dijous, 30 de juny de 2011

Icy heights that contain all reason





I think I'll go home and mull this over
Before I cram it down my throat
At long last it's crashed, its colossal mass
Has broken up into bits in my moat.

Lift the mattress off the floor
Walk the cramps off
Go meander in the cold
Hail to your dark skin
Hiding the fact you're dead again
Undeneath the power lines seeking shade
Far above our heads are the icy heights that contain all reason

It's a luscious mix of words and tricks
That let us bet when we know we should fold
On rocks i dreamt of where we'd stepped
And of the whole mess of roads we're now on.

Hold your glass up, hold it in
Never betray the way you've always known it is.
One day I'll be wondering how
I got so old just wondering how
never got cold wearing nothing in the snow.

This is way beyond my remote concern
Of being condescending.
All these squawking birds won't quit.
Building nothing, laying bricks.

Hold your glass up, hold it in
Never betray the way you've always known it is.
One day I'll be wondering how
I got so old just wondering how
never got cold wearing nothing in the snow.

This is way beyond my remote concern
Of being condescending.
All these squawking birds won't quit.
Building nothing, laying bricks.

The Shins, Caring is creepy.

dimarts, 28 de juny de 2011

Child of war

Then [Anthony] Quinn was needed for another stroke of director Verneuil's cinematic brush. While he was gone the press agent handed out a fact sheet about "The 25th Hour." The script is from a novel by Romanian writer C. Virgil Gheorghiu, who fled to Paris after its 1950 publication in the wake of the regime's displeasure. Ponti is producing it and Virna Lisi is a costar with Marius Goring in support.

Director Verneuil called, "All right, Tony," and Quinn got up. Miss Lisi took her place on the platform with three children and Quinn walked across the tracks to the far platform, his paper-wrapped bundle in hand. He strode up to the knot of extras on the platform, turned around to face the camera. His face was deeply tanned — no makeup was needed, and he nervously plucked at the string on the bundle.

There was a deep silence in the forlorn station as Quinn began the sequence — silence and rapt attention. Rarely in movie making does an individual scene have any impact at the moment of filming. It is too fragmented, too confusing with the lights burning and the camera crew staring at the actors.

But this was the exception. The crew's jokes were stilled; Verneuil was frozen, his hands a frame to wrap about the moment.

QUINN stands on the platform, searching for his family as around him refugees clasp loved ones. His face is hard but despair is just below the surface. Then he looks across the tracks and sees a woman and children — his?

He begins walking across the tracks toward them, his eyes fixed on the group. He recognizes them. His stride breaks, he starts to run, but then, stiff-legged, he slows, his eyes never leaving those of his wife.

HIS face is almost — but not quite — a mask. As he nears them his pace slows and his eyes reflect painfully the emotions of a man facing an unbearable moment he has dreamed of for so long. A last slow step and he is with them. Does he accept the third child?

In a moment of consummate skill, or simple art, Quinn shows it all without a word — the joy of being together again, the shedding of the terrors of the past, the hope for a better future tomorrow for all of them — most importantly, for the child of war.

For a long moment Quinn and Lisi are frozen, with the children staring in near awe, in an aching but poignant tableau. Then, almost reluctantly, Verneuil quietly said "Cut."

There was no need for a retake.

Sam Bauman, Stars & Stripes. "It's like playing baseball in the dark".


p.s.: Like one other reviewer here, I saw this film while in uniform -- in base camp when I was serving in Vietnam in 1968 (evidently Army Special Services which handled the distribution of entertainment media showed this film everywhere in its purview). I remember this movie was powerful, especially in its message of the impact of war on its participants and victims; and Quinn's performance was one of the best of his career, which is saying a lot!

dijous, 23 de juny de 2011

Inconclusive

Now, Egypt had long been closed to foreigners, and alien vessels were banned from entering any of the Nile’s mouths. But Psammetichus, having employed thousands of Greek mercenaries to drive off the Assyrians, granted these men free movement to and from their homeland. And so it was that the trade between Greeks and Egyptians grew, and Greek temples were erected, and Egypt sent alum and corn to Greece, and Greece sent back philosophers in turn. Now, these men, rather than teaching the king Truth, as he had desired, could not agree on anything. Thus Psammetichus had a new wing of the palace built beside the seraglio so that they might resolve their differences. And day in and day out the philosophers spoke of the question of whether men were good or evil, but they did nothing.

At last Psammetichus, tiring of such womanly lassitude, devised an experiment to answer their question once and for all. This time, he selected three newborn children from boatmen and gave them to a swineherd with the following instructions: One child was to be raised as normal and taught to do good, while the second was to be taught the reverse, that one must murder and steal and lie and engage in all other sorts of filth that is shocking to the gods. The third child would be raised wild among the pigs. And so it happened that when the children were three years old they were all brought to the palace, where one by one they were placed in a room with a kitten, a coin, and a piece of bread. As had been foreseen, the child raised in good stroked the little kitten, fed it the bread (even softening it with the moisture of his own mouth), and made gentle inquires as to whom the coin belonged. Next, the child raised against the law was brought into the room. Immediately, he killed the kitten, stole the coin, and ate the bread. When he was asked as to the fate of the coin and bread, he said they were eaten by the kitten. Finally the last child, the wild one raised by pigs, was summoned. He ate the bread, tried to eat the coin, and played with the kitten. From this Psammetichus learned that the answer to whether man is good or evil is: Inconclusive.

dimarts, 21 de juny de 2011

Un escalofrío pulenta

Mi mamá y su mamá trabajaban en la misma fábrica de ropa interior femenina. Lo primero que recuerdo es que estamos debajo de algo. Puede ser la mesa inmensa del dormitorio de mis viejos. Ahí jugábamos. Durante toda mi infancia Máximo venía a mi casa para que jugáramos. Como su mamá era muy pobre y vivía saltando, como una abeja, de hotel en hotel, yo nunca iba a su casa a jugar. Una vez, cuando Máximo era bebé, y su mamá alquilaba una pieza donde no querían madres solteras, se tuvo que acostumbrar a dormir en un cajón, escondido debajo de la cama, por si la dueña del lugar irrumpía de golpe en el cuarto y los echaba a patadas. Esa incertidumbre constante, ese peregrinar de pieza en pieza, aceleró la imaginación de Máximo y lo convirtió a temprana edad en un adulto. ¿Qué es un adulto? Alguien que comprende que la vida es un infierno y que no hay ninguna posibilidad de buen final. Máximo, según mi parecer, venía rumiando este conocimiento desde que estaba debajo de la cama, en la oscuridad.

Una tarde, estamos sentados en mi cuarto y Máximo me pide que le traiga una medibacha de mi vieja, dice que me quiere mostrar algo que le está pasando. Voy al dormitorio de mis padres y escarbo en los cajones. Ya de camino a mi pieza, atravieso el cuchicheo de nuestras madres en la cocina. La media está enrollada en mi bolsillo. Máximo la agarra y me dice que cierre la puerta. Después se baja el pantalón. Un pantalón negro con dos parches redondos de cuero en cada rodilla. Y se empieza a frotar la pija con la medibacha de mi mamá. Al rato le sale por la punta del pito un pedazo de crema dental. Me dice que pruebe con la media, que es increíble lo que se siente. Yo la agarro e imito los movimientos de mi maestro, pero no consigo nada. Máximo me detiene con un gesto y me dice que no me preocupe, que quizá todavía no puedo hacerlo. Le pregunto qué se siente. Me dice: es como un escalofrío pulenta. Después me explica, mediante dibujos, que esa pasta dental que le salió del pito es la que te trae al mundo, que los padres “cojen”. Es la primera vez que escucho esa palabra. Cojer, dice Máximo, es lo que nos multiplica. Y me aclara que sólo goza el padre. Después lavamos la media de mi mamá y la escondemos. Máximo me dice que vuelva a intentarlo en otro momento.

En la cortada del pasaje Pérez, escucho de boca de Máximo la palabra “Chabón”. Estamos jugando al fútbol en la calle. También dice, cada vez que algo está bueno, “Pulenta”. Yo le dije esa palabra a mi maestra y me retó. Mi mamá también me retó cuando se la dije a mi viejo. Mi papá, en cambio, se rió. A Máximo todas estas palabras se las pasa su primo, que es muy grande y vive en la provincia. En San Antonio de Padua. Máximo dice que vamos a ir ahí un fin de semana para matar gatos. Para eso, nos preparamos con mi juego de química, haciendo brebajes letales que van a poner a los gatos patas para arriba. Pero la madre de Máximo nunca nos lleva a San Antonio de Padua. No importa, Máximo trae una radio inmensa que era de su abuelo. La abrimos y tratamos de arreglarla. Soñamos que si lo logramos, vamos a ser considerados chicos prodigios. ¡Los primeros chicos que sin saber nada de electricidad pudieron devolverle la vida a una radio viejísima!. Fantaseamos con que estamos en un canal de televisión y nos entrevista un locutor que quiere saber cómo lo logramos. Vea, dice Máximo, fue un trabajo bien pulenta. Y el público estalla en aplausos y se bloquean las líneas telefónicas del canal porque la gente no para de llamar para felicitarnos.

La mamá de Máximo, durante una larga temporada, venía a mi casa, aún en pleno verano, con tapados grandes. A mi vieja le llamaba la atención. Al poco tiempo Máximo tenía una hermanita. La chica se quedó a vivir en la casa de sus padrinos, unos viejos que no podían tener hijos y que eran los empleadores de la mamá de Máximo. De vez en cuando, Máximo venía a casa con su hermanita ya crecida. Y le hacíamos esto: la acostábamos en mi cama boca abajo y nos subíamos encima de ella, frotándola con el pito hasta acabar. A veces venían otros chicos del barrio invitados por Máximo para frotarse y acabar. Máximo Disfrute empezaba a hacerse una reputación importante en todo Boedo.

Fabián Casas, Los Lemmings y otros.

dissabte, 18 de juny de 2011

Mr. Chapell's trouble

BOSTON — Last November, Yvette Chappell found herself increasingly anxious that her 27-year-old son, Deshawn James Chappell, was spiraling downward into deep psychosis. He was exhibiting intense paranoia and calling late at night to complain about deafening voices in his head.
For over a year, Mr. Chappell, a schizophrenic with a violent criminal record, had seemed relatively stable in a state-financed group home in Charlestown. But after a fight with another resident, Mr. Chappell was shuttled from home to home, and his mother believed that he had fallen off his medication along the way.
Ms. Chappell said she had tried to communicate this concern to his caretakers, but it was not until mid-January that she found somebody who listened.
The woman introduced herself as Stephanie and said she would be Mr. Chappell’s counselor at his new group home in Revere. She confirmed that Mr. Chappell had stopped getting his antipsychotic injections but made his mother a promise: “She said: ‘Don’t worry. I’m going to get Deshawn back on track.’
“I thought everything was going to be O.K. because he had somebody who cared,” Ms. Chappell said, her voice breaking.

Two days after that conversation, Stephanie Moulton, a petite, street-smart 25-year-old, was dead, and Mr. Chappell was accused of murdering her. They had been alone at the Revere home, where, her family said, Ms. Moulton generally worked a solo shift. Mr. Chappell beat her, stabbed her repeatedly and then dumped her partially nude body in a church parking lot, prosecutors said.

Deborah Sontag, The New York Times. A Schizophrenic, a Slain Worker, Troubling Questions.

diumenge, 12 de juny de 2011

Dalshe




We want to see further than the windows across the street

We want to live, we want to have our nine lives
And here we are to claim our rights, yes!
Can you hear the rustle of our coats - here we are!

We'll Take Action from now on!

We were born in crowded apartments in new districts
We lost our virginity fighting for love
The clothes you made for us no longer fit us
We've grown out of them
And here we are to tell you that

We'll Take Action from now on!

Kino, Dalshe Deistvovat budem my.

divendres, 10 de juny de 2011

La festa del perla

Hotel Majestic, Barcelona, set del vespre del 30 de maig. Vuit dies després de l'allau electoral de CiU, un altre fenomen sacseja la tranquil·litat de l'hotel. L'escriptor Ferran Torrent va convocar dilluns un grup d'amics per celebrar el seu seixantè aniversari. De fet, l'aniversari va ser ahir, dimarts, però no pots esperar que Torrent actuï segons els hàbits de la gent normal. El seu company de plaers literaris i gastronòmics, el cuiner Fermí Puig, el va complimentar amb un pastís de xocolata, però per celebrar que encara tenia 59 anys. Torrent va deixar clar que a ell les coses dolces no li fan el pes, i mentre un servidor es menjava el seu tros de pastís, l'autor valencià dedicava als assistents una anècdota rere l'altra, gairebé una aventura per any viscut. Més que anècdotes, les històries d'en Torrent eren perles " d'un perla", com sovint es presenta a ell mateix.

Que Torrent és un perla queda clar amb el dietari que cada diumenge publica a l'ARA. Sense anar més lluny, Torrent explicava diumenge passat per què va ser expulsat dels dos col·legis de jesuïtes que hi havia a València. L'article el finalitzava amb un lema que en bona part explica la seva manera de ser: "Pensava que durant una època de la meua vida vaig perdre el temps. Greu error. Els meus anys d'anormalitat em van regalar una visió esplèndida sobre l'espècie humana. A: Darrere d'un vividor hi ha una persona ferida per la vida. B: Les persones més tolerants són els golfos o els de molta vida acumulada". Potser el que més destaca de Torrent és la seva mentalitat oberta. El seu ventall de coneixences és sorprenentment ampli; pot ser amic de la reina d'Anglaterra, d'un líder del PP, d'un maulet o d'un ionqui: les creences d'aquestes persones no l'influeixen, el que ell valora és la seva humanitat i vitalitat.

Quan parla de les seves perles, Torrent fa cara d'entremaliat. Quan t'escolta o ha de discutir algun assumpte seriós, t'observa amb una atenció que sembla que et vulgui assaltar. Potser la seva versió més desconeguda, perquè és la més íntima, és el Torrent emotiu, amb un punt amarg que el salva de caure en la cursileria.

També pot ser com un marrec amb sabates noves. En un moment de la vetllada a la terrassa del Majestic, Bibiana Ballbè va convèncer un grup de directores de salons de bellesa de Rússia, de visita a Barcelona, per fer-se una fotografia amb Torrent. Des de l'altra punta de la terrassa, catorze senyores van començar a cridar el seu nom per convidar-lo a brindar plegats. Les russes li van dedicar un ball típic rus d'aniversari, una mena de sardana que consisteix a fer una rotllana agafades de les mans mentre l'homenatjat, enmig del grup, ha de demanar un desig -per sort, un desig que no pot dir-. "Fa cara de bon nen. Mira quina il·lusió li fa", comentava l'escriptora Najat El Hachmi.

Torrent va ser a Barcelona convidat pel Grup 62 per rebre l'enhorabona dels seus editors i per acabar de polir els detalls del seu nou llibre. "És la primera novel·la d'espies que he escrit". L'obra serà publicada la propera tardor. Torrent va apuntar durant la festa que hi ha detalls de la narració que s'inspiren en vivències seves o en històries que ha recollit. Dies abans vaig parlar amb Torrent de l'escriptor kenià Binyavanga Wainaina, que en un relat a la revista Granta es definia "com una mena de paràsit", perquè xucla de la vida dels altres per nodrir la seva obra literària. Wainaina es plantejava deixar d'escriure perquè es considera un de lladre de vides. "Jo faig el mateix", va afegir Torrent. Afortunadament, ell no vol deixar d'escriure.

La nit va acabar a una hora prudent perquè Torrent és un home sa: beu poc, fa esport quatre dies a la setmana i es fica al llit aviat perquè és on es troba més còmode llegint. Van tancar la festa amb Susana Subirana, il·lustradora dels seus articles a l'ARA, a la cocteleria Boadas. Es cauen bé, fins i tot van jugar amb la idea de fer un llibre plegats sobre un vaixell de corsaris valencians transtornats. "No sé si n'hi va haver, de pirates valencians, però segur que els meus s'ho passaran molt bé saquejant la costa catalana".

Cristian Segura, Diari ARA.

dimecres, 8 de juny de 2011

Sandalistas

Years later I heard that the Sandinistas referred to us as Sandalistas, not Internacionalistas. We wore Birkenstocks, right? A bunch of hippies, ha, ha. I don’t recall hearing that during the revolution, only after. I believe the Nicaraguans called us Sandalistas behind our backs.

That’s OK. I can take (or be) a joke.

In fact, I did wear sandals. I brought on the trip my smartest pair, not Birkenstocks, but a strappy affair. It turned out the revolution was going to involve a lot of walking. A week into Mexico, my feet were blistered and my sandals were broken. I bought a new pair for five dollars and I wore those until they broke, too. I bought another pair and another. Finally George said I couldn’t keep buying new pairs. I had to make the pair I had last. At that point I had a pair that cost about three dollars. The sandals stretched after a few days and fell off my feet as I walked. I took some string and tied them to my feet. When the string broke, I tied knots in it and tied my sandals back on and kept walking until the soles wore through to the ground. Why didn’t I bring a pair of damn Birkenstocks? I thought. But I’d wanted to look nice, you know, cute for the revolution.

dilluns, 6 de juny de 2011

American River: Everyone's place

Frank was organizing the distribution of tents and sleeping bags. "Ladies first", he said. Then came the men's turn. Safre Ground's equipment was new-looking and of decent quality. He gave me a pledge form, and I asked him whether Mark had drafted it. "The elders did", he said patiently.

I walked beside him all the way to the river. He had a little dog on a leash and Safe Ground supplies in his cart. He was in fine shape, as a man who lives outdoors often tends to be, and looked younger than his age, which you may estimate once I inform you that he was in Vietnam in 1974, "doing cleanup", which meant "blowing things up" when we commenced our pullout from that great adventure.

"So when did the homeless comunity here start to organize?"

"In the Depression", he said. "The American River has always been everyone's place, a place to be free".

William T. Vollmann. Harper's. Homeless in Sacramento.