Saturday, July 9, 2005

Last night, I found myself in a fairly typical situation as of late, drinking beer at the Metropolitan and chatting with friends, but I couldn't bridge the gap last night and make connections as easily as I normally am able to. I was not all there. People asked me what I did, how my day was, and I did things yesterday, really. I met up with the sixty-three year old. I went on a walk and had nice thoughts. I read some of Ada, and normally any one of these things would have been enough impetus for me to get excited about life and start an engaged conversation, but I had few words last night - I was totally starstruck.

I tried telling people about this, but they hadn't seen the movie or didn't know who Gena Rowlands was and so I couldn't fully make them comprehend how this actress startles me and her amazing her acting abilities are. Right before I had gone out, I had watched the Criterion copy of Cassavetes' Faces and some of the bonus features on the disc, mainly an interview with Cassavetes from 1965 that is one of the most inspiring things I have seen in so long. I still don't even know exactly how to frame this today, the day after, to talk about the way this movie and this talk silenced me, which is odd because good things are supposed to provoke you and stimulate your thoughts, and this did, but I haven't yet figured out yet how to verbalize those thoughts.

I was already convinced that Cassavetes was a genius from his other films, but until I saw this interview with him, I never knew about the nobility of his genius, how really inspired a person he is. He can't sit still. He stands and talks and does things with his hands, interacts with other people as he is answering questions, smokes nonstop, and gives this wonderful monologue about art and how he is using Hollywood to destroy Hollywood. He talks about how he much he loves America's reliance on credit, and how this enables him to make his movies, how he has no money and doesn't care, that art is all that matters. It is such a beautiful talk that he gives. And for some reason, the oldness of it, to see this black and white document of this person talking so passionately about their commitment to art, that this was in 1965, fucking takes my breath away, and the things he talks about, the culture of money and how it destroys life, and surely things have just gotten worse in the forty years since then, and no one talks like this man now, but we all should.

The movie is one of the most perfect documents ever made. He holds these scenes, let's them play out for all their worth. He get's everything so right. There aren't these short scenes, one then the next, but just this long played out drunken dialogue that at times makes you squirm in recognition, that you sound just as much as an ass when you are drunk probably. There is nothing like his movies, the performances he gets from his actors is shocking, how good every single person in the films are. And then, of course, there is Gena. Lucille Ball is such a large part of her. I can't watch her and not see in her mannerisms some of Ball's, oddly enough.

And last night, at the bar, I was doing the same thing, inhabiting these thoughts, but more so, just the repeated Wow, totally shocked at the excellence I had just been privy to. What do you do after you encounter greatness? How do you go about your normal routine? How do you integrate the knowledge that greatness is possible and within reach into your normal worldview and still manage, still even desire to make small talk at a bar? I couldn't do it. I just wasn't there when people were talking about their favorite dinosaurs. I just couldn't even answer the question, could not even think of the name of one dinosaur, my mind was so elsewhere.

However, I did on my way out of the bar make out briefly with Jared, the boy I made out with on my birthday. But I scampered away instead of trying to bring him home with me because I had other things on my mind.

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