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7pm: Saturday, August 23, 30; Mae West in SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933). This picture was condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decenct. The only indecent thing is that for years it could not be seen.
THE CINEFORUM, 463 Bathurst below College Across From The Beer Store. You may bring your own food and drink. Donation $20. $10 under 24.
Introductiion By Reg Hartt.
When George Raft starred in NIGHT AFTER NIGHT for Paramount Pictures in 1932 a part in the picture called for a Texas Guinan type character.
George said he wanted Mae West. George got $191.64 a week from Paramount for starring in NIGHT AFTER NIGHT.
Mae got $5,000.00 a week to do a walk on.
Well, when she walked on she walked off with the picture.
Hers is a fascinating story. You can hear part of it tonight.
“He who without the Muse’s madness in his soul comes knocking at the door of poesy and thinks that art will make him anything fit to be called a poet, finds that the poetry which he indites in his sober senses is beaten hollow by the poetry of madmen.”-Plato.
The poet Ranier Maria Rilke had a mother who wanted a daughter. She dressed her son as a girl, had his hair grown as a girl.s and, when he knocked at the door to her room she asked, “Is that my naughty Ranier or my lovely Charlotte.”
The boy would reply, “It is your lovely Charlotte, mother.”
As Robert Bly puts it, with a mother like that you either kill yourself or you become a great poet.
I met a mother like that this week.
Not all mothers are monsters nor are all fathers. It is important to remember that.
Some are. The mother of Grendel in the story of Beowulf is certainly a monster. Her son goes on murdereous rampages. These do not upset her. But when Beowulf dives down the well where he finds Grendel curled up licking his wounds under his mother’s teats the harm done to her son upsets her.
She says to Beowulf, “Who are you?”
The hero replies, “I am your death.”
The weak among you ignorant of the violence done by Grendel will say that is too strong. You will allow Grendel and his mother to continue to suck the marrow from the bones of the men, women and children they murder. Standing up to a monster is not an easy thing to do.
Beowulf does indeed slay the pair for which the people make him King.
He is a smart man, this hero. He knows that the strength he has today will ebb away tomorrow, that the day will come when the foolish young not knowing of yesterday will say of the old man before them, as our young do the veterans of our battles, “That old fart is a hero?!”
So he has the young men trained to become warriors.
The problem is that training accomplishes nothing.
Life has no meaning. Our life, my life, has no meaning except the meaning I, we, give it when we stand up to monsters and defeat them utterly.
Time passes. Beowulf is older, much older, and fatter, much fatter.
Everything is going along swimmingly until one day a dragon appears.
All those men trained as warriors take one look at this monster. Then their bladders burst, their bowels break, and the marrow seeps from their bones.
As one they cry, “I’m outa here!”
They can’t get out fast enough.
So fat, old Beowulf corseted up once again dons his armor. The old man steps out before the dragon which, seeing him, roars, “And who the fuck are you?”
The old man says once again as he has said before, “I am your death.”
The dragon belches fire and smoke, laughs deep rumbling laughs and heads towards this fat old fool who dares to dream that he has the power to slay such a magnificent, monstrous being.
The laughter, the fire, the smoke ceases as the horror it has exerted on others now falls upon the dragon. In its death rattle it, by chance, sinks a poisoned fang in the shoulder of Beowulf.
The hero dies.
The old Norse poets were telling us heroes are born not made. They were telling it as clearly as it can be told.
This, by the way, is NOT how this story is told in any of the silly movies made from it.
Plato, of course, has said the same thing in that scrap posted at the start of this: “He who without the Muse’s madness in his soul comes knocking at the door of poesy and thinks that art will make him anything fit to be called a poet, finds that the poetry which he indites in his sober senses is beaten hollow by the poetry of madmen.”
A Grendel wormed his way in here this year. Then his mother showed up. Monsters do not take kindly to having their masks ripped off.
Plato’s world was filled with those who played at being poets. They excelled at grammar and punctuation as do those in our time who play at being poets.
But the Muse’s madness is not in their souls for it is that and that alone that inspires.
I never get tired of posting these largely because they fall upon ears willfully deaf:
“Most teachers say you should go to school to get your degree to have something to fall back on. Aside from being a huge lie, that also creates a very high level of mediocrity, because nobody who really believes that is going to take the leap of faith required to be a serious artist. Stay out of school.”–Ellis Marsalis to his sons Branford, Delfeayo and Wynton.
“It is good taste not bad taste which is the enemy.”-Salvador Dali/Pablo Picasso/Henri Langlois/Reg Hartt.
“The function of the artist is to disturb. His duty is to arouse the sleeper, to shake the complacent pillars of the world. He reminds the world of its dark ancestry, and shows the world its present and points the way to its new birth. He is at once the product and preceptor of his times.”-Norman Bethune.
“You have no need that any man should teach you.”-1 John 2:27.
“Film students should stay as far away from film schools and film teachers as possible. The only school for the cinema is the cinema.”-Bernardo Bertolucci.
“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. It is a very great mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty.”–Albert Einstein.
“My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself.”–George Bernard Shaw.
“Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education.”–Bertrand Russell.
“School is an institution built on the axiom that learning is the result of teaching. And institutional wisdom continues to accept this axiom, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”–Ivan Illich.
“We get three educations. The first is from our parents; the second is from our schoolmasters. The third is from life. The last makes liars of the first two.”–Montesquieu.
“I had wonderful teachers in the first and second grades who taught me everything I know. After that, I’m afraid, the teachers were nice, but they were dopes…I have a lack of ideology, and not because I have an animus against any particular ideology; it’s just that they don’t make sense to me…they get in the way of thinking. I don’t see what use they are…University and uniformity, as ideals, have subtly influenced how people thought about education, politics, economics, government, everything…We are misled by universities and other intellectual institutions to believe that there are separate fields of knowledge. But it’s clear there are no separate fields of knowledge. It is a seamless web.”-Jane Jacobs whose books, from her first, THE DEATH AND
LIFE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN CITIES to her last, DARK AGE AHEAD, are must reading.
This week with the beheading of journalist James Foley another dragon has appeared on the scene. We witness the murder of the man on the web over and over. As I listen to him speak the words he says ring false. These are not the words of a man about to be beheaded. They are manufactured words aswas the death rattle of Jack Layton. They ring false from beginning to end. Falser still are the words of his be-header. Then we find that there was an elaborate plot to extort money.
It is not God but gold that this is about. The truth does not need violence to be believed. The lie does.
Conversion by fear is not conversion but expediency.
The only problem is that today we no longer have a Beowulf around to slay the thing.
He died a long time ago.
So prepare yourself for it is going to get worse, much, much worse.
This is a time when we breed Grendels who thirst for blood while we murder heroes in their beds.
But the mother knows in her heart that the darling boy she raised has no balls.
She made sure of that. Mothers want sissies for sons.
This is why in tribal societies men steal sons away from the mothers. Once they have the boy far away from his mother they would wound him, maybe knock out a tooth. The boy would grow out of terror to become a man.
The places our mothers don’t want us to go are the places we must go.
We start out in our lives like Columbus setting sail for India only to discover we have not a clue where we are. It is at that moment that the real journey begins.
For myself, one of the greatest gifts came into my life by chance which is how it should be as THE BOOK OF CHANGES (THE I CHING) is all about chance. At 22 I read in its pages ideas I knew at once to be true. One of the things it teaches is the importance of being able to stand alone, undaunted, when the world turns it back on truth.
Those NICHIREN BUDDHISTS miss the mark when they offer an answer. But then, our entire education system misses the mark.
“Now we know what you are,” said Grendel’s mama to me this week.
Yes, you do. I am your death.
“Like the belief of the terminally ill in medicine, the belief of the legitimately frightened in the educational process is a comforting lie.”–David Mamet, TRUE AND FALSE.
“My knowledge of silent films, German and French cinema, came an awful lot from Reg Hartt’s Cineforum. At first he showed films at Innis College, then he had a place on Mercer St. for a while. Reg showed some really incredible silent films, from Phantom of the Opera to D.W. Griffith’s films. His strength was putting incredibly good soundtracks on the films. He has a really good ear for movie music and back in the good old days when it was all analog, he would splice them together himself.”–Shirley Hughes, TORONTO SILENT FILM SOCIETY.
In a recording I have of one of his live readings a woman in the audience said to poet Robert Bly, “Do you know when you read your poetry your voice falls off towards the end.”
Bly roared back at her with his voice falling back to a barely audible whisper at the end, “Yes, I know that when I read my poetry my voice falls off towards the end and I will not be shamed by you today.”
I thought of that this week when one of the stupidest people I have ever met sat before me. To her face I told her that she was one of the stupidest people I have ever met.”
“Now we know what you are!” she said with glee.
I said to myself, “Now I know what you are.”
This woman had come into my home, accepted my hospitality, ate my food, drank my wine and dismissed completely my value as a person.
Her son had asked if he could live here. He had shown up unexpectedly with some friends in the spring. I had an early film by Stanley Kubrick on the program. “Can we see something else?” he asked.
Thinking he was going to ask for a later Kubrick I said, “Yes.”
He surprised me by asking for the first GODZILLA (1954). At once I liked him.
The presentation here is second to none in Toronto. He was used to seeing classic films on his monitor screen, on television or badly projected in the classroom.
At once he fell in love with the place.
He was studying Italian film at a nearby university. He asked if I would show him Sergio Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST in The Cineforum. When I did it was he and I. I did not ask him to pay for the experience. He offered nothing in return.
The book he had been told to use said that guns in Italian westerns are penises.
I read the stupid book. Then I said, “You know, sometimes a gun is a gun.”
I bought a copy of David Mamet’s BAMBI VS. GODZILLA to have for his own. Mamet urges the young to stay out of school. In his book TRUE AND FALSE he writes, “Invent nothing. Deny nothing. Stand up. Speak up. Stay out of school.” (More on Mamet here:http://reghartt.ca/cineforum/?p=12475 ).
From the moment he asked if he could live here his mother was dead set against it.
He is not the first person who has asked if they could live here. He certainly won’t be the last. (http://reghartt.ca/cineforum/?p=10162).
He lived here for the month of May.
They were, I thought, supposed to arrive Monday night. I said I would prepare some food for them. He said that his mother did not drink beer, she drank wine. Where I come from when someone invites me to dinner I bring beer and/or wine. That took me back a bit but I had the wine.
They never arrived.
I figured the mother had decided not to come.
They showed up the next night around 8pm.
I invited them in. He said, “We haven’t eaten.”
I pulled the lasagna I made the day before out of the fridge, heated it up, gave him a beer and her some wine.
Things seemed to be going smoothly. She asked about films, then asked if I had seen the films of Pedro Almodovar.
“I have them all,” I told her.
I had thought he would want the room he had had but he was determined on using my archive room. I need access to that space at all hours but because he wanted to be a film maker I thought it would be good for him to be surrounded by the greatest films ever made as well as those historically most important.
One of the inspirations for THE CINEFORUM is the original Paris Cinematheque (not the current one) of Henri Langlois who said, “An art form requires genius. People of genius are always troublemakers, meaning they start from scratch, demolish accepted norms and rebuild a new world. The problem with cinema today is the dearth of troublemakers. There’s not a rabble-rouser in sight. There was still one, but he went beyond troublemaker to court jester. He clobbered the status quo. That’s Godard. We’re fresh out of “bad students.” You’ll find students masquerading as bad ones, but you won’t find the real article, because a genuine bad student upends everything.”
I thought he had the makings of being a bad student. I certainly hoped he had.
Said the great Italian film maker Bernardo Bertolucci, “Film students should stay as faraway as possible ftrom film schools and film teachers. The bonly film school for the cinema IS the cinema. The best cinema is the Paris Cinematheque. The best teacher is Henri Langlois.”
Then his mother asked if she could see the room he was to take. They were gone a considerable time.
By the time they came down the program in the screening room had ended. I invited them to sit in there.
She then told me she did not want her son living here.
As she spoke I thought of several people who had come here before.
One woman looking at a piece of art on the wall asked who had created it. “I did,” I told her.
“You did not,” she said.
“I did,” I affirmed.
“You DID NOT,” she said vehemently.
“I did,” I said again.
“YOU DID NOT!” she said.
“What makes you say that?”
“It is too good,” she said.
Another woman had come by for my JANE JACOBS program.
“This is where it is? I can’t go in there. This is terrible. I am teaching a course on Jane Jacobs. I have to see this film. I can’t go in there,” she said.
I quietly told her that Jane Jacobs had been a friend of mine from her arrival in Toronto until her death in 2006, that she had written me fan letters, that one of her sons seeing me on the street had stopped to say, “My mother adored you,” to which I had replied, “And I your mother.” I added that one writer hadwritten, “Reg Hartt’s Cineforum is everything Jane Jacobs wrote about in THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES.” I added that Mrs. Jacobs said, “Old ideas are sometimes found in new buildings. New ideas are found in old buildings.”
The woman did not come to0 see the film. I pity her students.
As the mother spoke I told her, “Your son wants to be a film maker. He will learn more about film here than at any university.”
To my surprise not only she but also her son said, “No, that is not true.”
Well, it happens to BE true. One heckuva lot of people from around the world have spoken and written about the value of what they found here.
“Reg Hartt has devoted his whole life to bringing the film classics to the public. He treats animation-cartoons, if you will-as art. He is underfinanced, overworked and snubbed. I think we should pay tribute to him.” DAVID BEARD, owner CINEBOOKS.
“Reg Hartt teaches like Neal Cassady drove a bus.”—Joe Fiorito, Toronto Star.
“Reg Hartt has a feel for film unique in this country…genius level.”—Elwy Yost.
Now that shocked me. I expected it from the mother but not from the son. I wondered why he had wanted to live here. I got my answer soon enough when he said, “I want to live as an artist. To do that I have to experience poverty.”
At once I told his mother she was the stupidest person I have ever met.
“We have to leave,” he said.
“Now we know what you are,” said the mother.
I thought to myself, “Now I know what you and your son are.”
As they left I thought of another fellow who had wanted to live here while he studied at university. He came from a family with money. His mother as well did not approve of me. She had told him, “If you stay there I won’t pay your rent.”
That mother like this one castrated her son.
The only real poverty on this planet is the poverty of those who have money.
It keeps them from relying on themselves…
Ralph Waldo Emerson: ON Self-Reliance
I read the other day some verses written by an eminent painter which were original and not conventional. The soul always hears an admonition in such lines, let the subject be what it may. The sentiment they instil is of more value than any thought they may contain. To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost,—— and our first thought is rendered back to us by the trumpets of the Last Judgment. Familiar as the voice of the mind is to each, the highest merit we ascribe to Moses, Plato, and Milton is, that they set at naught books and traditions, and spoke not what men but what they thought. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried. Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact, makes much impression on him, and another none. This sculpture in the memory is not without preestablished harmony. The eye was placed where one ray should fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents. It may be safely trusted as proportionate and of good issues, so it be faithfully imparted, but God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. It is a deliverance which does not deliver. In the attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being. And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers, and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort, and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.
What pretty oracles nature yields us on this text, in the face and behaviour of children, babes, and even brutes! That divided and rebel mind, that distrust of a sentiment because our arithmetic has computed the strength and means opposed to our purpose, these have not. Their mind being whole, their eye is as yet unconquered, and when we look in their faces, we are disconcerted. Infancy conforms to nobody: all conform to it, so that one babe commonly makes four or five out of the adults who prattle and play to it. So God has armed youth and puberty and manhood no less with its own piquancy and charm, and made it enviable and gracious and its claims not to be put by, if it will stand by itself. Do not think the youth has no force, because he cannot speak to you and me. Hark! in the next room his voice is sufficiently clear and emphatic. It seems he knows how to speak to his contemporaries. Bashful or bold, then, he will know how to make us seniors very unnecessary.
The nonchalance of boys who are sure of a dinner, and would disdain as much as a lord to do or say aught to conciliate one, is the healthy attitude of human nature. A boy is in the parlour what the pit is in the playhouse; independent, irresponsible, looking out from his corner on such people and facts as pass by, he tries and sentences them on their merits, in the swift, summary way of boys, as good, bad, interesting, silly, eloquent, troublesome. He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine verdict. You must court him: he does not court you. But the man is, as it were, clapped into jail by his consciousness. As soon as he has once acted or spoken with eclat, he is a committed person, watched by the sympathy or the hatred of hundreds, whose affections must now enter into his account. There is no Lethe for this. Ah, that he could pass again into his neutrality! Who can thus avoid all pledges, and having observed, observe again from the same unaffected, unbiased, unbribable, unaffrighted innocence, must always be formidable. He would utter opinions on all passing affairs, which being seen to be not private, but necessary, would sink like darts into the ear of men, and put them in fear.
The next day he returned the digital 2D/3D camera I had loaned him. He had left some luggage here. That night he had, he thought, taken all of it. He had not. He told me that someone had stolen his boots out of his suitcase.
I told him that I could care less.
I had lost a lot more than a pair of boots.
I take chances on the people I meet. I don’t play it safe. I take a chance on them all. Only rarely do I meet one not worthy of that gift.
To aspiring film makers I say this, if you are going to study film at university continue studying it there. I learned long ago that people who aspire always settle for second best.
The best need no teacher.
The boy had come here for my Stanley Kubrick program. Kubrick never took a day of public school he could get out of. He paid fellow students to take notes. He certainly did not waste time in film school or at a university. Those places are for the second rate. Kubrick was first rate. He remains the single greatest film maker of our time.
THE CINEFORUM is for the budding Kubricks. There are not very many of them.
As for the silly boy’s even sillier mother I borrow these words from Robert Bly: “I WILL NOT BE SHAMED BY YOU TODAY.”
Neal Cassady would have driven the bus over the silly vagina which, having not seen action for decades, had dried up and gone bad.
I had thought the boy capable of standing up to his mother. I was wrong. The mother won. The boy died.
For the importance of embracing the wild man and standing upto the mother gor to Robert Bly and IRON JOHN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YAL20UVvjY
Beware the rich who think that being rich means possessing money for they are the truly poor. They take without giving. My programs have always been by donation. These are the ones who give the least they can thinking always that it is more than enough. They say, “Well, they suggested $20 but I gave them $5.”
“You are just like mu uncle,” a fellow said.
“My uncle ran his own business. He always gave people more than they paid for.”
That is how we tell the truly rich.
September @ THE CINEFORUM, 463 Bathurst, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Monday, September 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
8pm: THE AMORPHOUS MIND POLICE FACTOR (2014) Chris Minz
Tuesday, September 2, 9, 16, 23, 30
8pm: OZ DARKSIDE [THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) to Pink Floyd’s THE DARKSIDE OF THE MOON]
Wednesday, September 3, 10, 17, 24.
7pm: DON’T LOOK BACK (1967) D.A. Pennebaker
9pm: Reg Hartt Spoken Word: THE BLACKLISTED MASTERPIECES OF AL ARONOWITZ
Thursday, September 4, 11, 18, 25.
8pm: GERTRUD (1964) Carl Th. Dreyer.
Thursday, September 11.
8pm: BARRY LYNDON (1975) Stanley Kubrick.
Thursday, September 18.
8pm: CITY GIRL (1930) F. W. Murnau.
Saturday, September 6, 13, 20, 27.
7pm: THE FORBIDDEN FILMS OF BUGS BUNNY & FRIENDS
9pm: SALO: 120 DAYS OF SODOM (1975) Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Sunday, September 7, 14, 21, 28.
2pm: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW (1964) Pier Paolo Pasolini.
4pm: Herman Hesse: SIDDHARTHA (1972) Conrad Rooks.
6pm: Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS (1927) Rescored By Reg Hartt.
9pm: KID DRACULA [NOSFERATU (1922) set to music from RADIOHEAD’S KID A & OK COMPUTER]
“Director Roy Baker’s muted staging, always camera-wise, is deceptively simple when, considering such incidents as a rattlesnake encounter or some random, minor avalanches. The climactic fight between the two men is a pip. But since Mr. Baker obviously cares more for substance than shenanigans the horse, for the first time in 3-D feature history, is allowed to supersede the cart.
“As a result, viewed through polarized glasses, the angular but guileless Technicolor photography underscores the mounting tension and the clinical grandeur of the natural settings and personalizes only the immediate business at hand. While it still has far to go, in this tentative but sensible little undertaking 3-D comes of age.”—New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9407E4DF1431E53BBC4A52DFBE668388649EDE
I have been reading for years about Roy Ward Baker’s INFERNO (1953). I envied people who had seen it at Film Forum in New York or at The World 3D EXPO at The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. I had a very poor copy of the film in anaglyph (red & blue) 3D plus a 2D to 3D conversion and conversions I myself made.
Thanks to Robert Furmanek of THE 3D FILM ARCHIVE who saved and restored an original Technicolor 3D print, and to Panamint U.K. who had the wisdom to use Mr. Furmanek’s restoration as opposed to the one done by 20th Century Fox from faded materials, I saw the film finally as it is meant to be seen and at its very best.
Here’s to more people making use of Bob Furmanek’s expertise and to Bob, himself, for his excellent work in preservuing and presenting these films. We have more to look forward to from 3D FILM ARCHIVE this year. Go to Bob’s site to see what is coming http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/ .
So much depends on what the first person to act does. Nothing makes that more clear than this piece by Jim Henynen. Had the boys been their fathers the story would have a different ending. Had the first boy to act done the expected the story need not be told. It is because he acted differently and with love that this story is so powerful.
What Happened During the Ice Storm
by Jim Heynen
One winter there was a freezing rain. How beautiful! people said when things outside started to
shine with ice. But the freezing rain kept coming. Tree branches glistened like glass. Then broke
like glass. Ice thickened on the windows until everything outside blurred. Farmers moved their
livestock into the barns, and most animals were safe. But not the pheasants. Their eyes froze shut.
Some farmers went ice-skating down the gravel roads with clubs to harvest the pheasants that
sat helplessly in the roadside ditches. The boys went out into the freezing rain to find pheasants
too. They saw dark spots along a fence. Pheasants, all right. Five or six of them. The boys slid
their feet along slowly, trying not to break the ice that covered the snow. They slid up close to the pheasants. The pheasants pulled their heads down between their wings. They couldn’t tell how easy it was to see them huddled there.
The boys stood still in the icy rain. Their breath came out in slow puffs of steam. The
pheasants’ breath came out in quick little white puffs. Some of them lifted their heads and turned
them from side to side, but they were blindfolded with ice and didn’t flush. The boys had not
brought clubs, or sacks, or anything but themselves. They stood over the pheasants, turning their
own heads, looking at each other, each expecting the other to do something. To pounce on a
pheasant, or to yell Bang! Things around them were shining and dripping with icy rain. The
barbed-wire fence. The fence posts. The broken stems of grass. Even the grass seeds. The grass
seeds looked like little yolks inside gelatin whites. And the pheasants looked like unborn birds
glazed in egg white. Ice was hardening on the boys’ caps and coats. Soon they would be covered
with ice too.
Then one of the boys said, Shh. He was taking off his coat, the thin layer of ice splintering in
flakes as he pulled his arms from the sleeves. But the inside of the coat was dry and warm. He
covered two of the crouching pheasants with his coat, rounding the back of it over them like a
shell. The other boys did the same. They covered all the helpless pheasants. The small gray hens
and the larger brown cocks. Now the boys felt the rain soaking through their shirts and freezing.
They ran across the slippery fields, unsure of their footing, the ice clinging to their skin as they
made their way toward the blurry lights of the house.
“What Happened During the Ice Storm” by Jim Heynen from
You Know What Is Right.
Copyright © 1985 by
Originally appeared in Seattle Review. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Copyright © by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. All rights reserved.
Al Aronowitz was that boy. He died August 1, 2005. For the last couple of weeks I have been thinking about Al every day.
In the 1950s Al was a crime reporter for THE NEW YORK POST.
His editor was furious because his son was hanging out in Greenwich Village with a bunch of homosexuals who flashed switchblade knives, spouted poetry and smoked pot. He sent Al, a crime reporter, down to do a hatchet job on them. That is a piece designed to turn the public against them. Most reporters would have done just that.
Instead of writing a hatchet piece Al wrote the first positive press about Jack Kerouac, Alllen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. A friend gave mec a collection of early writings on these men. Most were by the numbers negative. But not Al. He said later, “I realized that for the first time in my life I was in the presence of living poets.”
Al met a young man in a laundromat to whom he said, “Come with me.”
The young man did. Al took him to meet Allen Ginsberg. The young man was Bob Dylan.
Al introduced a lot of people to each other. When I played New York’s THALIA THEATER Alintroduced me from the stage. Then he introduced me to the New York he loved.
We had met in 1981 when I read a piece about him in the SOHO NEWS. I wrote him a letter. He wrote back. We corresponded. Than he called. We talked regularly on the phone. One day he was depressed. I asked him why. He said, “I have written a book. No one will give me a reading. I should be doing readings.”
I said, “Come to Toronto. We will do a reading.”
He did. He just needed that first one to get people in line.
When Al’s wife was struck by cancer George Harrison quietly stepped in and paid their rent.
When she died Miles Davis called Al and said, “Do you need help?” When Al said he did not Miles quietly paid the bill for his wife’s funeral. Al just brought out the best in everyone he met because he was unusual.
We all have a birth father and mother. If we are very fortunate we get new fathers and mothers as we travel through life. These are men and women sometimes older, sometimes younger who cause us to be reborn in a new and better way. I have been extremely fortunate in that I have had an extraordinary number of people who have caused me to be reborn again and again and again.
Al gave a reading of his works at THE CINEFORUM that left everyone present ware of what a great gift his life was. I was looking for something to do in September that would not be showing movies. Al’s works are meant to be heard as well as read. It has come to me now that that is what I can do for September. You can read more about Al and you can read his words here:
You can hear them in September at The Cineforum.
“I’m not gonna give up, shut up, or let up, until I’m taken up…as a matter of fact, I’m just getting warmed up.”—Zig Ziglar.
Dear…..(Insert name of the alcoholic of your choice)
My father was a drunk. I grew up, my family grew up, in Hell. I know the signs a mile away.
I am not angry with you. I have no intention to try to upstage you. I also have no intention of wasting the time I have invested nor to risk wasting it by investing it in you again.
You are the author of your own misfortune. You are the biggest bully in your life.
My father deliberately did as much harm to his family as he could right up to and including the moment he died. On his deathbed seeing his moment he stuck the knife in one of my brothers and twisted it. That was over ten years ago. My brother has yet to recover. I am made of stronger stuff.
Some extremely good people who are recognized by the people who matter in this world have recognized the quality of my work and endorsed it.
I can survive with ease the worst you throw at me because nothing you can throw even begins to approach what my father threw.
The good thing about your dismissal of me is that I got it literally moments before I was about to buy your tickets. Had I done that the money like the time I invested in you would have been flushed down the toilet.
If you can find the strength to stop drinking you can enjoy the last years of your life.
If not, well, those years will be short and not pretty.
I am sorry for you. I was sorry for my father. That does not help.
What helps is being strong enough to leave behind the people who are destroying themselves and us with them.
P.S. Don’t bother threatening me. I am used to threats from alcoholics.
P.P.S. I first read those words by Rumi many years ago. At that time after drinking wine I felt savage wrath well up in my heart. Late at night I would call people I knew giving voice to my rage. I had a right to my anger. I had been hurt and hurt deeply. Had I not I would have not felt such pain. When I read those words I understood where my anger was coming from. I stopped. Most of the friends I hurt don’t want to hear from me. They don’t want to hear me say, “I am sorry. Give me another chance.” They grew tired of hearing those words. I learned my lesson. I let go of what I had lost. Life has given me many more new friends. What I once took for granted I no longer do. I still, from time to time, drink wine. Especially when I am with friends. But now when the hidden anger swells up I put it back to bed.
Remember,you can bring your own food and drink.–Reg Hartt
Saturday, August 2, 9, 16, 23, 30.
7pm: Reg Hartt Film & Talk: What I Learned From Mae West. Includes film, SHE DONE HIM WRONG (1933)
9pm: Reg Hartt Talk: WHAT I LEARNED WITH LSD.
Sunday, August 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
5pm: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) Lon Chaney. Rescored by Reg Hartt.
7pm: KID DRACULA [NOSFERATU (1922) set to music from RADIOHEAD’S KID A & OK COMPUTER)
9pm: KID DRACULA [NOSFERATU (1922) set to music from RADIOHEAD’S KID A & OK COMPUTER)
Monday, August 4, 11, 18, 25.
7pm: REG HARTT FILM & TALK: WHAT I LEARNED FROM BUGS BUNNY
Tuesday, August 26,
STALKER (1979) Andrei Tarkovsky, 163 minutes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalker_(1979_film)
Wednesday, August 27,
11:00 am; OUT 1 (1971) Jacques Rivette. 773 minutes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Out_1