Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sherlock Holmes. Homes. Making the city a place we can live in by making it make sense. Of course, Holmes has another quality that might help in making a city homey--no emotions. A character in the novel "The Buddha of Suburbia" by Harif Kureshi says he left India partly to leave seeing horrible things on the street that he couldn't do anything about.

The Holmes stories don't talk about that much--deprivation. Just crime.

The same character in "The Buddha of Suburbia" says a problem with living in London is his neighbor won't talk to him because he's Indian. He finds a way to solve that by entering contact from another angle. He becomes a spiritual teacher. His neighbor doesn't talk to him, but people like his neighbor are eager to talk to him.

When Harif Kureshi was around the set of the making of the movie of his screenplay "Sammy and Rosy Get Laid (While London Burns)" he wouldn't talk to the actors.

When the author of the play "Learning to Drive" was around for a San Francisco production of her play, she told a reporter for the Chronicle that when she was around rehearsals, she went out to lunch with everyone involved in the play. Not to explain things to them, but to give them the flavor of who she was.

When I was little, I said something that gave my mother the impression that I thought little people were inside the TV set and we were watching them. She explained to me broadcasting. But I more or less understood broadcasting, as much as I ever would, and I knew the TV had glass and wires inside itself.

I just believed in the wires and the airwaves at the same time as I thought there was little people in the back.

I'm still kind of like that. If I really like a novel or movie, I don't fully believe the people are made up.

"Sammy and Rosy Get Laid" was like that for me. I totally believed, and totally believe now in the reality of every character, except one.

Holmes. Homes. L is for logic. L is for love. Holmes seems beyond love, but really likes a lot noticing the truth of what happened, and knowing many different kinds of facts to be able to do that.

Truth holds a city together, because no matter what we think, here we all are. Love holds the city together, or something like that, the connecting.

I didn't believe in the reality of the character Rosie. I totally felt all the other characters were living real lives and I got to be there--and in the midst of them was this actress acting--so odd, an actress acting in mid-reality.

Rosie was Sammy girlfriend. Sammy was the character much like the author of the screenplay, Hanif Kureshi. The woman who had been his girlfriend who was much like Rosie was right on the set, watching the actress play Rosie. Kureshi wouldn't talk to the actors. The relationship between Kureshi and his ex-girlfriend hadn't reached a comfortable place at all. Kureshi and his ex were watching the actress playing Rosie, and naturally she acted.

Somehow everyone else was being.

The beginning of "Sammy and Rosie" is scary in a not-movie way. The scariness is not contained in the movie, in movie scariness. It seems like something that might happen in my life.

In a leafy, pleasant residential neighborhood like ones I've been in, liked, been bored by, the police are sneakily advancing like an army. Hiding behind bushes, going forward.

They enter a house and go up stairs, open a door and shoot. Just before they shoot we see a mid-fifties woman, round, large, cooking, standing by the stove holding a skillet. Then she falls as she is shot more than once.

So that's that. The movie doesn't say anything about that then, but we join Sammy and Rosie and their friends and Sammy's father. Interesting people, good to be with. Sammy and Rosy feel like they've seen better times, but at the start it feels like they will work their way back to spending more time knowing why they like each other.

People talk, plan when to meet again. Some of that friendly planning chat happens in the midst of people running around and fires of piled stuff burning. London burning, in fact, as per the movie title in response to the woman at the stove in the leafy neighborhood getting killed.

We learn slowly that the police were after a twenty something man relative of the fifty something woman they killed.

They thought they had it figured out when they went into her home, and killed her and made the city feel much less like a place where one might have a safe home.

Sammy and Rosy and friends take rage about that and about the set-up it is part of for granted and procede with living. Sammy and Rosie having fun and not fun, Sammy and his father having well-practiced fights that don't seem to go anywhere.

Then there's their friend who walks around being truly free. He goes where he wants for whatever reason he wants, and every step feels like he's alive for it and free.

An amazing guy who I continue to be blown away by, who seems on the verge of knowing. . .well, for example, what one appropriately does in a world where people get killed dead without logic or love. He is one of the people standing and planning his regular life in the midst of the fires. The whole way he walks is like, "Yeah, fires, but come one, what do we want to do really? What do I want to do really?"

Every moment he seems open to all possible actions--and all possible actions are clearly, for him, not dominating by violence. He meets an elegant, old, upper class lady and goes to here country place--not huge, but very nice, high class, different from the burning part of the city. He walks around outside as she has gone inside for something, and picks up a garden party type hat and puts it on and grins at her as she looks out the window.

Not threatening. Just, he can do anything. He's free.

We eventually find that the older woman killed at the beginning by the police looking for a young man is the woman who raised him. We might guess then that he is sort of high detached on grief. Partly. But he is really looking for something else, not signing on for--you care about her, you're rioting, I'll join in and thank you very much.

He cares about her and about finding a whole other way. And I believe in his reality, the reality of his search, of taking every step as new.

Harif Kareshi says when he starts he knows who the group of people is but he doesn't know who is important. Any of them might be. This is by screen time a fairly small part that has stayed with me as a step toward another word. How to step like that?

I was maybe lucky that I didn't know the actor, Roland Gift, a rock star from Fine Young Cannibals, who found something big to do with that rock star prescence.

And what will we do to make new?

In "The Mists of Avalon," the King Arthur legends are retold with a woman often portrayed as bad portrayed as good and the main character. Britain has had an egalitarian society, women with both spiritual and political power, and that way of living is going away partly because people don't believe it any more.

The old way is presented as quite real and a good way humans might live, and a good way women might matter.

Any way you retell the Arthur legends, they are sad. "The Mists of Avalon" is really a different take, and still sad. I got inspired by it, because it made the going away of a way of living where women and nature didn't get beat up all the time--it made that going away so real, that I felt the coming back could be real. That the coming back of non-vicious ways based in this planet in a different forms never seen before could be.

Maybe by someone escaping the powerful, natural trap of vengance and rage, and wondering,wondering with a whole moving body, how the next step could be a step toward different, how one person could take steps toward different and better--this step, that step, then another.