Friday, May 26, 2006

I found myself admiring a homeless person today

There's a homeless man I walk by every morning on the way to the T. He always sleeps on the same bench in sort of a mini-park area that runs alongside Mass. Ave. It's actually a nice spot.

Sometimes when I walk by he's still asleep. But other times, like today, he was "getting ready." I've seen this ritual a few times now and it fascinates me; he lays all his stuff out on the bench and neatly folds his clothes and things, and then dons a jacket and tie and moves on. If I didn't know better I'd swear he was getting ready for work, and if I hadn't seen him sleeping there during a few late-night walks home I might still wonder about that.

It tells me that no matter how dire his situation might be—and how humiliating it must be (or, at one time, must have been) to plainly and repeatedly reveal to hundreds of people that you sleep on a bench—he retains dignity. Maybe the clothes he wears aren't fresh out of the wash, but if I saw him strolling downtown I likely wouldn't think anything of it (except maybe for all the bags he lugs around).

Contrast him with this offensive woman from the shantytown that overcomes the Coop's entryway every night. Now I know that dreadlocks, for some people, have a spiritual significance. But this woman has one giant, horrifying dreadlock down to her ass. (She reminds me of the green woman who danced for Jabba the Hutt, with those droopy things coming off her head. Minus the "Holy shit, I'm about to be eaten by the Rancor!" expression.) I'm sure there are civilizations of things living in that ugly mass. She and that thing sit Indian style on the sidewalk with her hand jutting out, waiting for her share. What an asshole.

Without going into the politics of homelessness and whether or not these folks deserve my change, these two represent opposite ends of the public-face-of-the-street-person scale—and the dignity scale as well.

Monday, May 15, 2006


I caught From Russia with Love recently, one of those Bond films that has somehow eluded me. I really enjoyed it—a bit slower-paced than, say, You Only Live Twice (my favorite by thousands and thousands of amazing miles—where else can you find characters in a movie watching the movie they're concurrently filming, like with the giant magnet and rocket sequences?), but not in a bad way. I think I could listen to Robert Shaw read the phonebook, especially if after each name he added "He has lifeless eyes, like a doll's eyes."

I've got Doctor No waiting for me in the DVR queue (at once the greatest and most debilitating invention of our time). Haven't seen that one in years and I remember being unimpressed, but I'm a lot more mature now and can appreciate adult things like nuance and alcohol. I think a marathon is on the horizon because Goldfinger and Thunderball are both on soon. But where's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, man? Where's George Lazenby? I've never seen that one because TNT, USA, et al have no G.L. love. Maybe he's lousy, I don't know, but if it wasn't for him they might not have brought Sean Connery back for the uproariously bad Diamonds Are Forever, which is basically a silly Roger Moore Bond caper starring Connery—given a choice between Roger Moore and two weird homosexual assassins I will take the assassins every day of the week.

Then again, A View to a Kill was either my first or second Bond experience—the other being Never Say Never Again; were they just driving up to Connery's front door with dumptrucks full of money?—and definitely one that has stuck with me because Christopher Walken was terrific and Grace Jones was a pure pop-culture mystery. The one scene where she crawls in bed with Moore is the Grace Jones cinema moment. As an adolescent boy watching this scene—and still—three thoughts rumbled as she drops that robe: You can almost see Grace Jones's breasts there. I don't want to see Grace Jones's breasts. Grace Jones is from outer space.

I love how they had to shoehorn the actual words of the movie title into the dialogue. Something like "Nice view." "It's a nice view, alright. To a kill." Not exactly that, but it might as well have been. What is a view to a kill? Poor Duran Duran had to write a song based around that phrase for the soundtrack. Rivers and perverts are tangible things you can wrap scenarios around, but this? Maybe they grasped what viewing to (at?) a kill really stood for. Maybe they lived the viewed-kill life.

After Moore came Timothy Dalton for only two goes. Too bad, I thought he was second-best after Connery. Nice vindictive quality to play off of Moore's proper aloof Englishman. Too bad the producers watched too much Remington Steele and replaced him with the inferior Pierce Brosnan, and it became more important to surround Bond with explosions and big-name starlets instead of an entertaining story. Dalton was this franchise's last gasp at greatness, unless the new guy can bring back a little weight.

Still, one thing the Bond films have always done well is the opening-credit sequence. Have you seen this nudity? It's the equivalent of the Small Faces having a hit single with a drug song like "Itchycoo Park" in that censors remain constantly oblivious. It's remarkable, I'm almost afraid to publicize it. So if you like your PG spy action mixed with a few minutes of R-rated nudity (or X-rated, should someone hack Comcast like they did a few years ago and stick a half hour of hardcore pornography in the middle of Never Say Never Again), check out your local AMC Bond Marathon. And give my regards to George Lazenby.