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.)


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