Here is how it happens. We find something we want to do, if we are lucky, or something we need to do, if we are like most people. We use it as a way to obtain food, shelter, clothing, mates, comfort, a first folio of Shakespeare, model airplanes, American Girl dolls, a handful of rice, sex, solitude, a trip to Venice, Nikes, drinking water, plastic surgery, child care, dogs, medicine, education, cars, spiritual solace — whatever we think we need. To do this, we enact the role we call ‘me,’ trying to brand ourselves as a person who can and should obtain these things.
In the process, we place the people in our lives into compartments and define how they should behave to our advantage. Because we cannot *force* them to follow our desires, we deal with projections of them created in our minds. But they *will* be contrary and have wills of their own. Eventually new projections of us are dealing with new projections of them. Sometimes versions of ourselves disagree. We succumb to temptation — but, oh, father, what else was I gonna do? I feel like hell. I repent. I’ll do it again."
Roger Ebert (1942-2013), from his 2008 review of Synecdoche, New York (via blunderbussmag)
1. This morning I read Marie Calloway’s “Adrien Brody” for the first time.
Last week I was in New York for the first time since ‘Girls’ started, and I’ve been surprised by how many of my friends there don’t like it—or, maybe more commonly, preemptively dislike the idea of it. Then I had a very clarifying conversation/debate with Travis. THOUGHTS ABOUT THOUGHTS ABOUT ‘GIRLS’:
1. Dunham’s parents are artists. Not industrialists. Artist-parents producing artist-offspring is something to celebrate! Jeez Louise.
2. ‘Girls’ is a TERRIBLE spark for finally having a collective conversation of any length about nepotism. Because Dunham is a woman? Yes!!
3. But! Talking about who is allowed to produce mass culture is super valuable/overdue, no matter how it started.
4. "But!", the Sequel: More and more, it seems like women I know don’t like this show. I don’t know what that means (if anything)!
5. Obviously, I want to believe that I would love an HBO show dramatizing the lives of the underclass. That said, I don’t think ‘Girls’ is ANY more “hooray money” than a ‘Seinfeld’—just more explicit about its characters’ privilege. The poor don’t usually get to make art; as a brutally honest show about a lucky young woman seizing her chance to be an artist, ‘Girls’ has profound potential.
6. Our great entertainments don’t tackle reality. ‘The Wire’ is the triumphant exception that proves the rule. ‘The Sopranos’, for example, exempted itself from this entire wrenching conversation by being set in Scorsese-land.
7. As best said here, the world is better off with ‘Girls’ in it for the sex scenes alone.
Selected from "Like Gods" by John Koethe.
I need to read more prose poetry. It can be nice, not having line breaks to worry about.
I rewatched Mean Streets the other day; the vitality of this exchange remains startling. I was almost afraid to find out if it really was improvised. Scorsese:
There’s a big scene at the beginning of Mean Streets with Keitel and De Niro in the back room of the bar. De Niro makes up this whole speech — it’s really a bravura performance — and it’s all improvised. That scene made the picture.
Part of me found De Niro’s accent distracting, but then I reminded myself this was 1973—I’ve absorbed decades of watered-down riffing, but this performance is a primary source.
From a spirited email I received after writing a BI post about The Donald’s antics with gold bullion.