UP ALL NIGHT

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David at 21C

The clock upbraids me with her time

I was out all night long with the Grand Marquis

First it was Heathers then it was Feathers at 21C

The Red Penguin most naturally

Topped it off with drinks at Jocks

I had bourbon on the rocks

The Grand Marquis had his with coke

We had to leave because we both were broke

I fell into bed and slept til 7 most fitfully

I was out all night long with the Grand Marquis.

 

 

 

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AMERICAN HONEY

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The film, American Honey, came onto my radar screen recently because of the buzz it seemed to be getting in the media. I saw the trailer and became intrigued. I vowed to see the movie. Several things about this movie caught my attention. The name for one, American Honey. Thought provoking and provocative. It stirred visions of a sweet young thing standing up in an open car with the wind rushing through her hair without a care in the world. When I learned it was a road trip movie about a teen aged girl in a magazine crew I was hooked. When I was 16 I was a member of a traveling magazine crew too.  It was my first actual paying job that I ever had where I got a weekly paycheck. My teachers and my parents hated it. My teachers thought it was a distraction and my parents didn’t like the exposure I got to the seamier side of life. I loved it for the same reasons. I learned more about life from that one experience than almost anything else I have ever done. Like the characters in the film, I came of age.

So I went to see it. Here is my report. Despite the name this film is actually British. It was directed by British filmmaker, Andrea Arnold. Shooting locations included: Muskogee, Oklahoma, and parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, and North Dakota. I am not going to say anything bad about Muskogee. I lived there for seven years and it is full of colorful characters. But I will say this: it is a good place to run away from.

It is always interesting to me to see America depicted through the lens of a foreign born director. Such as the likes of Michelangelo Antonioni and Wim Wenders, and now Andrea Arnold. Their perspectives are just a little bit different. But that difference is instructive. Arnold has previously won an Oscar for Wasp (2005), Best Short Film, Live Action.

The lead actor is played by newcomer Sasha Lane. This is her first movie role. She was literally discovered on the beach on spring break in Panama City, Florida. She has great energy and is a natural in her role as Star, the teenager from Muskogee who takes a chance on getting out of there and joins the magazine crew that is passing through. Shia LaBeouf plays top salesman Jake who tries to show the independent minded Star the ropes. He succeeds in more ways than one. Riley Keough, Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, plays the crew leader.

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A couple of things that put me off at first were the aspect ratio and the length of the film. Aspect ratio was 4:3 which was damned near a square on the screen. I must confess that I did not like this format much when I first saw it, but after a while I got used to it. This is a format that the director must like as she uses it frequently. Running time is two hours and 43 minutes. Quite long. But, I must say I didn’t notice it much until the movie was over and I went outside and noticed that the weather had changed and the light was decidedly different. Man, that was a long film, I told myself. But, as I said, during the watching of the film I really didn’t notice. I believe that it took that much time for the story, such as it was, to unfold. The movie was not filmed in a conventional story line with a classic beginning, middle, and end, but rather more like a slice of life. It put me in mind of cinema verite, which I love.

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The movie was supposed to be about a subculture of millennials making their way and coming of age. The ensemble acting was quite good with lots of energy and engagement. Everyone had their own back story they were running away from. I didn’t find them to be that different from the teenagers I hung out with when I was selling magazines door to door. They are millennials and I am a boomer. But hey! We were all young once. Great movie! Highly recommend.

UNDERGROUND

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I recently visited London and Paris. I had long dreamed of vising these places as they have lived in my imagination for years from reading books. Using the subway systems of Philadelphia and New York City, primed me for the London Underground and the Parisian Metro system.

On one of my many excursions around London, I descended the steps into the underground, and encountered a smiling, red-faced uniformed attendant.

“Hello!” I said.

“Hello!” he returned.

I inquired about the best route to get to my destination.

“Take the Circle Line to Baker Street, transfer to the Jubilee Line. Get off at Southwark and it is only a short walk to the Globe.”

“Thank you!”

“Cheers!”

This was typical of my experience in the London Underground— easy to navigate with friendly attendants and patrons who were willing to answer your questions.

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In Paris, perhaps the incongruity of being in a strange land made my existence there somehow congruent. I felt at home at last. Once I arrived in Paris, I approached a Parisian Metro booth and spoke to one of the attendants.

“Parlez-vous anglais?”

“Un peu.”

Although I did not speak the language, I was able to communicate well enough to find my way, with a few words and hand gestures.

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On one of my last days in the city, I was sitting outside, having a glass of red wine at the Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint Germaine. A Frenchman who took the table next to mine, lit up a cigar and then glanced in my direction to ask if I was offended by the cigar smoke.

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“Oh, no,” I said, “I understand that people who sit outside often smoke and I am not offended.”

He nodded and smiled. He took a couple of puffs off his cigar and we began talking, he in perfect English. We talked for a long time about a wide range of events including the recent terrorist attacks. I mentioned the increased security around the metro. He shared that he had just talked to his daughter who lives in the neighbourhood where the attacks occurred and she felt safe using the Metro System.

“Yes,” he cautioned, “but the police and soldiers cannot be everywhere. You have to be vigilant. In effect, we have to be responsible for our own security.”

As we were sitting there, we watched many police vehicles driving by with their sirens blaring.

“Something’s going on,” he said.

Then he pointed out that if a car were to pull up in front of us right now and gunmen got out and started shooting, what could we do about it? Nothing! He was right of course. So I concluded that the French are a little fatalistic about such things.

C’est la vie?

I travelled to London and Paris by myself because I needed to be alone. I needed time to think about my life and my absurd existence with only myself for company as I walked the cobblestone streets of Montmartre. The encounters that I did have gave me reason to believe in the possibility of happiness and the hope for humanity. I found in both London and Paris, a big smile and a hello or bonjour broke down the normal barriers humans seem to erect between themselves. You can be anonymous, but by using the universal language of a smile followed by a greeting you can still be touched by the human heart.

 

 

 

THIRD STREET DIVE BAR

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Third Street Dive Bar is located in the heart of beautiful downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Kentucky, as we know from previous entries, is the land of beautiful horses and fast women. But if you are fast enough, you can catch them! Louisville is full of dive bars and all manner of other drinking establishments. It is also known, as of late, for its bourbon tours. Tonight I visited the Third Street Dive Bar for the very first time. I wasn’t disappointed.  It is a music venue but it was early when we arrived so no band was playing at the time.

My friend Dan and I sidled up to the bar and ordered drinks. The prices were right and they had plenty of specials. Don’t go with the well bourbon, though, because it is worse than rot gut. I switched to Beam and that was much better. I like my bourbon on the rocks with a splash of branch water. If you don’t have any branches any kind of water will do. But please, just a splash.

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There were a couple of ladies at the bar to our left and of course Dan had to chat them up. He tried to talk them into joining us at another bar down the street about six minutes away. They demurred. It was just as well as they were both married and from Toledo and I don’t know what’s worse. They were here on convention and staying at the Hyatt.

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I loved the decor of the Third Street Dive Bar. There was plenty of neon signs and graffiti on the walls, especially in the bathrooms. The back room had a pool table with a red velvet top that looked rather inviting.

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We finished our drinks and went down to Meta. Meta is a cool hipster bar with a story all its own. We had a few drinks and struck up some conversation with some of the local hipsters then came on back to Third Street. By the time we got back a band was playing and another one was setting up. The place was starting to fill up with some pretty wild looking characters. So far so good. My friend Dan is a blues guitarist and singer. He talked a member of the band into letting him play with them. Dan did a rousing version of Jimmy Hendrix’s Along the Watch Tower. The crowd loved it!

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We left shortly after that. All in all had a pretty good time.

Third Street Dive Bar, 442 South 3rd, Louisville, Kentucky

 

 

A BRIDGE TOO FAR

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Last night, Governor Chris Christo appeared on Billo Riley’s television show, Fear Factory, on The Fox Force Five Network. What follows is a partial transcript of the interview:

Billo Riley: Governor Christo, you have been described as a prince of a man and that there is no way that you would have done anything so sinister as to order the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge. Can you tell us what your view on life is in general and on politics in particular?

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Chris Christo: Sure, Billo. That’s a great question. Thanks for asking. My view is this: A man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruination among so many men who are not good. Therefore, a prince, such as myself, if he wants to keep his authority, must learn how to be not so good.

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Billo Riley: And Governor, if I may be so bold to ask, if the situation requires gentle persuasion, what say you?

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Chris Christo: Well, Billo, besides what I just said, it should be kept in mind that the temperature of a crowd is mutable. While it might be easy to persuade them of something, it might be difficult maintain their belief. Therefore, when the time comes when the public no longer believes of their own accord, they may have be compelled to believe by force.

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Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Billo Riley: How would you go about this so called gentle persuasion?

Chris Christo: Well, you see, Billo, people are so simpleminded, and answer so completely to their immediate needs, when the need to deceive arises I never fail at finding willing dupes. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.

Billo Riley: Were you absolutely truthful in your recent press conference?

Chris Christo: Well, to tell the truth, Billo, sometimes words must serve to veil the facts. But this should only happen in such a way that no one becomes aware of it. If they do, I always have plenty of excuses at hand to be produce immediately.

Billo Riley: But in that case, how can we trust anything that you say?

Chris Christo: Well, Billo, the crowd always is taken by appearances. The public in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of sight.

Billo Riley: I noticed you got rid of your deputy chief of staff and several other high ranking associates rather quickly. Would you care to comment on that?

Chris Christo: Sure. Any cruelty that has to be executed should be done so at once, so that the less it is tasted, the less it offends. Benefits, on the other hand must be given out a little at a time, so they will be appreciated more. We cannot flinch at the betrayal of one’s friends, and showing no loyalty, mercy, or moral obligation. These are the means that lead to power.

Billo Riley: Tell me Governor, is it better to be loved or feared?

Chris Christo: It is best to be both feared and loved. However, if one cannot have both, it is better to be feared than loved.

Billo Riley: Any other comments on human nature?

Chris Christo: Yeah, I’ll take a crack at it. I would say it is true in general of people that they are ungrateful, disloyal, insincere and deceitful, timid of danger and quick to line their pockets. Love is a bond of obligation that these miserable creatures break whenever it suits them to do so, but fear holds them in their place by the dread of punishment.

Billo Riley: Any final thoughts or words of advice?

Chris Christo: Yep! Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.

Billo Riley: Ok, Governor. Thanks!

Chris Christo: Thank you, Billo!

Sources: All of Governor Chris Christo’s answers were from “The Prince,” by Machiavelli.

CLOWN SIGHTINGS

 

dscn2348Jokers to the right of me, clowns to the left. You know there have been a lot of clown sightings lately. Did anyone stop and think that this might because we are in the Halloween Season, the October Country, and the Silly Season? You know why cannibals won’t eat clowns? Taste funny….just saying.

LACOMBE, LUCIEN

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While film noir remains my favorite film genre, emanating mainly from the 1940’s and ‘50’s as it were, it seems to me that film (now mainly digital) hit its high water mark, like so many other things in the culture, in the 1970’s. I just haven’t seen anything as good at the movies as those produced during that time frame.

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Lacombe Lucien falls into that category. Released in 1974, it was directed by French filmmaker Louis Malle. Screenwriting credits go to Louis Malle and Patrick Modiano. Modiano won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2014.

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The movie takes place during WWII in Nazi occupied France. Eighteen year old Lucien lives in the rural southwest of the country with his peasant family on a farm. His father is a POW and his mother helps to operate the farm. Lucien, who has no particular political leanings, is bored and looking for something to do beside mop the floors at the local nursing home. We see a little bit into his nature as we observe a series of troubling behaviors that would indicate his propensity for violence and brutality. First he sling shoots a song bird for target practice, then he shoots a rabbit, then he knocks the head off a chicken in real time.

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Lucien tries to join the French Resistance but he is turned down because of his age. On his way home he makes a chance encounter with some collaborators and the German Gestapo. They welcome him with open arms. They bring him into their fold, ply him with alcohol, food, a place to stay, and other comforts. He is given a gun and becomes an enforcer for the German police. This gives Lucien a chance to belong to something bigger than himself and gain a little power. It is not hard to make the leap from this disaffected youth in 1944 to the disaffected youth of today who join ISIS.

He is taken to a rich Jewish tailor who is in hiding by the name of Horn to have a suit of clothes made. Horn becomes a father figure to the boy and an awkward relationship begins between the two. Horn has a beautiful daughter whose name just happens to be, France. Lucien falls for her hard.

Things became complicated as the Horns are part of the persecuted minority and Lucien inadvertently is responsible for Horn’s imprisonment and being sent to a concentration camp. When the roundup comes for France and her grandmother, Lucien is conflicted but opts to help them out. They run off together and hideout in the countryside. Fast on their heels are the French Resistance and the Gestapo. The war comes to an end and Lucien meets with an unhappy fate.

There are many things going on here not the least of which is the depiction of the banality of evil as demonstrated by the French collaborators. It is a unique character study of Lucien Lacombe who is a confused, naive, bully. Also, the movie shows that there were perhaps more collaborators that the French would like to admit. All in all a great movie and an early masterpiece for Louis Malle.