Saturday, April 23, 2005

Optimistic Pessimists; Two Movies

Last night I was having dinner with a friend who told me about how pessimistic her boyfriend is. "Every morning he reads the paper and tells me that 'the economy's going to tank,' or 'Japan and China are going to war,'" she said, "Don't tell me that!" she exclaimed, "I don't wanna know."
How can we left-wing news readers explain that we actually, weirdly, sometimes enjoy the mere fact of reading a really good piece of pessimistic analysis by a like-minded person, even when the news is so fucking bad? But today, readers, it's hard to feel any enjoyment. It's especially disheartening to see that the top officers were cleared by the Army. Well, isn't that a nice in-house operation? Let's see what Mark Danner has to say. To show you how bizarre is my optimistic pessimism, here I was going to that website to see whether he'd made a comment yet (he hadn't) I noticed that Mark Danner is pretty fine looking. Is it possible that I'm more downcast by Danner's non-availability to me as a date than I am about Abu Ghraib? Not really, but it's close. Shallow, readers, I'm very shallow...I went reading on his website to see whether he was married with a passel of children and I discovered that those hot pics on the website are from 20 years ago. hmmmm. At least I can get over the fact that someone who was so damn young looking had written so many important pieces of journalism, one of which, his piece on El Mozote, my joyfully pessimistic father once called me up, exclaiming about. "You must read this New Yorker piece!" he cried, "it's just awful, awful, awful, what happened in El Salvador."
It's also depressing to note that Silvio Berlusconi has managee to hang onto power in Italy and it's interesting, but slightly confusing to see what's going on in Ecuador because it's so hard to trust US media on anything related to Latin American politics especially. It sounds as if this is a genuinely popular uprising, not a right-wing coup, so it's then troubling to read that he's being sheltered by Lula in Brazil.

Part Two: Tribeca Comments

Yesterday afternoon I enjoyed a couple of short films and one long one, Bastards of the Party, at the Tribeca Film Festival. Bastards was made by Cle Sloan, also known as Bone, a former Bloods member who set out to learn the history of LA's gangs. While the movie did not contain any wildly new historical narrative (the party of which the gangs are defined as Bastard offspring is the BPP for Self Defense), it was interesting to see what has been a pretty rarified history up on the big screen, partly told to Bone by Mike Davis sitting in the LA newspaper archives. What was most fascinating and more rare to find anywhere were the interviews with "OGs" from the Slausons and similar old LA gangs, along with Bone's own comments on his experiences from the world of crime. It was not unlike hearing Alex Ryabov talk about the experience of the military, where the primary allegiance is not to any particular ideology or campaign, but to the "guy next to you." It addressed a lot that blood-bonding and revenge that goes on in military societies. Another peak in the film was the section on the LA rebellion and footage of meetings between different groups that were part of the gang truce. It's well worth seeing, and one can only hope that it gets major distribution, or a spot on some cable TV doc. day.
The other film that I saw and truly enjoyed was the short "Bicycle Gangs of NY." I'm always looking for a documentary that tells a story visually and without too many talking heads or voice overs. There were none in this rocking little visual story. There were some "bike-on-the-street" interviews, but these were edited in such a way that they fit the whole punk-rock and green ethos of Critical Mass. For example, the champion bike jouster from "Black Label" (a crew that had a real presence in Minneapolis) showed his various jousting faces to the camera. The music by Tussle was really groovy. You can hear it if you watch the "Bicycle Gangs" video clip on Dunn's website. I was happy that the audience cheered for the Critical Mass ride. yayy, Critical Mass. (ok, it was me saying that), and that a young woman made this movie. I had to leave before "One Track Mind," a film about Philip Ashforth Coppola and his subway obsession, ended. While totally fascinating, THAT movie was depressing, really depressing.

No comments: