Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bertrand Russell's Favorite Movie


To demonstrate the inherent limitation of language,
Bertrand Russell used the following famous example,
favorite of 8th graders:

The following statement is true.

The proceeding statement is false.

In Choose Me, one of the greatest films of 1980s,
the character of Mickey is the human personification
of this contradiction.  He is a pathological liar who
makes everything up, but what he makes up is always
the truth, and he can not lie.

Keith Carradine anchored Alan Rudolph's work like
no other actor, being the only performer to ever fully
carry the romantic burden which is at the heart of
Rudolph's sensibility without sacrificing the irony
and intelligence which makes Rudolph's best work
so engaging.

Among the four films Carradine and Rudolph made
together, Choose Me is the greatest.   It captured the
Los Angeles of its time as Mullholland Drive captured
the same Los Angeles of 20 years later, the Los Angeles
of those who don't become famous and who live
anonymously toiling for something outside their grasp.

As with a pathological liar who always tells the truth, the
achievements of the characters don't even belong to them.
Eve's bar was built by a different Eve; the talk show host
lives behind a persona which alienates herself from her
desires; the violence of one character leads a woman to
fear another man.

Perhaps the greatest American film of the 1980s, Choose
Me has been unfairly neglected.   Except perhaps for
other film calling out so urgently for a Criterion Release.

   And there's not as much time as there used to be.
-                  -                      -                -            -  Choose Me

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Welcome, Fellow Blockheads


$ -  - _   No one but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.
_. .. .. ... .. ................................................................$amuel Johnson

A very good article in the New York Times this week points out that
if Twitter is soon sold for maybe $10 Billion, give or take a few billion,
the writers who created the value for the Twitter will get exactly nothing.
When The Huffington Post sold for only $315 million, the writers got
nothing except the chance to provide their services free to AOL, a
large corporation rather than to the site itself.

In the article, David Carr tells of Mayhill Flower, a Huff Poster
who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the
Obama Campaign which appeared on The Huffington Post.  After
being nominated, she asked Ms. Huffington if having done so well,
there was a chance she might get paid for her work.  Huffington held
out hope to her and held out hope to her and held out hope to her for
two years before Ms. Flower decided to write on her own behalf

I can see The Huffington Post not wanting to pay:  if Jenny
McCarthy remains so popular spreading well intentioned ignorant
nonsense, why pay for good journalism?   But isn't it strange
that a journalist who had received a Pulitzer nomination wasn't
offered a paying job by ... anybody. 

It proves a sad point to all of us running all over ourselves to post
our writing for free on the internet:  our work has no value in
anyone's eyes but our own and that of a few other people who
want to be read and realize that if we,  the ignored, undervalued
writers of the world don't read each other's work, no one at all
will read it.   We read to be read.   Yes, there are too many writers -
as proven by the fact no one will pay to read us - but there are
too few readers to give us all the attention we covet, so we look
hungrily at the new writers springing up on the net, hoping
perhaps if we read their work, they'll read ours. 

Not that this is all bad.  The writers whom I like to read in exchange
for them occasionally reading my work are by and large a good
audience, well worth cultivating.   I am very happy to join with them in
deluding ourselves that we are creating value for anyone beside
the Internet entrepenurs preparing IPOs and selling advertising
at the click of a button.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Born Too Early, In Memory of Kit Carsson

There are about forty minutes left on the first anniversary of
Kit Carsson's death.  Last February 4th she died from what
were probably complications of cancer, but since she refused
to be treated when she felt herself declining again, we'll not
know for sure.

Kit was not only a dear friend of mine.  She was the collaborator
who except for Michael Maggio had the largest influence in
pushing me into trying theater.  She directed my second produced
play, Sleepwalker, in a basement.    It became my most produced
play, and she even led one in Berkeley.

For a while we had a theater company called Marlowe's Swan,
maybe the most obscure company of what was the Golden
Age of Chicago Store Front Theater before Curious Theater
Branch moved to the Lunar Cabaret, back when Paula Killen
seemed to have a new one woman show every week and
Theater Oobleck was mounting the impossibly inventive and
moving plays of Mickle Maher such as The Hunchback Variations.

Kit never directed another play of mine.  She did a wonderful
Hapgood, which I consider the ideal Stoppard production.  She
explained to me that a double agent works for both sides - cold
war still barely on, you know - and who prospers from her
information has to do with which side uses her more deftly, not
with where her deepest loyalty supposedly lies.

Everything she directed now is lost in the tangles of a very
few people's memory and in several capsule reviews in weekly
papers she had long since given up sending out.

All that's left is a blog she wrote for a single person - and
for me too I suppose, since she did show it to me - but which
she never showed to that person.   Kit died of a broken heart.
I really believe that.  Not long before she died she told me
that she had a dream in which her face was buried in a
snowbank.  She remembers a voice, probably her own, saying,
"If you don't lift your head, you're going to die."

I think she made the decision to NOT lift her head.
Kit felt she was born 15 or so years too early, and that when
she got sick enough to need home nursing, she met
her soulmate, only to find the difference between them
was a little too much to be overcome.  As long as Rachel
was there, Kit was happy:  she didn't really need romance;
she just needed Rachel around.  But when Kit got well
enough to not need a nurse anymore, Rachel left.  Kit
did fine for a few years, and she started a blog - to Rachel.

She did not publicize it, and she never showed it to Rachel.
She showed it only to me for my feedback on how to improve
her poems.  With Rachel gradually  passing out of her life all
together.  Kit used to say to me, she always hoped as long as
she lived that Rachel would think of her at least one more time.

At her death she left it up to me whether to leave her
blog up.  I took over the administration of it and left
it up, posting one more of her poems she wrote near
her death.  I do not have the heart to take it down.
I feel it is less a collection of love poems, than a novel,
mainly in verse, charting one sensitive woman's unbearably
painful love for another.   I wish there were a button for
blogspot which you could push and reverse the order of
 the posts.  I would read them from her first to her last,
but if you choose to read them, read them in whatever order
you desire.

One final note:

As far as I know, Rachel, Kit's beloved has never
read these posts or even knows about them. I don't
know if she ever guessed Kit's feelings for her.  She
called me one afternoon to tell me she felt perhaps
she had said too much to Rachel, and Rachel wouldn't
be back.  From what Kit told me, it wasn't clear that
she had.  If she had ever showed Rachel this blog,
it would have all been clear, but she never did.
Here it is:

Rachel is Gone