Sunday, September 26, 2010

Breaking the Bloggle Hiatus and Remembering Paul Newman Two Years Later

When I awoke this morning, I had a most unusual feeling -- one I hadn't felt in months: I really want to write today.

Considering my short stories from the past few years have all but fallen by the wayside, as I sink ever quickly into the acknowledgment that I may never be a real writer, I figured that maybe I'd unlock the old bloggle and toss some words out into the Interwebs.

But, still, it was curious that I had such a hankering. I've been seeing more movies than ever lately; the past couple of movie weekends have included triple features. First, there was "Machete," "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World," and "The American." Then, "The Town," "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," and "Easy A" (couldn't help myself on the last one).

And, a couple weeks ago, I wrote a few film reviews for Bloomberg, my old favorite place of employment. Yet, while I had -- as always -- much to say about the films, I thought maybe I'd outgrown the little bloggle (several of my jerk friends would be relieved!).

As I sat down to tip-tap away about how amazing Danny Trejo is in "Machete" and how I relished director Robert Rodriguez's racist treatment of my people (The Mexicans) -- and treatment of my other people as trigger-happy racists (The Texans); or, how disappointed I was with George Clooney for making me want to stick toothpicks in my eyes to stay awake during "The American"; or, how overrated "The Town" is, just as "Gone Baby Gone" (Affleck's directorial debut) was three years ago -- my Favorite Food Critic signed on and reminded me what today is.

Today is the second anniversary of Paul Newman's death. Crestfallen.

I'd been thinking about this day all month, ever since I visited a friend in Westport, CT for a few days, where Paul Newman lived until his death. As we drove from the train station to my friend's home, he pointed out the window through the trees to the Westport Country Playhouse, where Newman's wife Joanne Woodward was artistic director and where Newman himself was part-owner of the restaurant next door.

It took a dozen swallows to loosen the knot in my throat.

But, somehow I'd forgotten the significance of today this morning, or how I felt two years ago when Brother G called to tell me the news. I was in such a sad place at the time, that the blow of my One True Idol dying made me more depressed than I'd have imagined.

Now. I’m wiping the sleep away from my beady eyes and jolt upright in shock. My lips start to quiver, my jaw starts trembling – and it happened. I cried thankless, shameless tears as I sat there on my little air mattress in my new room (which is finally coming together, by the way).

I’ve joked a thousand times about how I’d cry when PN died. I
wrote about it on this silly bloggle (and jinxed it? Believe you me, that was the first reaction I had … Hell hath a place for me now, I’m sure) but I didn’t think I actually would workout the old tear ducts, like some love-stricken fan who wanted to impale themselves after the loss of a Beatle.

It takes some pretty heavy things to make me cry; and it just made me realize how much I really did, and do, admire PN – everything from his early career and movie choices, to his lifestyle, and – perhaps most selfishly – how handsome and righteous his roles most often were. He will be an everlasting love.
Thankfully, I'm much happier than I was two years ago, but as my all-time favorite "Cool Hand Luke" plays in the background -- the beloved scene where Dragline beats poor Paul into a pulp, but he won't stay down ... because he's Luke -- I'm sure I'll cry a few quiet tears throughout the afternoon.

And, for anyone interested, Roger Ebert's article on Newman is amazing. Upon reflecting on his obituary, Ebert writes:

I never really thought of him as an actor. I regarded him more as an embodiment, an evocation, of something. And I think that something was himself. He seemed above all a deeply good man, who freed himself to live life fully and joyfully, and used his success as a way to follow his own path, and to help others.
And, of his third meeting with Newman, he writes:
Never mind what happened in 1969. I'll dig up the old magazine and put it on the web site. Let's move forward to 1995, and listen very carefully. When I walked into his room, he said, "'s you again." The point is not that he remembered me. The point is how he said "aw..." Imagine it in Paul Newman's voice. It evoked feelings hard to express in words. The "aw" wasn't "oh, no," as it sometimes can be. To me it translated as, "Aw, it's that scared kid, grown up." Whatever it meant, it put me right at home.
Oh, no, the tears. At least it gave me a reason to write. Silver-linings.


Paramendra Bhagat said...

My Paul Newman is a guy called Amitabh Bachchan. He is still kicking though.

Jack said...

Excellent remembrance... I miss the guy, too. He could make every role memorable.