Monday, September 03, 2007

Four Days

It's been a lovely four days off, and now the hours fade and it is time again for the routine. I am sitting at the kitchen counter, a Planter's Rum Punch in hand courtesy of RL, my inimitable bartender and roommate. I can face "the routine" only because I am practiced at it. If I think about it, well, it becomes a nightmare. But why think ... just drink.

As we drink, a few thoughts ...

Further thoughts on that old fag, Mr. Craig: IM, my oldest and best friend, suggested today that I add the frankly obvious note that the man was clearly entrapped. Tea room sex, as it is properly called, is not exactly new. Laud Humphreys wrote about it in his seminal (if you will pardon the school boy pun) Tea Room Trade. The essence of what we can know is that when Mr. Craig tapped his foot, he only proceeded to rub his hand along the base of the divider because the good sargent tapped his foot. We have mutual foot-tapping, people. Those who do not foot-tap will suffer no further inconvenience. By reason of this pas de deux, we are all saved from a closet queen fascist and now Idahoans will proffer a standard 'publican hypocrite. We can only assume that the new Senator has been vetted for unassailable heterosexuality ... and by that I am not suggesting that he dressed up in a diaper for a New Orleans hooker like certain impeccably heterosexual Senators evidently did ... of course, in that case, there was no guilty plea so all is forgiven.

A few films populated this long long weekend: As I have mentioned before, decades of not being cinematically inclined have made for pleasant, if unnerving, surprises. I caught a PBS screening of Witness for the Prosecution on Friday night. Nothing much to add to what is undoubtedly a large web of commentary other than to say that the whole film is Charles Laughton. On the closet theme, of course, Laughton was evidently gay, at least by the testimony of his wife who plays the comic nurse in this piece. At any rate, it was an entertaining two hours notwithstanding the excessive focus on the courtroom. Strange to see how forthrightly the plot develops notwithstanding the length. Modern films sometimes want to languish, almost as if lingering proves the auteurishness of the auteur. The stagier Billy Wilder keeps it at a reasonable clip. All you have to know going in is that there will be plot twists and you pretty much figure it all out. Loved Marlene Dietrich, but then I'm an old fag ... smile ...

And then there was The Queen which I finally saw last night. Again, not much to add to what has been said. Helen Mirren is the queen ... you never for a moment doubt that the real flesh 'n blood queen is there on your TV screen. The rest of them are good enough, and Tony Blair is a believable portrayal even if he never convinced me that he was a prime minister. But Helen was all she wrote, and all that you need to know about the film. As a 50-something Canadian living amongst the primitives, and one who was fashionably anti-monarchical and an unfashionably ideological socialist those decades ago, it is with some sheepishness that I admit that I have come to admire the old queen. A bit like religion I guess ... there is no truth in the myths, and considerable danger in the hierarchy, but the occupant of the institutional chair gives you a certain warm security ... like a pocket warmer or a pair of knit mittens. I thought she came out well in the film, and in a definable sense the film is a defence of the monarchy. Note that the "victims," Diana and her boys, are not acted but only portrayed in news footage or by anonymous actors seen only from the back. They are not real ... Mirren is real.

BTW, Charles got the bum's rush; he is actually a lot more substantial a man than portrayed. Put it this way, in the fairy tale sense: if Diana had been an old hag with a big wart on her chin to whom Charles had been forcibly married, and if Camila were a wee slip of a lass devoted to her man and he to her, then this would be a fairy tale romance. But Camilla is a horse and Diana is a glass slipper, so Charles has to play ugly, and this has become the ultimate fractured fairy tale.

Another museum: My newly minted membership to the de Young also admits me to the Legion of Honor. And so on Sunday, I headed out there to see Rembrandt to Thiebaud: A Decade of Collecting Works on Paper. Spectacular. Pity they produced such an underwhelming catalog. Museum hounds salivate over catalogs. I'm sure it is a losing proposition economically, but any great exhibit deserves a lavish publication for the devoted to devour. Anyway, a couple of notes on particular pieces ... I'll try to fill in the bibliographic details in the next few days ... and I will add a few more after dinner ...

White Horse in Baghdad, Christopher Morris, 2003. Low horizon, almost sepia colored. A tank with a crew in Baghdad in the background, and a white horse galloping down a road, going gawd nose where. The horse, dirtier in color than the sky, seems to gleam against the gloom of its surroundings. As I look at it, the horse seems to recede from reality, as if it cannot really be there. Barely visible against the backdrop of a low wall, two trios of men, walking abreast with their hands on their heads.

I ended the weekend with my favorite walk with Loki along Fisherman's Wharf and back through North Beach. Perhaps more on that later ... the important thing is that ... this is a post ... and dinner is ready.

Photos by Arod.

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