Monday, July 07, 2014

Can't even remember when the last time i blogged; it's been awhile, and yet i've been very busy. I have been seeing movies, going to screenings, everything from Rendez-vous With French Cinema to Open Roads: New Italian Cinema to Human Rights Watch Film Festival to BAM CinemaFest to LatinBeat. This year, there were many fine films, both in these festivals (as well as New Directors/New Films, the Art of the Real series, etc.) and in release. And there are still movies in release which i haven't had time to see, but at this half-way point in the year, it's a very strong year.

But before i get into the movies i've seen, i'd like to discuss something that happened in the last two weeks.

I can't even remember when i joined Facebook, but i know that i joined because Norman Wang (who has been living in Hong Kong for the last two decades) sent me an invitation. Since i had no idea of i'd ever visit Hong Kong again, i figured that this would be a way to stay in touch. And Norman is one of those people who always posts photos of what he's doing, people he's with, his activities at film festivals, et al. And soon, i was in touch with a lot more people through Facebook, in some cases, people i hadn't seen in years.

Anyway, about a year ago, i got a "friend" request from someone i haven't seen in maybe 15 years (at least). When i knew him, he had dropped out of the Rhode Island School of Design, and he was stripping at gay clubs. We were trying to get him to go back to school, we were trying to convince him to start doing art. (His particular interest was multimedia installations.) But there were problems, he got sucked into that whole club scene.

I had no idea what had happened to him. And then i got the "friend" request. On his page, it seems he did graduate from college (though not from an art school), and for a while he was working in a hospital. But he started working for a "house music" company. He was also engaged, and there were a lot of photos of his fiancee on his FB page. One thing that was so noticeable was her enormous breast implants. The "selfies" that he posted on his page showed that he'd been bulking up; i hate to say it, but there was obvious steroid usage.

Then, two weeks ago, on his page, someone posted "RIP"; then more of his friends posted. There was a posting from an aunt, asking what had happened. And then a posting from his mother. The police had been in contact with her, and she had been asked to come and identify the body, as well as make arrangements.

There was a distinct dichotomy: there was his family, there was some anger, and there were his friends, who all expressed their sorrow and the "fun" they shared. In fact, there was a thread in which his aunt expressed her anger over his friends and his lifestyle, explaining that the family had become concerned and was about to intervene but he had died before that could happen. After a day, it was deleted. Friends are just posting their condolences, and a few memorials. One thing that did come out was that he had died, and his fiancee was in the hospital. I have no idea what happened, and i don't feel that there's any way i can find out.

It was a shock: he hadn't reached 40 years of age.

Last week, in The New York Times, there was one of those paid obits, and i was in shock: Claude Simard had died. He was an artist and gallerist (he was the co-owner of the Jack Shaiman Gallery). The photo that was published in the Times showed a very heavyset man: i didn't recognize him.

This pointed out that i hadn't seen Claude in about five years. But there was a time, about 25 years ago, when i saw Claude every week. We'd been part of a group that would take an aerobics class on Thursdays; the class was this marathon, which would last for about two hours. Claude and i were among the group that always stayed through until the end. And that was also the period when Chelsea was becoming the neighborhood for art, after the gentrification of Soho. At that time, Claude was very thin. He'd also been doing some performances, often in galleries or museums in Canada (Claude was originally from Quebec). We published a piece that Claude wrote about his performances in PAJ.

We went to the memorial service for Claude last Wednesday.

I can't get over the fact that these people, one a contemporary, the other much younger, have died.

Time must have a stop, and sometimes it does.