21 April 2013

Movie Review: Saturday Night at the Baths


I never saw this movie. It was produced in 1975. But I think the reason why I didn't see it was because it was likely beyond the rating range of what I could procure on VHS during the 1990s and well, for some reason, I didn't see it. And from what I understand, no did either. From all the ideas and images I have about the bathhouses of urban America in the 1970s, this movie seems to be a documentary. From what I was able to find out after watching the movie, this movie was part documentary since a number of people played themselves, perhaps making this the first gay-positive docu-drama.

The story is about Michael, a piano player from the Midwest, who has arrived at New York and lives with a girlfriend. He lands a job at the Continental Baths. The club manager, Don Scotti (a real person played by himself who was still alive in 2005), has the hots for Michael. Michael becomes drawn to Scotti as Michael's girlfriend constantly pushes him in response to his almost fanatical homophobia. Michael, though, has a little crisis and then he enters the post-Stonewalls, pre-AIDS New York gay community.

The movie filled in images and ideas about a 1970s described in histories of the AIDS crisis and urban histories like The Gay Metropolis. I definitely would include this in the canon of gay cinema and would likely include it in the syllabus of queer film class.

09 April 2013

Not A Suicide Pact






I was on a mission. I entered the National Bookstore in my province looking for a particular reference book. The security guard gave me a funny look as I walked passed him with my son. An attorney was buying something with his two daughters and the store clerks were milling about the cashier. As I moved across the long and narrow single aisle space to the reference section, I noticed that there were several white office barong-ed plain clothed security guards guarding almost every aisle. That was a little weird. There were also two new trainees that I had never seen before.

I went directly to the stack with reference books as my son milled about. As I frantically looked for the last copy of the needed book, I turned around the corner looking down at the books when I almost ran directly into her. This woman who lives off the stolen wealth of the masses and with her husband and his group who tortured and killed thousands.

I thought for a moment what would happen if I were to somehow manage to kill her there. My death would shortly follow at the hands of one of her many security detail. I continued to look down frantically for a book I knew now was not there. I pretended not to know the law books in the next shelf were just for law books or the refresher and licensure exam books on the adjacent shelf were just for exams. As I figured out what I was called to do, I went to one of the trainee store clerks to ask if they had the book. I knew the SOP. We'd go back to the reference shelf, they'd look everywhere and tell me they only have what is on the shelf and that they haven't got my book.

We went back, looked around and then my son asked me -- is that Imelda Marcos? I said Yes as I continued to look with the trainee store clerk. She slid towards the rear exit that I realized at this point was swarming with security detail.

As we left National Bookstore empty handed, my son told me that she didn't look real especially her hair, "It didn't move," he said. Then he asked me if all super rich people look like that. I didn't answer him exactly. Instead, I told him: "I don't know. It's not her money. It's ours, that money is the money of the entire people of the country, not hers."

And in hindsight, I really could have used a cream pie and a handheld video camera. Next time.

01 April 2013

Death, A Challenge



I:

Bless us to engender
the realization of the impermanence of this life
in understanding that whatever is gathered will be separated,
whatever is accumulated will be exhausted,
whatever reaches a high state will fall to a low state
and whatever takes birth will die,
and that the time of death is uncertain.


II:

It was dark.(OW) 
It carries all my pains, hatred and regrets.(OW)
I stare at the person in front of me. (OW)
His eyes were cold as the arctic sea. (OW)
It was powerful. (OW)
The spotlight is under me now. (OW)
Though we spoke of nothing after that, her silence spoke volumes to me. (CB)
You knew. (CB)
Why didn’t you tell me? (CB)
You could’ve told me.(CB)
I wanted to tell you. (CB)
I really did. (CB)
I just didn’t know how to. (CB)
What will happen to me if I stop thinking of you? (IAR)
You have released me from your clasps. (IAR)
And I'm beginning to wonder why I can't. (IAR)
A desert now / Where a great land was (SP)
Her withered head / The wind swept to dust (SP)
Every decision you’ve made was a turn at a fork in the road. (CB)
Are you happy with who you are? (CB)
Are you at peace with where your feet have taken you? (CB)
Do you regret nothing? (CB)
Has each turn been wise or have you somehow lost your way? (CB)

III:

I am sure to become old, I cannot avoid aging.
I am sure to become ill, I cannot avoid illness.
I am sure to die, I cannot avoid death.
I must be separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me.
I am the owner of my actions, heir to my actions,
actions are the womb from which I've sprung,
actions are my relations, actions are my protection.
Whatever actions I do, good or bad,
of these I shall become their heir.

IV:

Ang hindi umiibig ay hindi nakakilala sa buhay dahil ang buhay ay pag-ibig.