Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A turning of seasons (featuring Children of Men. And Christmas).

At last, a season has come.

I can see it now: Driving down a narrow road in the freshness of morning, watching the sun bounce off the surface of a multitude of orange leaves strewn about on the side of the road. It looks as if the road is surrounded by a cheerful blaze, one that dances in the wind like the heart of a fire being stirred. It’s nice, to see such a fluctuation.

It doesn’t happen often, not where I choose to hang my hat. Los Angeles is a land that tends to exist in a state of perpetual uniformity, the Sun hanging high in the air, tossing down overbearing rays that hit the top of human heads like immense weights; and the sweat, it comes from the effort. The effort of enduring it.

But now, the season has changed. A brisk wind soars throughout the wind-tunnels of city streets, drying out my skin until my hands crack and bleed. Rain roars for but an instant, then is suddenly silenced except for a solitary whispering drizzle. And it gives moments. Moments where a man like me can stand atop a parking garage and see the last vestiges of sunlight burn their mark into the suddenly -- wonderfully, oh so wonderfully -- numerous clouds, their enduring moments being a true signal that the inevitable change that the seasons bring has finally come around.

And yes, it is a change. Enough to have you looking into the sky, down at the ground, at your hands; watching that previously mentioned blood seep slowly down along the cracks in your hands, feeling the cells rush in circles, looking for someplace to go, anyplace to flow…but there is nowhere. Because the change, in the air, it doesn’t, didn’t bode well for the sake of the those blood vessels, pumping through the heart with a thirst for sweet oxygen. It changed, and the blood died. You can see that all in the dribble down your hand. In that season changing in the air.

The seasons come…they always come.
And things are finally different. Different enough, anyhow.

Different enough…to give a different kind of chance.

Another movie is there, out there in the world. A movie? A film. A film where men are killed, for no reason other than wanting to help out a friend. A film where people lock things away, treasure them, but don’t allow them to be within a realm in which people, not a person, people could get a chance to care. Children of Men. It’s called Children of Men. And this day, this last night, this morning: I’ve suddenly declared it the best film of the year. #1 in 2006. Five days before its end.

I’d say it’s about seasons, in it’s own special way.

Seasons of trust, seasons of understanding, seasons of hope, seasons of love, seasons of ideas, seasons of oppression; seasons where woman loses the central figure to her uniting metaphor, and man forces himself to cry until all he may cry are tears of hot blood. This is a film where women are inexplicably infertile, and the men have stupidly let lose the damnable dogs of war. A season of the worst of us.

And when that season turns? It turns to hope. It’s that hope that burns in all of us, even if it exists as a mere ember that glows with the faintest spark; it burns us. With unity, with beginning, with the knowledge that things will change, and maybe for the better. Because they must. Because they have to. Because they are going to. Because all that spark does...is burn. A baptism by fire, that lets hope spring eternal, even if it happens to be on a filthy mattress in a room full of shadows, in a city built upon ghosts.

As the seasons always change, there is always a space for hope. For if there isn’t…then hope need not exist at all. And if that were the case, then we -- not me, not I, but every last fucking one of us, as a whole -- are certainly already dead. In all the ways that count.

In all the ways that we get trapped in, which the film chooses to elaborate on via a thematically sound feat of technical bravado, a series of colossal one-ers that drag us down into the putrid horror of those moments, letting us taste the gray, but still, still, still…giving us a frame or two of glory. A sequence that hits us right where it hits them, them, the people in that world eerily similar to our own. A moment where the season hits its stride, and that hope comes into bloom. For an instant, maybe. But it’s there.

They’re always there.

It’s not terribly surprising that this film came out on Christmas Day. But not, perhaps, in the way that first springs to mind. I mean, yes, there certainly are comparisons to be drawn from the concept of the birth of a savior, and a host of other details that might be connected to the concept of the nativity. Hell, I’d even be willing to call it the second best example of the nativity this year (with the champion being the story presented with modern perspective from the point-of-view of Joseph, as presented on the December 15th edition of “This American Life”).

But I, in yet another of my decidedly un-clandestine displays of foolishness, believe I shall declare that this grand display of thematic marketing exists because of one of the underwritten tenants of the Christmas holiday: the unseen truth.

Christmas functions as an excuse, a day where the more timid of us can tell others what they (in all honesty) should already know. Not because they aren’t observant enough, but because people, in all our bravery, never bothered to speak it aloud. A day where we make our season change.

Moreso than gifts, moreso than carving roast-beast and other such things -- for whatever reason, people choose Christmas as a day to finally declare things to one another. Love, for example. And on a grander scale, amongst those things that we all know about, but don’t bother to shout to the rafts on a frequent enough basis, we have the beauty of human hope. People remember it.

They call their friends and wish them love, even if the holiday means nothing to them, even if they’re sick of commercialism, sick of the commercials themselves, sick of the fact that they don’t even celebrate the damn thing; they still look at their calendar and go out to say hello.

The day itself means nothing. But what it makes happen, sometimes, sometimes, sometimes…makes you look out at the world with hope-colored glasses.

Yes, even if you live in a dystopian wasteland.
The wind blows, and the seasons change.

And the leaves, they do green anew.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

A day of infamy.

Today is December 7th, 2006.

As of this moment, this day appears quiet. I can only hear the faintest traces of the outside world leaking into this in, without even the generally prevalent sound of HeliCoppers on the prowl for…whatever it is that they tend to be on the prowl for. No true light aside from the piercing stare of a yellow moon. But it was not always so. Way of the world.

December 7th. You know, I know. A date that’s managed to actually take hold within the collective unconscious, a byproduct of history classes and television commercials; good movies and terrible movies; wizened old men sitting on porches, speaking as well as they can manage from the depths of their memory -- sadness in their tones.

A day that will live in infamy.

Locked into the history books, chiseled deep into the face of time; a day that will live in infamy. A day that we’re supposed to remember. These days, it seems like we get more and more. Days meant to be known for terrible, terrible, terrible things.
But that’s not all that it is. Nor all that it can be.

So, in the interest of perspective…These days, I drive around a lot.

I’d never planned to do such a thing, and it hadn’t been particularly desired. I’ve never been the sort of man who cares much about vehicles, aside from their general handling and functionality; nor have I done much more than turn my foolish nose up at the people who desire useless behemoths with petrol-gullets that reach depths as terrible as that memorable Sarlacc pit. I’ve never lain awake at night as an impressionable youth, utterly transfixed by the sounds of automobiles that roar down the asphalt under harshly orange light. I have a car. I drive it.

A lot.

So it was, that I was driving on the 405 Southbound. Common enough. I glanced in my rearview mirror. Common as well. But what I saw in that narrow space, that slimline of an image was something that wasn’t particularly common at all. It was an off-white Ford Taurus, one that had its lights shining, perhaps as an act of defiance against the light of the burning sun. Within this car, there sat an immense man, his clay-like face molded into an expression generally reserved for bill-paying and unprecedented flatulence. He manhandled the wheel with a set of enormous knuckles that gave his seemingly normal action an odd sort of comedic viciousness -- similar to the spectacle of Mighty Joe Young suddenly deciding to strangle a Garter Snake to death. And beside him sat a teenage girl. Smiling. While wearing a snappy Fedora.

In the world of the rearview, you never get enough.

Not enough information, not enough scope. A kind of all-too-specific tunnel vision that provides no real insight into the lives of countless Fedora-Girls and Dourpusses, no matter how much I might want to delve deeper. And there are surely things to behold, things to learn, things to comprehend, things to laugh at, and yes, things to be intimidated by. But I will never know. And that is just too damn sad. Losing history, simply by being unable to see enough. Seeing the past through that rearview mirror.

It’s a shame, really.

Because other things happen. Everyday, all day, rightthefucknow day. December 7th.
December 7th, 1949. Eight years after that time of infamy, where an act of bloodshed led to more bloodshed, where that led to death and dismemberment and dismay, all of it culminating in a burning moment; a moment that lived on after the fact with spattered cases of hot sand, and bad rain. On December 7th, 1949: A child was born in California. A child who would grow up to find himself transfixed by the thoughtful glow of the moon, so much so that he would sing back to it, doing all he could to not be drowned out by the sounds of industry around him.

On that day of infamy, we were given a man who could croon.

December 7th, 1995: We, not merely in the capacity of a nation, but instead as humans…we managed to find ourselves just the slightest bit closer to the stars.

On that very same day, 20 people died when a plane collided with a mountain. And that’s the way it goes, isn’t it? Humanity and tragedy coexisting peacefully, because if they ever manage to turn onto each others throats, the world is then the loser. All of it.

Sometimes, it’s what we need. A lot.

We need to move away from the world of the rearview, a world built on small visual planes and instance after instance of hearsay, countless cases of different viewpoints either belittling or embiggening (the smallest man) the stage of history. And so the world is changed, if only by that perspective, if only in a persons mind. But to that person, the truth is lost. The truth of the day, the truth of the world, the truth of perspective.

Only seeing the past in that tiny shimmering rectangle; the place where I once thought I saw Gary Busey driving in a car behind me. Except upon closer inspection? It was a woman. Yeah.

So look at the day. Look at all that has come to pass. Look at who was born, who died, what happened, where it happened, try to see it all.

Let the world explode across the space of your vision in the grandest symphony of Cinemascope™, colors mingling with images, striking your every part of you, working your mind/body/soul over until they cannot possibly take anymore, take any more, accept any more, understand any more…

And it will be a new day.

On this new day of infamy, as on any day of the week month or year…the infamy earned it’s name. Except that for the most part, we never really saw it. Just another case of the world running its course, gain and loss, that epic tug-of-war that -- hopefully -- will never see an end.

Today is December 7th. On this day, many a year ago, yet another musician was born: an Irishman, who floats like a cannonball. I for one, am glad he came to be.
And more, and more. Writers and artists, poets and porn stars. People coming to be, tearing their way through the caul of the world; people ceasing to function, closing their eyes and drifting away.

Happy Birthday, to those for whom it applies. A happy consideration of any-day to all those Fedora-Girls and Dourpusses out there, who may or may not ever glance upon this, and probably wouldn’t think twice about it even if they did. And yes, a Happy Deathday to the others, who I suppose cannot be bothered with such a salutations, all things considered. But that’s fine. It was said. And it will not be taken back, even if I look towards it in the rearview, and wonder what the hell was I thinking on December 7th, 2006. Just another day of infamy.

There’s a person that I know, one that has reason to look at this day with a tilted head, considering it slightly different than all those days that precede and follow it. She’s the type of person who doesn’t wear a Fedora, not on casual days, or even days when the rain falls down from the sky. But she could -- she could wear one, and no one would bat an eye. December 7th. It’s the day from whence her history began.

So both to that Fedora-Girl, as well as that person who screams out a question, asking us all if we can feel…I wish the both of you, separately and at the same time, the happiest of Birthdays.

And to the rest of you?
I hope you see something worth remembering.

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