Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's as if we had a contract to enjoy life

Screen Shot 2013-09-07 at 3.24.16 PM
A still from Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun, part 1 of his BRD Trilogy. I'm gonna watch all three.

Foreign films are meme machines, both in the traditional sense (a meme is a unit of understanding)  and contemporary (picture on the Internet with a caption superimposed.)

Here is the scene that really encapsulated the intricate beauty and blunt cruelty of this movie.

Everything is spelled out by Maria. From the opening scene where she and her husband pin down the justice of the peace to sign the marriage papers as the city hall is being blown to bits. Her transition to a post-war woman of power is played out in stilted offices and trotting through physical and emotional rubble, all with maximum composure. The camera work is achingly lovely. Maria is the woman who everyone thinks is masking her emotions behind ambition when, in fact, she is the only one in contact with the white hot wire of her life. Everyone else is in her orbit; she is the star. And when it is done, it is done.

I suspect Fassbinder's own life was a bit like that. Look at him!

Before a mix of sleeping pills and cocaine took him out at 37, he took the wheel of the supertanker of despair that was German cinema and steered it into perverse waters. I forgot how much I like his movies.

It's funny that the train scene is the still used on the YouTube video, the single moment where the weave of the movie comes a little unraveled, largely because of the soldier's terrible accent. Don't let that stop you. Watch the whole thing and feel the love!

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They sure do, Maria! They sure do.

The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979)

Friday, September 6, 2013

one way to write a song

Alex V. Cook, "Terrible Girl"

At the laundromat, there is a sweet girl working there who seems to have a good grasp on her deal. She tells dumbfounded, strapping college boys how to wash their clothes, keeps the place up, and otherwise whittles away her shift listening to her music pumped over the PA from her laptop. The thing is on shuffle but its the same route of 1990s identity music. Duncan Sheik's "Barely Breathing" is there.

Duncan Sheik, "Barely Breathing"

A live version of that cursed Rusted Root song is there.

Rusted Root, "Send Me On My Way"

I would like to hold. his. head. and strangle that guy with his penny whistle by the time it's done. But then, this one popped up.

Bon Iver, "Skinny Love"

Like everybody, I loved Bon Iver when I first heard it. The "my my my"'s launched an armada of beardo style-pirates, running their best pick up lines through a sieve of Hall and Oates on ice. People started listening to Hall and Oates again even, to which I shake my head. I thought about Big Star's "I'm in Love With a Girl."

Big Star, "I'm in Love With a Girl"

Now that is a love song. I thought about telling her about it, but nothing is creepier than an old music nerd at the laundromat trying to get you to listen to Big Star. Plus, as a college professor, I am ina  sea of sweet girls who either are actually politely sweet or treat me with an understandable indifference. I don't need to creep out girls.

Contrast this to a table of girls I saw at a restaurant outside Oxford, MS, they all decked out in party dresses, taking photos of each other and cackling and making duck faces at each other's phones. It was like watching a "Best of Shark Week" special. I thought - unfairly, I know - these are terrible girls.

But ol' Bon Iver was stuck in my head and I brought an ol' guitar to keep up in the office so I could play at lunch and decided to learn "Skinny Love".

Am              C
Come on skinny love just last the year
Am             C
Pour a little salt we were never here
        Am          C
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my

I couldn't make the chords work to sound like the song plus these lyrics are terrible. No wonder Emma left him. He might just be terrible. The story I gathered is that she broke up with him and he retreated to a cabin in the snow with a four-track and made the break-up record named for her, which now sounds like the work of terrible people, all around. I thought about a Big Star parody: I'm in love with a terrible girl...

Then, I thought about a recent social encounter where someone (not me, even) was being terrible and thought terrible, terrible and then stopped. Somebody loves that terrible person. Or, rather, that person being momentarily terrible. Every terrible person is loved by someone and, at some point, we have all loved a terrible person and been that terrible person being loved.

So I wrote a love song to the theoretical terrible girl we all are and have been and will love and will be loved as.  That's one way to write a song. Here it is again, in case you don't feel like scrolling and you want to revisit in this complicated light. You'd think my playing or the song itself would be better now having read all that, but nope. Just as terrible as before.

Alex V. Cook, "Terrible Girl"