I am once again back to not being able to breathe, which so fucking sucks, gang. However, it is a truly gorgeous day here today so I have decided to just ignore that feeling of suffocation…
(Honestly, though, sometimes I feel like it is going to be like this for the rest of my fucking life. It’s been one month already. Yesterday was absolutely perfect. I was breathing great all day, all night. I thought the damn virus was really over.)
The birds are building nests everywhere, all around the outside of my house. So much life going on around here. And that damaged soffit above the back door, where the starlings build nests each spring? There are several little cubbyhole type things inside the exposed eaves and it turns out that not only starlings have built nests in there, but sparrows, too. Equal Opportunity Housing around here — we do not discriminate!
I found that really interesting, though, you know? Different types of birds, building their nests so close together. I didn’t know they did that.
There is also a starling nest in a hollow in the maple tree right outside my bedroom window. And a mourning dove has built a nest up inside the roof that extends over my front porch.
Soon enough it will sound like the Twilight Zone out there. Have you ever heard what its like when baby starlings cry out for food? It’s truly intense — other-worldly sounding. And then add to it baby mourning doves and baby sparrows. It will likely be very interesting. A celebration of noisy life, every day.
Yesterday, I had a great phone chat with Peitor about Abstract Absurdity Productions stuff. It turns out that the cinematographer who will be shooting several of our micro-shorts has a 5,000 square foot studio in Alabama, not far from Memphis (!!.) (Yay — I love Memphis, gang!!) And since there’s no telling when LA will be back to normal after the virus, Peitor wants to use the studio in Alabama to shoot several of the micro-shorts — including maybe even the “Lita” film, because he can build the exact sets he wants for “Lita” in that size space.
I am so fucking excited, gang!! The studio also has sleeping accommodations, so he and I can sleep right there at the studio. The shooting will likely begin sometime this summer, so that has perked my spirits.
Between that news and the continuing good news about the staged reading of Tell My Bones, I’m not really even noticing that I’m not getting any new writing done yet. (Well, I am kinda noticing, but I’m trying to keep my attention on stuff that makes me feel good.)
I am almost done reading Love in the Time of Cholera. It has been so much fun to be able to lie around in bed and read that again, gang. I can’t even tell you. (Part of having this virus has been sort of good for me — forcing me, for the very first time in my whole life, to just lie around and not do anything.)
Next, I think I’m going to re-read Rilke’s Letters to A Young Poet. I took that down from the bookshelf yesterday and was glancing through it. I haven’t read it in close to 40 years. I think it would be really cool to see how I react to it now. I remember that I loved the book, but I don’t really remember much about it anymore.
I took it off the shelf yesterday because I finally streamed the movie JoJo Rabbit (2019). (Rilke’s work is mentioned a few times in the film.) I’ve been wanting to watch that movie for months and for some reason, yesterday was the day I finally decided to watch it.
What a film. I’m not really even sure what to say about it — how did I feel? It was disturbing on many levels — Nazis and Hitler, and publicly hanging people who were helping Jews. (Horrible images that were a huge part of what haunted my childhood.) But the film was also really funny, too. And also very endearing. Just way out in left field, you know? Just so well done. I loved it, but the reality of that war is a steady under current that is hard to “love,” you know? But they managed to make the whole thing just really moving.
And then ending the film with Bowie’s German-language version of “Heroes” was just brilliant. I’d forgotten all about that. At one point, a musician I used to hang out with a lot in NYC had the German-language version of that song on cassette, and I remember feeling like the song just sounded overwhelming in German.
And it still does.
The choices of music throughout the film, though — including Bowie at the end — added a sort of emotional distance to that horrible under current of the reality of that war, which, you know — I’m not sure how I really feel about that. But I did really love that film.
But it also made me wonder, at what point is the buffer of time malleable enough to take atrocities and skew them in a way that enables us to make light of them in whatever ways? We can watch that film and appreciate that the Jews are now considered human and their lives valuable; but the German survivors of the war suffered unspeakably, too, albeit in a wholly different way, when the allies came in to free Berlin. German children, German women. Starvation and unbelievable poverty. And the endless, endless months of Russian soldiers raping the women of Berlin every single day.
None of that stuff is even hinted at in the film — if you don’t know your history, that is, and can’t fill in the blanks. And so what’s left is this joy over a Jewish girl being freed and a 10-year-old Nazi boy seeing the light and Bowie singing on the soundtrack.
I guess if we can distance ourselves emotionally and be selective about the details and about which details we want to give a sort of magical realism to all these decades later, we can then make a really effectively entertaining film and even find reasons to laugh…
(Yeah — I’m really fun to go to the movies with.)
I wanted to mention that next Friday afternoon, May 8th, live on Facebook, Marcus Books in Oakland, California, which is the oldest independent Black bookstore in America, is having a poetry reading to support the bookstore. You can find out about it here. Some amazing poets will be reading live.
On that note, I think I’ll get my day underway over here. I’ve noticed my breathing has improved now, so maybe it’s just that early morning thing — once the body gets increasingly more awake, the breathing gets better? I hope so. I’d like to have another whole day where I feel fine again.
I hope you have a nice Saturday, gang, wherever you are in the world. I leave you with two things today. One, the official video of “Loverman,” by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds that is in regular rotation on Bad Seeds TeeVee. ( I love this video.) (The song is from the 1994 album Let Love In — one of my favorites!!) And the other is the aforementioned German-language version of Bowie’s song “Heroes” (1977). Enjoy, and have a great day, okay? I love you guys. See ya.