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Saturday, November 04, 2006

OF MASS SUICIDES, DIRTY BLONDES, SHARP OBJECTS AND PENDING BIRTHDAYS...

...me turning 26 years old. yes, it was a long time ago. and, yes, that is a very forced smile. the guy I was "dating" at the time brought me flowers and slicked my hair down in an oddly dated way.

As far back as I can remember I have dreaded my birthday. I've never fully understood why. I suppose there were any number of factors when I was a kid. But, I suspect the main reason is that I have always understood that, with each passing year, the ride is getting closer to the end and it usually feels as if I am driving far too fast and way too close to the rail anyway. My "life-car" seems to be forever scraping against that rail leaving a trail of sparks. But, I just put my chin up and keep on driving it - hands firmly on the steering wheel, eyes on the road and in the rear view's reflection watching my past grow ever more distant. This year, as I drive toward The Date --- it strikes me that this is going to be one of those all-important milestone markers on I-40. So, this weekend I've opted to do a few things just for me. B is out of town and it seemed like the appropriate thing to do to attempt to keep away those birthday blues.

I left work last night and headed over to the new mall. This is the mall that our mayor seems to feel reflects the full-on dynamics of some version of "Camelot" he aspires to create for His San Francisco. Not sure where this Camelot plan leaves those of us making less than the average San Francisco income and can't really afford to live here, but I digress. Anyway, I wondered over to the shiny new megaplex cinema which housed a number of screens but is currently only showing 2 movies I would ever think of seeing. One of the two was sold out so I had no choice but to purchase a ticket to see this:

Based on one a GREAT book, this film version tried to be good. It does feature one extraordinary performance from Annette Bening. She manages to make the viewer feel something for a character, who, in the screenplay must have read like an evil bitch mom from hell. However, Bening was somehow able to convey a sense or level of humanity missing in the script's words and actions. She infused love and life into a half-sketched character which could have easily turned into a scenery-eating shrew. But, despite her great work, I didn't like this movie. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't. Or, rather -- I can't like it. There was something far too sweet about the whole thing. Actually , I guess it is the one thing that the book never was: sentimental and rather smarmy. You know, the violins seemed to want to kick in every time Jill Clayburgh's eyes moisten'd up in extreme close-up. And, the actor playing the main character was about 4 years older than he should have been to actually play the character. But, his eyes kept filling with tears which seemed manipulative. Far superior to the other performances, Bening's tears seemed real --- and touching without the need for violins or close-ups. The whole film just felt far too calculated to warm my heart and too simplistic in wrapping up the absolute horror of this man's childhood. The book was funny, but it never backed down from those horrors and it never made me feel as if my emotions were being manipulated for some goose-bump effect. And, I'm sorry -- but Augusten Borroughs (sp?) appearance as himself sitting next to the too-old actor playing him was just too icky-Hollywood for words. Of course, it is never to see a book you love get translated for Hollywood. And, it came close to being OK.

After the movie, I drifted into one of those horrible mall bookstores. I know Ing will be mad at me but I think she would be more upset if I lied about it. But, I was bored and not looking forward to coming home to an empty apartment. So, I went in and picked up the new book by my fave celebrity train wreck, Miss Courtney Love. It really isn't so much a book as a censored duplication of her journals from over the years. As I read thru her teenage scribblings I see the reflection of me on a better budget. I see the reflections of some of my friends. I see a mirror reflecting back all that is fucked up in a culture which does not protect or nurture its children. A culture that has no respect for children or their safety. Like so many other victims, Ms. Love has had to fight all of her life to survive -- and, it is clear she is still fighting. I am sure this battle is harming many around her -- mainly, I would suspect, her daughter. But, from skipping ahead and reading some of her acknowledgements it seems like she is fully aware of that and it trying to do all she can to prevent any more harm. But, these are the thoughts of a deeply intelligent and angry woman who is trying to sort out some sense of the world in which her parents tossed her. I see powerful observations -- both strong and off-target. I see a person in development against all odds. I understand the need to escape into the fog and safety of drugs.

Today, I am more than halfway through it and -- from a safer distance, I see the political dynamics at play in an infamous celebrity's life. What if Courtney Love were a Mark Love? Yeah, what if she were a man? Would she be viewed as a pathetic train wreck or some rocker worthy of respect for survival instinct? A legend of coolness vs. a slutty crack ho? Someone troubled but cool instead of a fame fucker sad bitch? ...because I think it is safe to say that this is how much of the world views Courtney Love. I do not think that they view Iggy Pop the same way, but what if Iggy Pop were Betty Pop?

I suspect Love might be headed for more trouble. I hope not, but I suspect it. She seems to be fighting so many things at once. She is just a person. She is not a train wreck. She's been put in a car that is pushing against those rails. She can't seem to get out of slow it down. But, I can imagine some troubled, alone and abused child reading this book and finding strength to fight and survive. That is a very good thing.

Today I saw JONESTOWN: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE PEOPLES TEMPLE ...this may be the saddest documentary I have ever seen. It cut to the very core. I left the cinema almost staggering. I had cried. There were a few people at the screening who had lost family members to that tragedy. There was footage I never knew existed. How sad to see something which should have been an ideal goal turn into absolute Hell and tragedy. This is not a film for the faint-of-heart. There is another documentary out right now which is focused on the on-going tragedies also playing out in San Francisco: THE BRIDGE. Ing and I saw it last week. I don't think it had the impact on either of us that we had anticipated. A sort of art house snuff movie that raises more ethical concerns about the way it was filmed than what it tells us as a film. Without clear focus, THE BRIDGE just left me cold. But, the Jonestown documentary shook me to the very core. So sad.

Well, happy birthday -- right? That wasn't it either. In my attempts to avoid an empty apartment and not feeling particularly social tonight -- I walked to The Opera Theatre and took in a viewing of 51 BIRTCH STREET. This was an excellent low-fi documentary, but nothing all that amazing.

And, now I have about four hours to wait for B's return home. I miss him. I will close this rambling post with a quote from a 14 year old Courtney Love which she wrote on a form from a correctional facility for criminally-inclined girls (to which she never should have been sent) ...but was. ...for over two years after her wealthy parents essentially abandoned her for several years making her a ward of the state of Washington. The form offers some details as to why Love was punished to a quiet room for several days --- it would appear that it is abnormal for a person to get upsest that her bed is infested with bugs. Funny, that - eh? Anyway, here is what she wrote:

"Editorial: There is no such thing as girl love because all cool girls are competitive cunts, which is worth loving in itself. So it's okay. Just don't pretend it's otherwise! Celebrate the reality!"

...the things that we get through form us. I'm not sure it is true that they really make us stronger, but I do think they make us who we are. So, fight the power. Take back that night. And fight the good fight, my friends. You only get this ride. Make it worth the trip! ...and, now I take this turn as I head on to I-40 at an alarmingly unsafe speed!

14 Comments:

Blogger ginab said...

Matty, am I ever glad B is home! That ride on I-40 needs a passenger.

Amazing to me, related to Courtney's published journals, is that they would appear in printed text as they never could handwritten. Thinking back to the bunk I journaled (came out as bunk) as a fourteen year old, well I'm betting the content was altered considerably. I'm always amazed by a collection of stories by Dylan Thomas in that there are stories within the collection which he wrote as a very young teen. The stories are not arranged in chronological order, and I cannot tell by the writing which is which if you get me. I think that he probably edited his earlier stories to match his level of style in his later years (thirty something).

You look adorable at 26 as you do now, is really what I want to say. I LOVE your film reviews, that you can establish "excellent" as being less than "amazing" in one simple stroke. You see so many darn flicks...I never or I rarely see any. I watched Winged Migration with Ing, or parts of it, and now I'm reluctant to return the DvD given the memory with Ing (and not for the magic of that footage).

On turning 40, I'll just say: I remember the weird importance of the number, of turning into it like a steely robe, and yet now I feel that was my very last birthday. Indeed, it's a big deal, it's a number no one fathoms yet we do because we are or we're nearly.

Eat something fun.
xo-ginab

9:43 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

I can't wait until Frances Bean writes a memoir....now that will be a good read!

4:29 AM  
Blogger ing said...

I want to see this Jim Jones documentary!

And I think it's cool that you're turning 40.

I like to tease you about how you're older than me. But you're only older by one year. 40 doesn't seem so bad. You and gina are making it just fine, so when it's my turn I'll think about this and it won't be so scary.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Brookelina said...

40 is kind of cool actually. 41 sucks though - cause then you are actually in your 40's. The horror!!!

2:31 PM  
Blogger DanNation said...

Welcome to your 40s - it's not so bad. Dan from the blog formerly known as "Turning Forty."

10:15 PM  
Blogger ing said...

4040404040404040404040404040404040404040404040404040404040404040.

(Sometimes you just have to get it out of your system.)

11:30 PM  
Blogger ing said...

p.s.

Today a nice young woman stopped by Red Hill Books (the independent bookstore that employs me.). She asked about the new Courtney Love book, but she couldn't remember the title. And, well, because of you, I knew it.

She was awfully nice. Instead of sprinting off to one of those airport stores, she squared her tattooed shoulders and marched to her local bookstore, where she ordered a copy. Yes, Matty, in five to ten short days she will know that she has done the right thing. She has supported her local independent bookstore. She has invested in her community.

11:52 PM  
Blogger ing said...

p.p.s.

Why were you smiling so forcedly over those daisies?

1:02 AM  
Blogger matty said...

Gina! I agree! Who wants to ride I-40 alone!?!?! And, thank you! I wish I felt like I looked "adorable" at any age, but I appreciate it! I think I see too many movies. It is how I escape. (Obviously, I like to escape a lot!) And, don't worry -- I'll be eatin' some good sweet stuff! Yummy!

Jon -- Yes, that should be "interesting" ...tho, I suspect most of her time is spent in the company of nannies and the like.

Ing - The Jim Jones movie is sooooo good, but horrible sad! The Borat movie is sooooo funny!!! Gina makes 40 shine. I just sort of make it look neurotic. However, I hope I do so with a certain "style" or "flaire"

Brooke! Don't do that! I've not entered "41 Therapy" yet! LOL!

Dannation -- Yes! You, Gina and Brooke give me strength!

Ing - I know. I'm sorry. I was just stuck at the mall from hell and had to kill time and I saw it there and, well, I am an instant gratification kind of guy --- a week is too long to wait! I'm sorry, tho! I know I was supporting "The Man" and that is very wrong.

Ing -- I think I was smiling like that because I could not believe I was no longer 24 years old anymore and I didn't like my hair. I was dating a guy who was a hair stylist. If his name had been "Bruce" that story would be more funny. ...or would it just be more "gay"???

5:04 PM  
Blogger ing said...

I always liked the name "Bruce." In fact, that was my joke-name in high school for anyone cute. Wasn't there a popular song, back in the eighties? One that featured a Bruce?

Anyway, I agree with ginab. Adorable, and the smile doesn't look forced, but if you say so. . .

My phone is ringing and I'm too scared to answer it.

7:22 PM  
Blogger matty said...

I've always thought of "Bruce" as a really gay 70's sort of name. I hope no one takes offense! I don't mean any. But, I have.

Don't answer that phone, Ing! Don't!!

9:22 PM  
Blogger Me said...

Birthday you say!? Fun goodies are on the way!
xo
m

12:06 AM  
Blogger matty said...

Lovely Meredith! Oh! Thank you!!!! You don't have to do that! (but I'm all excited!)

9:16 PM  
Blogger Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

With 40 comes freedom, at least for me, because all that BS about becoming ends, and I just started living more in the now, accepting that this is the life I get to have.
Annette Bening is a marvel. She combines a genuine emotive and spiritual presence, with a full bodied, full blooded femininity.
She's right up there with Maggie Smith and Meryl Streep, in my book.

9:27 PM  

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