Archive | Essays

Oshun’s Sadly Swoon

By the time the delivery guy brought me the wrong order yesterday, I was once again done with the human race and the complicated triggers and traumas we bring to every interaction, all of us butting up against each other like bullies in a sandbox, crying big tears when no one’s looking but fists balled just the same.

The irony of the delivery guy kerfuffle was that on Sunday I’d given an impassioned lecture about Jim McKay’s excellent En El Séptimo Dia, a neo-realist look at the challenges of being an undocumented immigrant working as a delivery person in Brooklyn, where white hipsters with leftist politics treat them like shit. And here I was grappling with the dilemma of how to get my food without causing this delivery person trouble. Especially since, judging from the slip he was wielding, the wrong order was not his fault but his boss’s.

I sorted it out with no permanent harm inflicted on anyone, I think, though not quickly enough to avoid the low blood sugar blues. By the time I finished eating I felt sorry I’d ever relied on other people for anything, even supper.

For the last six weeks I’d been trying to smooth my edges so someone could come close and by yesterday just felt gobsmacked–run over, if you must know. Continue Reading →

Baptizing the Monster: ‘Mary Shelley’

What follows is a transcript of a talk I gave about the biopic Mary Shelley for the Westchester Film Club, where I often deliver lectures on new independent and foreign film releases.

The best way to discuss this film may be to unpack it like one of those Russian nesting dolls that stack level upon level upon level.

So let’s start with who is behind this lens. As David may have told you, it is directed by Haiffa al Mansour, who also cowrote the script with Emma Jensen. Haiffa’s first feature was 2013’s Wadjda, the first Saudi-Arabian film to be directed by a Saudi woman. That in itself is a mind-blowing accomplishment, given the restrictions women face in that country, but the movie itself, a coming-of-age story about a female tween rebel, is a wonder. I strongly recommend it if you have not already seen it. Continue Reading →

peonies and pennies and twice is not a curse

Once when I had been making love for hours with a man I loved who loved me, he went to kiss my arm and kissed his own instead.

This was a man I’d seen on a subway and then on a sidewalk and then on a subway, a man who had finally strode up to me with a grin and worried, kind eyes and said, “I fear I’d be terribly remiss if I did not say hello” and it was ok, the way he phrased it, because he was British and it didn’t feel like we were in the present so much as a noir of a neverexistent 1930s–

–a present that seemed like a future of a past infinitely purer and prettier than anything dreamed by this present–

and so we began circling each other, going for walks in the parks, meeting for chaste diner breakfasts, falling in step with birds, early spring air, the stoops of 90s brownstone brooklyn jamaican patties kids biking barbeque smoke smog pollen, until one day he bent down and his mouth met mine

and we fell into each other like it was where we were supposed to be all along. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy