Sunday, November 19, 2017

lady bird [2017]

i want to watch this movie again, and again, and again, and again.  right off the bat, this is a miracle of a film.  it might be the best coming-of-age movie in a long time.  sacramento native, greta gerwig, wrote and directed a love letter to her natal city, and crafted the most loving story of the relationship between mother and daughter.  the people are real, gritty, flawed, sweet, petty, and large hearted as the people we know.

saoirse ronan plays christine 'lady bird' mcpherson a senior at a catholic high school who is developing in to the person she is meant to be.  her mother, marion, played by laurie metcalf, is a psychiatric nurse who must work extra shifts at the hospital because her husband, lady bird's father, larry, played by tracy letts, was laid off his job as an engineer.  lady bird is not her given name.  it is an invention by lady bird herself, a gift to the creation of identity.

the year is 2002-2003.  lady bird's parents are struggling financially, but they are not poor.  lady bird is cut from the same cloth as her mother, marion, both are strong, independent, intelligent women.  these qualities lead to frequent fights and misunderstandings.  and yet, there is a tenderness under the surface tension.  larry is a sweet natured man who is quietly shouldering his own burdens.

and yet and yet, the delight filmmaker gerwig provides to her characters never leaves the screen.  good god, this movie is beautifully written, expertly directed, wonderfully photographed and awesomely edited.  lady bird and marion suffer loss and heartache, but no one, i mean, no one, beginning with lady bird's first boyfriend and love, to the hip kids she later hangs out with, are made the enemy.  indeed, there is a scene, after a betrayal, between lady bird and her first love, that is so sweet and so beautiful that i choke up just thinking about it as i type.

i can go on and on about the beauty of this movie and the reality of its conceits and characters.  i know, you know, these people.  lady bird and marion are people you know in your own lives.  and what can i say about greta gerwig's treatment of my own beloved hometown.  for she made a love letter to sacramento.  the thrust of most of this flick is centered in my own backyard.  i was wondering how the hell could i have missed the film crew as it shot many scenes where i live.  i mean, really, the neighborhood where i live is prominent in this film.  i didn't see any film crews during production of this movie even tho they shot prominently my neighborhood, such as the rose garden in mckinley park, where lady bird falls in love, is just two blocks from where i am sitting right now.  hell, gerwig and co. even put my family's favorite dive burger stand, cookie's, located on h street, in this flick.  i was agog by what i saw onscreen.  because, yes, there has been several movies and TV shows that are supposed to be sacramento, but gerwig's movie is the first one i've seen that makes sacramento a central character, and photograph the city as a real place.

you might wonder if my love for my city blinds me to the flaws of this flick.  i give an emphatic no.  this is a perfect movie.  i say that soberly, and matter-of-fact-ly.  i didn't want this movie to end.  i wanted to stay in the company of lady bird, marion, larry, the rest of her family, and friends for hours and hours.  but even the ending of this movie is precise, hits just the right note.  this movie is perfectly cast, beautifully acted, gorgeously shot and edited, and superbly written and directed. this is the first movie written and directed by greta gerwig.  i think we have a major talent in our midst.  i can't wait to see her next film.

see this movie.  i beseech you.  witness the flawed beauty of its characters, and of my beloved city.  i don't know how else to end this review.  this is a movie that has you fall in love, with life, again.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

sometimes I get anxious over the fact
that I am so ordinary
                       tadeusz rozewicz 

i look forward to becoming
a cranky old man
you know the type
standing before you in the grocery queue
complaining about the length of the line
and shaking his cane
at the hapless store clerks
in the meantime i was looking at photos
of my fellow poets who all pose
with wild hair and crazy eyes
and classy or mismatched clothes 
i am so ordinary i feel like i need to take
up some bad habits
like pipe smoking and spitting on the sidewalk
learn to cuss out passing traffic in four languages
and either shave my head or grow my hair
instead i look in to my mirror
i'm surprised to find a face on the other side
that looks like an older me
more like my father than the man who
shares my name
whose poems are printed on pages stuck together
by spit and pipe smoke
macaronic missives of extreme states
who can bang out text after text
that no longer resemble mine

Friday, November 10, 2017

two images

this is a young century & i don't think it is always useful to slice years decades & generations in to distinct parts for i have more in common with some people who are 20 30 or so years older than me than i have with people of my own generation & when we think of the change of centuries what we are really contemplating is the dynamics of technological & social change because people are people whether it be in this century or the last but what is different is our technology & our technological changes that foist social change

what is different in this century rather than the century i was born in is digital culture AI automation & rapid climate change but all these things have their antecedents in the previous century & even the century before that

meaning that we live in a continuity a perpetual present where our cultures changes and/or adapts to the forces that act upon them

the biggest threat to our species is climate change but we have yet to really do anything about a rapidly destabilized climate

we are also automating the shit out of our manufacturing bases i just read an article in the new yorker titled 'the dark factory' the title refers to a factory so automated there is no need to turn on the lights because robots don't need them which begs the question where do the laid off workers find jobs when there will be fewer jobs to be had

we have three threats in this new century Automation AI & Climate Change

let me quote the character Eli. played by Robert Duvall, in the movie version of Cormac McCarthy's the road [2009], who said about the impending disaster, 'even if you knew what to do you wouldn't know what to do'

& that is what i think about how we deal with the trinity i listed above particularly climate change, we know what we should do but we don't know what to do so the problems will hit us -- are hitting us like a brick to the brain pan -- with a ferocity we couldn't know until it is upon us & then, only then, will we see it as a great conclusion to the obvious

AI will be upon us sooner than we realize, like our mobile phones, for our phones may seem like they've been always with us -- who doesn't remember those flicks where a character has a brick-like mobile phone in the 1980s -- the smart phones we carry in our pockets have been with us for only about 10 years now & these devices have utterly changed our economics our society our work place if you don't believe me then reflect on this for you can use a dating app to find a life partner you are connected to your work 24/7 via email & messaging apps & you can order anything you can think of with a few swipes & taps

think about your mobile device & how it has changed brick & mortar retailing or movie/TV watching in short mobile technology has changed the world in ways that was not even imagined 20 years ago

that is what is happening with AI it will change everything

so if i might add two images that might represent our new century it is this

the refugee

the militarized police

when there are no jobs or food or fresh water or stable government millions of people will leave their places & seek out jobs food fresh water & security elsewhere

we see this mass migration beginning now

wait a decade or two or perhaps three but sure as shit millions tens of millions will be on the move looking for a better life & when these tens of millions move they will be met with militarized police because the governments of more stable countries will not have the political will the infrastructure or the space to accommodate all these people

the shit, as the bard wrote, has hitteth the fan

how can my -- our -- poetry be equal to our times

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

today is halloween

all youse boils and ghouls i hope your merry scary day was a good one.  it was pretty mellow here at casa de lopez/bronson.  this is the first year that nick didn't go out trick-or-treating.  a bittersweet experience for me because i know our son is growing in to his own person but that magical time of santa claus and dressing for halloween are over.  it is as it ever was, besides nick did carve the jack o'lantern when he got home from school.  and i was happy to hand out candy to all the trick-or-treaters tonight as we watched the haunting [1963] on TCM, a great spooky movie that set your fright senses alight by all the disorienting camera angles and deep focus photography.  as i always say, halloween is in the heart and its iconography, movies, candy etc. etc. are always available to those who seek it.

until next year, boils and ghouls.


Monday, October 30, 2017

everyday is halloween

i have not posted much but this scary season was filled with halloween style activities.  we visited our favorite pumpkin patch, cool patch pumpkins with the world's largest corn maze.  nick took the map and guided us thru the maze with a sure confidence that belies his age.

we took the candlelight tour at winchester mystery house in san jose.  anna and i took this tour about, oh ten years ago, when it was the flashlight tour where you were issued your own flashlight and the lights were turned down and you learned the history of the house.  we thought the tour would be the same this year.  nope.  a candlelight tour means that your docent is dressed in victorian garb, tells you ghost stories as she leads you room by room where in those rooms are scare actors there to say boo to you.

finally, we visited pumpkin nights in auburn.  i thought this display would be little more than racks of jack o'lanterns placed on walkways.  rather, it was a bit more than that.  i had a blast wandering the dioramas with nick, anna, and our good friends, b., c. and their son j.

lo!  i did not get to a haunted house this year.  i think i am the only idiot in my family who loves halloween haunts.  what can i say.  i love those things that howl in the night.

below are a few pics from our halloween adventures.

the maze

this year's haul

the cemetary

the door to nowhere

the endless house

sarah winchester is watching you

pumpkin nights

happy halloween


everyday is halloween

the haunted churchyard

yep, put a quarter in to visit.  i got scared!  what can i say?  i like all things that say


you know when i see a picture of a writer in his/her study i can't help but look at their stacks of books and try to read the titles

Sunday, October 29, 2017

slowdive at the fox theater in oakland

a few months ago when i read about slowdive's new album i immediately went online to check if they were on tour.  sure as shit, they were hitting oakland in october.  i bought tix and planned on taking nick to see one of my favorite bands.  really.  on my tombstone i want writ HERE LIES RICHARD LOPEZ, POET, BELOVED HUSBAND, FATHER, BROTHER & SON.  HIS FAVORITE BANDS WERE SOCIAL DISTORTION AND SLOWDIVE.  that about sums up it all up.

instead i asked my brother to come with me to the fox theater in oakland.  luckily he agreed.  my younger brother and i were -- are -- very close, best friends when we were in college and roommates.  but now we have our own families and obligations.  we don't get together for stupid shit. like seeing concerts.  tonight was a treat.

but driving in the bay area is a harrowing experience.  even so, we were using those new-fangled smart phones that use satellites to geo-position ourselves to our destination.  and even then we missed a critical off-ramp.  we were heading toward the bay bridge and SF.  fuckin' A.  fortunately there is treasure island -- a man-made hunk of rock that houses, or perhaps used to house, a navy base -- in the middle of the bay, that we used as a u-turn to get back to oakland.  the side trip added just 15 minutes to our journey.

i was about to have a heart attack.  i like to be early.  we had only a 1/2 hour to get across the bay, find parking, and get to the theater.  could we make it?  we did, and we found parking -- not a small endeavour in and of itself-- in no time.

the fox is a gorgeous theater with great details that would, i think, blow your mind if you were in a chemically induced state that allows for blown minds.

as my brother noted, the audience was a refreshing mix of younger and older people.  slowdive was founded in 1989 and broke up in 1996.  its core fan base hover in the average age range of late 40s and early 50s.  there was even a family with a little girl among the audience.  i suspect the girl's parents were fans of the band when they were in college -- like me -- and wanted to share their love of music with their child.  slowdive is a loud live band, but these parents provided their kid with industrial sized ear protection.  but there were plenty of twenty somethings too, which is a proof that music -- art -- breaks down generational barriers.  good music  -- good art -- finds its listeners/viewers.

but this old man rock&roller was raring to go.

i took all these pics using my iPhone.  i noticed nearly everyone i saw also had a smart phone.  say what you want about our culture but we have merged with our devices.  digital life and physical life are blended together whether we like it or not.  we live via our devices as much as we live via our physical selves.

which means we document shit in real time.  i texted a few photos to anna, who was at home with nick, and i got a nearly instantaneous response from her.  even as the band played i took my phone out to snap a couple of pics.

slowdive was magnificent.  i saw them in 2014 with my good friend, b., when they played the warfield in s.f.  b. told me the band was loud.  after a song that erupted in a wall of noise i asked my brother what he thought of the band.  he said, they are loud.

that they were which made this old punk's heart go pitter patter.

then the band finished their encore.  they played songs from all their albums including personal favorites like 'alison', '40 days', 'when the sun hits', and more.  i can die a happy man.  i saw one of my favorite bands at their peak, twice in this decade.

then we pointed our vehicle east and a little over an hour later we were back in our beloved home town and our respective families.  


Thursday, October 26, 2017

the mirror

i don't know but i look in the mirror
at my 50 year old self

and i think, it won't get better than this