no g, no apostrophe
Friday, May 6 2005
I saw the first hummingbird of the year this morning. It was at the humingbird feeder, an idiom it easily understood despite the fact that it looks nothing like a flower. Unfortunately for the little guy, there was no food in the feeder yet. What little had been in it this past autumn had been subsequently flushed away by the rain.
An errand in the Port Ewing area took me first to P&T Surplus and then to Lowes, where I bought grass seed, pure sand, and pure gravel. These were all to be used as finishing materials for my five week long outdoor landscaping project. I've decided to use pure sand and gravel as grout for my bluestone path because I'm trying to keep plants from establishing themselves therein, at least in the short term. As for the grass seed, I'm going to use that to fix the various bald spots remaining in the lawn in the aftermath of all my contour alterations. I'd done a fairly good job of preserving sod, which I'd been able to use to reupholster most of the new landforms. But I still needed to fix maybe 20 square feet of bare soil.
This evening Gretchen and I saw the movie Crash at the Rosendale cinema. It was a pretty good movie, with a sustained ability to entertain and surprise. Leaning heavily of coincidence as a plot device and a witty dialogue that consisted mostly of racist observations, the movie explored the strange social landscape of Los Angeles, where people use the hermetic nature of their obscenely-inefficient preferred method of transportation to avoid people of other races. And it's mostly through accidents - car crashes - that people of one group come into contact with another.
While the racist generalizations and observations made in the dialogue were often hilarious, it became a little tiring after awhile - characters could have been explored in greater depth had other things been discussed. Gretchen and I have a wildly irreverent (that is, non-PC) sense of humor, and we could laugh out loud at the various slurs and taunts casually being tossed about. Others in the audience there in the heart of the People's Republic of Rosendale, on the other hand, weren't as open minded. One couple in front of us had to leave shortly into the film - perhaps a response to the fun we were having.
The best thing about Crash was how it subverted movie conventions, particularly those of modern racially-sensitive Hollywood, where (for example) the stereotyped roles of black characters have to be carefully balanced in a way that has, over the years, become tediously predictable. But early in Crash, much of the humor comes from two black characters complaining about being stereotyped even as their actions articulate those stereotypes down to the most trivial details.
Another twist of movie convention was how the movie presented heroes, victims, and villains. In real life, of course, a hero can be a hero one moment and villain the next. But this rarely happens in your standard two hour movie. And there seems to be an absolute taboo against initially introducing a villainous character as a sympathetic victim. Crash threw a hand grenade into all of those conventions. It was also unusual for a movie of this type in how sparing it was in dealing out death to its characters, finding just as much tragedy and profundity in putting them through experiences that leave them alive but changed.
As we were coming out of the theatre we ran into our friend J from Stone Ridge, the one who is an adventurer for National Geographic. So he joined us for dinner across the street at the Cement Company, Rosendale's überhip gay-owned restaurant. J said that years ago he'd had the idea that all Rosendale would need to become a hip and happening place was for one influential gay couple to move in, and damned if it hasn't happened. I joked about Stone Ridge and how everybody there has this snooty pride about the place, yet there's no there there. If any place needs a hip gay couple to move in zhuzh the place up, it's Stone Ridge (though no matter what anybody does, Stone Ridge will never be half as beautiful as Rosendale).
Later the three of us walked to The Alamo, a brand new gay-owned Tex-Mex bar & restaurant further east down main street. On the sign above the door beneath the words "The Alamo" there is some smaller print reading "Food worth fightin for" (no g, no apostrophe).
The Alamo hadn't officially opened yet, but tonight people were there anyway. It was a largely middle-aged crowd and they were shooting pool and leaning on the bar. While Gretchen hob-nobbed with a minor local gay celebrity, I struck up a conversation with a tired-looking woman who happened to be journalist for a local publication. In the course of our conversation I deduced that she was the kind of woman who tended to find conspiracies in unexpected places and fall in love with people it was best to avoid, and then overshare with strangers like me she'd just met not fifteen minutes before. But she was a good source of historical information. She explained that the space occupied by the Alamo was once Rosendale's only dive bar, and that it used to be a fun place to go on the way home from the laundromat. She expressed support for all the gay-engineered gentrification afoot in Rosendale (yes, they've bought the laundromat too) but hoped there'd still be some place left for the rednecks and morning drunks to go, because she considered dive bars an important part of a village's commercial ecology (though it wasn't in her nature to put it that way). For her part, she looked like the sort of woman who would be a lot more comfortable in a dimly-lit, illegally smokey dive bar than in one with a licensed smoke machine, a dancing cage, and a nonstop punchis soundtrack. But it's hard to get a sense what sort of bar the Alamo will end up being: the bartenders tonight looked strictly Chelsea with their perfect haircuts and spray-on tans (one was even wearing a sleaveless teeshirt). There was a lightshow, but it wasn't synced to the music, which was some sort of tinny mariachi thing.
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