PRETTYFAKES

Polaroids by the Artist
David McCarty
of Jackson, Mississippi
This past Saturday, Ashley picked me up and we wandered our way up to the Delta. On the way we ate potato logs and fried okra, cataloged the increasingly gigantic kudzu monsters of Holmes County, and she spotted a hidden swamp which we learned was once the favored haunt of a lonely woman who would glide through it on a flat-bottomed boat mounted with a writing desk.

We wove around Cassidy Bayou in Sumner until Southern Grey Gardens came into view. The trip up was to see two grand people, Maude Schuyler Clay & Langdon Clay, who also happen to be two of the finer artists to ever grace Mississippi. They may also be the most kind and welcoming people in all the world, let alone funniest (at one point I gave in and just started writing down everything anybody said, I was laughing so hard).

Over the day we ate good soft cheese on crusty bread, laughed about Spring Break trips to Windsor Ruins, talked about politics in Tallahatchie County in the fifties, and we heard about the now-faded yet already legendary New York of the 1980s (this was maybe my favorite, echoes of that world which might as well be Narnia left humming in my ears). Subjects broached included the problem of human evil, how great Stax Records was, bedbugs on the N train, and whether we should get cake or not (I am always in favor of getting cake).

And there was art: art suffuses the fabric of that place, sparks off the fingertips and toes like static electricity, radiates out of those three people. It gets on you, gets in you, makes you want to go make something, find a moment that is beautiful and share it with somebody else.  A worthy challenge for life.

At some point we went out walking the dogs, and this is a Polaroid of  Langdon and Ashley and Maudie walking and talking by the courthouse in downtown Sumner.  The film, a great surprise from Ashley, was gently expired circa 2009, and gives everything it shows a golden glow.  Yet this is how I think of that moment:  suffused in light, soft, a little otherwordly.  In a life gifted with wonderful days it was one of the best.

We left our wonderful hosts and headed back to Jackson, and as it neared midnight there was a moon so high and bright over the fields that it felt like you could almost reach up and grab it with your hand and pull it down and take a bite out of it. I didn’t though, because I was still full from all the cake.

This past Saturday, Ashley picked me up and we wandered our way up to the Delta. On the way we ate potato logs and fried okra, cataloged the increasingly gigantic kudzu monsters of Holmes County, and she spotted a hidden swamp which we learned was once the favored haunt of a lonely woman who would glide through it on a flat-bottomed boat mounted with a writing desk.

We wove around Cassidy Bayou in Sumner until Southern Grey Gardens came into view. The trip up was to see two grand people, Maude Schuyler Clay & Langdon Clay, who also happen to be two of the finer artists to ever grace Mississippi. They may also be the most kind and welcoming people in all the world, let alone funniest (at one point I gave in and just started writing down everything anybody said, I was laughing so hard).

Over the day we ate good soft cheese on crusty bread, laughed about Spring Break trips to Windsor Ruins, talked about politics in Tallahatchie County in the fifties, and we heard about the now-faded yet already legendary New York of the 1980s (this was maybe my favorite, echoes of that world which might as well be Narnia left humming in my ears). Subjects broached included the problem of human evil, how great Stax Records was, bedbugs on the N train, and whether we should get cake or not (I am always in favor of getting cake).

And there was art: art suffuses the fabric of that place, sparks off the fingertips and toes like static electricity, radiates out of those three people. It gets on you, gets in you, makes you want to go make something, find a moment that is beautiful and share it with somebody else. A worthy challenge for life.

At some point we went out walking the dogs, and this is a Polaroid of Langdon and Ashley and Maudie walking and talking by the courthouse in downtown Sumner. The film, a great surprise from Ashley, was gently expired circa 2009, and gives everything it shows a golden glow. Yet this is how I think of that moment: suffused in light, soft, a little otherwordly. In a life gifted with wonderful days it was one of the best.

We left our wonderful hosts and headed back to Jackson, and as it neared midnight there was a moon so high and bright over the fields that it felt like you could almost reach up and grab it with your hand and pull it down and take a bite out of it. I didn’t though, because I was still full from all the cake.

cosmopsis:

Here is a photo of Maude Schuyler Clay and I walking her dog Zelda across Cassidy Bayou in Sumner, Mississippi. I have admired Maude’s photography from a distance for years, so getting to spend a day with her at her childhood home in the Delta was a dream.
One of the many things we talked about was New York City. After living there for over a decade, she left in 1987 to move back to Mississippi. I asked her if she ever missed it. “A place like that never really leaves your blood, ” she said.
Photo by David McCarty taken with expired Polaroid 600.

cosmopsis:

Here is a photo of Maude Schuyler Clay and I walking her dog Zelda across Cassidy Bayou in Sumner, Mississippi. I have admired Maude’s photography from a distance for years, so getting to spend a day with her at her childhood home in the Delta was a dream.

One of the many things we talked about was New York City. After living there for over a decade, she left in 1987 to move back to Mississippi. I asked her if she ever missed it. “A place like that never really leaves your blood, ” she said.

Photo by David McCarty taken with expired Polaroid 600.

The legendary Choctaw Books in Jackson, Mississippi, is one of those spaces that truly define a town. While Oxford has the clean and bright Square Books, all windows and staircases and gleaming hardcovers, it’s somehow more fitting that the state’s capital contains a dark and mysterious little nook jammed thick with ancient and rotting tomes, their bookplates signed with quill pens, its aisles clogged with gold and pyrite alike.

Over the years, I’ve scoured the North Street building and come up with signed copies of Lewis Nordan’s The All-Girl Football Team, battered and moldy Reveilles filled with crewcutted cadets from the 1930s, a slender hardback volume of Dame St. Millay’s poetry, a quickie kiddie book about Blondie by Lester Bangs, and paperback copies of Jujitsu for Christ.  In other words: the world, and that’s only looking on the normal shelves, not the ones chock full of British editions of The Ponder Heart or rarities from that manic fellow from Lafayette County, the one so confident that he decided to change the spelling of his own name. 

If you have a favorite, it is here; there has never been a time when I didn’t find something special, although rarely was I was looking for it at the time I entered the store.  Choctaw is very much like a living, breathing creature—it changes. Once there wasn’t any Buddy Nordan when I really needed to find another copy of Music of the Swamp, but there was a battered copy of Airships, inscribed lovingly from the author to a person who appeared to be a long-lost friend; there was a stack of Rolling Stones from 1988 in the back, all Janet Jackson and Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney; there was the first-edition Eudora I accidentally stepped on while reaching for a copy of I Cannot Get You Close Enough. 

Like the Pevensies’ wardrobe, Choctaw Books is most certainly larger on the inside than it appears, whole worlds behind its creaking wooden door.  Its glory is less in the specific treasures within than the possibility of them, the sparkling hope of a tumbling infinity of words and pictures.  If you are in town, let me know.  Let’s go together—we’ll tie ropes around each other’s waists so we won’t get lost if we’re separated, and after we make it out alive—blinking into the too-bright summer light—we’ll compare what treasures we snuck from the cave.

Polaroid 600 // Jackson, Mississippi

The legendary Choctaw Books in Jackson, Mississippi, is one of those spaces that truly define a town. While Oxford has the clean and bright Square Books, all windows and staircases and gleaming hardcovers, it’s somehow more fitting that the state’s capital contains a dark and mysterious little nook jammed thick with ancient and rotting tomes, their bookplates signed with quill pens, its aisles clogged with gold and pyrite alike.

Over the years, I’ve scoured the North Street building and come up with signed copies of Lewis Nordan’s The All-Girl Football Team, battered and moldy Reveilles filled with crewcutted cadets from the 1930s, a slender hardback volume of Dame St. Millay’s poetry, a quickie kiddie book about Blondie by Lester Bangs, and paperback copies of Jujitsu for Christ. In other words: the world, and that’s only looking on the normal shelves, not the ones chock full of British editions of The Ponder Heart or rarities from that manic fellow from Lafayette County, the one so confident that he decided to change the spelling of his own name.

If you have a favorite, it is here; there has never been a time when I didn’t find something special, although rarely was I was looking for it at the time I entered the store. Choctaw is very much like a living, breathing creature—it changes. Once there wasn’t any Buddy Nordan when I really needed to find another copy of Music of the Swamp, but there was a battered copy of Airships, inscribed lovingly from the author to a person who appeared to be a long-lost friend; there was a stack of Rolling Stones from 1988 in the back, all Janet Jackson and Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney; there was the first-edition Eudora I accidentally stepped on while reaching for a copy of I Cannot Get You Close Enough.

Like the Pevensies’ wardrobe, Choctaw Books is most certainly larger on the inside than it appears, whole worlds behind its creaking wooden door. Its glory is less in the specific treasures within than the possibility of them, the sparkling hope of a tumbling infinity of words and pictures. If you are in town, let me know. Let’s go together—we’ll tie ropes around each other’s waists so we won’t get lost if we’re separated, and after we make it out alive—blinking into the too-bright summer light—we’ll compare what treasures we snuck from the cave.

Polaroid 600 // Jackson, Mississippi

The other day my friend Frances came over and brought me these things: a bag of chicken eggs, a bag of duck eggs, elaborate squashes, crunchy onions, and bright red tomatoes. We talked about art and Polaroids and abandoned 3-D Mississippi River maps. I asked her where she got the raccoon tail on her purse, and she said she got it from hunting the varmints that had been killing her chickens. She is probably one of the top 5 storytellers I’ve ever known, and has been a wonderful supporter of the art I make for years now. When I asked her to pose for this portrait I totally did it so I could call it “Saint Frances,” because that’s how I think of her, patron saint of the arts, patron saint of stories, enemy of raccoons.

Polaroid 600 // Jackson, Mississippi

The other day my friend Frances came over and brought me these things: a bag of chicken eggs, a bag of duck eggs, elaborate squashes, crunchy onions, and bright red tomatoes. We talked about art and Polaroids and abandoned 3-D Mississippi River maps. I asked her where she got the raccoon tail on her purse, and she said she got it from hunting the varmints that had been killing her chickens. She is probably one of the top 5 storytellers I’ve ever known, and has been a wonderful supporter of the art I make for years now. When I asked her to pose for this portrait I totally did it so I could call it “Saint Frances,” because that’s how I think of her, patron saint of the arts, patron saint of stories, enemy of raccoons.

Polaroid 600 // Jackson, Mississippi

Times Square // Polaroid Emulsion Lift // May, 2014

Times Square // Polaroid Emulsion Lift // May, 2014

There is much to say about the wonders of New Orleans, but one of my favorites is how the City celebrates itself by literally cementing the names of its streets into the curbs and sidewalks.  It’s almost a primer as you walk, as if New Orleans understands it is mysterious enough, and leaves you a clew to its labyrinth.  This seems to work better than normal street signs, because they’re probably a little sturdier, and it has the added benefit of being beautiful.

Polaroid 600 // New Orleans

There is much to say about the wonders of New Orleans, but one of my favorites is how the City celebrates itself by literally cementing the names of its streets into the curbs and sidewalks. It’s almost a primer as you walk, as if New Orleans understands it is mysterious enough, and leaves you a clew to its labyrinth. This seems to work better than normal street signs, because they’re probably a little sturdier, and it has the added benefit of being beautiful.

Polaroid 600 // New Orleans

When I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man’s life?
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life,
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life,
Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
I seek for my own use to trace out here.)

— Walt Whitman

When I read the book, the biography famous,
And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man’s life?
And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life,
Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life,
Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections
I seek for my own use to trace out here.)

— Walt Whitman

Selected Recent Google Searches, July 2014:
how do you avoid overinking block print
richard linda thompson walking on a wire
determined kitty
great schopenhauer quotes
julee cruise falling
magnum “home from the sea”
ribbon of darkness
icee locator
new orleans parade schedule
wiki santo and johnny
what is the plural of mosaic
wiki elisabeth shue
glühwürmchen
wiki gold farming
paul mcleod graceland too
lower dens a dog’s dick lyrics
blue is the warmest color infinite tenderness
medusa inhumans
six flags new orleans
indywood theater elysian
surrey’s uptown
city park new orleans
vic chesnutt speed racer
wiki hedge maze
yngwie rising force
tliltic tlapoyauak
konstanz
new orleans ward map
mississippi state 1993 season
ogden museum address
soul stirrers that’s heaven to me lyrics
friday night lights quotes
kittens that look like tim riggins
good snacks delivered
do-si-dos
pomeranian in a tux
is netflix down

Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // McComb, Mississippi //  July, 2014 

Selected Recent Google Searches, July 2014:

  • how do you avoid overinking block print
  • richard linda thompson walking on a wire
  • determined kitty
  • great schopenhauer quotes
  • julee cruise falling
  • magnum “home from the sea”
  • ribbon of darkness
  • icee locator
  • new orleans parade schedule
  • wiki santo and johnny
  • what is the plural of mosaic
  • wiki elisabeth shue
  • glühwürmchen
  • wiki gold farming
  • paul mcleod graceland too
  • lower dens a dog’s dick lyrics
  • blue is the warmest color infinite tenderness
  • medusa inhumans
  • six flags new orleans
  • indywood theater elysian
  • surrey’s uptown
  • city park new orleans
  • vic chesnutt speed racer
  • wiki hedge maze
  • yngwie rising force
  • tliltic tlapoyauak
  • konstanz
  • new orleans ward map
  • mississippi state 1993 season
  • ogden museum address
  • soul stirrers that’s heaven to me lyrics
  • friday night lights quotes
  • kittens that look like tim riggins
  • good snacks delivered
  • do-si-dos
  • pomeranian in a tux
  • is netflix down
Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // McComb, Mississippi // July, 2014 
The rain has finally let up for a bit.  I misjudged a puddle by a curb back off Euterpe and got soaked past the ankle.  (The misjudgment was not understanding that the water was eight inches deep).  

A postman to my left is looking at the mail in his hand, dry white rectangles.  He glances upward.  The door to the house we’re in front of looks like it’s been kicked in.  

The postman leans forward and gently places the mail inside the door.

Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // New Orleans, 2014

The rain has finally let up for a bit. I misjudged a puddle by a curb back off Euterpe and got soaked past the ankle. (The misjudgment was not understanding that the water was eight inches deep).

A postman to my left is looking at the mail in his hand, dry white rectangles. He glances upward. The door to the house we’re in front of looks like it’s been kicked in.

The postman leans forward and gently places the mail inside the door.

Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // New Orleans, 2014

The second time I went to New Orleans I was eighteen.  This was back when you could feel when you’d crossed the border into Louisiana.  The roads were just that bad.  Lore had it the federal wouldn’t give the state money until they raised the drinking age up to 21.  We would make a game of it and close our eyes and yell out when we figured we’d passed into the state.  You’d be flying down the interstate and see blue Camaros and silver Trans Ams do accidental bunny hops off waves in the concrete, graceful during a long second of hangtime, then slam down, sparks flying from cracked oil pans.  

It was September of 1993, and Mississippi State was to play Tulane.  The season had already started rough with two losses to Memphis and LSU, and nobody was really set on going to the game.  We just wanted to go to New Orleans.  

They had been clearing trees and brush by the side of I-55.  The gnarled roots and busted limbs and wilted foliage was stacked in great heaps along the road like they were for a giant’s campsite.  These broken forests were ablaze.  Their fires were as big as the house I grew up in.  And there were dozens of them, a terrifying subdivision of red and yellow flame in the Fall night.  It looked like what I imagined the End Times was supposed to look like.

Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // City Park, New Orleans // July 2014

The second time I went to New Orleans I was eighteen. This was back when you could feel when you’d crossed the border into Louisiana. The roads were just that bad. Lore had it the federal wouldn’t give the state money until they raised the drinking age up to 21. We would make a game of it and close our eyes and yell out when we figured we’d passed into the state. You’d be flying down the interstate and see blue Camaros and silver Trans Ams do accidental bunny hops off waves in the concrete, graceful during a long second of hangtime, then slam down, sparks flying from cracked oil pans.

It was September of 1993, and Mississippi State was to play Tulane. The season had already started rough with two losses to Memphis and LSU, and nobody was really set on going to the game. We just wanted to go to New Orleans.

They had been clearing trees and brush by the side of I-55. The gnarled roots and busted limbs and wilted foliage was stacked in great heaps along the road like they were for a giant’s campsite. These broken forests were ablaze. Their fires were as big as the house I grew up in. And there were dozens of them, a terrifying subdivision of red and yellow flame in the Fall night. It looked like what I imagined the End Times was supposed to look like.

Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // City Park, New Orleans // July 2014

Breakfast is my favorite meal, and breakfast in New Orleans is grand. In a city that prides itself on food, breakfast is its real superpower: two hour meals staggering into lunch, fresh juices from every known fruit, where even dough hot from the fryer, dusted with sugar, becomes an artform.

Over the mornings I eat a croissant heavy with scrambled eggs; grits thick and creamy; spinach woven into eggs covering a fresh and crunchy baguette. And there is never a bad cup of coffee.

At Coulis on Prytania “Paradise City” plays lightly in the background as I eat a pancake as big as a schoolroom’s globe. There is a smiley face drawn on it with fresh whipped cream. A little girl follows one of the servers through the restaurant, laughing and cutting up. The server has shiny bat wings tattooed down her arms.

After making a dent in the pancake, I tear into the omelet. It’s made with gruyere and crunchy red onions. A table of regulars gets up and walks across the restaurant, talking about a postponed Florida vacation. The couple is older; the woman is elegant and reminds me of Lauren Bacall. Not the face of La Bacall, but the way she moves—bold, with dignity, perhaps a little scary. I say yes to a second cup. The bat-server announces proudly that her sidekick has just earned her first tip.

“Crazy on You” begins to play. I squint trying to overhear the table next to me, where a woman with red-brown bangs is waving her arms, “Creole Debutante” inked on her right bicep. The woman working the register asks me if I’m in town working on a film. It has begun to rain too heavily to see.

Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // New Orleans, July 2014

Polaroid // Impossible Project Magentatype 600 // July 2014 // Storyland, City Park, New Orleans

Polaroid // Impossible Project Magentatype 600 // July 2014 // Storyland, City Park, New Orleans

I’m staying at a haunted house in New Orleans on the edge of the Garden District. I suppose there’s no evidence that it’s haunted, and no one has even suggested that it is, but it’s a century old and crumbling and there are strange thunks and clonks and a six-toed cat sitting on the stoop outside, and in my completely accurate opinion everything in this City is haunted.

The house is on Melpomene. Once muse of singing and melody, over time she became the personification of tragedy. It was once the standard that you’d call on Melpomene in order to write well. When walking the neighborhood I chant her name under my breath, an unconscious tribute: mel-pom-ah-knee, mel-pom-ah-knee, dodging puddles and staring at live oaks with their branches sprawled about like B-movie octopi, mel-pom-ah-knee.

I skirted the downtown exit on the way here, kept going like I was looping to Slidell. I wanted to make my way into the abandoned Six Flags, but there’s heavy security at the gate now. The rumor is that they are filming a new Jurassic Park amidst the metal skeletons and moldy stuffed animals. My dreams of climbing kudzu-covered rollercoasters were dashed.

Instead I loaded my camera with new film and wove my way through the Quarter. A catalog of smells in one quick stretch of Royal: pony, pee, puke, perfume. It’s a Thursday at midnight and the city feels deserted—nobody paying attention to the person sweating and staring into the night sky at a neon sign, staring like it’s the most beautiful thing in the world, chanting under their breath.

Heading back there’s a group of women staggering past police headquarters, which advertises N.O.P.D. t-shirts for sale. “Y’all think we can take our drinks in?” one says to nobody in particular.

Walking to breakfast down Magazine the next morning, there’s a neatly folded shirt with three well-worn bras on it just sitting on a curb. The top-most bra is a dull chocolate color. I stare for a minute and try to figure out what would have caused that particular pile. It’s not one shirt and a bra, which could make sense, or two shirts and a bra, or any combination I can parse under even the vaguest New Orleans logic. Maybe it’s that I hadn’t had coffee yet.

There’s an antique store I always go to in search of old postcards. I love to send them, so I always look for unused ones, but every now and then I like to see what people wrote their friends. One had a bleak looking airport on the front, sent from Pittsburgh sometime in August in the sixties: Hi—We’re all home-sick for N.O., but at least are enjoying the cool weather. We froze the first few days. THE PERRY’S. Another is from the top of the Empire State Building: Dear Carl, What an incredible place this city is. After a week here my feet are sore from hiking around to see all the sights. God bless and keep you. Postmarked June 28, 1962.

Later in the afternoon, walking back to Melpomene in a fierce and sudden thunderstorm, I see the pile of clothes on the curb again. Two of the bras were gone.

Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // New Orleans, July 2014

The first time I ever went to New Orleans I was little.  We went to go see my dad’s brother and his family.  My sister and I rode in the back of our parents’ burgundy El Dorado, stopping once in the middle of Mississippi to use a payphone to check in with my grandparents.  (For years I equated Mississippi with a spooky, completely dark truck stop in the middle of nowhere). 

Our cousins, the twins, told us that they had just gotten out of school for a week because there were parades all the time.  We were astonished.  There were still beads hanging from the trees, glittery pink and green wreaths bending the branches low.  We played outside, and when it turned dusk each child was silhouetted by a cloud of mosquitoes.  You could clap your hands and there’d be blots of bright Alabama blood on your palms.  

Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // New Orleans, 2014

The first time I ever went to New Orleans I was little. We went to go see my dad’s brother and his family. My sister and I rode in the back of our parents’ burgundy El Dorado, stopping once in the middle of Mississippi to use a payphone to check in with my grandparents. (For years I equated Mississippi with a spooky, completely dark truck stop in the middle of nowhere).

Our cousins, the twins, told us that they had just gotten out of school for a week because there were parades all the time. We were astonished. There were still beads hanging from the trees, glittery pink and green wreaths bending the branches low. We played outside, and when it turned dusk each child was silhouetted by a cloud of mosquitoes. You could clap your hands and there’d be blots of bright Alabama blood on your palms.

Polaroid 600 // Impossible Project B&W // New Orleans, 2014

Thoughts about Blue Is the Warmest Color

I forgot how big high school could be, that you didn’t always know everybody everywhere.  The world seemed so big back then.  Adèle has amazing hair and it is all over the place, almost seems to be sentient, or at least restless, like Medusa’s from the Inhumans.  

That flash of blue hair—this must be Emma—the way she almost violently twists around to stare at Adèle—and she then whipsawing her body around to see Emma—has anyone ever looked at me like this?  Will anyone ever look at me like that?  Is that just in the movies.  It doesn’t feel like a movie thing though, that actually feels like a real life thing, like they might never see each other again.  

Were we this cruel to each other in high school, so cavalier?  Were we worse?  I like to think we weren’t this awful, at least.  Emma has scary eyes, tired eyes, the eyes of someone who is constantly on the edge of desperation.  I wish I’d marched in a protest in high school.  I wish I’d marched in a protest ever.  What is this amazing song they are playing and chanting along to.  What would we have marched about, I wonder, in 1992.  I had zero conception of what an economy even was, let alone that I should be assured of a place in it.  

The way these people eat!  Like they are starving to death, like eating is done as much with the shoulders and neck as with the mouth.  There is so much space in this film. She smokes like a tough guy in a 1950s movie.  I need to reread Sartre.  

Will anyone ever love me like this?  Has anyone ever loved me like that?  If someone did, could I reciprocate?  I want somebody to throw me a party and invite all my friends and screen black and white movies in the background while we eat inscrutable delicacies.  I really like this Lykke Li song and it’s perfect for this scene.  Is Lille really big, in terms of cities?  I wonder what year this is supposed to be in, I guess nobody has cell phones.  

Oh, don’t do that, Adèle, you will regret it.  Oh, don’t say that, Emma, you will regret it.  I have never been to France, but I have walked down that street, feeling like that.  The snot mixed with the tears.  That’s what this movie is more real about than anything else, the snot pouring out when you are great gulping dying-crying.  

She actually seems like a really good teacher.  Suddenly teachers seems even more important than they are, as I wonder how in the world anyone has ever stood in front of a room of six year olds for an entire day to coax them into learning grammar.  That suddenly seems harder than building rockets for space ships.  

“Infinite tenderness.”  

Polaroid 600 // Somewhere Outside Bessemer, Alabama, 2006

Thoughts about Blue Is the Warmest Color

I forgot how big high school could be, that you didn’t always know everybody everywhere. The world seemed so big back then. Adèle has amazing hair and it is all over the place, almost seems to be sentient, or at least restless, like Medusa’s from the Inhumans.

That flash of blue hair—this must be Emma—the way she almost violently twists around to stare at Adèle—and she then whipsawing her body around to see Emma—has anyone ever looked at me like this? Will anyone ever look at me like that? Is that just in the movies. It doesn’t feel like a movie thing though, that actually feels like a real life thing, like they might never see each other again.

Were we this cruel to each other in high school, so cavalier? Were we worse? I like to think we weren’t this awful, at least. Emma has scary eyes, tired eyes, the eyes of someone who is constantly on the edge of desperation. I wish I’d marched in a protest in high school. I wish I’d marched in a protest ever. What is this amazing song they are playing and chanting along to. What would we have marched about, I wonder, in 1992. I had zero conception of what an economy even was, let alone that I should be assured of a place in it.

The way these people eat! Like they are starving to death, like eating is done as much with the shoulders and neck as with the mouth. There is so much space in this film. She smokes like a tough guy in a 1950s movie. I need to reread Sartre.

Will anyone ever love me like this? Has anyone ever loved me like that? If someone did, could I reciprocate? I want somebody to throw me a party and invite all my friends and screen black and white movies in the background while we eat inscrutable delicacies. I really like this Lykke Li song and it’s perfect for this scene. Is Lille really big, in terms of cities? I wonder what year this is supposed to be in, I guess nobody has cell phones.

Oh, don’t do that, Adèle, you will regret it. Oh, don’t say that, Emma, you will regret it. I have never been to France, but I have walked down that street, feeling like that. The snot mixed with the tears. That’s what this movie is more real about than anything else, the snot pouring out when you are great gulping dying-crying.

She actually seems like a really good teacher. Suddenly teachers seems even more important than they are, as I wonder how in the world anyone has ever stood in front of a room of six year olds for an entire day to coax them into learning grammar. That suddenly seems harder than building rockets for space ships.

“Infinite tenderness.”

Polaroid 600 // Somewhere Outside Bessemer, Alabama, 2006