Don't like to repeat myself. But my old Radio blog is like unreadable. Because it accepted keyboard specialties of Microsoft and then, in a new rev, crashed on them, populating stories with ?s where ' or -- outta be. So I redid this one, anyway, offering it up here, yet again.
Flash - It is summer, the evening, and the tickets are going on sale for the Milwaukee premier of Fellini’s Satyricon. The film: Much anticipated. Maestro Fellini has promised to visit our planet, as if it were an alien one, by going back to the time before Christendom.
I for one cannot remember the world too well in the time before Fellini’s Satyricon. It has been with me since I first heard the music of this film – Fred’s friendly sound genius Nina Rota at hand using BBC-style colonial world field recordings Gamelan and such -- to help conjure the dream.
Exposition - It was a much anticipated film not movie, says I. Movie was an American thing. Our invention. But Fellini was the great film artist, and he had a love for the low culture of movies, and this could be viewed as a movie. And I would be there firstly if I could, in this case, making the 25-mile drive to the big city of Milwaukee in Dad’s Buick Wildcat. Awaited, Satyricon was, as film, the form, was in its flower; as a Hemingway novel was awaited in the 20s, a play by Williams in the 50s, or like a Dylan record still somewhat today.
I asked my high school girl friend E. -- this being after high school, my sometimes girl friend, to the flick -- and she had to accept. She had to! It was Fellini. She was a blue-eyed, pearl-ear-ringed Cuban college girl, who could be easy to argue with, especially in the realm where intellectual Europe still had it over the Americas. She carried old Spanish ambience up from Cuba on a deportee prop plane. Fellini was the last gasp of Europe’s cultural hegemony.
I am sure I had decided I would emphasize that I believed in movies, not film, unlike the phonies, poseurs and auters, most of them older and perhaps owning their own (foreign) cars, who she had just been now encountering in college. A salesman even then was I, looking for my angle, and trying to be true.
We had taken many film classes and argued over many films before making up, many times, and starting over. Again. Again. Saying something stupid was my part. Film arts was a bonanza for my libido.
Dont remember specifics of her garb that night. But remember general look of the day. Heidi braids. White t shirt. Farmers blue jeans. Sandals. Yet, as I indicated, somehow tending to high culture maybe it was the earrings.
Satyricon was playing at the Downer Theatre in Milwaukee. Friday night. Twas Summer. Still light as we early bought tickets. In Cambodia, skulls were beginning to pile up. We were too early to gain entrance to the theatre, but first on the block. We found ourselves with time. And decided to taste the air, and walk around said block about and abutting Downer. Green grass lawns, houses and apartments once of the thoroughfare.
So we were on the block and like I said it is dusk. Light but dark.
It is quiet as Milwaukee can be.
And a girl in a peasant blouse is taking a corner a little acutely on her big tired white bike, and - boom - is hit by a car. The quiet gone, the scene marked by her scared shocked shrieks.
We and others run to her help. Police, ambulance, arrive. I think I may have knocked on a door to call for the ambulance and help.
The scene is bustling. The girl in a type of panic. We comfort her with handholding and word muttering.
Then, a guy like Sal Minieo maybe on a bike too is hanging about, and saying to me, See they wont help, the bums.
He is pointing a little down the way at a small bland Dodge, maybe a Ford, clearly an unmarked government car, where two unmarked guys in butch haircuts have Styrofoam coffee cups. They probably called the police but they didnt leave their stations, whatever stations they were. They look like FBI.
And the guy says: That’s my uncle's place. You know Frank Baliestreri
And I dont really respond. Frank Baliestreri is in the papers, the reputed head of Milwaukee Cosa Nostra. The building he points to is very nondescript.
And he taunts the police or the FBI, mostly under his breath.
The girl on the street is conscious but she has some type of injury. Cant move much. She is freaked and we are freaked.
They guys in the unmarked car are just there. And it is getting darker.
Then the girl is being taken way and says to me: You must give a message to some one. Call her. Tell her I’m all right. And she gives me a note with a name and a phone number and – I’ll never forget this - the name on the note reads ‘Mother Condor’.
Who I call and, of course, say first, she's alright, just like I was told. And she’s going to the hospital.
And Mother Condor who is mad at me, and getting madder of course says: What do you mean she's alright? How can she be alright if she is going to the hospital? Good question but I stick with my story.
Somehow, we are back on Downer. We look at one another. The pulsating sequenced light bulbs round the marquee buzz. The night is not so hot, but this could be Dillinger’s last theatre now as we enter.
Another planet and time. I keep to course.
I am not a stuck-up filmista. I will load up on stuff from the concessionary counter! Buy the biggest box of Juju bees of my lifetime. And root beer. Pop corn. And Milk Duds for good measure. Good and Plenty? Perhaps that too. I had a factory job then and was rich on Fridays.
And boy the movie music is trance-inducing. And the film can become suddenly violent or depraved. No matter what, it is undecipherable. The dread drone thing of the flick is working for me, but I never really quite get a rhythm with it. And we are both thinking back to Mother Condor and possibly Frank Baliestreri.
Satryicon is awfully hard to understand, and all the readings I did on La Dolce Vita are not helping me here. As the Juju bees lap upon the shores of my root beered stomach, Alka Seltzer comes to mind.
Thats what Satyricon means to me: Alka Seltzer. It has always been a squeam. On the big squeam. == But read friend GordonThomas's dream here . It’ll knock you clean right out of your spleen.
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