Ah, so many memories crowd my mind as I take a second to think back on that Christmas long, long ago. It seems like only yesterday that it was Christmas 2004, but in fact it was four whole days ago! Where did the time go?
My Christmas was serene and satisfying:
Woke up and made breakfast: the computer was playing Barrios guitar music which then segued into Aretha Framklin’s album “Young Gifted and Black.” I realized what the difference between her and today’s micro divas is: range. Not tonal but intellectual, today’s “diva” singers strive to do the same thing over and over again, whereas on Y, G&B you can hear Aretha trying different things out, thinking her way through the songs. It’s interesting to hear how much she listens to jazz. “First Snow in Kokomo” is her edging up on Billie Holiday territory. The difference between real and lesser artists is what they do with fear – do they reach for the safe thing, or do they walk into the unknown? Shortly thereafter people’s idea of what Aretha sounded like became fossilized, but it was thrilling to be able to hear what was so exciting about that album.
I opened a present from my gallery: the catalogue from a museum retrospective of Scott Burton. Seemingly exhaustive in its coverage of his work, and containing some of his very sharp writing. I leafed through the whole thing and then read his essay on Reitveld. I found myself regretting the the fact that I had never met Burton. Seeing all of the work together made it much clearer how much design expertise and social theorizing was at play in things that I intially took as lightweight.
I worked on a drawing that was part of a present for my mother. Had some Stew on in the background.
Took a quick jaunt onto LJ and was wowed by that music video meme – again people’s exuberance and creativity. It made me want to hang out with alll of them. I’ve obviously been pulling back from LJ some – for various complicated reasons. But this made me glad I had looked in.
Met my mother and sister , plus a friend of hers for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I tend not to get worked up over “experimental narrative” films, since I generally think that that’s how all narrative films should be at this point. Furthermore Wes anderson’s films seem to come so clearly out of my demographic, that I get suspicious of them. But there’s much to like in this movie, which is more about the travials of independent filmamking than anything else. Bill Murray manages to pick another role that seems purely autobigraphical,which combined with the fact that he’s hated so much around Hollywood will mean that he probably won’t be getting an oscar any time soon. (anyone else notice how Jim Carrey seems to be attempting to ape Murray’s carreer?). “Life Aquatic” ends with people forgiving the crazy irritating irresponsible artist because he he made something that showed them something new. A scenario I’d like to believe in (mostly as a way of alleviating guilt), but one that contains that stain of self-satisfaction that seems to me to be Anderson’s downfall – the thing that keeps him out of the ranks of Fellini or Bunuel. All of that aside, this was a great movie for family Christmas time, as nobody had the sense that they were having to “sit through” something for the sake of other family members.
Dinner at Eddies: A retro deli on the upper west side, as my Mom and Sis were craving corned beef. (how did we, Episcopalians all, end up having such a Jewish-style Xmas?) The food was meh.
Back to M&S’s apartment for present opening: No one got anything that induced head scratching and in fact the gifts were touching with a couple verging on the lavish. My Mom broke out the apple pie she had made, and I broke my no sugar rule to down a piece with cheddar cheese which served to throw me totally out of whack later that night, but it was delicious at the time.
Finally, home again. I felt, and feel lucky indeed to have the life that I have, to have the chance to read and hear and see the thoughts of others, to have the will and oppurtunity to make things, to know smart and funny people, to be related to the same and to be able to see them and spend time with them. There is much conflict in my life, and many things I wish were other than they are, but any of my complaints should be read against the background of my deep gratitude.