Iíve taken to not wearing my walkman on my commute on BART, to increase the possibility of hearing something other than a bad dub of Nine Inch Nails. My commute has become only marginally more boring, but itís early days yet...
Noticed a heavyset, pink faced balding fellow wearing a truly ill-fitted blue blazer with natty little brass buttons, gray pants, dark shoes, toes turned out. He was waiting for someone outside the student union. Looked for all the world like an impatient duck.
Purple tee-shirt, green cardigan, fishnets, shorts, combat boots and a vinyl clutch. Boy, I wish I could wear something like that.... :)
Hacker smiley faces donít seem to work in Times New Roman font...
Thinking about story ideas: "Cultural Heritage, Cultural Hangups" (working title) the hardest thing is that before I can really get down to writing this piece, Iíve got to figure out exactly how I feel about this whole English thing. Sometimes itís just something sort of odd that happened to me, sometimes itís some bizarre historical beacon that I feel obligated to pay homage to. Othertimes itís a pain in the neck or a good excuse to go to the latest ersatz pub thatís come down the pike.
"I guess I feel removed from my own past." "Everyone feels removed from their past, thatís the nature of it." - Valid point made during a discussion a few weeks ago.
I guess I should get down the images/thoughts that have been coming into my head when I think about being, well, being who I am. Figure out why Iím remembering certain bits more than others, might give me reasons why Iím fixating on the whole past thing. Canít just let it go for some reason - hell, itís me, gotta commemorate it somehow.
Being unnerved by chalked messages for Trish from Kim that Iíve seen twice this week on campus. I play two vampire characters, named Trish and Kim, and theyíre friends. Played them for years. Of course, thatís where normality ends, but itís a little odd seeing those notes. Makes me wonder if Trish is trying to convince Kim to go hunting with her, or does Kim have news about that vampire hunter he met last week? Art imitates life, once again...
(All of these in Brighton, England)
Balfour Road, with kids running to school before the nine oíclock bell. The wonderfully seedy Brighton waterfront promenade. Particular attention to the rusting arches, boarded up trinket shops. Barely stable, former glorious, Palace Pier. The Western Pier collapsed into the sea.
The Pavilion, with the former stables, The Dome Theatre next door. Churchill square, almost, but not quite, devoid of shoppers, but always some students hanging about. The Level, public park, rather careworn, full of kids with skateboards, Open Market behind it, lettuce leaves and bargain hunters. The end of Brighton Station, tracks leading into the downs. The South Downs, above Brighton, looking onto the English Channel - beautiful at sunset.
Glorious London, the ugliest example of post war planning in Europe. St. Paulís obscured by office blocks. The Telecom Tower. The Houses of Parliament. Victoria Station. The old newsreel theatre there, no doubt torn down by now. Itís been seven years. Whatís still there? Kensington. Harrods! Thereíll always be a Harrods, and Fortnumís, if not Selfridgeís. Oxford St, crowded and full of tourists.
Belonging, where does one belong. My history is in one place, present in the other. Feeling obligated to history and culture. Still English after all these years - cropping up every now and then. Clinging to old mannerisms, the ones that arenít inconvenient, at least. Adopting the easiest side in any Anglo-American arguments. "I can be whichever side I wish, thatís the advantage of being mid-Atlantic." Mid-Atlantic: the phrase makes me feel like the Falklands, small, gray, damp, usually ignored but always English. At least I didnít cost the voters 120 million Pounds...
Certain thread of decay there, seediness, architectural mistakes made. Not many people referred to. Thatís interesting, Iím recalling places, not people. Well, the family is small, and my friends, well, there are two I keep in occassional touch with...
Presented image vs. remembered image vs. reality. Mom keeps saying Iíll be surprised when (if) I go back - but she thinks Iíll adjust better, something about my enjoying their cruel humor better. Iím insulted by that. Iíve always admired our enlightened cynicism, but cruelty?
But mother is, in fact, an American, became one the minute she landed in LA. Father, I think, is still English.
Have other ideas kicking about in my head, beyond English Angst. A dream I once had has lingered, and I sometimes think it might make an interesting film, with expansion and explanation. Might even produce it sometime...I wrote it up a day or two after the dream. It must have been over a year ago, now (closer to two, now. Had it in June Ď94 I just realized). The style is rather odd, now that Iím reading it again, but it does fit the ambiance of the dream.
She is standing on a windswept hill. In front of her, she can see the small coastal town, the skyline is dominated by the church steeple. Behind her, she can hear the rolling of the ocean. The damp wind tangles her long blonde hair. The sunlight is golden. It is just before sunset and the sky is clear. There is a man next to her, he is talking and she is listening, or trying to. She finds it hard to pay attention.
"No, I'm sorry." She keeps saying. "I just can't agree with that. I can't."
The man looks at her pityingly. He is older than her, patriarchal of face, dark hair, a beard, glasses. He appeals to her again, voice wheedling. His voice is pulled away by the wind, toward the town. She shakes her head again.
"No." She repeats. "I don't agree with you." He looks resigned, almost sad, but then his expression becomes hard and angry.
"If you're not with us then you're against us." He says. She feels drowsy, and begins to fall. He catches her and carries her in his arms down the hill. She feels alarmed, but cannot act as he moves toward the beach. She notices that her scarlet and black clothes are in tatters. She doesn't remember donning these clothes but does not wonder where she got them. He staggers slightly under her weight, on the soft sand, but keeps going down to the waterline.
He drops her there. She lands awkwardly, her body twisted, face half buried in the wet sand. She wants to turn to look up at the sky, but cannot. In front of her, she sees two pieces of green glass, rounded by time and the ocean and a pale pink shell. She wants to touch them. She can hear the waves, far away. She knows the tide is out.
The man is still there. She can hear him breathing. The sound comes closer as he bends over, brushes her hair out of her eyes and away from her body. She cannot see him as he bends over and kisses her gently on the back of her neck. A sound escapes her, something between a whimper and a moan.
"Slut." He whispers in her ear, and then she hears nothing but the waves and his retreating footsteps.
Time passes, the sun is setting. She is cold, and the ocean has moved closer, small waves occasionally brush her side. She wants to move, but doubts if she can. With effort, she turns herself over, onto her back, and can now see the sky. Determination, born of anger, fills her. Maybe...she thinks. She steels herself and pulls herself up. The light is fading, and with the darkness, the waves seem to be rushing in. Awkwardly, desperately, she twists herself on all fours and begins to crawl away from the waves, away from the town.
I remember, watching the dream and knowing that the town was significant. It was a New England coastal town, Iím sure of that - the architecture was wrong for California. I also remember that the woman knew the man, and this was dreadfully important, both he and the town wanted her for some endeavor, that she refused....Odd how the subconscious can create subtexts in a moment. Iím thinking of adapting this into a script, filling it out somewhat with POV flashbacks for both persons, hinting at why she has been driven from the town, and why they need her, and why is she wearing tatty scarlett and black clothes?
Perhaps Iím approaching this English thing a little too seriously. I can usually joke about it, and my expatriate pals and I recently had an interesting discourse on Limey humor versus our Yank counterparts...there has got to be a lighter way of doing this - but how? Iíve never written anything light hearted in my life, excepting smart-assed literary parodies. How can I start now? Well, mother always said that smart-ass stuff would make me rich. Must think further on this.
England has a certain streak of cheerful cynicism, I think Terry Gilliam said that. Also said something about Europeans having a more developed sense of irony than Americans. That Iíll believe. Irony and cheerful cynicism...
Well, inspiration is still eluding me regarding "Cultural Heritage..." that idea needs more discipline, but Iíve been thinking about that damn dream. It was rather surreal, but Iíve been coming up with some stuff behind it - rather autobiographical in a way Iíd rather not elucidate at the moment...
Male and Female. She is young, early 20s, heís a bit older, middle 30's, early 40's.
Who are they? How do they know each other? Why are they arguing? Why a New England coastal town, the significance of the church steeple...
The woman is being pressured to join a cause that she does not support, and is rejected by the man, and the town he represents, and apparently left to die. She finds the willpower to literally crawl away from that rejection and continue living.
Images occurring of restraint, coercion. What kind of past has happened between those two? There is a past, I canít help thinking of that.
Sitting on BART there is a person with a newly shaved head - now, if he was friend of mine, Iíd rush over and rub the fuzz. Itís a rather bizarre urge that everyone seems to have after an acquaintance has shaved their head. I wonder why that is? I wonder how that stranger would react if I was to lean over and rub the top of his head. I doubt heíd be pleased, but I bet I could cull an idea from the incident...damn, thatís tempting.
Seen on the bus to BART other morning, a fellow with a face just like a walnut, worringly so. I always thought it was a trite metaphor, but here was an elderly man, with shiny tan skin, and so oddly wrinkled - like a cerebellum - as to bear an amazing resemblance to a walnut. His bald head added to the effect. Noticed a plastic bag of groceries at his feet and had irreverant thoughts about nut oils and the like.
Who keeps writing these messages to Trish from Kim in chalk in the quad at SFSU? I play characters by both those names in live action groups and they are rather close. Iím on the verge of going to one of their rendevous (the messages, Iíve seen three now, are usually "Trish, weíre waiting on the upper level of the Union. Itís 2:45 - Kim" variety) just to find out who these people are. My own Trish and Kim are rather twisted individuals, and I expect I would be dissapointed by their mundane, well, counterparts.
People watching on BART. Dreadfully rude but fun. Really want to tell the exec in the blue suit that his tie isnít working for me, but hell, Iím just another weirdo commuter. Nothing like wearing a Vampire tee-shirt, black leather jacket and black broomstick skirt in the Borough of Businessware (the County of Commuters? Hm, silly but amusing) to make the poor saps edge away and try to furtively watch you by a reflection in the window. The same thing as Iím doing. I hope I never have to look the same as all these saps, and I bet theyíre hoping they never look like me, or are missing those days of pleasantly mindless non-conformity.
Potential idea, internal monologues of commuters - inside vs. outside, appearence backing up or contradicting reality. What if the guy in the ugly suit is actually Dahmerís evil cousin, hm? Camera moving from bland face to bland face - one long take - catching sentenced or words. Is that person with their nose buried in their corporate reports really thinking about next yearís office supply budget? Or are they envisioning themselves shooting the President? And I donít even want to know about the lower management clone gobbling up book that looks like itís supposed to show you how to become CEO in less than two weeks (with the minimum of effort and enemies made, no doubt). I bet Iím not the only one who kills a dull commute by thinking the raunchiest thoughts possible (also a great way to deal with travel sickness but it helps to have a friend waiting for you at the other end, otherwise you may feel fine, but very, very frustrated)
Am much more fired up to write the dream based idea. Want to work something out about the character - just keep her as The Woman, letís keep it as archtypical as possible - looking for a group to belong to, to derive strength from - but an unwillingness (fear?) To fully submit to a group mind/instinct. How the hell do I express this all visually without being overt myself? Keep with what few symbols you know...
Have been writing yet more stories for my role playing characters. One of these days Iím going to get an original idea and the world will stop turning. Hm, too many people making films about being a frustrated film maker, and all of them have sucked. Nix that nascent idea.
Reading back and wondering what another person on BART would have thought upon seeing me a few days ago, in that pseudo goth look - avidly reading a copy of Grayís Anatomy, I might add. Must start taking coloring pencils with me, or, better yet, scrutinizing my fellow passengers and comparing them to whatever diagram is on the page, must do that soon, sounds like fun. Maybe I do have an idea here. What the commuters are thinking, intercut with POV type stuff - only a few peopleís thoughts exposed, but get their thoughts on others too. Oh letís have real fun and try to force a point about that whole "gaze" issue while weíre at it, shall we? Tempting, but risking preciousness....if I want to do some biting spoof/commentary on the vacuous pretension in 90% of film criticism, then do it, but I donít see it mixing with some sort of light comedy about train commuters.
Train vs bus commuters? Hm. Different breed of desperate worker. Dreadfully tired, am heading to bed....
Final note before crashing face down on the keyboard, have the internal thoughts and trends building up to some kind of crescendo of some sort of impact. Fluffy and amusing is fine and good, but give it a bit of zip or sting. What, I have no idea. Iím going to bed...
If I were to make a piece from my catís point of view, how would I get her amazing haughtiness across? (I have a very haughty cat). Would be fun trying to do her sitting on my chest in the morning. For that matter, what does a haughty cat think about? Other than the quality of the tuna we spoil her with? ("Bumblebee again? Whatís wrong with these people?")
Still having a hard time with "Wanting To Belong" (best title I could think of). Hard to convey things visually, especially when Iím used to writing dialogue driven stuff. Have received a few good suggestions from my pals, but some of them strike me as a little obvious. One suggested having The Congregation forcibly remove The Womanís clothes, and make her change, but thatís too violent - especially within the church/religion metaphor Iím using. Yeh, yeh, I know, look at the crusades.