Category Archives: Movies

Why people are the way they are

I think this is the single most fascinating topic. Sometimes you can spend an entire lifetime researching why someone is the way he/she is, but you can never fully know the answer. True friends are infinite quests.

I get drawn in to a lot of weird situations because when I first meet someone and they come across as mean or cold, instead of not interacting with them, I make it my quest to figure out why they’re acting like that. I can never resist a think wall. Ironically, most of the time, these countenances are a subconscious manifestation of a fear that people don’t want to talk with them, or won’t like them if they do. Sometimes these people are the best, the rare earth gems invisible to amateurs but treasures to the true people connoisseurs. It doesn’t take much to scratch the surface and peak at what’s underneath — a single contextualized question will usually do it. There are plenty of duds, but there’s nothing like seeing that sparkle and embarking on a psychological journey to the center of a person’s being.

Even connoisseurs can be fooled though, as the world is full of con artists. You usually don’t have to look too hard for them, they conveniently pop up near you by a seeming stroke of luck and look pretty close to the real thing. They do such a good job convincing you that you stop digging. You trust them. Then one day, you observe a crack in the varnish, so you peel back another layer and discover they are not who they have been pretending to be. They’ve been playing the part of, a genuine person, a true friend, but deep down they’re a fabrication. Funny how the appearance of these cracks often coincides with the other person getting something they’d been desperately wanting, something you helped them obtain.

It’s kind of like how in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Jones is enchanted by Dr. Elsa Schneider, but she turns out to be a con artist Nazi who was really just using Indy to find the Holy Grail. These discoveries hurt, but whatever, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later. People who use other people as stepping stones to get what they want generally seal their own fates.

Ok, I’ve taken this metaphor far enough. The moral of the story is that even though the fakes can be disheartening, the real gems make it worth the dig.

Cismetropolitan

I’ve been reading Transmetropolitan again. It’s about a cynical bastard named Spider Jerusalem who also happens to be an a cutthroat gonzo journalist. He tried to retreat into hermitage in the mountains but the city keeps drawing him back. He loathes it, but he loves to loathe it. It is the seething hatred for all that is fucked up with America that inspires him. The way it’s on display here, ungracefully strewn about the city streets and exposed for all to step around on their daily commutes fuels his pursuits — that and the loads of futuristic uppers he inhales.

SpiderJerusalem

On Friday I had drinks underneath Grand Central with a man who is something of a real life Spider Jerusalem. He collects knives and has the best fake “go fuck yourself” smile I have ever seen — a necessary adaptation for people who are acutely sensitized to bullshit. We sat amongst the oyster-sucking white-collar commuters, talking about fear, throwing back martinis and refilling them with the sidecars. He told me he was glad I’ve been taking on the fear that used to hold me back from writing. “It’s like Oz,” he said, “you had the power all along, my dear. You could have gone home whenever you wanted.” He warned me though, that I need to keep chipping away at the fear every day, lest I become one of the could’ve-beens. There are not many people who could tell me that without me telling them to go fuck themselves, but coming from him I appreciated it.

I thought about this all night, mourning all the could’ve-beens I know, and woke up this morning with my brow furrowed. It’s been that way ever since, save a few hours of solace I found at the Met this evening. I wrote in my head all day long, formulating the phrases that I would later find the time to transcribe, trying to sear them into my mind. I was being beckoned in three different directions but I went to see Side Effects by myself instead. Twenty minutes into the feature, a man stood up and vomited in the aisle right next to me, repeatedly. I moved up a few rows, thinking that there would have to be something in the movie to top the everyday crazy I witness in New York, but the vomiting was the highlight of the movie.

Afterward, I ducked into the subway at Union Square looking forward to waiting for the L train since I had Transmetropolitan with me to read. On the platform, a man was standing in one of the typical performance art spaces with his back against the stairwell. He had two balloons, a pink one above his head and a purple one between his knees, and was slowly releasing the air out of them both, along with two high-pitched squeals.

“Is this guy seriously doing this?” a plain-looking guy said near me to no one in particular.

“You must be new here,” I said back in his general direction.

I leaned against a pillar and watched this performance art. He looked about my age, and was skinny enough that you could see the outline of his ribcage through his grey shirt. Beside him there was a cardboard sign with “fuck the police” scrawled over and over in black marker and a box with various dirty objects sticking out. I wondered if he was crazy or just an artist, then reminded myself there’s really no difference and instead tried to tell if he was on drugs or suffering. When the balloons ran out of air, he placed a harmonica in his mouth and began breathing through it in a repetitive tune. He placed a mask over his head that made him look like a neon pink fly, and removed various baby doll parts. The head rolled out into the middle of the platform, and he dove onto the filthy floor to get it, crawling like an alien or the little girl from The Ring as she climbs out of the well.

Then, obviously, he crawled over to me. For a split second I thought he might be an alien because his hand looked twisted in an inhuman way, but I realized he just had a baby doll foot stuck akimbo on his thumb. He was at my feet, crawling his dirty baby doll hand towards my shoe. The woman next to me ran away, but I didn’t move. It was then I noticed his hands were rubbed raw at some parts, bright pink inner layers of skin exposed. I considered the possibility that perhaps this was his first and last act of performance art, and that he his goal was actually to select one lucky observer to hurl onto the subway tracks a few feet behind me. He touched the top of my shoe, and I stepped back. He looked at me through his fly eyes. Spider Jerusalem would have kicked him in the face. I just shook my head to indicate there was no consent on my behalf. He did a back somersault across the dirty platform, baby head in ragged hand. He rolled around to other people that way for a while. When the train came, I wanted to give him a dollar for disturbing me more than anyone else on the subway ever has, but I didn’t have one, so I got on the train and resumed reading Transmetropolitan.

Johnny Mnemonic – loltastic

Woah, just WOAH 90s cyberpunk movies. Thank you Netflix, for recommending this gem to me. This movie/the original book was probably designed to cause people like me to stop and reevaluate our fantasies about cyber enhancement. What they need to do to have a shot at this is be as vague as possible with all descriptions of technology though so people don’t confuse their “cautionary tale” for a comedy. I don’t know what’s better: The premise of a brain implant designed to hold 80 Mb of data, that it maxes out when silly Keanu uploads 320 Mb causing “synaptic seepage,” Henry Rollins playing a neurosurgeon (???), or that the #1 hacker in the movie is a dolphin.

Oh, actually, it’s this scene:

That’s also what I think about when I’m alone, Keanu. Every minute.

Favorite journalism movie quote ever

Jennifer Connelly, Blood Diamond:

“Do you think I’m exploiting his grief? You’re right. It’s shit. It’s like one of those infomercials. Little black babies with swollen bellies and flies in their eyes. I’ve got in here dead mothers, I’ve got severed limbs, but it’s nothing new. It might be enough make someone cry if they read it, maybe even write a check. But its not going to be enough to make it stop. I’m sick of writing about victims, but it’s all I can fucking do. Because I need facts, I need names, I need dates, I need pictures, I need bank accounts. People back home wouldn’t buy a ring if they knew it cost someone else their hand. I can’t write that story until I get facts that can be verified, which is to say, until I find someone who will go on record. So if that is not you, and you’re not really going to help me and we’re not really going to screw, then why don’t you get the fuck out of my face and let me do my work?”

h/t: honesttoblog