I have expunged so much and so many from my recollection
When they come creeping in, it’s on ghost feet
Sometimes I welcome the newly remembered
Sometimes I dread the associations they bring me
Some memories amuse, others confuse, some
Simply disabuse me of my moral superiority, I
Have not served truth or justice, not always,
Just sometimes; glory is not mine to strut or savor,
Not always, just sometimes, Who were you? Who was I?
My cooking has gotten so bad that even my take-out fails.
In retaliation, or perhaps self-preservation, my husband is taking me to a Restaurant Week meal.
As it turns out, the meal at Orsay is superb. Thanks to the maitre d’ my husband is treated like royalty. Everything is customized to his taste. My duck confit, which was preceded by an excellent cold corn soup, is also delectable.
Dessert came home with us, as did some leftovers from the main course.
It seems simple (or simplistic) to assume that mimicking another’s easily recognizable quirks is of course a mockery. It is likely, or at least possible, that the parody is a tribute.
High Anxiety, homage or spoof? The send-ups of Psycho, The Birds, Vertigo, are all over the top, of course. Mel Brooks is clearly piling on the Alfred Hitchcock tropes and making fun of them, but so lovingly that it could easily be read as an ironic tribute.
I said Camus, but perhaps Woody Allen was aiming for Hitchcock, too. His Irrational Man is among the best of his recent works; it’s dark and introspective. Infidelity, mortality, uncertainty in relationships, is usual fare for Allen it is always intensely personal. Here, as in Manhattan Murder Mystery he looks at characters who commit murder with indifference.
Hitchcock always served murder with a slice of irony. Nonchalance was the modus operandi of his villainous heroes.
The Ladykillers, famously with Sir Alec Guinness and directed in 1955 by Alexander Mackendrick, finds new life with a hilariously bumbling Tom Hanks under the direction of Coen Brothers. Like the Hitchcock homages mentioned, this film is completely sui generis. It’s originality is fueled by outstanding performances by Irma P. Hall, Hanks, and an ensemble of fools bent on a sketchy get-rich scheme.
Some six months ago, I shut down one of my many blogs, Observations: Lest I Forget and transferred much of its content to this one. I fully intended to put new content here and leave the …Lest I Forget site to history.
Reconstruction was the period in American history when the country sought to heal the wounds of a civil war. “Civil” war is such a deceptive phrase, really. Really? It is probably the very definition of an oxymoron.
Our Pledge of Allegiance was one of the products of reconstruction. It was used as a symbol of the nation’s unity.
During that war from 1860 to 1864, the country was divided, fighting under two separate flags, not for liberty or justice, but for the sovereign right of one part of this nation to earn its living by enslaving human beings. Since that project, slavery, slipped away, Americans turned to “taming” the west, which turned out to be a project in which it was necessary to kill off as many Indians as possible. Native American tribes stood in the way of our country’s westward progress. We couldn’t have that, and fighting them off their lands became an all-American enterprise.
The wild west was so called not because of all the nightclubbing and disco parties, but because of the untempered vunityiolence it allowed, even encouraged.
Our great America
Most of us either never learned, have forgotten or misremember most of the American story. Much of what we learned was likely from popular culture, at the movies not in the classroom.
Films of Indians warring cowboys or cavalry don’t do much to fill in the blanks missing in our knowledge. Generally the American cinema portrays a heroic expansion because as Americans we like to think of ourselves as good. The ideal of perfection is hard to attain, and John Wayne or Pistol Pete don’t give us an accurate picture.
History does not always paint a pretty picture
The impulse to be just is also the impulse of perfectibility that has made America great. We move towards the better, hoping for the best. We progress towards the ideal.We want to be fair; we aspire to decency. Our history is one of striving for the better for all our citizens.
We need to see the forging of the United States of America as a picture of struggle and achievement.
Musicals, even the well-researched like 1776, Hamilton, and for a bit of worldliness, Les Miz, can’t make historians of us anymore than the movies can. Even when they are rooted in events, their focus is not sufficient to make up for the deficiencies in our education.
What we do learn from both Hamilton and 1776 is that it took a lot of smart men (no women, but I digress) many months of hard work to come up with our America. The Constitution is an unprecedented document, built on enlightment values. It was written for democracy, with diplomacy and compromise.
The Constitution was not perfect, and America, ever striving, has added Amendments to the original. These Amendments improve on the freedoms granted its people, her citizens. Progress requires that we keep improving. It is, by definition, a moving forward.
As Americans we should be steeped in the spirit in which our country was founded.