I’ve been slacking since the 9/11 post. I’m living between two places, staying out until 5am every other night and of course going to work. A lot feels like it’s happened in the last week. I’m not sure how much I can remember or I’m allowed to talk about. I went out last Tuesday with my new friend Gigi. She was about to leave town for some traveling and teaching some drumming classes. We met through my roommate and managed to have one cool jam session at a place in Bushwick called the Sweatshop. It has drum sets, big guitar and bass amps, microphones and PA systems. You rent it by the hour, bring your band, or your friends, along with your guitar and you make some noise.
Gigi grew up in the Bronx and Queens and was hanging with her old friends the night before she was leaving town. I met up and it was a group of real New Yorkers, accents and all, plus most of them were drummers too. Metal drummers. So we did a lot of drinking at a bar under the train stop, way North in Queens. When the night was over, everyone went their separate ways and I had a long, late night train ride back to way east Bushwick.
The rest of the week was somewhere along those lines, so last night I finally got around to watching some Netflix DVDs I’ve had, just to have a relaxing night. Oddly enough they were both movies involving New York. On top of that, Anna Paquin was in both, each time playing the role of jailbait or barely legal temptress.
First off, I watched the Squid and the Whale (2005), a depressing movie about divorce in a family that lived in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. Park Slope is a nice neighborhood full of beautiful brownstones and yuppies. This is true today as it was in 1986 when the movie takes place. Jeff Daniels is a college professor/has been writer and Laura Linney is his up and coming writer/soon to be ex-wife. Did I mention that Park Slope and the surrounding zip codes are home to the most published writers per capita in America? It’s something like that, I just read it in a book that I’m not going to footnote. But Norman Mailer and lots of important writers of the 20th century kind of established that and it continues to this day.
Someday when I become the Widely Read and Well Paid Blogger, I will move there too and become pretentious and douchy. In the meantime, you all can say you kinda knew me when I was kinda down to earth and only kinda douchy.
Here’s the deal with the Squid and the Whale:
The Dad – Tweed jackets, hipster/Charles Darwin beard, drives a volvo, talks down to everyone, is a really arrogant prick.
The Mom – Too busy trying to jump on anyone with a dick to care about her soon to be ex-husband or that her kids are looking towards a lifetime of therapy.
Son #1 – Plays “Hey You” from Pink Floyd at the school talent show, claims it to be original, wins $100. Excuse me but The Wall was released in 1979, and no one at his whole friggin’ school knew he was playing a cover tune? Highly improbable. And he gets found out. Duh! Not cool kid. So not cool.
Son #2 – Goes from crybaby to drunkard in about two weeks. I actually kind of liked him. By the way, he’s 11 or something. He’ll eventually be sending some therapist’s kid to college.
Anna Paquin plays the hypersexualized college student that needs a place to stay and ends up moving in with dad when he has to get the second home across the park. Which by the way, is not as cool as being in Park Slope.
Overall, I didn’t like the characters, it was one of those make you feel bad indie movies, and I don’t recommend it.
Moving on, I then watched the 25th Hour (2002), a Spike Lee Joint starring Edward Norton, Rosario Dawson, Barry Pepper, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Let me just say that for me, you can’t go wrong with Ed Norton and PSH.
The other odd coincidence was the movie’s tie in to 9/11. Being released in 2002 it has the influence of those events, even though the novel was released in 2001 before they occurred. It’s the little things like looking out of a Wall Street apartment onto the empty pit of ground zero, and referring to lost firefighters.
Funny thing is, most of these characters are flawed. Ed Norton is a drug dealer about to go away for 7 years. Barry Pepper is his oldest friend who grew up to be a douchy Wall Street Gordon Gekko wannabe. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the awkward high school English teacher who can’t resist the flirtatiousness of his student played by, you got it, Anna Paquin. And Rosario Dawson is the beautiful girlfriend living off her drug dealer boyfriend.
Somehow, you find sympathy for these characters, and feel moved by what they suffer, even though they are not role models. Part of it is the way Spike Lee turns it into a reflection on the loss suffered by the city of New York and how everyone was in it together and would fight to keep the city alive together. In Do the Right Thing, Spike had the moment where everyone gets all racist on each other before the big riot and calls each other all kinds of derogatory names. In the 25th Hour, Spike brings it back when Ed Norton is talking to himself in a mirror and hurls the insults at everyone: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Koreans, corrupt cops, gay Chelsea boys, rich upper east side white women, black guys on the basketball court, baseball bat wielding Italian Tony Soprano wannabes, terrorist Muslim cab drivers, and a few more I can’t remember. It’s funny and revealing of our society at the same time and all the more relevant living in New York and recognizing the neighborhoods and the stereotypes.
If you haven’t watched the 25th Hour, I highly recommend it.
And just for fun, because I typed douchy so many times today.