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October 2005

October 21, 2005

Portugal: For Andrew

He had always liked this cafe. Especially in summer, when it was warm at 11 o'clock, and people walked and ran and skipped past his seat. He could understand a little Portuguese, but when he was like this, alone with a beer, he pretended he didn't.

On this night he wrote a letter back home, tore it up, and began another. He wouldn't post that one either, but he liked the exercise, rewarding himself with a sip of beer when he got that good line out. Often he wouldn't think the lines good, but he wanted very dearly to put the experiences in the back pockets of those back home.
He was very homesick.

On this night, he thought about ordering a coffee, but only briefly. The alcohol swelled his heart, gave gravitas to thoughts that would be forgotten in the morning. It didn't matter--for now, with the beer, this could be an absurdist play, an opera, a folk-song. He wrote another line. He thought this one was quite good.

He would wake in the morning, and then it would be his head that hurt more than his heart. That was okay, he had some good lines.

Posted by Martin McKenzie-Murray at 8:12 PM | Comments (1)

October 18, 2005

My Weekend & the Crisis of Confidence


I was standing in a CD store the other day, holding both Scorsese’s new Dylan documentary in one hand, and the new-ish Simon & Garfunkel Old Friends concert DVD in the other. I debated with Nat about their respective merits. I paced around the store, looking for a sign. Something. Anything… I spotted the Garden State DVD.
I bought Simon & Garfunkel.
I have since watched it twice, the first time alone… I was brought to tears by the harmonic shifts in “The Boxer'', and the note-perfect rendition of “America''. The large, carnival take on “Cecilia''—with a perfectly practiced alteration on the chorus—damn near ‘fragged my heart. Art’s ascending wail (“Making love in the afternoon/with Cecilia up in my bedroom'') caught me, before Paul’s tag-team introduced a faux-folksy, irreverent intonation of the same lines (with a knowing thumb gesture at the “my bedroom'' part). I listened to the original recording again, only to find this live version much better.
When Rob Schwimmer waltzed on-stage to play an inspired melodica solo during the “49th Street Bridge Song'', well…
The second time, I poured a very decent bottle of scotch into two glasses and decided it was time to reintroduce myself to my house-mate.
He is a good man.
We chatted about love as myth, and love as practicality. We spoke of love as hope and love as misery. We talked about family and failure and breasts. We decided that they were, indeed, very lovely things.
Then I brought out the Simon and Garfunkel DVD.
He agreed that the sound quality was superb, and the expectations I sold with “Homeward Bound'' were fulfilled. The performance of this song includes an extended jam-outro, boasting a mesmerizing classical guitar solo.
“Cecilia'' rocked him, and me again, and “Kathy’s Song'' re-introduced us to the fragility of Art’s voice (yes, it is Paul who sings the original).
But I stop here.
A criticism of Simon and Garfunkel can’t be expressed with the same depth and clarity and life-affirming grace that they themselves offer. I don’t think I want to try.
I had the same strange problem (a crisis of confidence) days before, after watching The Proposition. I was very sure that it was the best Australian film I had ever seen, but was unsure in my ability to say exactly why.
I had a scatter-job of ideas on the film—of Arthur Burn’s invocation of Kurtz and Charles Manson. Of the nature of moral archetype. I had shit on the absence of a demonstrable inner-life of Charlie Burns (until, that is, the final scene). I had... blah-blah-blah...
It’s all rubbish. None of my potential remarks could hold up to the superb talents of the makers of this film. The best thing for you to do is to put on S&G (or whoever) and hug your best friend. You would also do well to watch Nick Cave’s re-imagining of Our Colonial Past and be thankful we have so skilled a man writing and singing about this space.
A thousand thank-yous.

“Hello, hello, hello, hello.
Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye.
That’s all there is.''
—Paul Simon, “Leaves That Are Green''

Posted by Martin McKenzie-Murray at 9:01 PM