Sunday, July 13, 2008

"There's a Light in the Darkness of Everybody's Life"

Tra la! tra la! I just checked: this "old" (2004) iBook meets the requirements for loading the "new" Mac operating system (Leopard).
I never worried about my OS, because when I was writing the geography books for teens, I only used my computer as a combo typewriter/mailbox/encyclopedia.

But now I am a "producer" (!), as a techie friend informed me, my old OS can't download software I need [relative term, but it feeeeels like need], like the free photoshop alternative GIMP. I'm already dissatisfied with the limited editing I can do on iMovie and iPhoto.
How quickly we humans want to go see what's over the next mountain.

But sometimes the old stuff works GREAT.
Last night (after the B. block party), for instance, I watched Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS), from 1975, for the first time in... 20-some years, and its operating system works just fine.

Seems I'm deep in some midlife life review, because I keep saying, "for the first time in xx years," when xx >10.

Ever since sci-fi moved into the vacuum in my life left by the Catholic Church and geography books (etc.), I've figured I should watch this movie again, which played a minor role in my young life; but I worried it would be a sad tattered affair, like the awfulness of running into an old lover and feeling sorry for them.

Mais non, pas de tout! to paraphrase Dr. Frankenfurter.

If there's anyone sexier than Tim Curry in fishnets, to this day, I don't know who... though there's a certain starship captain who's awfully cute when he's campy.
(Not forgetting the shockingly young Susan Sarandon, when she's liberated into Franky fandom.)

In fact, Rocky Horror doesn't actually add to "straight" sci-fi, it just amps up the out-land-ish boundary-breaking stuff that's already there, a few notches.
Or quite a few notches, because even 33 years later, it's pretty wild. A musical about a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania? That shows (tastefully but indubitably) the naughty doctor deflowering both the heroine and the hero?
We've barely caught up to this movie.

[But look, sci-fi is often transgressive. Flying under the censor's radar, Star Trek also raised the gender-identity question. In the very last episode of the series, "The Turnabout Intruder," Kirk's identity is trapped in a woman's body, and only Spock recognizes him, because he "knows the captain better than anyone in the universe"--and because he can mind-meld.
Which is why I chose for my vid the photo of Spock melding with Kirk in a woman's body to illustrate the line "the conjunction of the mind" in the Marvell poem.
I mean, if Kirk is still Kirk even when he's biologically female, what does that say?]

But here's the thing about RHPS that surprised me the most:
it's British!

How did I miss this?
Well, it was pre-Internet days, and I never researched the movie, the way I casually check out everything that interests me these days, on this little box.
Anyway, the central couple, Brad and Janet, are American, and everyone else's accents are all over the map, so I just made that culturally imperialistic assumption that everything is American, like we did back then.

But I should have suspected, because though Rocky Horror fit well in my life, it was far from the American mainstream (as was my life, I see with hindsight). It's more like 1970s Monty Python than Saturday Night Live.

Listening to RHPS creator Richard O'Brien's audio commentary, I learned that he and others in the cast had been involved in Hair, and that makes sense--reflecting as it does the culture of my childhood much more than "Star Trek," which was, in fact, awfully square in the 1960s.

(I didn't watch Star Trek until Watergate, among other things, took the air out of the tires, because it wasn't even on my parents' cultural radar. They had us watching Truffaut films.)

Thinking along those historical lines, I'm working on my next video, which is making me so sad I don't know if I'll finish it, and is so personal, I don't know if I'll post it.
(Oh, maybe on GuGeo, which oddly enough feels less vulnerable than youTube, because I have the feeling--the illusion, sometimes--that I know you guys.)

The project started out light enough as a response to the question many people ask (including me):
"Why do you like Star Trek?"

Obviously there are many easy and fun answers (tin foil bikinis! rubber alien brains! Kirk's smirk!).
But underneath, I love Star Trek because twice in my life it has shone as the "light in the darkness of everybody's life," as Janet and Brad sing in RHPS.

These darkest times in my life coincide with times of historic darkness: Watergate and those helicopters lifting off the roof of the US embassy* in Vietnam coinciding with my mother leaving the family (and me starting high school), and September 11 and the following war(s) coinciding with my mother killing herself.

So, I've been gathering images from those years, and weeping.
Stuff like ST and RHPS made me laugh, while they deal with very "serious darkness," as Story by Story says, and that's why I love them.

(And I think Jesus had a great sense of the quirkiness of life, but, meaning no disrespect, the RC church as I experienced it--big caveat there--has so domesticated the spirit, it's become like those bloated humans in WALL-E who can't even stand on their legs anymore.)

I want to say thank-you to my fellow humans who make these and other life-giving things.
Whether or not I finish this vid, maybe I'll start writing thank-you notes.
Now there's a mid-life thing to do.

*Also very grown-up: checking one's facts (even belatedly).

From photographer Hubert van Es:

"In fact, the photo is not of the embassy at all; the helicopter was actually on the roof of an apartment building in downtown Saigon where senior Central Intelligence Agency employees were housed. It was Tuesday, April 29, 1975."


Anonymous said...

Holy SSHHIIITTT, Sistuh-Grrl!!
YOU ARE THE BRAVE ONE! Is this why I haven't seen or heard from you for awhile?! Here you are confronting all this time and technology stuff AND dredging the depths of your soul AND working on publishing work!! I lurked and looked for you yesterday over by the Basilica and in Loring Park--confused about the start time of the Block Party...Don't know if that's your scene or not! I was there getting folks to sign a petition for an independent mn/us senatorial candidate. Fairly successful...As I go bumping and bruising my Luddite framework in this cruel political world, I find so much laughter, inspiration and healing in viewing your recent work. You are a true gift to us all, m'dear! My [somewhat selfish] gut feeling is whatever you're working on would speak to so many and be part of that healing thing, but I get it if you need to stop or keep it as totally your own personal work. I can't even get it together to do a blog yet.

You are Amazing! Lookout Las Vegas!



Rudyinparis said...

“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (Rom 7:15, 18-19) Oh, yes! I went to a yoga class yesterday and at the end the instructor released us, saying how her practice has led her to know that "we are all the same." Is that true? I've been pondering it. I'm not so sure. But Paul makes we think that we certainly don't change... "I can will what is right, but I cannot do it." So I ate the whole gallon of ice cream, or what have you, then yelled at my kids. What is up with that human will? Is it completely useless?

Well, I'd love to see your personal vid. I think it would probably make me cry.

And as a last note--the best book I ever indexed for Lerner was about the Vietnam war and the reason it was the best is because it straight out said it was a war--and we lost. When I was a schoolchild learning about it, it was always called "the Vietnam conflict" and framed as a draw, a stalemate. Not so. We had our asses handed to us and then we cut the hell out of there.

Oh, here's the really last note--I wonder how RHPS would hold up to another viewing on my part? Played a pretty important role in my adolescent development as well. Hmmm, maybe we are all the same...

fresca said...

Hi, Stef!

Speaking of brave, out there canvassing for the independents (and universal health care)--you're downright heroic!

(I'd never gone to the block party before--got a free ticket this year so went with L&M.)

I just keep plugging away on that latest vid, cause I can't get it out of my head, and I'll decide if/when it's done what to do with it. If nothing else, I will show you. : )

Along with the painful (looking at images from the Rwanda Memorial Museum yesterday wiped me out), there's a lot of good stuff: the photo of Nelson Mandela walking free; the Berlin Wall falling; and deciding, just which image of Monica and Bill is most iconic? Ha!
History is a riot.

fresca said...

Hey, R!
Your comment came in as I was writing a reply to Stef--thanks!

Yeah, that Saint Paul, he's a doozy, eh?
One thing I love about History is that it shows some staples of human behavior that are unchanging, whether we call those "original sin" or "evolutionary behavior" or what have you...

But I'd never say we're all the same, as the way these fundamentals are configured are infinitely variable.

Free Will comes in when we choose--or not--to learn and to practice some "skills," as the Buddhists might say, in dealing with those fundamentals (fear is my biggie). Like yoga!

Being a kid during the Vietnam War, which we lost, lost, lost, yes indeed, I thought--the way kids do--that this was a lesson learned, and we (the USA) would certainly never do such a thing again. Cause kids think everything is happening for a first time and is permanent (ot I did anyway), so it didn't occur to me people had done this many times before and would be doing it many times again. As we are.
What bugs me is we (some of us) don't even seem to see it.
When I once again eat the entire pint of HaagenDazs, I don't fool myself. I've done it before, I'll do it again, and in the meantime I just keep trying to learn to do it differently....

Oh, I wish you would watch RHPS and let me know what you think!

Anonymous said...

Whew!!F, there's so much inthis one post I would need to write a 50 page essay in order to respond to it all. You do continue to amaze me with your brilliance at extracting with such subtle dexterity the essence and at the same time the breadth of any topic you choose to write about.

I'm practically on the edge of my chair hoping you'll decide to post this new video you mentioned you were working on. . .now you have to! Right!!

If ever I get my hands on a chunk of money I'm buying you one of those big on the shoulder professional journalist camcorder things and giving you a ticket for an around the world trip to blog to where-ever and what-ever your your eyes/heart/soul light upon.

Manfred Allseasons said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manfred Allseasons said...

You must post this video if you can...

We had our own little slaughterhouse in Northern Ireland, but that's sorted out now. By talking, not shooting. During the days when our cities were being bombed by the IRA and our troops were dying every week, we were told it was 'an acceptable level of violence'.

That phrase still baffles me now...

fresca said...

I have already come up with so many iconic representations of human horror to represent the 1970s-2000, and I haven't even touched Northern Ireland...
"Acceptable levels of violence."
What a perfect insane phrase.

Barrett--you mean a steadicam! Sign me up!