‘Pearl Jam Twenty’

The new Cameron Crowe documentary ‘Pearl Jam Twenty’ was showing tonight at the Brattle Theatre. I decided to go to the 7:30 show. When I got in Harvard Square,  I saw a huge line forming outside the Brattle, which I didn’t expect. Everyone in line had already bought their tickets beforehand. I asked at the booth and was told that the 7:30 show was “completely sold out”. (I think that sold out does not really take any adverb of this kind, was it completely sold out as opposed to partially sold out? If something is sold out, it is sold out, and that’s that.) The 10pm show was not sold out, that was two and a half hours away.

I lingered outside the theatre until everyone went in. People were still picking up tickets from will call. Then a couple came, and a guy asked them if they needed one ticket, because he had one extra. The couple said OK, but when they asked for another ticket, the person at the booth told them it was sold out. “I don’t want to wait around 10”, the guy said. But he already had bought the other guy’s extra ticket. “I can take it off your hands”, I offered. “Oh, yeah? That’d be great”, he said, so I got my ticket.

I found a seat on the fourth row center. And nobody came to sit in front of me. No gigantic head of a seven-foot tall person in front of me. I am the woman who manages to find a ticket to a sold out movie and then watch it with unobstructed view. Sometimes.

Oh, and how was the documentary? It was good, but not great. It felt like there was something missing. It was lingering over things and situations that were already shown, like the band’s early days. I disliked the filmmaker’s presence in the documentary: the voice over in the beginning, the shot of himself doing an interview of the band for a magazine. It felt like a summary of their career –it’s been twenty years already– but the components (mainly highlights of their career) were put together in a somewhat disjointed way. The interviews come off as very polished. The shots from the live shows are great, the music is great. If you like Pearl Jam’s music, if you are a fan, you will definitely love it.

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Disconnection / Connection

I spent the past weekend in New York City. I walked a lot around the city, which resulted in bruised calves and a sore Achilles tendon. While the body got tired, the eye got full of new and familiar images, and I felt surrounded by that special NYC vibe that I have become to love.

On Sunday, my last day there, I went to Staten Island. I took the Staten Island ferry from the Whitehall terminal in lower Manhattan. The ferry is free and quite big, it holds up to 4,450 passengers. It offers nice views of downtown and lower Manhattan, as well as the Statue of Liberty, all lovely. When we arrived at Staten Island, I got off the ferry and walked along the path by the water, and came to a memorial. It turned out it was Postcards, Staten Island’s 9/11 Memorial, honoring its residents who died that day. The vertical stones look like envelopes, and on the inside you could see the names of the honored. It was a bright, sunny day, the blue sky was decorated with white puffy clouds, and there was a nice breeze. The flags made nice contrast with the blue sky as they were blowing in the breeze. I kept walking until I reached the end of the path, and then decided to go back towards the terminal.

When I came to the Memorial again, I saw there were four or five people around. There are many benches around there, so I decided to sit for a little while and rest my tortured feet. I sat on one of the stone benches. I sat on one half of the bench, not exactly in the middle. All other benches were empty. A minute later a woman came and sat next to me. It was somewhat awkward, since she had to sit close to me to fit on the bench. And, of course, it was quite strange, since there were so many other benches around, empty. There was even an empty one right next to mine. I had the urge to stand up and go sit somewhere else. I kept thinking “seriously, lady, there are like 10 other empty benches around, and you come and sit right next to me? Why?”. Under normal conditions I would sigh, look at her irritated, and go sit somewhere else. But at that point, I was very tired, both emotionally and  physically, so I just sat there. I didn’t move. I tried to be less annoyed. I looked out to the water, while wishing she wouldn’t talk to me, as I didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I was enjoying the silence.

The precious silence was broken, when the woman started humming. My first reaction was disbelief, “Seriously?”, I thought to myself. “What is next?” Everything was getting annoying again. Then a little bit later, I realized her humming was not irritating me. It was actually soothing. I did not recognize the tune, if any, but it was agreeable. It was like my private soundtrack for a beautiful day at the Postcards memorial on Staten Island. I went along, I was willing to accept what was happening. It was all slightly absurd, but it turned out pleasant.

A couple of minutes later a man came over, and started talking to the woman. In French. I do not know if it was Canadian French or French, I cannot tell the difference in the accent. They both looked like tourists, cameras hanging from their necks. They looked to be in their mid 50s. The man asked a question. As I do not speak French, I didn’t understand what he had asked. The woman ignored him and kept humming. A minute later the man asked something again, and the woman gave an abrupt answer, or at least that’s how it sounded. Then the man lodged himself on our bench, putting the woman in the middle between him and me. I’m sure we looked absurdly entertaining: at least ten benches around us empty, and we three people sitting on one bench, looking cramped. I was occupying one half of the bench, and they, the other half. I made a slight move, one inch to my right to give them more room. The dialogue between them consisted of short sentences, then silence. Three minutes later they left.  “Well, that was weird”, I thought to myself. I was glad I had the bench back to myself.

I looked at the path, and there was a woman pushing a stroller talking on her cellphone coming towards my direction. There was a little black poodle with a tennis ball in his mouth walking along with her. The dog came right up to me, and placed his tennis ball right next to my foot. I had my legs somewhat stretched out in front of me, so that my legs, the ground and the vertical surface of the bench were forming a triangle. The dog wedged itself in that triangle under my legs. He was moving his little body pressing against my legs, while wagging his tail. Was he asking to be petted? I didn’t pet him. I smiled. The woman called the dog, and in an instant he was gone.

I found both incidents slightly strange. A woman and a dog demonstrating something that looked like a need to be close to me, to be around me. I felt like some sort of magnet in that peculiar quiet setting. What had attracted them to me? Earlier someone had commented on my unwillingness to touch and be close. Did I look lonely? Did I send out come-close-to-me signals? I felt quite the opposite, I felt like I wanted to be on my own, alone and think. Perhaps I looked sad, because I felt sad.

There is a sense of irony in having strangers briefly cancel the alienation from people I was feeling that day. An abbreviated connection took place. For an instant it felt like a random woman and a random dog wanted to reassure me that there would always be someone around, I would not be alone. It was good to know.

Hey Look!

It only took me four months to post these Chihuly photos on flickr! Back in May, I visited the Dale Chihuly exhibition ‘Through The Looking Glass’ at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It was big, flashy, loud and glassy. And sometimes it was impressive. You would go in, look around, take photos, exit through the gift shop, spend money on Chihuly-approved merchandise. I did all the above with the exception of spending money. I took some photos with my other than the iPhone camera, you know, a real camera, and in typical fashion I procrastinated seemingly forever to review, edit and upload them.

So, yes, now that the exhibition is over, a month after the chaotic last days when the lines stretched all around the museum block and people waited for hours to see it, now that no one cares anymore, I have posted the photos on flickr (you can click here for the slideshow). Here are some of my favorites: