The pay-per-view choices on Saturday night at our house came down to “Milk” or “Pineapple Express.” I know I’ve been saying I want to see “Milk,” but I was kinda sorta hoping Alan would be lured into the Pineapple camp by the presence of Danny McBride, star of our new favorite HBO comedy, “Eastbound & Down.” Alas, he voted for “Milk,” and so “Milk” it was.
And it wasn’t bad, if you don’t count against it that it prompted a new vow from my corner of the couch: No more biopics, at least not of people whose story I already know. I don’t know how many more two-hour chunks of my life I want to give over to these earnest, medicinal stories squashed into standard three-act structure, perhaps tarted up with a few invented anecdotes or imagined juxtapositions. (Milk, dying, looks poignantly out the window of City Hall at the opera house where he’d seen “Tosca,” another operatic assassination tragedy, only the night before. Oh yeah, I’m down with that.) Or maybe it’s just that it’s difficult to make politics cinematic. All those maps and papers and clipboards. Directors and writers fall back on the most movie-like thing about politics — a man leading a march and/or delivering a speech through a bullhorn before a cheering crowd — until you get sick of the story entirely and start appreciating things like the set design and wardrobe. Loved Emile Hirsch’s glasses — I had my own pair, back in the day. Loved the ringer T-shirts, a look I could never endorse. Loved the 501s and flannel shirts. Loved Josh Brolin, and loved that the script didn’t dwell overmuch on Milk’s theories about Dan White’s closet status. In the end, there’s nothing more dangerous than a failure with a gun.
And as someone whose initial awareness of San Francisco, as a child, was as the center of the hippie movement and the necessity of wearing flowers in one’s hair, it was interesting to see what that replaced, the city’s working-class roots, now thoroughly buried by yuppification. Milk’s voiceover mentioned in passing that the Castro was once an Irish-Catholic neighborhood, and I’m all, really? I had no idea. And perhaps because the political story wasn’t exactly a page-turner, I started thinking about cities like that. White represented the resentful long-time residents being pushed aside by the wave of the future, Harvey’s people, the gay men who colonized a place where they could kiss their lovers on the street and not get their asses kicked for it. I thought of a comment I read on a blog recently, from a religious conservative in San Francisco who feels persecuted because he has four children and another on the way, and, I dunno, people glower at his double stroller, or something.
I thought of the hundreds of places in the U.S. where a person like that might feel right at home, but of course it’s unlikely that person would want to move to Salt Lake City or Fort Wayne or Holland, Mich., because a) it’s not home; and b) there’s a strong possibility he likes feeling persecuted, just like Jesus. I guess what we all want is to feel at home wherever we live, whether we’re there because of corporate vicissitudes, family obligations or choice.
I also thought of the people on the short end of all such gentrification, who wake up one day to find their neighborhood is filling with people radically different from them, who move in and say, “Finally, I have found my true home.” My guess is they’d feel like Palestinians.
And then I reconnected with the thread of the movie, and discovered the Briggs amendment was still keeping Harvey Milk awake at night. Tried not to think, I could be laughing at potheads right about now.
Lance Mannion spent Saturday night being disappointed by another holiday movie release. It was that kind of weekend.
Sigh. I’m thinking about movies to avoid thinking about the economy. I’m trying very hard not to despair. But I am starting to wonder where we’ll be in a year. We’re both working hard — everyone I know is working hard — and you have to believe work leads to something good, but of late I’m starting to consider lighting a match to the whole place and going on welfare somewhere with a sunny climate. Kind of like AIG.
A little bloggage for you to bat around on a Monday? Let’s see what we can do:
I found this via Memeorandum, as I don’t usually read the Sun-Times. Most of you are aware that the big trend in city management these days is to sell off the assets to private concerns. These schemes are easy to sell, because the numbers are so eye-popping and it fits in with the general idea that government can’t do anything right and private business will find new efficiencies. Yes, we’re told, the price may go up in the short term, but service will be hugely improved.
This worked with the Indiana Toll Road. Nine-figure sum to maintain/improve other roads in the state, followed by toll increases. But the plazas were improved, and lanes added, and regular commuters would find the roads easier to use.
But what can you do with a parking meter? How can you improve service at a parking meter? Well, you can’t. Chicago privatized its meters last month; Carol Marin explains:
…A month ago, when the City of Chicago privatized parking meters, rates were immediately jacked way up, and you now have to feed 28 quarters into the meter to park a car in the Loop for two hours. In exchange for a 75-year lease, the city got $1.2 billion to help plug its budget holes.
But by handing over municipal parking meters to a private company, the city has given its citizens a colossal case of sticker shock. The cost of most meters will quadruple by 2013.
Detroit parking meters take plastic, btw. I love it so much I don’t even pay attention to the per-hour cost.
Just for laffs: One of Josh Marshall’s readers finds a small tragedy deep within the Madoff victim statements, submitted by e-mail.
Something I read in the Free Press this morning: The annual exhibit of work by students and staffers at Pewabic Pottery has been attracting metro Detroiters since the ’70s. The just-opened show is loaded with edgy and provocative creations… All in favor of banning the words “edgy” and “provocative,” especially as they describe ceramic, raise your hand.
(You wait. I’ll go to this show, and find a display of dinner plates with giant holes in the middle.)
And so it is Monday, which for me means: Time to study irregular Russian plurals. Dosvidanya.