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Posts Tagged ‘Early Film’

My father suffers from Alzheimer’s dementia and is a resident at local nursing facility. One of the highlights of my frequent visits there is when he is flipping through the channels on his TV and comes upon a shot of the president(*) of this country.

It stirs him, producing a most visceral response in him and he almost always snarls out, ” I hate that f!@*&ing guy.

My dad might not know what day it is, how old he is or where he is, but he knows a creep when he sees one. It always makes me laugh and I generally tell him that I feel the same way.

And my agreement with him might never be stronger than it is this morning as I watch this creep attempt to dismantle the healthcare system in a reckless way that most likely will hurt many people in healthcare facilities like my dad. That will hurt scores of working class families who depend on the subsidies to buy health insurance. That will put more and more Americans at risk.

This spoiled man-baby’s lack of empathy is breathtaking. You see it everyday in his actions and his inaction.

For instance, his response to Puerto Rico is beyond reprehensible and immoral. It is a shameful black mark on this country.

Another example is his silence on the tragic fires in California, not to mention the same for earlier fires that terrorized much of the west.

Or take the fact that he has yet to say or tweet a single word about the four US troops killed in an ambush by an ISIS affiliate in Niger. This blob of ego uses his support for the troops as a political tool of division yet instead of meeting one of the troops when their flag draped casket came home to Dover, he played golf at his club with a Senator on that day.

Not a single solitary word to honor those troops. Yeah, he’s got your backs.

There are so many other examples of his lack of empathy, his narcissism, his greedy self-serving actions, his barely covered scorn for people of color, his need for retribution and revenge, his lack of personal responsibility, his total lack of actual ideas,his ignorance of policy and our constitution and his stupidity in general.

Yes, he is a f@!*#ing moron, as his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson so eloquently stated. And that f@!*#ing moron is the face of our nation now.

People said they wanted change. Well, they got it, in the same way you get change when you drive your car into a tree.

Yeah, I know that 9 billion dollars for health subsidies for the working class is a lot of money. As are the billions of dollars required to help folks rebuild their lives in the wake of the horrific storms and fires the past few months. But a tax cut that overwhelmingly favors the top 1% and explodes our deficit by a trillion and a half dollars is somehow equitable.

I know, I know. Shut up and paint.  And I will do that in minute.

I just need to vent periodically. Some vitriol sparks creativity and some destroys it. I find that holding it in is not conducive to my work. Nor is ignoring the things taking place around us. I preach transparency and honesty now so I would be wrong to avoid the subject, to parse my words to not insult those people out there who somehow can accept the actions of administration and can’t see the damage being done to our nation or the future that it portends.

In short, when I see my dad today and he says his piece on this person, I am going to tell him that he’s being too easy on him.

Okay, thanks for making it this far. Here’s the payoff: a 1901 film, Fat and Lean Wrestling Match, from French film pioneer George Melies. I love his early effects and the sense of fun and wonder he creates. A good way to clear the palette.

I am going to shut up and paint now.

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Market Street, San Francisco, April 14, 1906

Market Street, San Francisco, April 14, 1906

Market Street, San Francisco,  April 18, 1906I am sort of fascinated with the time around the turn of the 20th century, those years when the country was being transformed by new technologies.  The first airplanes were flown, instant long distance communication was now the norm, electricity was becoming more and more common in homes and cars were showing up in the most remote of locations, more and more replacing horses as our primary mode of transportation. .  Movies were being made and distributed around the country and recordings of music were heard playing in homes.  It was a vibrant,quick moving time  filled with seemingly infinite possibilities for those willing to take advantage of the opportunity.

Around that time, my grandfather was a young professional wrestler here in my home town.   Matches often took place at one of the many vaudeville theaters in the city, the match ending the night’s bill of dog acts, acrobats, singers, dancers, jugglers and maybe even a movie thrown into the mix.  Like the time, it was a fast paced mix.

I read an account of one of his matches that took place at a local Athletic Club which were basically Men’s Clubs that had a number of teams in different sports that competed with other clubs throughout the area and also provided a place for guys to congregate and drink.  This particular night his match was a Smoker ( which was just a night of entertainment) at the Kanaweola Club.  There was a singer then a short boxing match followed by a traveling  family of acrobats.  Then came a gentleman who danced, putting on a “demonstration of Ragtime.”  The wrestling match was the final event, probably because the matches were untimed meaning they could last for quite some time.  This night’s match didn’t go too long but my grandfather once had a match that ran for several hours one night and was suspended until the following evening where the match finally ended after over two more hours of grappling.

It was just a wide open time.  A young nation feeling its oats.

Of course, this wasn’t true for everyone.   Women were still limited in their opportunities. They could not vote and for the most part were subjugated to minor roles in the work force.  The nation was only three or four decades removed from the Civil War and while slavery was eradicated , black Americans were still fighting  prejudice and suppression, struggling to find their own opportunity in a time when the Ku Klux Klan was taking root around the country.  There was widespread poverty and disease and alcoholism.  Work conditions were often appalling which led to the rise of the unions which brought about labor laws which removed the children from the mills and mines which were so common at the time.

In short, it was a tough but exciting time.  Which brings me to the film below and the two images at the top of the page.  This is a nearly 12 minute film of a streetcar jaunt up Market Street in San Francisco on April 14, 1906.  Only four days later the fabled Earthquake of 1906 would destroy the city and leave over 3000 people dead.  The two photos at the top show the before and after, the tower at the end of Market Street still standing in both.  This film was a mystery for many years, the date lost in the fog of history.  But careful research uncovered the date which made an already interesting film even more so.

Even though the journey is slow by today’s standards, it’s a dizzying ride with cars and people and horse-drawn vehicles all weaving and swerving in a chaos that is a little unnerving.  I think it represents the time very well– fast-paced and a little dangerous.  I watched and wondered how many of those people perished in the next week and what the survivors ended up doing in later days.  Take a look and wonder for yourself.

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