Monday, August 23, 2010

The Accidental Tourist

My Uncle Steve from Texas is visiting NYC for the first time in ten years, and I'm having that infrequent but delightful experience of being a tourist in my own city. I feel like I did when I was an unencumbered student, reading life like one seamless novel written with omens and clear connective tissues just for me. I'm experiencing coincidences for the first time in a long time, and each one feels like a purposeful gift from the Universe. As an aside, I have to further explore the fact that Keith Haring pops up everywhere for me except my bowl of oatmeal lately.

Steve is a one of a kind; with him it's easy to find yourself, within 24 hours, bouncing from LaGuardia airport to Joe Shanghaii's in Chinatown for soup dumplings, to the New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery to see an original "dream machine" by the Beat illuminary Brion Gysen, to Other Music, the astounding indie record store that makes the record store in High Fidelity look like Barnes & Noble, to a screening of Wings of Desire at the Anthology Film Archives... no wonder I'm exhausted! That's to say nothing of the following morning's trip to Coney Island, where we caught the Sideshow and (not all of us) rode the Cyclone.

Here's the thing about "Wings of Desire". It's as amazing now as it was twenty years ago. Twenty years ago I was thinking, Wow! Nick Cave and Peter Falk! Now I'm thinking, Wow! Peter Falk and Nick Cave! The idea that angels hang around in libraries and steal our pencils and squeeze our shoulders when we're feeling down is, rational or not, a lucid comfort to me. They go to the circus and fall in love. They exchange overheard conversations with one another. They listen to private thoughts on the subway. They wear stellar overcoats.

Over the last 36 hours or so I've replayed much of the film in my mind. If I were studying acting, I'd watch the scene of Peter Falk trying on twenty hats over and over again, or revisit his first invisible encounter at the lonely coffee cart. The old man wandering through the urban field throughout the movie was a seer archetype, but I'm still ruminating on his thread in the film. A random thought is that Bruno Ganz is clearly George Clooney's muse; Ganz could be Clooney's father... it's uncanny. Finally, Peter Handke's poetry about childhood can feel free to hang around and whisper into my ear as long as Franny's Jesus prayer hung around with her in Franny and Zoe. "Als das Kind Kind war"... "When the child was still a child..."


  1. Peter Falk? The guy from Columbo? If so, no u in his name.

  2. Yes! The guy from Columbo-- there's even a mention of Columbo in the movie. I'll correct the spelling, STAT! Thanks.

  3. Hey Rachel. This is Bob. Steve's NYC friend you met on Tuesday. Hello! Loving the blog, and even more so impressed with your writing stats. Shoot me a line sometime. I write/edit (did teach a bit) too.


    bdotop [at] yahoo [dotty] commie