Monday, April 24, 2006

one of my typical, awkward situations

Me: walking across Fifth Ave. at Third St. carrying a terrarium filled with dirt, a handful of “caracoles” and a slug.
You: African-American male, 40ish, shaved head, goatee, in your green SUV at the red light, shouting out the window.
“Oh-da fith shree!”
Me: stopping in a puddle, looking confused and uncomfortable but politely encouraging, but also panicking a bit. (What? Fourth and Fifth Street? Is there such a thing? I’m new here. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just forty-fifth he’s asking for, but he’s not even close yet, so why is he stopping to ask? And why ask me? Is there no one else he can ask?)
You: “Foh-a Fith Shree!”
Me: pointing in the direction the SUV is headed anyway. (45th Street? What does he want to know about it? He just came from Second and is now at Third. What, exactly is the question? Directions, I guess.) “That way. About, uh, forty-two more blocks.”

You: “How far? Four blocks?”
Me: finding it very difficult in my awkward confusion to not sound condescending and wry and therefore feeling even more uncomfortable and intimidated. I’ve been physically threatened for less, after all. “Well, you’re at Third Street. So, uh, forty-two more, I guess.” Even though I was trying to sound genuine, I knew right away that my delivery of that line was to slow and hesitant to be taken as kind words of assistance. So I took off, caracoles and all.
Forgive me.

And, continuing yesterday’s late, broken review of The Aristocrats, I must amend something. I had been debating with myself about calling it a movie or a documentary, and something about the feel of it made me call it a movie. Maybe because it seemed more performance than presentation. Okay so far. Just clarifying. I’ve been looking at Penn Jillette’s blog about the creation of the movie and have noticed that a few of the performers hadn’t heard the joke before being filmed by Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza. And yet I stick to what I said about the performers not being dishonest or duplicitous. All of the performances are true to the personality of the teller of the joke. None of the performers give the impression of changing who they are in order to please the filmmakers. (If you’ve seen it and want to write to me about Stephen Wright’s contribution, I might concede something, but I don’t want to tear down one of my comedic idols just because of an odd setting.) Anyway, that was all just an aside for completeness’ sake.

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