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Hard To Watch - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Hard To Watch
Kim and I went to see the new Spike Lee movie Inside Man this evening, while our daughter was at her "Kid's Night Out." It was light, but felt just right after a tiring week. I turned to Kim during the film and said, "This is like David Mamet." She replied that our favorite local film critic had written the same thing in his review. Anyway, it's worth a trip if you like police procedurals.

The title of this entry doesn't refer to Inside Man, which was easy too watch, but the preview for United 93 we saw beforehand. I knew from cpratt that they were making a film about September 11th and the tale of Flight 93. But I'd somehow suppressed that knowledge until the preview started. At first I was having trouble figuring out what the film was about, because I was only half paying attention. And then I saw him.

Blue-and-gold rugby shirt. Cal hat. Stooping his large frame as he entered the cabin. It was Mark. Only it wasn't. Many people knew him better than I did. I can't claim ownership of him. Because I knew him at an intense time in his life and mine, though, and because he was dating my best friend, he made a major impression on me. Kim too. "I can't look at this," she said, bowing her head. Afterwards, as we were walking back through the Foothills Mall, she explained. "I cooked food for him. He sat at my table. He pet Tibbs."

She says she won't go see the picture. I will, even though it will surely disappoint, not to mention that it will probably end up serving troubling political ends. I feel Mark deserves that much, that everyone who was on that plane does. Have I told you that we had to cancel our subscription to the New York Times back in the fall of 2001? Kim and I couldn't stand to read the 9/11 obituaries after awhile. They moved us too much.

It's hard to believe that our nation's leadership has moved us so far away from that strange time of collective grieving in only a few short years. That was a time when I didn't mind seeing American flags everywhere, when I felt solidarity with the SUV-driving Republican parents whose daughter played with ours at Gymboree. I'm sick of dividers who masquerade as uniters.

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Current Location: 85704
Mode: pensive

16 comments or Leave a comment
parilous From: parilous Date: April 8th, 2006 02:29 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
On Metafilter, when you want to express your condolences and respect without saying as much, you post a single period.

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 8th, 2006 03:14 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
That's a nice gesture. I wasn't aware of that. I'm a little behind the curve on knowing how to express myself in computer-speak. Thanks.
tpratt From: tpratt Date: April 8th, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I think I've seen that receipt posted before. I'm pretty sure one of the items must be a case of Gerolsteiner water. The other items, though, I'm hazy on. Maybe a jar of tikka masala simmer sauce? Some macadamia nut and milk chocolate laceys? A can of dolmas?

You'll have to let me know how the movie turns out. I am easily manipulated by film. I cry every time I watch the end of the Iron Giant. I'm not saying the movie will be shit. The picture Chris posted even kinda sorta looks like the man. It's just something that makes me sad when I think about it, and I hesitate to invite strong emotion on purpose.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 8th, 2006 06:22 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I have posted that receipt before, as well as the photo, the former on 9/11/2004 and the latter on 9/11/2005.

There's definitely a case of Gerolsteiner, which I drink like mad during the hot months here. I'm pretty sure that at least one of the $2.99 items and perhaps both of them are organic cherry tomatoes. I'm not sure about the other item. It might be half gallon of milk. I don't know if they had gallons of organic 1% back then or not.

As for the film, I'm sure it will be designed to manipulate the audience into crying. But tears would flow even if that weren't the case. The thing is, for all the other bullshit that 9/11 spawned in this country, I still feel proud of the people on that plane. There was something punk, for want of a better term, about their attempt to do what the government clearly wasn't prepared to do. I admire that spirit. It's at the core of an Americanness I still respect.
tpratt From: tpratt Date: April 8th, 2006 06:57 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I couldn't agree with you more about the sense of pride that the story of flight 93 instills. While it would be gut-wrenching, I wish I knew exactly what happened, not through the Hollywood lens anyway. I have my ideas, and I guess that'll have to be good enough.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 8th, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yes. But if the film follows the report, turns it into a screenplay, I think it will help to give us make our ideas more concrete. It would be easy to ruin the effect, though.
cpratt From: cpratt Date: April 8th, 2006 07:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Come to think of it, I think United 93: Punk As Fuck is indeed a far better title. I'll have to hand-label the DVD release thusly.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 8th, 2006 08:22 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
sub__rosa From: sub__rosa Date: April 8th, 2006 08:36 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

ny times obits.

Like many things, I had never thought about there might have been others, like you, that would have to cancel a subscription to NY Times because of the obituaries; i never even really thought that, of course, there was going to be a blip-trend in the history of the NY Times obit page.

I'm not sure how they arranged them (differently than normal? Did they put more per day? Did they space them over time, and if they did, were the families upset?), but it's strange to think about how this disrupts 'business as usual', especially because business as usual in this case is the news.

I can imagine a obit. editor explaining the business side of this to his son years from now. What an interesting/ sad conversation that would be.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 8th, 2006 08:40 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: ny times obits.

Indeed. They were in a separate section called "A Nation Challenged." And they just kept coming.
From: zokah Date: April 8th, 2006 08:53 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: ny times obits.

Interestingly, I saved every single section of obits that stemmed from 9/11. I felt I had to - that I had to preserve the words relating to each person. I have a box labeled 9.11.01 with scores of NYT and other copy.

Further interestingness, I did the same thing with some "tragic events" that occured while I was living in Israel but not others. One explosion over another. Like here, I archived material from 9.11.01 and not from Oklahoma City. This causes me some degree of guilt.
art_thirst From: art_thirst Date: April 9th, 2006 05:13 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I know it came through a couple people to me getting to know you and Kim and, I'm honored and proud to be associated with you on LJ. I just wish we lived closer so that I could stop by and say hello. Anyway, that's what this and Kim's post made me say. Of course, having Chris and Dan there too would be very special indeed. One of these days it might happen.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 9th, 2006 06:14 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I would love that. If I ever make it to South Florida, I'm coming to find you!
From: bobo_amargo Date: April 11th, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

The Smell of the Sepulcher

My response to the obit pages in the NY Times was, it seems, very different. I stopped reading them precisely because they seemed to me to be a fairly painful indication of a nation incapable of mourning, a nation so transfixed by spectacle and the "ethos" of celebrity that, exactly to the extent that it grandiloquently theatricalized the particulars of each and every lost life, it would subsequently come to dehumanize and discount the proliferation of lost lives around the world it was thereby preparing itself to perpetrate. Mourning is only mourning by its fruits. You asked me recently, Charlie, whether I still write poetry. It took me about a year to respond to my thoughts on this matter:

Lies Compressed an E-mail below “Tintinnabula"

cadáver son las que ostentó murallas

—Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas, “A Roma sepultada en sus ruinas”

Not strictly bound to Rome or someone or other,
stuck with the prettiest name, your foe’s paws step
as on a felt a silk intent: the creepy-
crawly approach, bar none, to the real or why bother?
For it’s true that the sun went down whilst the towers both
shot up, the Principle of Better Sleep
seeming to be “Square Babel for solider prep
for disaster-relief!”—not just Tommy but Dickie Smothers.

What the photos fail to show is that though it was
a black-tie affair, not a one of us was wearing
pants, save (as always) the village idiot
whose task, de rigueur, was to ring out the bells of demise,
the wrath of a jealous god, Berlitz the Red Herring.

Been laden down so long it’s echt Gemütlichkeit.

cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 11th, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: The Smell of the Sepulcher

That's wonderful. Wow. I really love reading you.

As for the other, Kim and I ended up in the same place you had arrived sooner, I think, but something about the not-extraordinariness of the WTC victims written up in the Times moved us, even as those and other memorials were helping to move American political discourse in the wrong direction. I mean, my first impulse when I heard about what had happened on 9/11 was to fear the American response. And that was on my mind all along. But whether it was my personal connection to NYC and D.C. or the news about Mark or being the parents of a two-year-old or, most likely, a combination of the three, we were more in step with the mainstream through New Year's Eve or so than we ever had been previously or since.
From: bobo_amargo Date: April 13th, 2006 11:54 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Tintern Abbey

I'm flattered that you like my poem. Your blog is its official publication, a chapbook of one.

I certainly understand your and Kim's response to that period. Was there a "proper" response? Horror at what we've come to, patience and reflectiveness without cynicism. The best I could do without the help of Miss Lonelyhearts (aka Noam Chomsky?).
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