Monday, January 31, 2011

Photos released in campaign to save uncontacted Amazonian tribe | Environment |

Photos released in campaign to save uncontacted Amazonian tribe | Environment |

You (we) who live now on U.S. coasts : is your Boardwalk of Amazon wood, the taking of which contributes to little holocaust after little holocaust. I was on the Amazon River for a week a decade ago. How beautiful, and how magical the appearance and then the disappearance back into the Rainforest of the People.

& the Caboclos people, people of the river, perhaps like Twain's people of the Mississipppi 150 years ago.

Earth may become as Rapa Nui was. The last trees cut to move the Moai into place. Money has become our Moai.

One morning you awaken and suddenly you are on the Amazon. Then one day a few days later, awaken again, and it is a dream, a dream of the Amazon!

We go down some small tributaries to a lake area where there is some local settlement. Here the kids in canoes bring their pets to show: a sloth, small parrot, snake, monkey, - like cats or dogs....They seem to come from nowhere, to appear suddenly from some sacred river places to which they then disappear.

Saw two stray thin white cats near the little park down by the Manaus harbour docks at night while wandering around the city. I had wanted to feed them.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Made In Dagenham / Another Year

MADE IN DAGENHAM is an uplifting counterpoint to the bitterly accurate portrayals of working-class life presented by Mike Leigh, for example, in his great film, VERA DRAKE. "We make a lot of films about the working-class in Britain" the director of MADE IN DAGENHAM, Nigel Cole, notes, "but they are often laments, complaints, or simply bleak." In the great heyday of British cinema, there was Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Runner, and Billy Liar, to name but three. The latter introduced Julie Christie in her breakout role as everyone's archetypal 1960's woman, playing off against Tom Courtenay's stay-at-home Northerner.

Iain Sinclair's essay, The Raging Peloton, in the current (January 20th) issue of London Review Of Books, makes a good companion-piece to Made In Dagenham, dealing as it does with cultural history, politics, and the relation of the bicycle to faux socialism.

We see the plethora of bicycles coming and going from the Ford Dagenham factory, pedalled by the workers there who could not afford a car. With the inimitable Bob Hoskins taking a lead role with Sally Hawkins and an excellent supporting cast including Miranda Richardson as Barbara Castle, MADE IN DAGENHAM is an unsentimental look at the way of life effectively destroyed by Margaret Thatcher and the Tories before Tony Blair, selling out the Labour Party's socialist ideals in order to take power, buried it forever.

The mode is resurrected some in Mike Leigh's most recent masterwork, ANOTHER YEAR, his film of middle Britain's no-exit misery, with the best-we-can-hope-for almost cartoon "happy marriage" of Tom and Gerri, sunk into their soggy allotment, and with their goody-goody son and his sudsy-extrovert occupational therapist girlfriend, balanced against denial, dysfunction, disappointment, despair and death, with a stunning performance by Lesley Manville as Mary, in the throes of her lonely, sad, and drunken descent, and by all of the Leigh ensemble. ANOTHER YEAR is a kind of British response to Eric Rohmer's Parisian up-beat joie de vivre if you will, a take, as Leigh has said on "how to give love and affection" without going over-the-top, which is to say, stiff-upper-lip, have a chat, and drink your tea.

MADE IN DAGENHAM is, despite its one Dickensian death, an attempt at a feel-good well-paced feminist movie which pulls no punches in its Retro look at UK life during the time when most Americans regarded Britain only through the superficial lens of "swinging London" and music for export and Carnaby Street fashion hype.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Clearly the film of the year. Just this side of schlock, it is, nevertheless, an Aronofsky original, assimilating the obvious influence of THE RED SHOES (the Powell-Pressburger master-take on the Diagelev-Nijinsky relationship, with Anton Walbrook and the wonderful Moira Shearer) and the less-obvious influence of Polanski's REPULSION. The most knowledgeable and the best review so far was by Roger Ebert, accessible on his website. Probably, in the future, BLACK SWAN will be released as a DVD double with THE WRESTLER.

It is a film exploring the nature of artistic genius, dedication and commitment, and its relation to psychological imbalance and madness. It is a must-see for any involved in the creative process, or any serious cineaste.

The Zen archer dissolves the target, and great art is not a matter of technique and craft alone, but of inner vision. Sophocles' Oedipus blinding himself, Bunuel and Dali slicing the eye, VanGogh severing his ear to try to silence the Meniere's. Baudelaire's "derangement", Ahab's "I'd strike the sun if he insulted me", Lawrence's dark gods, the "riot in the soul" from which some, like Conrad, via Marlowe stepping back from the abyss saying "the horror! the horror!" or Melville's Ishmael, are given to witness, and some, like Hart Crane, or Tsvetaeva, or Sa Carneiro are not. This is no Romantic notion of suffering for one's art, but a compulsive necessity to unleash the psyche, to go to that place where, as Yeats would have it: "who can tell the dancer from the dance"...

Frost, DESERT PLACES; Edward Thomas, 13.1.17

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it - it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less -
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

The sorrow of true love is a great sorrow
And true love parting blackens a bright morrow;
Yet almost they equal joys, since their despair
Is but hope blinded by its tears, and clear
Above the storm the heavens wait to be seen.
But greater sorrow from less love has been
That can mistake lack of despair for hope
And knows not tempest and the perfect scope
Of summer, but a frozen drizzzle perpetual
Of drops that from remorse and pity fall
And cannot ever shine in the sun or thaw,
Removed eternally from the sun's law.

That was Thomas's last poem (or at least the last one we have) before he was killed by an artillary shell blast at the Battle of Arras. It is numbered #144 in THE COLLECTED POEMS AND WAR DIARY, 1917 (Faber and Faber, 2004).

Edward Thomas was Robert Frost's best friend. Frost mourned him all of his life, much as Henry James mourned the death of his friend, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Friends of Edith Piaf

Tens of thousands
-Red-winged blackbirds-
Falling from the sky

If we Americans believe the current
explanations being floated - i.e. it
was fireworks, it was lightning,
it was the birds' poor eyesight,
then we absolutely deserve
a future POTUS
far to the right
of Palin or Huckabee

(ps. March 10th) millions upon millions of sardines dead at Redondo Beach Harbor. The official explanation: They all "got lost" and ended up here where they depleted the oxygen in the water.