Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11

Several things we could talk about.

Ted Koppell pointing out, in an op-ed for the Washington Post, that Bin Laden accomplished everything he wanted and more from the September 11th attacks, to the point that an argument can be made that he has effectively won.

We could reminisce about the late Susan Sontag, always good for some pithy truth:

"Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word 'cowardly' is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): Whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards."[

Or we could knock around Newtie the Narcissistic Nutjob's new (straight to DVD) movie, America at Risk: The War with No Name (trailer: "This is the end of times, this is the final struggle")—just in time for holiday giving (perfect for encouraging the apocolyptic fantasies of your own narcissistic nutjob—how is your Uncle Dufuss doing these days?).

Yeah. None of that sounds very appealing just now. Counting our troops lost, nearly ten thousand Americans dead, and the counting of Iraqi and Afghan dead makes numbering our own seem jejune. Extremists of every ilk have made out alright, as have those who feed on the war machine, and the bloodsuckers on Wall Street, who seem to be able to manipulate every fear into some kind of misdirection that works to their advantage. The rest of us are less for these past 9 years, and the most galling loss may be the withering away of our illusions about the strength of our republic and its principles.

Fuck all that.

I love the movie Almost Famous. When we saw it in the theater, I realized, 20 or 30 minutes in, that I was seeing something extraordinary, something I would always remember. I whispered in Paula Jane's ear, This is why I go to the movies. She nodded agreement, enchanted as I was. The main reason is, I think, that this film captures rock and roll—not the blood and guts, but the essence of it—what I love about the music, why I turn to it over and again and for different reasons, throughout my life. Love the scene on the bus, after Russell had fallen out with the band and stormed out, and partied all night with "real" people. He was forced, by practical necessity—contracts, obligation—to rejoin them, and as he sat there in the front of the bus, the tension was thick and each person was absorbed in his or her own fears and resentments. Then the music started to play. And as if by miracle, they were healed. And that's true—rock and roll has healing properties. I know it.

I'm really glad, too, that Cameron Crowe chose an Elton John song to sell this pivotal scene (and for another, to great effect, further into the movie). It's easy to forget, seeing and hearing Elton today, just how fucking good he was, especially before he was ELTON JOHN.

So, yeah..Elton, from 1971. Looking very earnest, and brilliant. Wearing a swell shirt. And singing a song that can heal what ails ya (if you let it).

(btw, the psychodelic stuff in the intro only lasts for a moment or two)

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