Friday, August 15, 2008

Running With Scizzors - Perspective IX: The Little Things IV

The woman runs alongside a portable street foodselling cart with a stack of not so fine China - the kind you buy cheap in Chinatown - and then throws the stack into traffic as a man weilds a 2" X 2" stick at another man on a motorbike. Falling to the ground with the bike pinning him down, he thanks the government for his newly regulated helmet, protecting him from serious cranial damage from the man still swinging the stick and still making cracking contact. Birds scatter. Down the small alleyway more commotion spills onto the main road and through the beep-beep-beep of interminably snarled traffic in this daily malaise, my driver presses on - as the 7 pillar pagoda smolders. Today is the beginning of the Vu Lan festival and the start of a full moon. Multi-storied houses, luxury cars, laptops, bicycles and more will burn in the hope that guilty and lonely ghosts can be pardoned for past indiscretions and leave the humans to their pollution and domestic squabbles. But the items to burn will be effigies, made of paper, and consumed by fire in honor of lost relatives. The smoldering stone pagoda is only a shrine with a more than usual preponderance of joss sticks (incense) burning in memoriam as well. Welcome to the Vietnamese version of Halloween - Vu Lan also known curiously as "Mother's Day" - is also a day to be nice to your mother. The lady throwing the dishes must have not been feeling properly respected. Hancock is needed around here and would fit in just perfectly in his alcoholic imperfection. Ha. I loved that film, seen a few nights ago in probably one of the most civil environments in the city - a threatre - far away from the streets of my daily entertainment. "They say a child born out of love stands a better chance of happiness in life" - from the film Gattaca and a reflection for me in the light of a friend's comment that I seem to let things roll off my back more easily than others. I am an adopted child and surely born of a passion that could not have stood the rigors of my birth parents unmarried condition at the time. This makes me smile. The attorney explains to me that the man with the beer mug acted unprovoked on attacking another foreigner in my regular pub here the other night. There was glass, there was blood, a lot of blood I heard. The lawyer shows me his head and cuts obtained in trying to break up the brawl. There was a woman involved but no one is sure exactly how or why. The man with the mug had no companion. Georgia, the American one not the Soviet, was the home of another man involved, now transplanted to Vietnam. No stranger to rodeos he has told me, this must have been just his second month in Saigon and just what he ordered? Hospitals, police and goons are described. Goons looking for the man who hit people with his beer mug - and police too are looking, but my money's on the goons. The injured man was not described as being involved in whatever issue set the man with the mug off. I know them all but was not there - home watching Gattaca on HBO I was - and probably lucky to have not have had to have been pressed into the roll of peacekeeper in this unseemly battle. Sanities have been questioned - of all. "There were a lot of things in life I thought were real that turned out to be fake" - a quote from another film seen recently whose name I can't remember. For me the exact opposite has been true lately. Are there 20 birdcages or 30? Or fewer? My new home is the home of the birdman of Co Bac, a neighborhood free from the dangers of brandished beer mugs but not far away from the midway of Pham Ngu Lao, home to my French cafe and tonight's delightfully countrified meal of Sauccices de Canard (Duck sausage). The birdman is my new landlord after my old home above the cafe became flooded in a monsoon two weeks ago. Birds tweet and flutter inside their ornate bamboo cages as the man fritters with sorting tiny squirming worms from peat moss he has grown for them - everyday. Now I wake to birds after having gorged on a cousin. "I want rules. I want boundaries. Because without them all life is, is just a series of surprises" - a quote from the lead character in the film Running With Scizzors - an absolutely crystal remembrance of a life much less charmed than mine - and it makes me wonder - If my life had been less normal, less conventional would I have been more of an artist - a better artist? The passing of a man mentioned very much earlier in these pages is one of continuous speculation. As his body was turned over from the sideways sleeping position, it has been described that the portion resting on the mattress had turned to a deep ceurelean blue - the effects of blood having pooled over the previous 24 hours. That's how long he had been dead before he was found - in his room - and women and heroin and various accounts of uncertain lifestyles illustrated in speculation of the true cause of death. His parents declined the autopsy and kindly saved his memory for the best and happiest of what we all in his presence shared with him. And 100 students wait for me to grade the blogs they have just begun to write. So much thought. So much reality on all sides of our lives - the young and the older. Who needs pictures? As I did when I was a teenager listening to old radio dramas on KAAY midnight FM, it's so much more real to just let the words carry the mind into these Dali-esque dreams - these dreams that interupt the movies I see to keep balance in such abstract expressionist days.

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