Friday, February 21, 2014

February 21, 2014



February 21, 2014

My favorite Jacques Demy film is “Model Shop” starring Gary Lockwood and Anouk Aimée, who plays the same character that is in an early Demy film “Lola.” Not long ago, when I found myself in Paris, I purchased the Demy box dvd set.  I’m often in my bathtub screaming (not singing) tunes from “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” So, by my very nature, this was an indispensable box-set for me to have.  I don’t know if Lockwood is my favorite actor, but he is one that I often reflect on.  Like million others, I admired Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey, ” but oddly enough I find his character in “Model Shop” more distant or foreign like.  He appears to be an astronaut who landed in Venice, California. 



As a child, I went to Venice all the time, and I have these faint images of the oil wells on the beach pumping the tar up from the ground. There was a consistent noise being produced by these giant horse shaped wells, that was creepy, and it seemed it went on for 24 hours, 7 days a week.  Watching “Model Shop” where the Lockwood character lived on the beach, Demy captures the sound in all its drama and surrealism.  I totally forgot the sound, till I saw the film, and brought back memories of Venice.  

One of the things I remember as a child quite visually was a drunk on the street walking down Ocean Front Walk, which is basically on the beach, and seeing him being tormented by a group of kids.  Maybe four or five kids in all, but what they do is taking turns in pushing the drunk to the ground.  Once he tries to get up, they keep pushing him back to the pavement.  What I remember is the sound of the oil wells blended in with the kids taunting the drunk, and his voice pleading for them to stop.  Then it got really ugly.  One of the children began to throw rocks at him.  In a way it was like trapping a small animal, and keeping it contained in a space, as you commit torture on the poor helpless beast. 



Ever since then I never wanted to visit Venice, but I had to go with my parents because they had so many friends who lived there.  Every moment there my stomach would tie up in knots, and nothing could erase the anxiety till we actually leave the neighborhood.  I’m very sensitive to space and location, and if something happens within that specific site, I can never erase it from my mind.  So even watching Jacques Demy’s “Model Shop” brings back the violence of that neighborhood.  Even though I can’t be totally sure, but it seems that Lockwood’s small Venice house is located on or very close to the public beating I witnessed as a child.   By watching the film I become obsessed with the memories, but I know being at a distance and this is only a film, I’m fairly safe from the trauma.  


Living in the canyon areas of Los Angeles, we are often have unwelcome insects in our home.  The kitchen and bathroom would get a sizable population of ants marching on the counter and for some reason in the bathroom washbasin.  On hot days, ants I imagine being thirsty, so I would fill the basin with warm water, and watch them drown.  I would often give a few ants a chance to live or get out of the basin, but with perfect timing I would force the ant under the water to see what he or she will do.  Once it stops struggling, I feel immediately sad and depressed.  It reminded me of the drunk, and now, I also connect the soundtrack to “Model Shop” by the Topanga Canyon band Spirit.  To this day, I’m ashamed of my cruelty but very happy to have a dvd copy of Demy’s “Model Shop. ”

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