Monday, June 12, 2006
The shallow and the deep
Watching American History X for the first time was a disturbingly enjoyable experience. Disturbingly enjoyable due to the fact that Ed Norton's physique was incredibly lust-inducing, while his behavior as racist agitator was absolutely revolting. Eddie's perfect pecs aside, it was a solid film. A friend at work tells me the production was an unbelievable mess, but the final product is extremely well-acted, intelligently written and, sadly, still very relevant in its examination of everyday racism in the U.S.
The rest of my weekend DVD viewing included part of season two of HBO's Entourage. I've always enjoyed watching Hollywood jack-asses in action (e.g., Swimming with Sharks, Hurlyburly), so this series is right up my alley for low-maintenance chuckles.
When queue'ing it up on Netflix, I'd remembered that Hedwig and the Angry Inch was a good movie, but had forgotten how good. Basically a non-traditional musical about an "anatomically incorrect" struggling singer from Berlin, it shares the joys and pains of an artistic soul yearning to find his missing half. What's not missing? Wonderful touching (and cleverly expository) lyrics, infectious rock 'n' roll music, hilarious dialogue and brilliant acting by star/director/writer John Cameron Mitchell. Stephen Trask co-wrote the original play and the lyrics.
Here is Hedwig describing the impact that music had upon on him during his troubled childhood:
"Our apartment was so small, that mother made me play in the oven. Late at night I would listen to the voices of the American masters--Tony Tennille, Debby Boone, Anne Murray (who was actually a Canadian working in the American idiom). And then there were the crypto-homo rockers: Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, David Bowie (who was actually an idiom working in America and Canada). These artists, they left as deep an impression on me as that oven rack did on my face. To be an American in muskrat love, soft as an easy chair not even the chair, I am I said, have I never been mellow? And the colored girls sing... doo do doo do doo do doo... but never with the melody. How could I do it better than Tony or Lou? Hey boy, take a walk on the wild side!"
If you need more encouragement to view it, I've also never seen gummy bears used in such an evocative way. Lovely upon lovely.
Warm and fuzzy, new-agey, tree-hugging life philosophy alert!
My weekend was not only about the small screen. It was also about the big picture. As in life and the meaning of it. When I explain this occured at a yoga workshop for women, some may run screaming from the room. Nevertheless.
First off, the teacher paired us up to do a partner exercise where one person made their hand into a fist. The fist was supposed to represent all the hurt, anger and fears in our life--past, present, future. After we made our fist, our partner was supposed to gently try to pull our fist open. I played hard to get and my partner said "Whoa" at the tension of my grip. I finally let her open my fingers. A gimme.
The second step was to make a fist again. This time, our partner was not to pry it open, but instead would gently cup the fist with her two hands and sit quietly. It was such a cool experience, because as soon as she covered my tightened hand with her reassuringly still ones, my fist automatically relaxed. The point here is when we experience the negative parts of life (anger, hurt, fears), we are typically hard on ourselves (making an emotional fist within ourselves). The prying fingers of our partner represent ourselves saying, "Why did you make that mistake? Why didn't you take that chance? Dumbass mofo." and the like. The cupped hands represent how we should handle ourselves with compassion instead (e.g., "Everyone is fallible. What can you learn from this?").
At the end of class, the teacher explained the meaning of "namaste," something that is said in unison at the end of most yoga classes with folded hands and a bow of the head. This teacher explained that the translation means "I am not me." Sounds like a slap in the face to one's self-image, don't it? But on second-thought, it's very freeing. If I am not "me," I can be anything. I can do anything. The things that worry "me" don't have to worry the non-me. The baggage that "I" used to claim can be left to spin on the airport turnstile. "Non-me" is now everywhere and everything. Endless possibilities. I know, I know. Cue the Marlo Thomas music, right?
The teacher left us with the thought that even though this world is in a terribly bad spot right now, we as individuals can have an impact on it. One small kindness or one 10-minute meditation adds one more kindness and 10 more minutes of peace to the world. Can you dig it? If not, I'll dig it for ya.
Peace out? Peace in, baby.
I knew I shouldn't have eaten that granola last week.