I worked a job once upon a time. I kept this photo of Hedi Slimane, a photo of Ineko Arima and a few lines from Elizabeth Alexander’s poem ‘Praise Song for the Day’ above my desk so that I had beautiful things to make me feel good about myself.
Yeah, make your desk job worthwhile, y’all.
Redbelt (dir. David Mamet, 2008, US) [img via jadedead]
Last night I watched Redbelt. Without giving too much away, it felt like I was watching a film made just for me - one of those special dramas that blooms from a simple concept into a narrative maze, with beautiful visuals and its own distinctive rhythms, but well aware of how effective narrative tropes are when utilised efficiently. I liked it. A hell of a lot.
What Redbelt had me considering, however, is that I don’t think about my favourite films, my favourite things, the same way anymore. I could see this film being a favourite of mine because it lingers in my head in surprising ways - a stray line of dialogue, a camera movement, a flicker of a finger - that feel more real than admiring a film from the first reel to the last. Charlie Lyne zones in on this feeling in a post for Ultra Culture, pointing to Anne Hathaway’s ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ performance in Les Mis and calling it “a single scene of such unfathomable cinematic perfection that to dwell on [the surrounding film’s] various failings seems cruel and unusual”. More and more films pop up like that these days for me. My favourites are changing. Favourites are ephemeral things.
So, my favourite films. Sorry Julianne for the preamble, I overthink things a lot (c) mission statement for life
CANONIC FAVOURITES: Singin’ in the Rain; Kill Bill; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; Irma Vep; Do the Right Thing; The Passenger; Scott Pilgrim vs the World; Ikiru; Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy; Hana-Bi; Dogville; Jackie Brown
WEIRDO FAVOURITES (messes, unfinished viewings, things-that-wouldn’t-let-go, only seen once): Beginners; The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes; Hannah and Her Sisters; Tropical Malady; Down With Love; Killer of Sheep; Visitor Q; Gang of Four; Stolen Kisses; Weekend (Godard); Walking Tall ‘03; Fast Five; Holy Motors; Dil Se…; A Taste of Honey; Daisies; The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension; Under the Cherry Moon; Enter the Void; Battle Royale; Wild Zero; Saving Face; The Story of a Three-Day Pass; Up; They Made Me A Fugitive; Trouble Every Day; Redbelt.
—Need to Belong to Someone
Isaac Hayes - Need to Belong to Someone (off Black Moses, 1971, Enterprise)
Today, I walked aimlessly through London’s streets to this song as if I was living out the closing credits to my sadsack epic, which was both awesome and pretty depressing at the same time. Still! That brass! That squeally little high note!
BACK IN THE DAY |1/25/00| D’Angelo released his second album, Voodoo, on Virgin Records.
Spookily went to play this when I saw this post, so hold on while I word-vomit my feels on this LP above.
Voodoo was a weird album for me for many years - I was aware of the status it held and I owned it, but it never really connected with me. I vividly remember hearing ‘Spanish Joint’ on Clyde 1 back in 2000 whilst in the bath which, what the fuck, I was 11 years old taking baths listening to D’Angelo, BALLER FOR REAL. Call me Young Puffy from now on.
Two years ago I was stuck in traffic on a sunny day and opened up the window and blasted the Roberta Flack cover on this album, ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love’, as loud as I could. It felt like I’d heard the song my entire life. I played it over and over and over and soon enough, the album fell into my regular rotation. At the height of D’Angelomania last year, I played the album at least twice every day to comfort myself for missing him live. As I dealt the best I could with an odd year on planet Earth, I fell in love with ‘The Root’, a song that said everything about being sidewinded and shattered by heartbreak. I looped ‘One Mo’gin’ for days, using it as my writing soundtrack and finding comfort in the warmly illustrated story of returning lovers, like a kindred spirit to Marvin’s ‘Since I Had You’. When I was happier, I would listen to ‘Spanish Joint’ and ‘Send It On’ repeatedly (just like I am doing at this very moment). Voodoo became a very close friend of mine from that point onward.
I’ve always been a crummy sleeper, so recently I started falling asleep to soul music I adore: Jill Scott’s Who Is Jill Scott, Isaac Hayes’ Black Moses, Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. I always sleep best when I listen to Voodoo, of course. I’ve listened to plenty of great albums over the past few years but few burrowed into my heart quite like this one right here. As D sings on ‘The Root’: “It left a dirty stain in my heart/I can’t refute”.
Mary J Blige - Keep Your Head (off Share My World, 1997, MCA)
This morning I felt pretty damn blue. After an early start, I retreated to my bedroom with a cup of lukewarm tea and overheated porridge, with plans of disregarding any important or potentially joyous plans for the rest of the day. Perhaps it was listening to Owen’s ‘Poor Souls’ a million times the other night. Perhaps it was just the current path my life may take. Perhaps it was because it’s a Monday and, guh, Mondays. Perhaps reading James McMahon’s Biffy Clyro interview in Kerrang did it, seeing how it looked into vocalist Simon Neil’s mental illness (in an honest and unsensationalistic way, I might add). Perhaps my brain is just built like that - that one day out of a hundred, I crumble to my neuroses and lock myself into my brain until it feels difficult-to-impossible to walk&talk&eat&dress&move.
But that’s fine. I will always have these days, I have always had these days, I remember when these days lasted a week or a month at a time, I remember creeping out of my bed with a sense of dread deep in my stomach that I woke up. And if you’re reading and you feel like this, it is OKAY. It is HARD to get over the chance that one day will suddenly feel like death and another day you suddenly will not but you are doing FINE.
I rarely ever write about my personal experiences online beyond sub-blogging/tweeting (I know, how corny) but god: if somebody else in their room is tear-streaked and upset and shaken at the weight of the entire world - if you’re on the waiting list for a counselling session - if you’re weighing up whether to take medication - if you’re recovering from a rough night of not sleeping, caught in your mind moving faster than runaway trains - if your heart feels like it’s sitting in your throat and it may just explode at any given moment - if you can’t bring yourself to change out of your clothes for the third day in a row - if you just can’t make yourself want to eat or drink - if you’re eating more than you usually would as an impulse to deal - if you don’t feel like your body is yours - if you can’t imagine why anybody would want to know or be near you… I know how irritating it is for someone to say this, but you can work through it. Talk about it. Someone you care about will listen. If you feel like you don’t have anywhere else to turn, there are organisations there to help - here is a list for the UK, here is a list for the US. If you’re outside of those two countries, there will be alternatives, it’s just a google search away.
I have felt all of the above. Hell, I’m feeling some of them right now as my morning turns to afternoon and this Mary J song hits its twenty-seventh play of the day. I wrote this post without the intention of being pious or in offering a fake-out attempt at a long-term solution to what you may feel in your head and heart, but it helped me to write this. It reminded me that these moments are HARD but please, to just keep your head. If you’re the same and feel down, keep your head too.
I sometimes get worried
And I wonder why I worry
Cause I know that I will make it through the storm
I’m tryin’ not to lose my cool
Because if in this world I do
The only person that’s gonna miss out on everything is me.
Owen - Poor Souls (off No Good For No One Now, 2002, Polyvinyl)
It is 3:40 in the morning when I pull up to a junction between Anderston and Charing Cross. It has been one of those Glaswegian summer evenings that my mother laughs at the idea of, because now she can laugh at the culture shock that framed her first years as a Scottish citizen and not wonder why this odd place is so chilly all the time. To say the least, summers have never existed beyond seasonal status here - there is no balmy air or sweat-swept fringes as a result of walking about in a lazy heat. We pretend, though. I know I pretend that summer is a state of mind, and I imagined everyone else at the dances did so tonight. I overthought. (Well, I overthink.) It is 2007 and I am warm in my mother’s car, a mix CD soundtracking my late night drive home from a club.
The junction is empty and the traffic lights beam red so I wait, never once thinking that I could drive through and get away with it. Knowing my luck, I won’t. Instead, I nestle into the driver’s seat and worry. I worry about how my life will be a succession of lonely nights with little in the way of conversation, worry about continuing to feign enjoyment in social situations. I feel at a loss in these large dimly-lit halls, though I am always too much of a scaredycat to try and overcome the heart pounding in my throat, to talk to that one stranger next to me. I think, for a long time, about the last time I kissed somebody and can’t remember. The sigh that leaves my mouth feels like all my frustration draining out of my body, the sigh sounds like a air-bed being punctured. I don’t know what is ever going to make this teenage solitude a somewhat bearable experience. An acoustic dirge plays from the car’s tinny speaker system, one lyric bruising me in this very moment: “I swear to God I’ll die/if I go home alone tonight”.
I don’t fully comprehend that I am only an eighteen year-old child. I feel that the answers to loneliness and my bad habits should be revealed to me, as if there are codes that will grant me access to some sort of happiness. But I am nagged by a faint understanding that this is not the worst I will feel, and not the best either. What would I do if I went home with someone, like the song plinking on in the car envisions? How would I make them feel wanted? How could I avoid projecting my neuroses onto another’s inebriated charity? Loneliness is surely deeper than my meander at these dull-hued traffic lights and cascading gravel under/overpasses. One day I will feel shorn from the pack, so much so that this moment will register as petulance. It is a threat issued as comforting advice. Perhaps I won’t feel this chasm in my heart and stomach when I arrive home.
The lights turn red again and I blink my way back into the cold Glaswegian summer’s pre-morning. It appears I was so wrapped up in puzzling out my feelings (and their legitimacy) that I ignored when it was my time to go. Perfect. Somehow, I’m the only car here, a small island at the junction. I slowly tap my fingers on the wheel and wait to move on. To what, I remain unsure of.
The light turns green and I take my thoughts and the song on the speakers home with me.