Monthly Archives: August 2010

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Self actualized bagel

“Beauty – the splendour of truth – has two poles. There are directors who seek the truth, which, if they find it, will necessarily be beautiful; others seek beauty, which, if they find find it, will also be true. One finds these two poles in documentary and fiction. Some directors start from documentary and create fiction… Others start from fiction and create documentary…” Jean-Luc Godard

“What a bagel can be, it must be.” Maslow, on the trifecta of everything bagel, Better Than Cream Cheese, and taboule

L’Épine dans le Coeur

“Every time I come this way, I have to call in. I’ll never forget that spring when we arrived. It must’ve been in ’63… That spring in the mountains. We ran around. There were wild strawberries, narcissuses… I’d never seen them before. I think there were narcissuses. And daffodils. Daffodils, yes. That spring in the mountains, it was really… Those 3 years were magnificent.”

Gondry family and friends

“Master Crow sat on a tree, holding a cheese in his beak. Master Fox, attracted by the odor, tried to attract him thus. Mister Crow, good day to you. You are a handsome, good-looking bird! In truth, if your song is as beautiful as your plumage, you are the phoenix of this forest. Hearing this, the Crow felt great joy and to demonstrate his beautiful voice, he opened his mouth wide and let drop his prey. The Fox seized it and said: Know that every flatterer lives at the expense of those who take him seriously. This lesson is worth a cheese no doubt.”

The Path of the Dead

“This is the path the bishop took to go to St. Sauveur Church. It’s very, very old. Every Sunday, we went to mass down this path. And the dead had to be taken to the cemetery. That’s why it’s called the Path of the Dead. So, when I go down it, I think of all the people who lived here. And life was hard. Life wasn’t easy back then.”

-The Thorn in the Heart, Michel Gondry’s 2009 documentary about his aunt Suzette and her son Jean-Yves

Blame it on the web but the spider’s your problem now

John at the bar

After 26 hours work in two days I dove into the deep end: eyes deadlocked with the chef’s I poured an apple-sized habanero chile into my gnashing teeth from a water glass. I chewed the beast into small pieces and drank lemonade. The pain peaked in my mouth right around the same time as the serious pain began in my intestines. Habanero chiles can range wildly in degree of heat. This was a very bad one. Profuse sweat poured down and coworkers, unaware of the incident, expressed concern. My mouth glowed pink, my skin went pale. I hadn’t eaten anything since 1pm, eight perilous hours earlier. My stomach was empty. I thought about long distance running. I thought about failure. How the failed attempt is a step forward. I tried not to panic. To Brian, I gave my free end of shift meal. There would be no more eating. To my manager, I said I’m going home. There would be no more working. As I made my escape out the back exit, chef yelled he loved me and would check in later.

Cat Trees And Six-Figure Aquariums

Home office with cat condo

Its been a hard week transitioning from being with Etta all the time to being alone. I’ve had trouble sleeping. This means I stay up late and sleep late. It cuts into my daytime productivity. I’ve been obsessing over a NYT article on six-figure aquariums. I’ve read it and looked at the slide show over and over. On my way biking home from work, I found a cat tree by the side of the road. I dragged it into the shadows and returned for it in my car. When I got it home, my cat ignored it, much the way I imagine he would ignore a six-figure aquarium. Or even a four-figure Spacearium. It was just an act. He loves that cat tree now.

I ingested a small nugget of candied bacon that got mixed into a six pan of pecans. Instead of spitting it out, I ate it. I slept restlessly, on the couch first, then for a few hours in bed. Bad dreams of smoking pot and eating animals. My mood was low today. At work I barked at my chef, and ignored Brenda, who I deemed rude when she joked with me. I was anti-social and bad. Two French ladies and a Frenchman sat at one of my tables. Lobster! they implored, again and again. I shook my head. Not here, not now, not never, I told them. Before they could leave, I started talking. I talked about the local ingredients from nearby farms and the sea, I talked about myself. They barely spoke English. I talked and talked, and my bad mood washed away. I brought them oysters, bought them dessert, did my best.

After work, after midnight, after a falafel smothered with hot sauce, I sat on a bench in Central Square across from an apparently homeless man in his fifties. He smoked his cigarettes and we stared. I sipped coconut water and Etta called. We talked for hours. We talked and the Friday night crowd passed by, down the road to the next bar. We talked and an apparently schizophrenic man yelled about killing us all, if he only had a gun. He hollered into the passing traffic, something about the government. He stood on the median and punched the air, he howled into the night itself. He wandered off. We talked and the apparently homeless man curled up on his bench and fell asleep. We talked until the chill of autumn crept into the air, and I had to go home to urinate.

Can you find the dreamer?

“I often imagine surfing the waves of energy that roll through the universe and change everything in their path, including the rider. Enjoy the ride!” Teresa Espaniola, www.gARTbage.org

Waves of Silence

I had a dream this afternoon, in the hour between my alarm going off and really waking up, that I was waiting tables in a lakefront restaurant. The couple at my table were telling me that they had just eaten at Fore St., in Portland, Me., and that it had been so good the husband had started crying during dinner. As I asked them where they had sat, at a table by the open kitchen or at the bar, the lake waves grew in size, and crashed on the windows of the restaurant. Big waves rolled in from the void. We had to evacuate. I found myself in an underground bunker, with a general store, and a small bowling alley. I rolled a joint for the locals, with tobacco, and passed it around. But I did not inhale.

Trash Whale, a short documentary about school kids, the ocean, garbage, and the art of Teresa Espaniola.

Push-Button Color-Changer

Swimming in whatever color you want

Crying and running is like tingling and shampooing: When you feel it, you know its working.

My friend was telling me about the rapper Darryl “DMC” McDaniel’s love of Sarah McLachlan. He tells his story in episode 204 of The Moth Radio Hour. I found it a little unbelievable. Sarah McLachlan? But when I reflected on my own emotional state, I got it. The other day in the seventeenth mile of a 19 mile run, I almost lost all control. I was on the razor’s edge of hysterical sobbing… only the shame of being in public allowed me to reel it back in. Minutes before, I had been listening to a funny This American Life, about superpowers, laughing out loud. But then that program ended, and the song, “Wake Up,” by Arcade Fire, had come on… That line at the end, “With my lightning bolts a-glowing, I can see where I am going.” This close.

WJIB 740 The Memories Station

love ur path

I drove north to Manchester-By-The-Sea to visit two boulders in a swamp. They are called the Agassiz Rocks, named for the subject of my planned future documentary, Louis Agassiz. The boulders were brought to this place by glaciers on their way home. It was going to be my first day of shooting; I had the camera and the instruction booklet. I was ready to turn on the real-time LCD view. But it was not to be. I got lost and never found the rocks. I asked everybody I met, “Where are the cool rocks?” No one knew. I walked to a massive expanse of grass and trees running to the rocky coast called the Ocean Lawn, and stopped. The first documentary can be the hardest to get started.

Timothy Treadwells watch

My friend Amanda came with me. When I was in Chicago, Amanda looked after my cat. When I returned, I found this felt severed arm on my table. Roly Poly mauled her.

The coroner: Here is Timothy’s watch. I think you should have it.
Jewel Palovak: Thank you. Oh my gosh! It’s still ticking! It’s like a circle! I can’t believe it still ticks.

Wiener Doghouse

Welcome to the Dollhouse, 1995, written and directed by Todd Solondz, is the kind of film where the plot, rather than tell an “authentic” story, conveys real feelings. Sexual frustration, torment, confusion, chaos; junior high.

Special people

Mary Ellen Moriarty: [applause] Thank you. I am here to talk to you today… about the dangers of talking to strangers. For I, Mary Ellen Moriarty once talked to strangers. And that is how I became the innocent victim of a brutal kidnapping. Almost one year ago, I was a carefree teenager, memorizing my lines for Hello Dolly… I was supposed to play Dolly. When one day… a day I will never forget. I was walking home from rehearsals, I’d missed my carpool. I was standing on the corner, waiting for the light to change… when all of a sudden… a dark car pulled up beside me. And a big man stepped out. And he was older… and good looking… and um… he had a tattoo on his chest. And then the next thing I know he um… So students what I’m trying to say is…

To Get Back

Luis and me

The time I spent living in Chicago was bookended by 9/11 and the death of my mother. I dropped out of school, cut financial ties with my parents, bloodied (and scarred) my hands on chandeliers, and was on multiple occasions punched in the face. In 2004, I returned to the city for a visit, having won a free stay at the W Hotel. Instead I crashed on the floor at my friend Luis’ apartment, drunk for a week on sweet Mexican wine. In the summer of 2005, on my next visit back, the tire of our Cadillac blew out on the highway in Michigan, and I realized I had lost my cellphone at a party the night before. We were stranded in the Midwest. The next day I was put in jail for marijuana possession. These were hard times. I loved Chicago, but for me to ever return, I needed the city to send me a sign that things had changed. And then it did.

At the end of his version of “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Chicago legend Baby Huey, says… “It seems like I tried so hard to get back where I started from. It took about twenty years of very serious smoking, few ups and downs, few trips, little space odyssey once in a while, to get back. To get back, to get back, to get back. To get back to being a kid all over. But you know when you see a little boy or a little girl running down the street. Running to meet the popsicle truck and all of a sudden you got to turn around and say, “Wow, I’ll be glad when this cat gets here. All these changes I’m going through.” Then comes the age when you start drinking wine and taking care of business at the drive-in movies. Then one day a partner of yours gives you one of them funny looking cigarettes. And says its time for you, for you, to get mellow one more time. And after that first hit, the whole world sort of brightens up a little bit. But you know I come from back, way back in Indiana where we still got outhouses and brothers wearing pointy toed shoes and carrying forty fives. But you know there’s three kinds of people in this world — that’s how I know a change has got to come. I said, there’s white people, there’s black people, and then there’s my people.”

…And Sunsets

Sunset from Ettas rooftop

My first and last nights, we BBQed on Etta’s roof. She marinated vegetables, tofu, tuna, steak, and pork for shish kabobs, and grilled corn on the cob. Dinner for two that first night, and for eleven the last.

Sunset in Saugatuck

In Michigan, the motel keeper at the Captain’s Quarters told us to beware of melon heads lurking after dark. He also said that the onions at Burger King cause heart burn. And he told us the story of his female friend who once threw her burger at the window of the local B.K. because they screwed up her order.

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