) is one of the most egregious p.r. spins around. But there is an editorial comment: the final article in the whole issue is a big "expose" by William J. Mann about Katharine Hepburn, and how she totally manipulated the information about herself in the 1960s on, so that the truth (the fact that she was bisexual, the fact that most of her "domestic" relationships were with women, the fact that the relationship with Spencer Tracy was close, but after its initial "crush" phase, evolved into a basically nonsexual relationship, but how she then used Grason Kanin's "Tracy and Hepburn" book as a template, how insistent she became with the story because she wanted to create an image of herself, etc.) would not be known, not in her lifetime anyway. The famous "friendship" with Laura Harding, who lived with her in the early 1930s during her first sojourn in Hollywood, the relationship with Susan Steell, and so on. In addition, Mann goes into many of the political statements that Hepburn made, which show her to be more firmly radical than she allowed herself to be in the 1950s and after. Though Hepburn never went so far as to join something like the Communist Party, she did show a great deal of sympathy for leftwing causes. But Hepburn wanted to make herself an icon, and so she carefully crafted an image which would remain intact.

But if that's not an editorial comment on Hollywood image control, i don't know what is! By placing that article in the magazine after the major puff piece on Tom Cruise....

Hilarious! Sometimes magazines are so much fun.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Goddamn IFP. Today was supposed to be the start of the Market and the Filmmakers Conference, supposedly the thing is every day from 9 to 5 at the Puck Building. So i get to the Puck Building at 3:15, and everyone is packing up.... i've already registered, but i can't pick up my badge and the information. I have no idea... 9 to 5, and they're packing up at 3:15! And i ask when it was posted that they would pack up by 3, and no one at the information desk knew. They had no idea. So i came home, and i checked and all the information i was sent states (very clearly) that the Market and Conference takes place from Sunday, September 17 to Thursday, September 21, from 9 to 5, with a cocktail party every evening (Sunday through Thursday) from 6:30 to 8:30. Well, i can't go to the "Liquid Lounge" because i don't have my badge, and i don't have my badge because they closed up shop an hour and 45 minutes earlier than they said. Is there nobody in charge? (Actually, knowing the IFP, the answer is: NO.)

Anyway, i'm home and watching "Lawman" on TV... and i just realized that the girl is being played by a very young Louise Fletcher!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

For some reason, when i published my last blog, it appeared twice. Oh, well. The wonders of technology. Was glad i checked: had planned to go in to the Puck Building for the first day of the IFP Market/Filmmakers Conference, but the first day is Sunday, September 17. Thank goodness i checked.

Anyway, i spent the day and read a few blogs, such as James Wolcott's. He certainly does do a thorough job when he looks into something: his blog always has links to other blogs and other online sources, especially when he's discussing the current policies of the Bush administration. I have to say i thought his blog about Ann Coulter was very funny, and i liked the link to the Adam Carolla radio show. That was hilarious!

I also read some of Polly Frost's blog. Haven't looked at that recently; in July, Polly wrote a little piece about Pauline (on Pauline's birthday).

Also watched Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke: Requiem" on HBO this afternoon. A few weeks ago, when it premiered, there was so much on television about the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, i just wasn't in the mood to watch it, but i'm glad i did get another chance. It really is quite moving and sometimes just mortifying.... the section where there is footage of dead bodies floating was more horrifying than anything in any horror movie.

Just finished watching "Rembrandt"; remember seeing it years ago. Then, Gertrude Lawrence's performance seemed strident and "theatrical" (in contrast to the simplicity of Elsa Lanchester's performance), but now that theatricality has a period patina; the conscientiousness of the design in the film, the careful costuming and sets, these remain very charming. And Charles Laughton is pretty amazing.

But the death of the cat reminded me that, at the beginning of August, we got a phone call from Tom A. The reason was that it was the eighth anniversary of the death of Kenny. Before Larry put it away, the little white notebook that i gave Kenny was in the hallway. That was after i had read some of the little stories that Kenny had written for Donald, and after the letters he sent us when he was in prison. He really did have talent, and he kept trying to start writing a story, but he got frustrated and never finished it. (It was about his childhood memories of arguments between his father and mother.) Kenny would have these sudden turns-of-phrases... he'd notice something, or describe something, and it would just be so... startling. I remember the time we were watching a program on computers and the "information superhighway" (which was how the WorldWideWeb/Internet used to be characterized)... this was on PBS about 1993 or so. (Amazing to think how things have changed just in a decade!) And Kenny asked if we thought computers would replace books. And we couldn't answer that. But he said he couldn't see how, because "A book is something you hold in your hand, and you cherish."

Well, tomorrow's the first day of the IFP, and i'm curious to see what's happening in terms of the idea of "independent" film. Dennis wrote that he saw Christine Vachon's new book in the bookstores in Washington, DC. I guess i haven't been to a bookstore in a while... that's not true, it's just that i've only been to the secondhand (Strand) and discount (Unoppressive) bookstores in the last few months. I must admit that i did like Peter Carey's "Theft"; it's clever and really delightful, it would (i think) make an excellent movie. And David Mitchell's "Ghostwritten" was utterly ingenious, a real "stunt" but also moving. One book i found recently was Linsey Abrams's "Our History in New York", which was published in 1995. I remember thinking that was a book i should read, since i knew Linsey, but... well, i never did but now i have. It's strange, because the "casualness" of the prose, the diaristic style, must have seemed a little... i don't know how to say it. I don't want to say "avant-garde" but i do mean that the style in 1995 would have seemed "unusual" whereas in 2006, it seems very logical, because it's the style that so many people use to write their blogs in, and so "Our History in New York" now seems normative, whereas in 1995 it must have seemed slightly nontraditional.

And, of course, i met Linsey because of Ann Eugenia Volkes, and the last time i saw Ann was at the funeral for Nam June Paik. It's also interesting because "Our History in New York" is about that period of gay and lesbian politics, the period of ACT UP and the activism that led to things like the founding of the Harvey Milk School.... a period that was also celebrated in Jim Hubbard's films, and in his work-in-progress documentary "United in Anger" which is going to be a history of ACT UP.

In thinking about style, i'm reminded that it's often difficult for me to write, because i have this idea of "style" derived from early readings of James Joyce and Djuna Barnes and Henry James... when i thought about "style", those writers seemed to have exemplify "style".

Right now, i'm watching the DVD (region 2) of "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her". I remember talking about the film with Pauline (it was one of her favorite Godard films; she once said that she was disappointed that "California Split" had been released when she wasn't on duty at the New Yorker, so she didn't get to review it; she felt the same way about "2 or 3 Things"), and the fact that, if you listen to the film, especially to a lot of the commentary by Godard and the "asides" by Marina Vlady, the film seems highly "theoretical", but if you look at the film, at the often boldly stylized primary-color pallette, and the incredibly sensual and fleshy close-ups of Marina Vlady, it's a passionate and highly sensual and erotic film.

Actually, "2 or 3 Things I Know About Her" was one of those movies i used to drag my friends to see: for me, it was the quintessential "date" movie. We'll have to see what hapepns when it's revived at Film Forum soon!

"Our" cat died! The black-and-white female alley cat that seemed to love our backyard (last summer, she would stretch out on the window sill; this summer, we put the air conditioner in that window, so she took to stretching out on the back porch) was just run over as she was rushing across the street. She seemed to have a favorite among the kittens, a little grey-and-white kitten, and the two of them used to play on the little beach chair Larry left in the backyard. Our neighbor, Annette, took to trying to feed those cats, and she tried to get the black-and-white cat to play with the little rubber ball....

But that cat was run over this morning. I wonder where the little grey-and-white kitten is.

"Our" cat died! The black-and-white female alley cat that seemed to love our backyard (last summer, she would stretch out on the window sill; this summer, we put the air conditioner in that window, so she took to stretching out on the back porch) was just run over as she was rushing across the street. She seemed to have a favorite among the kittens, a little grey-and-white kitten, and the two of them used to play on the little beach chair Larry left in the backyard. Our neighbor, Annette, took to trying to feed those cats, and she tried to get the black-and-white cat to play with the little rubber ball....

But that cat was run over this morning. I wonder where the little grey-and-white kitten is.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The world is a small place. Today, it rained. The weather reports had led me to expect that the rain would stop by the mid-afternoon, but it didn't. It just kept on raining. So i was pretty bummed... however, this morning i got the two DVDs i ordered from Overstock, and watched "Le Chartreuse de Parme" which was almost 3 hours long. Not the greatest DVD transfer, but, hey, it didn't cost that much, and it was worth it to see Gerard Philipe, Maria Casares, and Renee Faure in their prime. But by 4 o'clock it was time to start thinking of getting out of here, if i was going to make Jim Hubbard's 6 o'clock screening at MoMA.

I'm glad i went. However, as an example of how small the world is, i got the D train and took it to the 47th-50th Street Rockefeller Center station. As i'm getting out of the station, i see what seems to be an elderly man scurrying to get up the stairs.... and i realize it's Arnold! When i was 15, Arnold was one of my best friends. Are we that old? Anyway, i get to MoMA, and i'm glad i decided to go to the screening. I say hello to Jim Hubbard and to Charles Silver (who is introducing the program). I've seen all the work previously: "Elegy in the Streets", "Two Marches", "The Dance", "Memento Mori" and the work-in-progress "United in Anger". The fact that, because i was at the last IFP Market and on the NYFA Video Panel, i've seen "United in Anger" strikes me as funny. The audience is a fair sized crowd, but filled with familiar faces. One person there is Lenora Champagne... another is Jamie Sheridan. After the films are finished, Jim goes up for a question-and-answer... and one of the last questions (asked by Jamie) is where did Jim get the footage of the man dressed like an angel that appears in "Elegy in the Streets". And Jim explains that it was footage left by Roger Jacoby; it was footage of Charles Stanley... Jim describes Charles Stanley as a famous dancer from the 1960s....

And (of course) my connection with Charles Stanley is simple: Arnold had been close to Charles Stanley when he first came to NYC in the mid-1960s, and appeared in several of Charles Stanley's dances. (In fact, in Don McDonagh's book "The Complete Guide to Modern Dance", the piece that McDonagh writes about as representative of Charles Stanley's work is one with Arnold in it; Arnold is listed in the cast!) Then, of course, Crystal Field decided to call hre little black-box theater at Theater for the New City "The Charles Stanley Theater" and that's where i did my first "plays". (Not my first performances, just my first "plays".)

And i didn't realize that, at one time, Jim had been Roger Jacoby's lover (which he said during the question-and-answer). I remember meeting Roger Jacoby through Tom Chomont, who is still a neighbor of Charles Lahti's. (Charles called this afternoon, because he and Anthony are en route to Italy for two weeks; he always calls from the airport to say goodbye.)

So this whole "experimental" world is actually very small. It's like all you have to do is stay in one spot, and all these connections will develop.

Or at least it used to be that way, but no more, and that's a pity.

Doug Kelley sent an e.mail with an article by Anthony Haden-Guest, about the interest in the archives of George Macuinas! Now, if that isn't a connection, i don't know what is! George used to live in the basement of 80 Wooster Street, where Jonas Mekas had Anthology Film Archives after its run at the Public Theater. When i was working for Jonas, my "office" was in the basement of 80 Wooster; the Film Culture office was a section of the space that also housed part of George's "archives". I never even ventured to look at any of George's things (all those Fluxus multiples, and a number of huge charts that he was working on). Actually, George let me help him with that Fluxus-Happenings-Performances chart... i remember asking Simone Forti and Elaine Summers and Trisha Brown about the dates of some of their performances, so that i could give the information to George. George gave me two copies of that (unfinished) chart, but in the recent move, somehow those charts were lost. (Either that, or they're at Rutgers with all the posters that we gave...)

Just as the screenings of "Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis" and "Notes on Marie Menken" at the Tribeca Film Festival reminded me of that era, those people, and how wonderful i thought they all seemed, and how wonderful i thought those movies were (i remember - to this day - how much i loved "Go! Go! Go!" and "Lights" when i first saw them; and the screening of "No President" at the Elgin will always be memorable), so, tonight, it really was a "memento mori".

(Speaking of the Elgin, that was where i first saw Ophuls's "La Ronde" and "Madame de..." and my memory is that, when "La Ronde" started, when the credits came to the name "Gerard Philipe", these men sitting behind me let out a collective sigh! For me, it was like that moment in "Little Miss Sunshine" where the little girl asks her uncle why he tried to kill himself, and he explains that he fell in love with one of his grad students, "but he didn't love me back", and the little girl says, "Him? You fell in love with a boy? That's silly!" That sigh from those men.... i'd never heard men swooning over another man before, but it wouldn't be the last time! I've ordered the four Ophuls films from England, but unfortunately "La Ronde" isn't one of them. The four are "Letter from an Unknown Woman", "The Reckless Moment", "Le Plaisir" and "Madame de..."; one big omission in French film history is Claude Autant-Lara. Of course, he pulled his films from circulation, and now there are all sorts of problems with rights, but some of his films, such as "Douce", "The Devil in the Flesh", "Le Ble en Herbe", "L'Auberge Rouge", and "Occupe-toi d'Amelie", are just superb. And to think that now, there are about four generations which have not been able to see these films.... not just here, but in France! Not to be able to see Gerard Philipe in "The Devil in the Flesh" is akin to never seeing Carole Lombard in "Twentieth Century" or James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" or Marlon Brando in "The Wild One": you would have no idea what all the fuss was about.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11. The hype is horrendous. I wish people would stop. Where was i on Sepetmber 11? I happened to be crossing City Hall Park on my way to Beekman Downtown Hospital for my appointment at 9 AM; i was early, and as i was walking from the BMT City Hall subway station, an incredibly loud BOOM rushed through the air, and a sudden shadow covered everything, i looked up to see a plane awfully low in the sky....

I rushed to the lobby of the hospital, but by that point, people were rushing outside to watch the plane hit the World Trade Center. Within seconds, the phones at the hospital were ringing off the hook. The guards were telling people to stay calm, and they were waiting to find out what was happening. This was 8:45 AM; by 9 AM, the guards asked everyone in the lobby (who had been waiting to go upstairs to the various doctors' offices) to leave, as they started to bring in people who were bleeding, because they had been hit by debris (falling glass, mostly) from the World Trade Center (which was about five blocks from Beekman Downtown Hospital). I walked past Pace University, and went to the subway, and got on.... No one in the subway was panicked (because no one knew what had happened) but i rushed home....

When i got to our loft, no one was there! But the TV was on and Matt Lauer and Katie Couric were talking about the fact that the twin towers of the World Trade Center had been hit by planes. I ran to the phone to call Christine, because she worked in the Federal Building and was near the World Trade Center, and i wanted to tell her to drop everything and just leave! But i only got her message. Where was she?

Then i heard voices on outside... people were on the fire escape, it was Larry and Christine! They came in and we all watched TV, and then rushed out to the fire escape (the fire escape had a view of lower Manhattan, and we could see the World Trade Center to the south). At some point, the three of us were on the fire escape as the towers started to collapse, and we saw it happen, right before our eyes.

I called Christine this morning, Larry and i could NOT watch any of the coverage of the various 9/11 ceremonials. One thing no one has talked about is how Chinatown was commandeered, how it was roped off and remains (basically) roped off. One reason: because Chinatown is one of the only areas in lower Manhattan where the real estate is in the hands of nonwhites, so Chinatown became the site of being blocked off. (Why wasn't Tribeca, which was the actual site of the attack, blocked off and made inaccessible? You think the rich white people would stand for it? So City Hall and the police have used Chinatown as one massive parking lot, roped off from traffic except for police cars... and if you ask Bloomberg, he wouldn't recognize how racist he's being.)

What's amazing (almost amusing, in a sick way) is how Tribeca and Soho are two areas in the city where the property values have simply skyrocketed. And rich people moved in left and right, and when enough of them moved in to our old building in Soho, it was time for us to leave, because i couldn't stand being on the board and trying to keep costs down and arguing when these people wanted new elevators and new... whatever. And then, the other rich people moving in around that building have had no consideration. Our windows used to look out over the roof of a building on West Broadway... but in the last year, some rich person bought the top floor and simply built a two story addition (how the hell can anyone build more than one story on top of a New York City rooftop? but money fixes everything) and there goes everything.

It's like rich people consuming rich people! It would be funny if it weren't so disgusting.

One question: why do these rich people want to live in Tribeca with their children? Hello? Haven't they heard about the air quality downtown? Or do they think that their money will exempt them? Yet right next to the site of the World Trae Center, there are buildings being converted and built, for residential lofts which are selling well into the millions, so obviously the market is for rich people, and there they go, buying these places up.

Are they crazy? The only consolation i have is that the air quality is still bad, and that these people are paying for the privilege of developing lung caner. Which might not be such a bad thing: all the rich people dying off, and having no one else to blame but themselves and their greed for space in lower Manhattan.

If only George W. Bush would decide to live near the World Trade Center after he leaves office!

But i can't stand how, in the last few days, the Republicans have taken control of the agenda by using 9/11. It's sickening.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Jean Nathan's book is "The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright"; i conflated it. The book itself was... it's strange, because in trying to be rather scrupulous, the book is rather too bland, i.e., Nathan doesn't really "speculate" about her subject, she's trying to be as factual as possible. But is that what is wanted?

The backyard is crazy here: we're just being overwhelmed with figs, the jasmine is in bloom and it's everywhere, and the dill has seeded and is just wild. And there are so many insects, bees and wasps and all sorts of things flying around. It is a jungle out there.

Will have to go to Ellen Flanders's "Zero Degrees of Separation" tomorrow, waited for Larry to return from his opthamologist's appointment. But went to the gym, and when i came back, i was feeling tired. A lot of it is the allergic reaction that i'm having to all the stuff in the backyard.

Watched a little bit of "Royal Flash"; Richard Lester's career is a puzzle, because i can't understand how it just seemed to sputter. But he's one of those people who was "of the moment" and then he began to search for something to do... there's a lack a conviction in a movie like "Royal Flash".

But this raises the question: in an artform like film, that sense of contemporaneity can lend excitement, and a "movement" (the Swinging England films, the NeoRealist films, the Nouvelle Vague, etc.) can create a sense of cohesion. Lester, the American who began his career in England, was one of the originators of the Swinging England style, with "A Hard Day's Night", "The Knack" and "Help". Yet the Swinging England style was itself imitative of the Nouvelle Vague: John Schlesinger, Karel Reisz, Silvio Narizzano, Tony Richardson seemed to ladel Nouvelle Vague tricks onto the old Kitchen Sink context of English films. And it was ok, because it was more fun than the stodgy American movies of the time. But so many of those directors were floundering by the 1970s.

But is that always the case?

Haven't blogged in a while, this week the city went and replaced the watermains on our block, which meant three days (from 8 in the morning until about 4:30 in the afternoon) of no water. So i spent those three days at my mother's... only a few screenings this week. Everyone i know (just about) is up in Toronto for the Toronto Film Festival. Haven't been there in years. A lot to write about, but rushing and rushing. Went to Anthology for a press screening of Pat O'Neill's "The Decay of Fiction"; it's use of the decaying Ambassador Hotel and its "ghostly" citations from film noir classics makes it an avantgarde sibling of those two LA noirs now in release: "Hollywoodland" and "The Black Dahlia". Will try to write more on that. Ordered some books, two novels by Peter Carey and two by David Mitchell. This was prompted by Ruth Franklin's rave in The New Republic for Mitchell. The books arrived today. Read Jean Nathan's "The Search for the Lonely Doll" which i picked up at the Strand the other day. trying to do mroe reading, not just newspapers and magazines. The upcoming 9/11 anniversary is looking ominous: George W. Bush is once again hijacking the agenda, and by putting a focus on "security" he trumps the Democrats. This coming election now seems ominous: Bush and his cronies are the canniest politicians since the Hitler Gang.

Got an e.mail from Jenni Olson about upcoming screenings of her movie in November; at first, i was confused because i didn't register that it was in November, so i was checking MoMA's schedule for her movie tomorrow. But i'm looking forward to seeing that. But it turns out that Ellen Flanders's doc, "Zero Degrees of Separation", is playing today at MoMA, so i'll catch that. (I hate to admit it, but one encouraging factor for me is that Jenni and Ellen are friends who are about my age, and who were part of that circuit of lesbian/gay festival programmers... if they can get something done, what's stopping the rest of us?) In the ad for the NY Film Festival, truns out that Jenn Reeves will have a short in the "Views from the Avant-Garde" section this year.

Getting out of the house and not having access to computers, etc. meant that i didn't seen anyone's blog for a few days. But just caught up with Michael Giltz's blog: he had a review of a concert at Joe's Pub of the English group The Magic Numbers which was sensational, one of those reviews that made you wish you were there, and Michael declares them the greatest rock-and-roll band now working. George Robinson has some thoughts on movies like "A Cantor's Tale" and... well, George's review on his blog of "Le Petit Lieutenant" made me make sure that i didn't miss the last screening. Larry came with me, and we did like it, and especially admired Nathalie Baye's performance, as George noted in his review. Dave Kehr is in Toronto. On his MySpace page, Mason Wyler has put new pictures, nothing salacious, just charming shots of himself... and a paean to his boyfriend/husband/best friend Marcus. Can't help it, it's so touching to see that kind of sincerity without irony. (Mason Wyler notes that he was never one of the cool kids in school, more like a nerdy Boy Scout type.) Got an e.mail from Brett, he has been travelling but mostly trying to relax. He is trying to decide what's next for him. I do miss him....