Things experienced so far in LA – part 13

— Bren says he will be over by 9, probably – so Alex and I pop in one of the other movies she’s rented. It is the 2003 TV movie Soldier’s Girl which won a shitload of Golden Globes and which was written by a friend of Alex’s Calpurnia Addams. It’s based on something that happened to her. So we began to watch. It was incredible to watch it with Alex, because she knows Calpurnia and was friends with her when this incident occurred – this tragic incident, I might add. Alex was amazed by the lead actor’s performance – well, all of the actors were incredible in the film – but the lead actor – Lee Pace – who played Capurnia – not only did an amazing acting job, but apparently did a kickass imitation of Calpurnia. It was a very moving and terrible story. You could tell what would happen … that the ending would not be good … but it still didn’t lessen the hope within me that it would NOT turn out badly. This, I believe, is the true mark of a great tragedy. Dating back to durn Oedipus. We watch … hoping against hope that … something will happen to avert the tragedy … that maybe THIS time it will turn out differently, and the characters will make different choices, and the stars will align in their favor … It is that HOPE within us that makes the tragedy even more potent. People who say Death of a Salesman can’t be a true tragedy because Willy Loman doesn’t have as far to fall as a, say, Macbeth … have no idea what they are talking about. We watch Willy … and we hope, we hope that he can work it out … that he can give up his ambition, and enjoy life on its own terms … we hope he can actually appreciate his gifts, his simple everyday gifts … we hope that THIS time it will work out for Willy. And of course – it doesn’t. The ramifications are devastating. Soldier’s Girl works on that level.

— I also fell DEEPLY in lust with one of the soldiers who maybe had 2 lines, but to my eyes he just leapt off the screen at me. I kept talking about him. He always wore a cowboy hat. Even when he was in the background of scenes, he was totally alive. He had that kind of chunky look to his body that I love. Alex was so OVER me and my damn cowboy. “Please, Sheila. Have an affair with a guy like that but I beg of you … don’t marry him.” I replied, eyes riveted on the television, “I literally don’t hear what you’re saying to me right now. That guy is HOT.” Etc. And so it went.

— Alex ended up calling Calpurnia during our viewing of the movie and telling her how proud she was, how amazing the film was and also to say: “Okay … my friend Sheila wants to know who that one actor is … he’s one of the soldiers … he always wears a cowboy hat … he’s got sort of a big chunky body …” Alex turned to me and said, “Calpurnia has no idea who you are talking about.” I stated, firmly, “DAMN! I WILL FIND THAT COWBOY. I WILL FIND HIM YET!” Alex rolled her eyes in exhaustion and went back to talking to Calpurnia.

— So Bren arrived – which kind of amazed me. Here’s Bren! Coming over!!

— Alex made pizza. Or, rather, she popped a frozen pizza in the oven. Go, Alex. And we all sat on the couch and popped in Grizzly Man.

— Guys. If you haven’t seen this film … then all I can say is: you HAVE to rent it. Tracey covered it very well here. I had read the huge piece in Vanity Fair about Treadwell, so I was really excited to see this movie that I had heard so much about. It blew our socks off. First of all: the footage, mainly shot by Treadwell, is extraordinary. But … but … it ends up being a maddening psychological portrait of an absolute loony tunes human being, completely divorced from reality. There’s one section where he sits in his tent, filming himself, and he is pissed because there’s a drought and the bears are eating their young. He wants it to rain. And he starts shouting up at “GOD … or … JESUS-MAN … or FLOATY BUDDHA …” He is truly ENRAGED that nature could be so cruel. It’s like he missed the memo that most of us got way back when: that nature is red in tooth and claw and the animal world can be cruel and unforgiving. The next shot is him sitting in his tent with a clear sound of a downpour going on outside … and he is talking to the camera about how he brought the rain. It was all his doing. He speaks in a high unearthly voice. And about that voice: it is not his own voice. It is a voice he has chosen as his “persona” of bear-loving nature-loving friendly-Bambi boy. However, when he goes into a rage at the end of the film, screaming into the cameras at the park rangers and poachers, now we suddenly see the Long Island boy he really was, now we hear his REAL voice. It is like he is two people. For the most part, he speaks in a high gentle phony voice which is so calculated to make an effect. He thinks that that is how a non-threatening nature-lover should talk. He thought he was “protecting” the bears. You’re on a national park, dude. They already ARE protected. He also felt that bears were misunderstood. Treadwell, you are the only person who feels that bears aren’t really dangerous. You are the one who does not understand them. And therein lies his tragedy, if you want to call it a tragedy (which I am not sure it is.) There was a great interview with an Inuit curator of a bear museum in Alaska. He talked about how his people have lived alongside bears forever … and they know that there is an invisible boundary between them that must be respected. They stay out of the bears’ way, and the bears give the humans a wide berth. Treadwell did not respect that boundary. He crossed the line. And therefore paid the ultimate price.

— I just want to say that I was so happy – sitting up there on the couch with Alex – with my brother lying on the floor beneath us – head propped up on a pillow – all of us watching this film. I have missed my brother. I have missed hanging out with him.

— It was a really special night.

— Oh yeah, and there was some insane windstorm going on – the wind came over the mountains like a ravening beast from the jaws of death – and battered against Alex’s window – and shrieked down the corridors of her apartment complex. You could hear the howling and moaning of the wind in the corridors, and all around us. It was pretty wild. I fell asleep that night to the shriek of the wind.

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7 Responses to Things experienced so far in LA – part 13

  1. Cullen says:

    Glad to hear things slowed down a bit and I’m glad you’re having a great time with friends and family. I always enjoy the trips but am really glad to get home.

    Okay. First Tracey and now you and Alex. I’m gonna have to break down and rent the Grizzly Adams movie.

  2. red says:

    cullen – it is a total freak-fest. Wait till you see it!!! The guy is an IDIOT but … you kind of can’t look away from him either. It’s amazing – let me know what you think when you see it.

    He is SHOCKED that bears are dangerous. He talks to them like they are people. He believes that they will not harm him. I mean, it’s perfect, in a cosmic way – how he died – He really couldn’t go out any other way. But … I truly believe he didn’t think they would harm him. He thought they had an understanding.

    It’s maddening – I think that’s what Tracey called it – “maddening” – and she is so so right!!!

  3. JFH says:

    If you’ve ever read Lewis’ or Clark’s journals (via Undaunted Courage is the easiest way despite the fact that it’s still a very difficult read), you’d realize that grizzly bears like almost all animals at the top of the food chain are something to be admired from afar and to be feared. The Corps of Discovery “discovered” very early that the bears treated humans not as an equal or another preditor to be feared, but as a potential food source or another large animal encroaching on its territory.

    These bears may have high up on the mammalian brain function, but that doesn’t mean they can be reasoned with. In fact, that’s what makes them even MORE dangerous.

  4. Nightfly says:

    I remember thinking at the time, “This is what happens when you think that ‘Wild Thornberries’ is a documentary.” There’s a reason why all those people use telephoto lenses and really sturdy cars. Even Steve Irwin knows better than to actually chum around with crocs and snakes.

    I have a great friend who invariably calls me when bizarre news like Treadwell’s comes out, or Joey Buttafuco, or other Long Island-related looniness. “What is WITH you people?” he’ll ask? “Is it the water?”

  5. Patrick says:

    I’ve got to see Grizzly Man.

    That wind was crazy, wasn’t it? It was loud, but I slept surprisingly well.

  6. tracey says:

    Sheila — HooRAAAAY! You’re alive and well and resting and seeing family AND watching “Grizzly Man”!!!

    That guy makes me CRAZY — I watched it twice. You just can’t not look at it! And I have nightmares about how he died, but you’re exactly right, how else could he have gone? I imagine the girlfriend envisioned HER end slightly differently, however.

    I love this movie and I love him, in a weird, inexplicable way. I must own it, I MUST.

    Weren’t you captivated, though, by the little foxes? Mesmerizing. I wanted one.

    I love these entries. This will sound weird, but I feel like I’m rooting for you, Sheila.

    It’s Sheila vs. LA and the crazy cosmos and my money’s on Sheila.


  7. vocino says:

    I remember that soldier you’re talkiing about….we have the same taste in men I think, LOL! I have made it one of my mini-missions in life to find out who he is too…m

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