Thursday, December 18, 2008

Movie Night

Watched a couple of really good movies last night. The Edge of Heaven was one of them.

It's listed as German-Turkish. There are a few main protagonists. The first is a guy named Nejat, who is seeking redemption for something his father did by attempting to find a woman named Ayten, and pay for her education. Nejat lives in Germany. He starts his search in Turkey.

Ayten is a Turkish political activist who finds herself in deep shit, so she flees to Germany.

I'm trying to give as little away as I can, because nothing in this movie plays out the way you think it will. The way all the characters meet, interact, and play off each other is really inspired and brilliant. (Won best screenplay at Cannes, 2007)

The whole movie is set when Turkey is trying to enter the European Union. It's not necessary to know a bunch of political stuff about this, because the plot focuses mainly on the characters, and not the politics and all the other crap that would probably have bored me sick. The politics are more of a backdrop, and at times an oppressive obstacle for the characters.

And no European movie would be complete without some hot lesbian kissing scenes. Yes, there is something for everybody.

This is a movie that I will want to see again, so if you decide to rent it, and have no one to watch it with, I'm down. Unless you like to talk all through movies. Then you're on your own.

Scarecrow

1973 movie with Gene Hackman and Al Pacino. I have no idea how this movie slipped under my radar for so long.

Hackman plays Max, an ex-con with a real nasty violent streak, whose dream is to start a car wash. Pacino plays Frank (or Lionel), a clownish loser whose dream is to see the kid he abandoned before it was born. They meet hitchhiking in California headed east.

Hackman is his usual grouchy, not-to-be-fucked-with self. He does not take any shit from anyone. He is in pain. His first choice in any situation is to kick your ass.

Pacino is fucking amazing. It SO great to see early Pacino movies, back when he actually acted, rather than playing a blown-up, annoying caricature of himself. He carries around a gift box, with a present for his kid in it. The present is pathetic, but so is Frank. Frank wants to make you laugh.

These guys get into some cool situations during their journey. Some people may have a problem with the fact that these guys always seem to have money. Why would they be hitchhiking? If they can afford to drink in a bar, why not just buy a Greyhound ticket? You have to remember the time - it was the 70s. Hitchhiking wasn't even considered dangerous back then. People didn't live in constant fear of everyone around them. I used to hitchhike when I was eight years old. Sounds crazy, right? Imagine an eight-year-old hitching down a road in New Jersey now, when everyone is certain that terrorists and child molesters lurk around every corner. TV and computers have made you afraid.... Okay, don't get me started on that.

Another great thing about this movie? Ann Wedgeworth (Lana, from Three's Company) and Eileen Brennan. Both are really great in this movie. Their performances are funny and touching. Richard Lynch is another great character actor you'll recognize. He's spot on, as usual.

Like a lot of 70s movies, it starts out happy-go-lucky, and then reality sets in and things get ugly.

This movie was made before every single Hollywood movie had to fit into a formula. Therefore, you may be a little "WTF" at the end, but it's still very worth a rental.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Broad Street Piñata

Sunday, they will be blasting open the worlds largest piñata all over Broad & Washington.

http://phillyist.com/2008/10/28/foodsday_tuesday_candy_is_dandy.php

Okay, here's how I see this going....

They lift the piñata high up above the street. Half the kids from west of Broad Street haven't eaten all day. You can see it in their eyes as they stare ravenously at the giant, teasing monstrosity of sugar.

The piñata falls and breaks onto the street. Candy billows out, showering the waiting crowd.

The children descend, but they aren't children anymore. They rip each other to pieces, trying to grab every last necco wafer. At least 500 need to be identified by dental records. None of the kids from west of Broad Street have ever been to a dentist.

Election day comes two days later. Most people in the city are too grief-stricken to remember to vote.

McCain takes Pennsylvania by a narrow margin, giving him just enough electoral votes to win.

China, North Korea, Iran and most of Europe declare pre-emptive wars against the United States, rather than wait for McCain to start wars with them.

McCain, unable to take the pressure, OD's on some of his wife's barbiturates.

Dick Cheney comes out of hibernation to groom Sarah Palin for her new job.

A new Dark Age is born.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I took a walk Saturday night. Walked from 10th Street, down South to Penns Landing, over to Old City, back up past Broad, and back down to 8th & Fitzwater. I had spent most of the day with some people who I care about a lot, and wish I saw much more often. I was walking with two of them that night.

Sometimes, when you walk around the City, and have no particular destination or goal in mind, things become clearer and more magical. The ritual of aimless walking had transformed the City into an enchanted snowglobe. A Looking Glass fantasy. I would not have been surprised to see a pumpkin coach being pulled by unicorns and driven by a large caterpillar. The buildings and cars were sleek and timeless. Everything had more texture. Each crack in the sidewalk meant something. Each person was in the midst of an important supernatural event. And it was all there for us.

The whole City was happening just for us.

With the right group of people, wonderful and extraordinary things happen. Cities become more beautiful, children become adults, and adults become children.

Make things new.

Rock, N

Friday, September 26, 2008

It was 6:10 in the morning. I know this because I leave for work every morning at that time. I was putting the trash out, so it must have been a Thursday. I heard what sounded like a child whispering in the alley. I opened the gate and went to see what was going on. That alley is no place for a child to be.

It was hard to see, but I could feel my way through. No street light gets in that alley. No light from anywhere. I kept hearing the whispering. It sounded like a little boy.

I got about halfway down the alley towards the back of the house when the whispering stopped suddenly. Then I remembered the landlords warning. He said to stay out of that alley, that the previous owner of the house had gone insane and written things on the basement wall about the south side alleyway. They had to take the previous owner away. He had apparently strangled himself with an extension cord. The landlord said never to go in that alley. Just leave it alone. He planned to seal it off. He said he was afraid that bums or druggies would use it as a home. He said we should never go back there.

If there was a kid in the alley, I should get him out of there. I couldn’t hear the whispering anymore, but I was sure I had heard it before. I continued moving slowly toward the back yard along the side of the house. I couldn’t see anything.

I got the distinct feeling that there was someone else there.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You thought nukes were scary?

Take a look at this graphic:

http://media.ft.com/cms/425ac584-841f-11dd-bf00-000077b07658.pdf

The US government now controls all that shit, for better or worse.

Personally, it makes me think of all the land turning to ash and the seas running red with blood.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When I got home from work yesterday, I heard a commotion in the alley behind my back yard. I went out back to see what was up. There was an SPCA guy climbing around on the brick wall separating the yards, looking for something in the thick trees back there. A bunch of my neighbors were all watching.

I asked Carol, the elderly lady next door what was going on. She’s usually sitting on her front steps. She has an ash tray she keeps out there, and she usually has a cooler of iced tea. She’s out there when I leave for work at 6:10 AM, and she’s still out there when I go to bed at night. I had never seen her out back before.

“A squirrel.” Carol said, “It went nuts. It bit me and my dog.”

Shit. Anyone who knows me is probably aware of my feelings for squirrels. They are not good feelings. Just type “squirrel attacks human” into a Google search and you can begin to see why I hate the little fuckers. I fully believe that it’s quite common for squirrels to hide in bushes, wait for an unsuspecting human to walk by, leap out, attach itself to the human’s face, and gnaw out the human’s eyes. It’s just underreported in the media because it would cause panic if word got out that squirrels were doing this as often as they are.

I told Carol she better go to the hospital for rabies shots. She replied “I hate needles.” And she started to cry.

I gave Carol an apprehensive hug, and attempted, lamely, to comfort her. I only moved onto the block a couple of months ago. Does she have any family that could go with her? I’d never seen anyone. I asked her if she wanted me to come with her, quietly seething at the existence of god damn fucking squirrels.

She said no, the animal control guy was going to take her, and her dog. He was just looking for the squirrel to make sure the vicious little bastard didn’t go after any other people or pets.

I heard her come home a couple of hours later. I went out to ask her if everything was okay. She said everything was fine. “The guy never found the squirrel though, so keep an eye out.” Then she gave me a brownie wrapped in plastic.

Keep an eye out. Shit. God damn right I will.

Monday, September 15, 2008

So you see, I've been trying to lose weight. I haven't been eating meats or a lot of starchy things. Mostly just fruits, veggies, cereal and soy milk.

I made vegetarian chili. I told my housemate he could have some if he wanted. The next day, I went to eat some of it. He had CHOPPED UP AN ENTIRE PACKAGE OF HOT DOGS AND ADDED THEM TO MY CHILI.

He said "Oh yeah, I added some hot dogs to your chili. It's really good now."

...

....

.....

I honestly think that he thought he was doing me a favor. Making the chili better.

Am I being a bitch? Am I Felix Fucking Unger? Is it okay to do that? Do people carry around packages of hot dogs and add them to food as a condiment? Like pepper, or parmesan cheese? I haven't been to a restaurant in a while - are there packages of hot dogs on the tables now along with the ketchup, salt and sugar?

If I go over to someones house for dinner, should I bring my own hot dogs to chop up and add to the food, or should I assume that chopped hot dogs will be available?

Monday, September 08, 2008

The following letter was found Saturday in a pile of smoky ash on the northeast corner of 8th & Wolf:

Spontaneous Combustion Note (Just in case)


I don't know,
This just happened.

It was spontaneous.
I guess that's why they call it...
I wonder what the odds where.

You wouldn't believe what it looks like here.


Hey, you know that thing you were trying to think of the other day? It was on the tip of your tongue? It was the name of an actor, remember? I knew who it was. But I didn't want to tell you. Sorry for that.

Oh, and if you ever run into Vai Sikahema, tell him I thought it was really cool when he punched the goal post in that one game after running the kickoff back. I'm sure he's never heard that before, and I would hate to think he felt unappreciated.

I also owe a nickel to the guy who owns the convenience store across the street.

Anyway, thanks for taking care of my unfinished business, and sorry again for that thing.

Next time, I'll try not



Friday, September 05, 2008

This much is true.

It had all gone bad while we slept. Some real ugly characters had decided to move in the squat. Kids messing with forces they did not understand. The place had become a magnet for bad ideas. Some damned fool had brought a copy of The Necronomicon into the house. He had read aloud from it one night. Things went rapidly downhill from there. The air was full of dangling question marks. We weren't going to wait around for the answers. It was a good time to be somewhere else. We would go south. On the trains. We waited for the evening, when the oppressive heat had lifted slightly. Then we started for the tracks. It was Jack Rabbit, Paradox, and I. We told no one of our flight.

So, on we went from bad to worse, with no knowledge of what monstrosities lay ahead. We cleared our minds as we walked.

Finally, we came to the tracks. We walked along them carefully. We were too close to make mistakes now.

Soon, we heard a train. Far down the tracks, we could see it’s light. The tracks shook as it approached. We ducked down behind a metal wall about ten feet from the tracks, to hide from the train operator as it passed us. After the front car got far enough down the tracks we started to run along the side of the train looking for a good car to hop on. We ran about a hundred yards or so, when the train began to slow to a stop. We kept running, looking for a car.

Then, the train started to back up. Something was wrong. The train was backing up. We made a mad dash to hide behind that wall again. We didn't want the train crew to see us. We hid silently as the train kept backing up. The ground shook.

The train stopped. We heard the sound of doors opening. Something was coming out of the train. We heard slushing and gurgling noises. We waited for death, or worse.

Then nothing.

Silence.

It was Paradox who first stood up to look. The train was gone. It had completely vanished. Rabbit and I were still sitting behind the metal wall looking up at Paradox when a bolt of lightning stretched across the air about an arms length over Paradox’s head. Sheet lightning was striking all around the tracks, all around us. Paradox shrieked in terror. Then came the rain. Hard rain.

We ran. We ran for miles. The rain was shredding our clothes. Every drop of rain felt like a rock being thrown with great force. We were bleeding from the rain. Lightning continued to follow us, close at our heels. We couldn’t hear our own screams. We finally made it to an old squat on 34th & Spring Garden St. We hurried inside, found some candles, lit them and shook like fever victims. There we huddled together, wrapped our wounds in our shredded clothing. We had large bruises from the force of the rain. Paradox’s hair was burnt from lightning. We spoke little.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It had to be no later than 1987.

Jack Rabbit and I were sharing the front room on the third floor of the squat at 4821 Baltimore. It was cold outside. We had a little oscillating heater fan in our room, so when people came over, which was pretty much every night, our room was the hangout. We had lots of blankets, books, pillows mattresses, and a door that led to a small deck overlooking Baltimore Avenue.

Next door to our room, was a small room that was forbidden. There was no plumbing in the building except for a bucket of water in the basement for solid waste. The bucket became horrible over time, and no one wanted to deal with it, so only in solid waste emergencies would people venture into the basement. For liquid waste, it was 40 ounce beer bottles. The beer bottles, when full, would be kept in the forbidden room. It was the plan for someone, eventually, to deal with the stacks and stacks of piss bottles by taking them away. This plan never came to fruition over the years, and the bottles piled up. The smell of the room became so bad that we sealed it off and clearly marked it with red paint, “FORBIDDEN”.

One freezing cold night, a bunch of kids came over on the PATCO train from Jersey. One of the kids, named Max, was the younger brother of an ex-girlfriend of mine, and that was good enough to earn them admittance. They were very drunk, and they had dropped acid earlier that night. None of them was older than 16. Max was adorable. He had recently gotten his first Mohawk, he was wearing a brand new leather jacket that had a stencil of Wattie from The Exploited on the back, and he had gleaming new oxblood Doc Marten’s. The kid looked so cool in all his new punk gear.

At some point during the acid trip, Max felt comfortable enough to explore the house. We definitely did tell him to stay out of the forbidden room. We really did.

Let me pause here briefly to say that one should never tell a teenage kid on acid not to unblock a door and go inside a room.

There were four of us in our bedroom, next door to the forbidden room. Jack Rabbit, myself, a henna-haired punk rock chick, and a blond-haired punk rock chick.

After a while, we heard the crash. We knew at once what had happened. Max had entered the forbidden room.

Next thing we knew, Max barged through the bedroom door, soaking wet. He had fallen into the room, broken a whole mess of the piss bottles, and landed in a huge puddle of urine. Some of this urine had been fermenting for up to two years. Before the staggering reality of the situation became known to us, the smell came.

Blond-haired punk rock chick immediately began vomiting furiously. Jack Rabbit screamed. I couldn’t stop gagging. The tears were streaming down my face. Red-haired punk rock chick had the presence of mind to open the door that led to the deck, and barely made it outside to projectile-vomit three stories onto the Baltimore Avenue sidewalk. The air was caustic, like mustard gas. It was positively the most foul, crippling, devastating stench I have ever experienced in my life. The odor was so powerful, so acrid, so paralyzing, we honestly feared for our lives. This was not a smell, it was a living sentient creature that was killing us, and we were powerless to stop it. We didn’t have much time. We had to act quickly.

We had to get Max out of there. We rounded up him and his friends, ushered them to the front door, and made them leave. I felt terrible about it, but there was nothing we could do. We had no shower for him to clean himself, no clothes for him to change into, and the smell that clung to him would surely kill us if he stayed in the house for one minute longer.

He had to ride back to Jersey on PATCO smelling like that, drunk, and tripping on acid. I often wonder if he made it home okay. I never heard from him again.