Thursday 3 January 2008

A memory from summertime, or, Friends you don't see anymore

In the summertime, a quarter block-long flower display at a New York bodega sometimes deposits its scent a little further down the block, in the interests of subtlety. So if you see the flowers coming a block away, and you're hurrying to meet them, to smell them, to play with pleasant scents, escape the usual dogpiss of Park Slope, just take it handy. The real smell may well be a little further down the street.

But it's wintertime now, though it's bright, and the cold air numbs some of these street nuances, might even be discouraging us from exploring the street at all (except with reliable thermal underwear) ...

Last night, I watched Angela's Ashes for the first time. Never read the book, never watched the movie, before. Pity that the only Limerick accents in the whole thing came from three Limerick actors who had small vignette scenes through it. One of them was a friend of mine - John - who, until last night on the screen, I hadn't seen since sometime around late 2002.

Apart from the usual drift of people into and out of life, people turning into friends turning into lovers turning into family turning themselves out on the street, or tumbling onto a different continent... Apart from that, the sound can sometimes be heard - really not very often, but when it comes it comes certainly - of a big creaky door making a resounding shutness. And the person behind the door becomes Here Be Dragons Land.

I fell out with John, somewhat bizarrely, over New York city. I miss him sometimes. His deep Limerick-accented voice, his sense of humour, his small few revelations over the course of a very long friendship, his basic decency, just the fact of him. And I see him in this movie, and this exhausts the supply of Very Famous Movies I know he's in, the other one, funnily enough, was Gangs of New York.

Angela's Ashes was a sentimental but ok enough movie, but this was my hometown they were depicting, and I didn't really feel it. Bits. References to Roches stores, the same cutaway of the castle about ten times over, but the way a place saturates the senses and the tongue and the mind goes so much deeper and wider than that. Plot and wet atmosphere are good broad structural strokes, but the joy is in the details, the nuances. I think that kind of sensitivity has really got to be the basis of any film or book of piece of music that's specific in its sense of place. Because every place is incredibly specific, though it may not be famous in the way that New York city is famous, is owned by so many people who think they know it, and so it's easier to get away with accents that run the gamut from Dublin to Belfast but never get anywhere near Limerick Junction.

Oh for a one and one from Donkey Ford's... but that kind of longing really grows with much longer exiles than mine..

I wish you well, John. I wish you a gorgeous woman who loves you. I wish you exciting films to work on. And I wish that if we were ever to cross paths on 14th or Bleecker street, that we would not hurry past each other. All love to you.

Monday 31 December 2007

A love song to the old year

Many men have loved the bells
you fastened to the rein
And everyone who wanted you
they found what they will always want again
your beauty lost to you yourself
just as it was lost to them
ah take this longing from my tongue
whatever useless things these hands have done
let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love

Your body like a searchlight
my poverty revealed
I would like to try your charity until you cry
now you must try my greed
and everything depends upon
how near you sleep to me
just take this longing from my tongue
all the lonely things my hands have done
let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love

Hungry as an archway through which the troops have passed
I stand in ruins behind you with your winter clothes
your broken sandal strap
I love to see you naked over there
especially from the back
ah take this longing from my tongue
all the useless things my hands have done
untie for me your hired blue gown
like you would do for one you love

You're faithful to the better man
I'm afraid that he left
so let me judge your love affair
in this very room where I have sentenced mine to death
I'll even wear these old laurel leaves that he has shaken from his head
just take this longing from my tongue
all these useless things my hands have done
let me see your beauty broken down
like you would do for one you love

like you would do for one you love

(take this longing, by leonard cohen)

It pic'd itself