|Saturday, April 26th, 2008|
12:31p - Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Predictably, due to extreme fatigue, I accomplished nothing yesterday other than power napping from about 4 to 6 pm behind my closed office door, waking up to an eerily quiet space (the "staph", to use the ol' 'RUW speeling, having stopped excitedly jabbering and hysterically laughing cuz IT'S FRIDAY!! and finally having been released into the sunshine like kids getting out of skewel), and hightailing it over to U Street where some historic theater next to the equally historic Ben's Chili Bowl (really, that should be spelled "Bowel") was showing the local premier of the Patti Smith documentary, "Dream of Life", that won awards at Sundance and stuff. I took the bus and subway over to save a few $ and was annoyed on the way by some awful 80's throwback woman dressed in a black skirt outfit with a Molly Ringworm haircut, little newsboy cap on the back of her head, fake pearls, technoindustrial earring, and leopard flats, who was coyly telling some older couple (also on their way to the movie, as it turned out) how she'd never been married but had met the man she wanted to marry, who was named Ian but she called him "Thump-thump" behind his back. When asked why she called him "Thump-thump" she patted her chest and said, in a rejected-brat-pack-voice, it was because her heart goes Thump-thump when she sees him. At that point I wanted to smack her or at least throw up on her leopard flats.
When I got to the theater and got in line I was momentarily horrified to have what I thought was the SAME GIRL with similar voice, outfit and annoying mannerisms come up and start talking to the couple ahead of me, but then I realized the line girl was younger and thinner and had better taste in earrings and shoes. Still, I was very relieved to get the hell into the moovie house. I swear I cannot stand looking at or talking to "film ppl" because almost every last one of them looks like a pretentious nerd - whether they're fat nerds, balding nerds, or hipster nerdz with hair arranged perfectly in a bedhead, standing on end or buzzed off. The guy in front of me was carping to his wife (who was totally Mrs. Fat Hornrimmed Polyester Pantsuit) about how he hates the 9:30 because you can't sit down, which is a perfectly valid criticism - I have felt the same way - but when it's coming out of the mouth of some button-down plaid-shorts-and-Birkenstocks chap who, together with his nerdwife, looks like they haven't darkened the door of a club since 1997 - as opposed to people like most of my friends who, regardless of age and day job, look like they do go out to a show sometimes - ehhhhhh uhhhh blehhhhh.
Ennyway I had forgotten or didn't realize that Patti was actually making a personal appearance at this showing along with the director. That made me feel better about spending wads of money to rush back here and see a 15-dollar movie. I have seen Patti Smith live before (a couple years ago actually) and she's cool to see though I am not a Hyooge Fan of hers. I feel like that last statement warrants some 'splainin'. I've always enjoyed her poetry, although when I was young I didn't like some of the grittier aspects - the focus on the symbolism of piss, shit, other bodily fluids. Nevertheless I would return to read it repeatedly at age 18 with the same sort of horrified fascination I had with sexuality at the time. Patti Smith played a key part in developing whatever sexuality there is in me, and yes there is some, but it's buried pretty deep in the sand for various reasons. this film is not for view/ this film is not for you. But, it's there, and played its role out more when I was twentyish, a natural part of development as I see it. I can still remember going on the bus to Baltimore to meet a boy (yes, he was a boy and not a Man at the age we were) and reading "Babel" on the bus and thinking thoughts. It was one of those books I had to hide from my mother...things happened on that trip. Small things in others' books, perhaps, but big things to the Me I was then.
I think the main reason I did not get more into Patti Smith as a youngun, besides all that swearing, fucking, pissing and shitting (which I don't mind now that Ted and I sing that Godfathers song as "SHIT! FUCK! PISS! CRAP!" to blow off steam in the car on the way to work), was simply that she wasn't pretty. If she had been the same person and looked like Bebe Buell, or even Janis Joplin (who had a pretty smile and curves) I'd of dug it...but then of course she wouldn't have been the same person, sharp, angular, slouched, androgyne, alternately vulnerable and manly. Then, the shallow young Libra in me rejected her un-beauty. Now, as I age and lurch towards Scorpio, I like how Patti looks. It's not just that as I age I become more open-minded abt what is pretty, it's also that Patti herself is one of those wemon who become more beautiful with age, her rough edges smoothed down in the rock tumbler of life.you can see the change even over the ten or so years of film shot for the doc. Now, she's almost geisha-like, the original hippie-punk earth-mama straddling eras that used to seem opponents at each others' throats. Timeless? Anyway it's cool. She is one of my role models for aging well, and has been for a while.
You may ask why, if this chick obv means something to me, I do not define myself as a "fan" of hers. I think it's because at this point I prefer to just be a "fan" of locals, people I for the most part know, or see around, and can relate to because we come from the same place. Like, I can relate to ppl who grew up in Ohio like I did, around eras and things that I had a hand or at least a finger in. So I can be a "fan" of Uncle Bob and Death of Samantha and Derek and ppl like that. With Patti, I can dig some of her work, but I don't really "relate". I was not born postwar, I did not spend formative time in NYC (which she clearly loves so much, it's cute and I wonder how she put up with all those years in the burbs of Detroit), the sixties and all that revolution and Dylan worship were not my tyme. I was a punk to get away from all that 60s shit thrust upon me, not as an extension of that influence. I don't mind it now cuz there's not so much reason to rebel as there is when you're growing up and being told both subtly and directly that your own yoof culto0r don't mean shit cuz the 60s gen already Did It All and established the mechanisms (such as the Wreckord Industry) by which you'd be expected to jump through hoops if you wished to Do Anything...
Plus there are other aspects of Patti, such as her political bents, some of her music (I like "Dancing Barefoot" but I enjoy reading "Horses" off a page more than hearing/seeing it performed), her "art work" (I like the poetry, but visually, her best "art" is her ownself), her purported mental attachment to Rimbaud, and her motherhood - I am prolly never going to be part of the Mom Rock Club, and having a de facto kid or so it seemed for a short bit is not the same thing and I don't want it to be - anyway, these are areas where Patti's life forked one way and mine another, so the best I can do is smile across a crowded room. Plus plus, Patti's fan base, oy vey. Half of them are the Mom Rock or Mom Art or Mom Activist types, and the other half are these suburban SUV driver-looking-types who, you suspect, have poetry books and wilted dreams stuck away in their bottom drawers. I do have my share of Ole Potry Books in de Draw but yanno, I still try, I do my metalwork shite, I write on here, I scribble on the occasional scrap of legal paper or engg graph paper, I am not a-buried under a stack of faded lingerie and worn-out baby shoes. Yet.
Mmff...so back to da movie, pholks...ennyway despite being back in the long long line I managed to score a front row seat, prolly because ppl didn't want to sit that close to the screen. I was next to a group of four or five rabid fiftysomething female Patti fans who'd all come down together like some kinda Chick Lit nite out. I held their seats so they could get drinks and they held mine so I could get a red wine and then Patti came out very jetlagged with the director to say Hi before we watched the film.
The movie itself was decent, I thought it ran on about 45 min too long but if I were a Hyooge Patti Fan I prolly wouldn't mind. It's not really abt her life in any sort of organized manner, it's more just a collage, here and there, stories, memories, performances. The parts with her late husband were quite moving/ touching but few in number. I was just thinking of him since I happened to grab my DKT-MC5 shirt from the stack to wear Thursday. I liked the parts with her parents who are now dead as well. Patti seems to have had a largely happy, if a bit boring, childhood, as did I, and that's a nice thing; artists, even edgy ones, don't always spring from roiling turmoiling pasts. You get a little core of peace there. And yes, she does talk about piss and shit and there are scenes in some French outhouse, lol. She carries Mapplethorpe's ashes around - I wonder if she carries her dead husband's too, but maybe she doesn't need to, she has kids who embody his essence. The Mapplethorpe footage reminded me of years ago when Ted and I tried to see his posthumous show down here that was banned at the last minute from the big museum thanks to Strom Thurmond or some ass in Congress bcuz it had oooo000OO00ooo! bondage pics!! in it and it moved to a teenty gallery and Ted and I dint get to see it cuz we couldn't get in :( Patti sure had an interesting life and in some ways I envy that but it's not the life I was meant to have and my own isn't a bad one.
After the movie Patti came back out with the director and the emcee, who was (of all ppl) Weasel Who Used to Be on WHFS and is on some other station now. OH GWAD he is just as annoying as ever. Horrible little bald man with a fringe of hair sticking out, trying to be all hip. He kept trying to ask her questions abt the making of the movie and he said something about "now that the money is rolling in" and she said "What money? There's never been any money." I forget what else he asked but it was some downer question and she quipped, "Don't you have anything positive to say?" When he asked another question she just turned away and made funny faces at the audience, then started joking about how weird she thought her cordless mic was and how she just couldn't get used to it. Patti is very witty the same way Todd Rundgren is witty, I can see how they used to be friends.
She and the director answered a few audience questions, then she sang "Wing" and "People Have the Power" with her son accompanying. Her son is in the movie too but most of the footage is from when he was in high school and looked/acted a lot like utopiavista; he doesn't look and act anything like that now and indicated he was sort of embarrassed by the old footage. Also twitted his mom abt her bad gtr playing in the movie, saying "Dad would never play like that!" And then proceeded to play quite well, just like Daddy I'd assume. Kids. Patti sang very wonderfully esp for how jet lagged she clearly was, and the front row afforded me a very nice view of her show. By the time she got to "People Got the Power", an audience request from the prim-looking lady in the white sweater next to me, her front-row fans were up dancing in the aisle, and the lady next to me who'd asked for it was happily singing along (she apologized to me for her singing after but it didn't bug me that much, she was just being happy). I didn't get up and dance cuz my back was bothering me and I didn't want to block anyone's view, but I clapped and sang along on the choruses. I remember that song from when the vid would be on MTV's 120 Minutes real late and I would be watching it in Columbia MD feeling at that time like THE most powerless person in the world, unable to get the love I wanted or the life I wanted or accomplish anything. That song was a tiny ray of hope, the vid even including that scene of the Pope forgiving his assassin which was something I NEVER thought I'd see on MTV and meant a lot to me, what with Sinead o'Connor busy tearing up his pics and whatnot. Perhaps it is a hopeful song now too, for reasons I'm not clear abt, but the things I see and hear that move me, I see and hear for a reason, at an appropriate time...
Overall a nice moving event and like I said, worth blowing some chaynge to get to. I thought there would be pictures of it on FilmfestDC.org today because at least one photog shot a zillion, but they aren't assiduously updating their blawg this year as they have in the past, so for now my Emptee Words will just have to suffice. :)
current mood: hopeful
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