Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grand Prix (1966)

Retro Active Critique #8
Lucky number eight. 'Grand Prix' is another film I've loved since I watched it on video(!), then owned the DVD. 
I'm partial to the skillfully executed, lengthy racing scenes in 'Grand Prix'. I love the very detailed direction of John Frankenheimer. The characters at play and the ensemble cast are fascinating; the film features James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, Jessica Walter and Antonio Sabata. The initial reason I sought and obtained a copy of the film is because it features one of my favorite people (if not the most favorite), Francoise Hardy, in a minor role as a racing groupie. 
Many of the films shared here on 'Retro Active Critiques' began as happy accidents that I'd first encountered by way of an ulterior motive of finding rare appearances of cherished female icons (as in previous posts for 'The Boyfriend' and 'Privilege'.) 
The storyline in 'Grand Prix', despite its suggestion of speed (and there's plenty of that), moves and builds gradually. It's similar to many of its contemporaries in terms of its style in plot development. A film like this can be considered boring by today's standards, but I relish in its stoic pace. 
The characters are given ample time to develop. The business of Formula One racing is explored rather thoroughly. Of course the locations in 'Grand Prix' are fabulous. As are the wardrobes. It's a visual feast. 
The racing scenes in 'Grand Prix' were so painstakingly filmed, it is a credit to the production team and Frankenheimer –– not to mention the actors portraying racers. They actually did some of the driving themselves. (For greater detail, watch the video posted here called 'Glamour on F1 1960s'.)
There are even profound moments. I came across one of my favorite lines of all time in this film. Montand's Frenchman –– the racer Jean-Pierre Sarti –– when asked by his love interest (played by Eva Marie Saint) how he can stand to continue the race when someone else is injured, speaks about his feelings at that difficult moment: instead of slowing down, like everyone else is apt to do, that is precisely the moment when he speeds up. 'I used to go to pieces... But I'm older now. When I see something really horrible, I put my foot down. Hard. Because I know that everyone else is lifting his.' It's a chilling perspective that he shares.
The character of Sarti voices a great lesson in life, the cold, harsh reality of competition. And of winning. He demonstrates that if you win enough, you may live to regret your choices. Ever since, I always keep that observation in my pocket. It has given me a certain strength and point of view in peculiar instances. 
For me, that is evidence of a great film –– one that leaves even a single lasting impression for the rest of your life. I was so fully charged by the utterance of that phrase, I'm still reluctant to explain it fully here, as if I'd give away some secret from the character of Sarti to myself. A bit of advice that's rather existential. Just how I like it.
I couldn't have more fun watching the languid, ultra calm, cool (might some find her boring, as well?) Francoise Hardy. She might have been the hippest girl on the planet at that moment. The Gallic, other-wordly chanteuse never found the same popularity stateside as she had in Europe. Even back then. Her constant, looming presence remains here on this blog since she is my idol.
The following clip captures some of the beauty, excitement and reflection of 'Grand Prix' set to its luminous overture music.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mirage (1965)

Retro ACTIVE Critique #7

'Mirage' is a film scripted by Peter Stone, who also wrote 'Charade' (1963) and 'Arabesque' (1966). Of the three films, 'Charade' is by far the most revered and successful. 'Mirage', on the other hand, has been appreciated (and remembered) least out of the three. An underrated gem. But it is definitely worth a viewing or two. 

All three have a good deal in common. 'Charade' and 'Mirage' both feature Walter Matthau and George Kennedy in supporting roles. Gregory Peck is the lead for 'Mirage' and 'Arabesque'. And all three have beautiful leading ladies: Audrey Hepburn in 'Charade', Sophia Loren in 'Arabesque', the lesser-known Diane Baker in 'Mirage'.
Which led me to wonder why, of these three (equally) clever films, 'Mirage' has been most neglected. My theory is that, for one: it is filmed in black and white. And two: Diane Baker. I've enjoyed some of Baker's performances, but here she tries too hard to evoke Hepburn––and unsuccessfully, at that. Her manner of speech and demeanor is an almost irritating imitation. Understandably, I suppose, as she was the female lead in the then tagged 'Hepburn-esque' role, and this was after the mass success of 'Charade'. But she seems lost in this failed attempt. A near caricature. If it weren't for Audrey Hepburn and 'Charade', perhaps Baker––being more herself––could have made this performance more watchable.
But aside from my lack of enthusiasm for Diane Baker's performance, 'Mirage' is fantastic. Where 'Charade' plays like a humorous homage to Hitchockian yarns––but as a comedy enhanced with thrills––'Mirage' is the reverse: a psychological thriller that would make Hitch proud, sprinkled generously with amusing moments. It is a tightly woven mystery that leaves its audience guessing until the end. 

I had seen the film before, but watching it again recently, I had (quite fittingly to its subject!) forgotten what all of the twists were, which allowed me to go for the entire ride once again––and I found it just as entertaining as before.

Gregory Peck plays David Stillwell, a cost accountant in New York who cannot seem to recall the last two years of his life, but finds himself mixed up in a murder. He must understand his connection to it before he, too, is done in. He can barely remember anything about himself as he tries to piece his life together. We can only follow him breathlessly as he makes small advances towards the truth––which we finally learn only when he does, at the very end. 

'Mirage' is an intriguing, challenging journey, and one that's very well played out by all, starting with Peter Stone's witty script. The dialog between Peck and Matthau––who plays an amateur P.I., and the only person who will help him––is especially great. As one would expect. Peck is a very watchable and likable leading man here. And for any Gregory Peck, Walter Matthau, Hitchcock, or 'Charade' fan, I highly recommend this film. 
A couple of examples of the great script here are when Diane Baker's character, during a blackout, says: "I've never understood why most people would do things in the dark that they'd never think of doing in the light." And when a man has jumped to his death from the top of the building––and thus, Stillwell's mystery begins to unravel––a crowd has gathered below. One man says: "It's the worst way to go. The worst. If I have the guts to step out of that window, I have the guts to go on living." Both scenes take place during the film's first ten minutes. The music is by Quincy Jones. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (1969)

From left to right: Ted, Carole, Bob & Alice
This brilliant and charming satire on an aged 'swinging sixties' decade, centered on the four individuals (a.k.a. two couples) headed for double trouble while trying to grasp at its final remnants, surprised and impressed me when I rented it many years ago. The idea of 'free love' among this group of confused married friends was odd and amusing.
Robert Culp as Bob, Elliot Gould as Ted
Written and directed by Paul Mazursky, with a terrific ensemble cast, "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" is of course dated but still intriguing, and very well-conceived. I love the script and the characters. It's an amusing study of normal people playing at being eccentric, and failing a little bit.
Natalie Wood as Carole
What "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice" succeeds in doing (and I imagine the impact might have been even stronger in its own time) is capturing a transition in how people had perceived themselves and their relationships from the 1960s as they were heading into the 1970s. The idea of free love becomes bored, bourgeois, trite and contrived in the experience shown through these characters. Their sense of rebellion and experimental freedom sets the stage for the suburban explorations of 'the swinger period' in the 1970's, and merely indicates that what started with a wild and carefree youth culture was now embraced by the middle-aged.
Carole with Alice -- Dyan Cannon, was nominated for an Oscar in her role
Meanwhile, the conflicting reality is that we humans as a species tend to be monogamous by nature, and feel more at peace with only one mate at a time. As do lions, and so many other animals in the wild. And isn't being natural and raw what freedom really is? In the end, when the charade has ended between the close-knit group in the film, they realize that being 'open' in their relationship actually means being open to their own respective partners, and honest with themselves - and that is freedom enough.
The following clip begins with one of the film's initial scenes, when Bob (Robert Culp) and Carol (Natalie Wood) have gone on a group retreat to explore a new relationship method phenomenon - a workshop of sorts. Which then sets off their need to impress upon their friends Ted (Elliot Gould) and Alice (Dyan Cannon) how they have acquired a profoundly liberated understanding, in general, and how very evolved they have become with this new mindset. The conversation that ensues over dinner is priceless...
My favorite moment of all occurs at the very end, when they leave together in silence and with a true sense of clarity, while the song sums it up best: "What The World Needs Now Is Love."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Retro Active Appreciation: George C. Scott

This has been the toughest post for me to write, and perhaps that's only fitting to its subject. Words just can't come easily to describe Mr. Scott. There is certainly an urgency and an intensity he brought to every role. He seems to have been somewhat more composed in real life (though who's to say), but the complex inner workings of the man as an actor are truly incomparable. If you want to see someone chew up the scenery, in any scene - no matter how trite it could have been in the hands of any other actor - George C. would have been your man. 
Even the sound of his name conjures a certain bite. In every role, here was this intellectual ruffian, a good but conflicted man wrestling with his own demons if not with those that threaten him, externally. A lion protecting his kingdom. He seemed always challenged, and made vulnerable by his own need to conquer whatever conflict had muddied his path. There is such charm in his gruffness (his voice and presence.) Apart from the vague description I offer here, it's complicated to define just what makes him watchable and endearing. He might not be a person I'd want to know in real life, but on screen he is a legend worth many observations. Just as one is drawn to watch a lion on the prowl.
Here are my favorite, standout George C. Scott films. (On a side note, how did I ever miss the fact that the C. in his name stands for Campbell? That he was in fact Campbell Scott's father? George seems to have fathered quite a number of little Scott's, but I have enjoyed a number of his son Campbell's performances, as well.)
Here's a bit from the film "Petulia" - in which you have The Grateful Dead, Julie Christie, San Francisco, Richard Chamberlain... and George. Great combo, and watch for the nice bit at the end of the clip, an exchange on cable cars (in our fair city):
Here is a full ten minutes of "The Changeling", to whet your appetite for a classic psychological horror show, the George C. way...
It's rather unfortunate there are so few clips on YouTube for this man, and none in particular for the other two film examples I'd suggest. (The one I haven't seen, ironically, is 'Patton' for which he is most remembered and won an Oscar.)
I can highly recommend "The Hospital", penned by Paddy Chayefsky of "Network" fame, which also stars Diana Rigg. It is a great satire on a corrupt health care profession in a fictional hospital, which was a progressive subject matter in 1971.

The other George recommendation and perhaps my favorite is "Day of the Dolphin", a forgotten Mike Nichols film (but memorable, if you've seen it) in which he plays a dolphin trainer. It is an exceptional and transcendent story, a sci-fi thriller that deals with inter-species communication and the fragility of nature (mixed with some political corruption.) Not as convoluted as it sounds, and one of the most moving films I've ever seen because of his paternal relationship with his sweet dolphins, and they to each other.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Privilege (1967)

Retro Active Critique #5

Tagline: "The Raw, Shocking Movie of a Pop Singer Who Makes it Big!" Films like this one are so rare, they're hard to locate and watch. Being a Jean Shrimpton fan, I found out that she appeared in one movie, called "Privilege". That is why I sought to buy a copy a few years ago. I managed, but from a rare, cult film website out of the U.K. The quality is really, pardon the expression, shite... but at least I was able to watch and experience this amazing film somehow. There seem to be a few copies for sale on Amazon now, for a hefty price. I ordered one a while back and it is still not available. So it seems to be out there, but not really, because I'm still waiting for it.

'Privilege' proved a great discovery. It is a political satire on pop stars, religion, fame and government. It also captures the frenzy of what has become reality television. But this was made in 1967... Visionary. The songs are quite over the top and fun, and for anyone who appreciates the swinging sixties and mod culture, it's a blast. Can be heavy and heady at times for the novice, but I enjoy irreverent humor. The film pokes fun at fanaticism of any kind, be it religious or Beatlemania, and how governments and corporations might like to take advantage of that mass appeal. There's obviously truth to this, then and now.

The character Steven Shorter (Paul Jones of the pop group Manfred Mann) is the first government-owned pop star and despite his rise to fame and its rewards, he is a product. He has little freedom, if any. He struggles with that for some time, only to give in to it finally. Jean Shrimpton, the model, does a decent job at acting here portraying Steven's girlfriend called Vanessa Ritchie. She is so stunning it wouldn't have mattered how she performed, but she handles her role beyond expectations. There is a great deal of religious symbolism, less in criticism than in humor. It's mainly a well-observed, intellectual study of society. And it's observations are strikingly aligned with our current experience. Which again, is impressive.

Of all the songs, I cherish this one most, a rocking version of "Onward Christian Soldiers". It cracks me up. The recording studio atmosphere, the religious bigwigs watching closely and the band just totally jamming. It's hilarious. Cool version of the classic hymn, performed by The George Bean Group. ('Onward!')

My real motivation for finding "Privilege" was Jean Shrimpton.
In conclusion, here are a couple of versions of a music video I made (recently) for this wonderful film.

My Alternate Reality Experience with Ken Russell's 'The Boy Friend' (1971)

It all started back in Greenwich Village, 1998. One evening, I borrowed this funny little movie featuring my beloved Twiggy from the local video store (yes, video) and then never returned it. I wasn't ready to let it go, so I paid to keep it, feigning that it had gone missing. In fact, it was very much present. Every day hence, for about two months. For two months I watched this movie. Even twice a day. At the very least, that is a grand total of 100+ viewings. Before you take pity on the poor soul who might do such a shifty thing, I'll admit that it doesn't seem quite right. But to this day I look back on that obsessive experience with the utmost amusement and fondness. It was so much fun. And I can even explain it to some extent.

At the time, I was also displaying dedication and focus to something else: a back problem I had since I was a wee one (could be described as a type of minor scoliosis, with deeply imbedded tension, that had its share of discomfort.) I was beginning to work on curing the problem on my own. With relentless effort, will-power and a lot visualizing, I resolved it completely in the course of about three years. It was hard work and something I am proud of. But back to "The Boy Friend", it really wasn't so strange to me at the time to be consumed by it. I was a recent graduate who had moved to NY with my own boyfriend. We lived in a great apartment, both considering what to do in the entertainment field, and had plenty of time to do as we pleased. I worked a few nights at the nearby hotspot, so during the day I was starting with this personalized back recovery and had time to myself.

I suppose that still doesn't explain why twice a day I'd want to spend time with Ken Russell's creation. It's all due to its own merits. This film is so brilliant. Silly, funny, charming. It is set in the 1930's and based on Sandy Dennis' famous stage play and musical of the same name from the 1920's. From an outside perspective, one would think it is a film adaptation of the play. But the mind of Ken Russell took this quite a bit further. There are three separate dimensions to this version: the musical play, in a matinee performance; what's happening off the stage with the performers, and each one's motivation; and their own crazy imaginations, often inspired by the play. It is so genius. The characters themselves live in these alternate realities. Each character is on his or her own 'trip' off the stage and each one corresponds with his or her stage character. It's funny to watch, a sort of organized chaos. Not to mention that the film is visually stunning.

I was captivated the first time, and just had to see it again and again. And what I started to do was create a
fourth dimension -- me, as a lowly audience member in the audience deprived theater. To this point,Twiggy's character Polly Brown, the assistant stage manager thrust onto the stage at the last minute when the star literally breaks her leg (because after all, the ASM is the understudy for every role) looks out from behind the curtain and says in her cockney accent: "Bligh me! There's more on stage than in the bloomin' audience." Priceless. And one of my favorite film quotes because it's so true in life, as well.

Part of the fun was just that... you see the seats, and they're nearly empty, and there's the occasional sparse clapping from one or two loners in the audience. I loved being part of this bad matinee performance, and in a way it was fun to revisit because I felt part of the group, the monotony of being at a matinee and performing each day to a near empty theater. It was as though I'd embarked on the pathetic and hilarious journey with these characters. It was a bit like "Groundhog Day" too, because each day I learned something new. Of course I memorized all the lines, the songs and the dances. I indulged in that rare luxury of pure entertainment, and this continuous escapism was my own alternate reality... an extended retreat within the fourth dimension to the film's other three.

A month or so after my bizarre marathon with "The Boy Friend", I found myself at a Broadway singing class in a sort of fascination, out of curiosity, wanting to observe. But the vocal coach told me as long as I was there I should do some scales. I didn't want to but he insisted, so in front of class full of Broadway hopefuls I went through the scales, higher and higher, and with little to no effort. I hadn't any idea I could sing like that, but "The Boy Friend" must have brought that out. The singing coach told me I'm a 'pure soprano', that with training I could sing anything on Broadway. Anything Julie Andrews sang, he said, for example -- as he was an older gentleman who would equate any proper soprano singing with her. Oddly enough, though, Julie Andrews' Broadway debut was in the role of Polly Browne in – you guessed it -- The Boy Friend! Chilling what a little focus can do, isn't it? This merely enhanced what was already an enjoyable experience. I did not want to pursue a career on Broadway, but I'll always know someone believed I could. And that's, again, all thanks to "The Boy Friend".

I've since wondered why I watched it so many times, deliberately. I prefer for there to be some purpose in my actions and behavior. I'd have been fine keeping it all to myself as a funny little secret. It never occurred to me then I'd have any reason to share it, if not for  this blog. It's definitely in keeping with Retro Activity. And in fact, if there is any one film I'd dedicate this entire blog to, it would be "The Boy Friend."

Here is one scene I could find from Ken Russell's madcap masterpiece. The film is a rare gem, unfortunately, having never even been released on DVD:

Note: Ken Russell sadly passed away today, November 28, 2011. 

When I first wrote this in 2009, a DVD version of "The Boy Friend" hadn't been released yet. It's good to know there has been a release of it, finally. Here is a more recent clip from YouTube. I might have to create an homage to "The Boy Friend" to share, myself.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Retro Active Appreciation: Donald Sutherland

A Donald Sutherland film, for me, has the same effect as a pacifier to a baby. Seeing him I feel calm, at ease and content. In my element, connected. I get that sense from him as a person, an actor, and often in the characters he portrays. I truly appreciate him.

There's the voice, the kind eyes and the general vibe that are so appealing. He is how I believe a fully evolved, intelligent person should be like. One fairly recent performance that comes to mind is his Mr. Bennet in 'Pride and Prejudice'. The scene, near the end, with his daughter Elizabeth, when he is so genuinely relieved to know she is happy and in love that he is moved to tears... which gets to me every time.

And it's no wonder he has portrayed the caring, protective figure so well and so often. It is also fitting that he played "Mr. X" in Oliver Stone's "JFK", in another great, scene stealing turn as the voice of truth and reason, shedding light on the facts behind the conspiracy.

But he can also be quirky and funny. After all, he is Canadian...! There are at least four films that are quintessential Retro Active Donald and I recommend them here, in appreciation.

The first is, of course, Robert Altman's "MASH". As Captain Hawkeye Pierce, he is the embodiment of rebellion, and his rapport with Elliot Gould is fun to watch. Apart from the great performances and writing, which led to the long running popular TV series, "MASH" is helmed by one of my favorite directors of all, Robert Altman. It's an easy, breezy but thoughtful entertainment, and it makes me laugh. Here the guys attempt to have a proper cocktail hour, despite the limitations of their Korean War post...

And here he is, describing his experience on "MASH", as only Don can. His insightful commentary here makes him even more endearing...! I love what he says about how watching people fighting is really absurd. I completely agree.

And there's "Klute". Apparently, he and Jane Fonda were romantically involved while making the film. And it shows, because the affection the two characters have for one another is very believable. He is John Klute, a private investigator looking to find out about his missing friend, and she is Bree Daniels, a confused prostitute mixed up in the dangerous case. She is so mixed up, and the telling scenes for her are when she is speaking with her psychiatrist, since she gives away only some of her feelings. What she hides is inferred by the her actions towards Klute.

My favorite scene in the film is a very quiet and subtle one - again because of Sutherland's magic. It is a scene when the two of them, still shy of the fact that they are in love, are feigning some normalcy while shopping at a fruit stand. Bree almost subconsciously sneaks a few pieces of fruit into her purse, as if she can't help but try to destroy the purity of the moment. John notices, and at first doesn't say anything. But when she waits for something, almost expectantly, he asks her with an amused little smile what she has in her bag, teasing her a bit, but goes on with his business of shopping for fruit... it shows that he is accepting of her, still loving her despite her manic flaws. And she just stares at him, in wonder and awe, disbelieving that anyone can be that kind to her, realizing that he does not pass judgment on her despite his disapproval of the acts she has committed.

"Invasion of the Body Snatchers" has in it three of my most beloved, shall we say... entities: Donald Sutherland, Leonard Nemoy and San Francisco. Or four, if you count Jeff Goldblum. In it, Sutherland is a great lead and although I haven't seen every film depiction of this story, I'm pretty sure this would be my favorite one. It's a horror film that won't put you terribly over the edge or make you quite so ill at ease.

Next is "Ordinary People", by far my favorite of this list. Robert Redford's directorial debut is a film that moves me unlike any other. No matter how many times I see it, I still get pummeled by the emotions it stirs up for me. In this he plays Calvin Jarrett, the caring head of a family that is grieving the loss of the older son. His wife Beth, played by Mary Tyler Moore, tries to maintain a front that things are fine, while his son Conrad is struggling tremendously with the situation, due in great part to his mother's lack of affection for him. There are many moving Donald scenes, as here he plays the loving husband and father to perfection.

Here is the scene where his character, Calvin, realizes and finally accepts his worst suspicions about his wife Beth - that she doesn't love Conrad and only mourns their son Buck, and that she in fact has very little room in her heart for anyone. And this breaks his own heart.

And then, the resolution with Conrad.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What's In A Name: Edie (My Sorrowful But Wonderful Association With An Edie)

Edie Brickell
It is common for names to affect one's personality, as studies have shown. Hard to say just how much someone is affected, yet somehow we find proof of it everywhere in terms of characteristics or qualities that are sometimes attributed to a name.

But someone's fate be sealed by a name? Can a name lead to a tragic life? This is what I can't help but wonder about the name Edith, Edie for short. The name already conjures up several tragic figures at it's mere mention. Hard not to notice, since in our recent history, and in the films devoted to their stories, we have had three (or four, depending on how you figure it) different Edie story depictions.
Edith Piaf
But I have personal investment in the name Edie that makes this phenomenon all the more strange and sad for me. About eight years ago, I adopted an adorable, tortoiseshell kitten from a shelter in Brooklyn to scare away rodents in the loft I lived in on Bedford Avenue. This became a requirement, if not a suggestion, from the building owner. I lived with two guys in a three bedroom place, but I ended up taking responsibility for bringing home a cat. I planned to adopt a mature kitty, but the people at the shelter thrust on me this tiny kitten –– the runt of the group –– because she was always getting shoved by the others, and wasn't getting her fair share of food. She was so small she couldn't take over the way the others did. I instantly fell for her, and she seemed to fluff up and brighten as I held her. I knew I had to adopt her. I took her back and everyone else fell in love with her too. And boy, did she enjoy being the center of attention, the center of the world as she knew it! Especially mine. I was instantly her friend, protector, guardian, and mom, and I don't think I ever felt that purity of heart from any creature before or since –– the amount of love she had for me, that she displayed in ways that were so pronounced, was the most touching thing I will ever experience.
'Little Edie' Beale
When she finally had her own space, and food bowl, she transformed. This tiny kitten literally started bouncing up in the air, up to about five or six feet in the air to our amazement, from pure joy. We thought she became a superhero. The way she was flying up into the air, right off the ground was the most peculiar and amazing thing. My roommate and I could not believe the energy of this little feline. To this day I can't describe the flips and bounces she was suddenly doing –– just near magical feats from her inner joy. I was trying to decide on the perfect name for her. Somehow I came to Edie. It just felt right, and I was quick to tell anyone who asked that she is NOT named after Edie Sedgwick, no, no, no –– but Edie Brickell, who I was listening to a lot at the time, and whose life is not known for tragedy. Brickell was someone I associated with fun, cheerfulness and joy. And that was my little Edie. 

One day, only a week or two after she was living with us, I came home and playful, happy little Edie was hiding under a table and wouldn't come out. I called to her and when I found her I saw her crouched there, her eyes so frightened. I had no idea what happened, but I was scared and worried. When I tried to bring her out, I realized she was hurt –– she made little shrieking noises and her eyes bulged even more. We put the pieces together and realized she was still so small but such a daredevil that she must have climbed the wide loft stairs up to the top bedroom, and somehow fallen down. Seemed likely since she had recently experimented with the stairs. I was terribly distraught and tried to explain to little Edie that she would be fine. I could tell that she was still so young and inexperienced that this injury, and the pain (in her ribs) had broken her spirit and she thought she'd never be okay again... She had been crouched in pain for hours, which must have seemed an eternity.
Edie Sedgwick
I carefully placed her in her carrier with a blanket and quickly took her to the nearest emergency veterinarian –– which was fortunately just blocks away and happened to be holistic, and amazing. Edie received acupuncture right then and there (I couldn't believe this luck), some little pills for me to administer to her for a few days with her food, and in a few days time she really was completely okay, physically –– just as I'd promised her she'd be. But she had changed, because somewhere in her heart, that incredible zeal for life she had discovered after being tortured by the other kittens at the shelter –– then brought home to have her own big space and comfort –– was lost again, and some of it was lost for good. Perhaps because it was in a state of excitement and joy that she had managed to get hurt, and that's what really stung her. She was still amazingly sweet, loving, grateful –– an angel so full of love I was forever touched by her. But she had faced the dark side of life, and now she was sober. At her sweet, young joyful age, she had become wise to pain and strife.

Right before Edie came into my life, September 11 happened. My roommates and I watched the second tower go down before our eyes from the rooftop. After a few months, circumstances led for each of the roommates to begin to depart from that loft, and I found a place nearby that was just right. I moved there with Edie. And each day it was the same, just my presence seemed to give her such joy, and it was a wonderful thing to have her around. Whereas cats are usually independent, Edie was more like a dog or a child, she needed to see me there, all the time. A few months later, the landlady, who lived right next door, told me that the apartment I lived in would need to be worked on –– so I would have to move out. But she liked me, and said had a room for me in her own home next door, another brownstone building with rooms she rented (but where she lived) with one catch: as much as she adored Edie, Edie couldn't live there with me because her male cat lived there, and he would not like for there to be an additional feline on the premises. But she offered a solution –– Edie could stay in the building I was moving from, and live with her son in one of the other apartments there. So I would be neighbors with Edie, and could visit her anytime. Seemed that I didn't have much choice in the matter, and it could work –– temporarily at least.

But my being away from her was difficult for Edie. She felt abandoned and every time I visited her in my landlady's son's apartment, she had that same overjoyed and about-to-burst-at-the-seams reaction. Her body language and her eyes asked me to please stay, don't leave again, please. She was not happy with the change, despite being treated with kindness and fed well, her reaction to me was always the same as time went on with the new arrangement –– she didn't seem to adjust and I could tell she just wanted to be with me all the time. It pains me to recall this, but thinking about her always brought me back to this "Edie connection" I've since had to ponder.

I moved away from New York, and she stayed there, and she had finally adjusted and felt at home –– but I still think about Edie every day and any time I think about her I get choked up and need to cry. I can't really express it in words, but her purity and love, and the choices I had to make at that time, are still devastating to me. Not being able to keep her with me has been the biggest regret in my life. And I know I am lucky, really, to have such few regrets. But that sweet soul, she deserved all the love in the world. She had so much in her heart, she seemed like she'd explode, and she only wanted to give it all to me. I should have sought another option and made a different decision, for both of us, though at the time those decisions seemed right. But I won't ever get past it.

The following Edie B. song "Love Like We Do" is what Edie's true nature was for me, and how our wonderful life was together for a while... Me and that unforgettable, loving spirit I was lucky enough to know. What surprised me even more is how the video –– with animated drawings by Edie Brickell herself –– is completely reminiscent of my little Edie, too. The kitty in this could have been her. I didn't see this video until years later, after naming her for Edie Brickell. It's a chilling coincidence that the video should have a kitty like my Edie in it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Message to Occupants: We Are Your Friends

'Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft' is a very soothing song –– and one of the most pleasing Retro Active discoveries recently.

To honor the release of the new 'Star Trek' big screen adventure, let's find out what actually happened when The Carpenters and the original Starfleet Command of the United Federation of Planets joined forces. (Please note how Karen seems to get through to Spock; he is likely smitten by her logical but empathetic disposition.)

Ssshhhh, now let's watch, closely...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Please Don't Stop the Moog or the Modness

It's no wonder I long for it to be a mod, mod, mod world. The following videos move me and lift my spirit. Crazy good. I once considered buying a Moog. They're wildly expensive but probably worth it. A bit of Pierre Cardin and Jeanne Lanvin doesn't hurt either (not even a bit.) I am indebted to mod style –– and now these videos –– for bringing such joy into my life.