Saturday, August 29, 2009

Star Sightings

I was off of school for a couple of weeks and needed to get out of the city. I drove up to Bolinas, a northern California town that is difficult to get to, all windey roads on cliffs overlooking the Pacific. Gorgeous, but stomachache producing. And that's the only way to get there.

The beauty of the town and beach is matched by the pride of the people who live there and have prevented it from becoming a tourist attraction. The downtown has about 6 buildings: restaurant, bar, grocery, surf shop, gift shop, art gallery. When signs are put up on the highway indicating where the city is, residents take it down, so the state has stopped putting them up.

Oona and I were there on a glorious afternoon. It's a large, long beach, and there were about 15 people on it. It was sunny and somewhat warm, but the wind was whipping off the ocean. Oona and I were throwing rocks into the water and listening to the resonance of their kerplunks. As I was standing behind her, watching her throw, I glanced to my right and saw Francis McDormand and John Turturro walking toward me, looking very relaxed and simply chatting. Francis looked at me, gave me a very warm smile, and said, "hi." John did not look. I like Francis, but I really love John's acting. Behind them were Joel Coen and a very pretty woman who I now know is Turturro's wife. Their children were tagging along behind. As an aside, I looked on IMDB and Francis has nothing listed in production. She did two things in 2008 and that is it. Now, how much of a shame is that?

It is the perfect place for people like them. People barely noticed them, I saw no one stop them. They were allowed to be people walking on the beach. I was happy for them.

Here's the beach:

Grey Gardens

Rented the film first and then watched the documentary.

Wow. Fascinating on so many levels.

First, the documentary. The real women are, of course, more engrossing. I could not take my eyes off of Little Edie. There is no question that the woman possessed charisma in spades, even without hair and with haphazard clothing. There is a genuine sweetness to her that makes you adore her. All of the unfair things that happened to her in her life, and she has very little bitterness and only shows anger (appropriate anger, by the way) once in the film. Her clothing, though odd, shows great creativity and has a certain panache to it. Her speaking style is mesmerizing with a slow cadence, a wonderfully creative vocabulary, and an unusual accent. It is my belief that she cannot fully distinguish between the past and the present, maybe because the present is so awful, she can only live as things were the same. At one point in the film, she talks about how the washing bins used to be in the servants quarters, then repeats, "The washing bins are in the servants quarters." She pauses and then says, "It's very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present. You know what I mean? It's awfully difficult."

The elder Edie had no charm for me. She came off as dangerously selfish and self-absorbed, and her disgustingly dirty bed almost made me wretch.

Second, the film. What performances by Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Truly amazing. I mean, it is a lot easier when you have so much footage to copy, but still, they were amazing. I wish there were more roles for Jessica Lange, she always was one of my favorites.

Ted Kennedy

We put to rest one of the most important politicians of our generation. He never served as president, but afterall, a president only serves 4 years, and Ted served 47--he got way more done as a senator than I think he ever would have as president.

A flawed human being for sure, and MaryJo Kopeckne will never be forgotten. I do think that he was drunk that night, and that informed his decision making. Is that an excuse? No. But, I do think it allows us to see him in another way besides a monster who simply let her die. How many of us have been drunk like that and not really in control of ourselves?

But as a senator, I think we will never see the likes of him again. He was from a generation that is now gone. A generation where if you were given riches, you had a duty to help others. People simply don't think that way today. If you are rich, you flaunt it and there is never enough. They simply want to amass more. Ted Kennedy wealth was one of the reasons he could be trusted as a senator. He couldn't be bought by a lobbyist--he had enough of his own.

In looking at photos from the funeral, I was struck the the photograph below. A man, sitting alone and obviously early out of respect and reverence--waiting.