Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday movie triple feature

A friend and I decided to catch up on movies, which is a difficult task now that there is no movie theater in downtown New Orleans. It is also difficult given the extra-long running time of most holiday films. So our triple feature was spread out over 24 hours. We began Sunday night with "It's Complicated" at the Prytania uptown. I wasn't expecting much--Nancy Myers seems to be the kind of writer-director who goes for big concepts rather than finding any real nuance or character. But the Prytania is a great, single screen theater with digital projection, so I'd go see almost anything there. The surprise was...I actually liked the movie. It made me laugh, and strangest of all, Alec Baldwin was terrific (although playing a creep). I went home and dreamt that Meryl Streep had to sign off on my dissertation.

Day 2 begain in the burbs at 3:05 for "Up in the Air." We were at the Elmwood AMC, and the place was packed with people trying to get into the IMAX screening of "Avatar," which made me cross that film from my list. I had high hopes for "Up in the Air" but it left me kind of flat. George Clooney was great. Vera Farmiga was even better. And there are some funny scenes. But the premise seemed foggy and unconvincing. There were scenes and plot twists that would only make sense to someone trying to self-consciously construct a meaningful narrative. I didn't buy it. And worse, what was there to buy? The lesson seemed to be: "Don't ever consider becoming sincere and entering the real world; anyone who seems real to you is actually faking it." I thought I was a cynic, but I guess I like if I'm going for cynicism I'll take in a less frothy form than "Up in the Air."

Technical problems (Elmwood is always having technical problems) delayed the start of "Up in the Air" by fifteen minutes, so we had to run out on the credits and take our seats at "The Young Victoria" which had already begun. This was a movie I really didn't expect much from, although it had some great reviews. And the first scenes were stiff and costume-y. UGH, why had I thought I wanted to see this? But then, scene by scene, it came to life. I've never been a big fan of Emily Blunt, but she's terrific. And the supporting cast has actors I either haven't seen in a while (Miranda Richardson) or never at all (Rupert Friend). By the end I found myself completely identifying with Queen Victoria--and that's pretty strange, but in a good way.

So now I'm looking this over seeing that I've allowed myself to break all of my own rules for criticism, including the annoying overuse of the first person. Maybe I'll come back later and correct that. Maybe while I'm at it I'll italicize the titles rather than putting them, incorrectly, in quotes. On the other hand, maybe not.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Did I mention I was mugged?

I keep meaning to return to more active blogging, but I've been so busy with teaching, The Sula Foundation and...well, being mugged, that I haven't had a chance to do much more than post on my Twitter and Facebook pages. So feel free to follow along there.

But, back to the mugging. On October 17th we were working a table at the Barkmarket edition of the Bywater Art Market. I had the proofs of the Pit Bulls of New Orleans calendar, and needed to get them to the graphic designer for some changes. Since she lived just a few blocks away, and it was only 2:30 in the afternoon, and the weather was gorgeous, I decided to walk them over to her house. On the way there, I ran into a friend outside of her house, someone I used to see regularly back when I still lived in the neighborhood and walked my dogs past her house everyday. We stood and talked for quite a while, and I remember thinking, "This is why I should have driven--I'll just keep talking to people and this simple errand will take forever." At this point, I was approaching the intersection of Dauphine and Press Streets, just a few blocks from NOCCA, where I teach. Ahead of me, on the other side of the intersection, there was a group of teenagers on bikes. They were spread out on both sides of the street, with their backs to me. It seemed they were waiting for someone to come down the street from the other direction. If I had been planning to walk that far, I would have found a way to bypass them, but I didn't worry about it, because I was already turning up Press.

In the green space along the train tracks, two stray dogs looked up from the distance and began charging at me. Then someone clubbed me on the right side of my head and I fell hard onto the middle of the street. Soon there were several kids on top of me, hands in my pockets, asking "What have you got?" They took my iPhone, and left as the dogs continued barking at them. The dogs turned out to belong to two additional former neighbors, and when they realized what had happened, they called the police. I, of course, continued on my errand, since there was little chance of a speedy response from the police. Then, after speaking briefly with the cops when they turned up, I returned to the market, then went onto the hospital for an MRI (I was bleeding from my ear), and stopped into a fundraiser hours later on my way home.

The police, of course, have done nothing. It took multiple calls and complaints before the detective would meet with me; she then took all of my time to tell me that it was a difficult job she had to do and she really didn't want to bother with a case involving teenagers. Meanwhile, I'd heard from people all over the neighborhood that this same group of kids had been causing trouble all over. Some people even knew where the kids lived. Others could identify them. She wasn't interested. In fact, she didn't even bother taking any of this information down.

A few days later, I noticed that the incident hadn't even been reported on our districts email alert system. After pointing this out, they sent an account that bore no factual relationship to the actual events. I sent a correction. They emailed a revised report that also had most of the facts wrong. I emailed again. They sent a third version that was, at least, closer to the truth but still incorrect. I gave up.

Now, more than two months later, I still have hearing loss in my right ear and will have to repair the eardrum with a skin graft procedure.

The crime, according to the NOPD, was not a violent one.