Wednesday, June 07, 2006

United 93

I just saw "United 93". I didn't want to see it at all, but it was my mom's turn to pick the movie, and she said "Quiero ver la del avion". So I saw it. Actually, not really. I just couldn't get into it. The whole time I just sat there freaked out, looking at the faces of the people around me watching it. They looked freaked out too. So this isn't a review or anything. All I have to say is "too soon". But it did bring back a lot of memories. Everyone has memories of that shitty time. These are mine.
The alarm rang at around 8, but I decided not to get up just yet. My carpool girls, Hilda and some quiet girl whose name I forgot, would pick me up around 9:15, so I had time to lay around. So I went back to sleep, but then the phone rang. It was Hilda.
"Jesus Vanessa, you still asleep?!"
"Get up! We're under attack! They just blew up the World Trade Center!"
Hilda sounded weird. Too excited. It was too early to be that excited. I turned on the TV. They were showing what looked like an action movie. The buildings were all burning. I got out of my room, and went over to the living room. My Nino and Nina were watching the news too, and my nina was on the phone, talking to my mom, or my uncle.
"mira nada mas, mija." and "Tu mami y tu tio estan bien"
Well, why wouldn't they be OK?!!
I stood there and watched the news with them a while, then I went to my room and watched it there, too. At some point I got dressed, and at some point my carpool girls drove up. I left to work.
Hilda was still worked up. She talked in an excited tone the whole way. She had the news on in the car, they kept repeating the attack, over and over. The quiet girl just sat there next to her, quiet. Then she started crying. She didn't make a sound, but she was shaking. Hilda changed the station, 'til she found music. The music sounded oddly fake.
"Put the news back on" the quiet girl said.
"Yeah, I think you'd better" I said.
Hilda kept being excited. She would repeat whatever the news guy said, like a parrot. The quiet girl kept quiet. And I sat there in the backseat, my mind in random mode:
We shouldn't be going to work. They wouldn't count this against us. I don't wanna go to work. No, we shouldn't be going. Maybe they'll close for the day, and we could go home. I wanna go home. My Texas home. Yeah, I wanna go there. Texas... Where's the president? I hope he's OK. Geez, wasn't it just like yesterday that Aaliyah died? I remember I was so sad... weird. I'm gonna be so sad later. I know I am.
We got to work, the Verizon Call Center in Santa Monica. It's a tall building, and we all looked up at it before we entered.
All the tvs were on inside, and we hardly got any calls, and one of the managers, Armando, came up to us and said "I want you to know I Know it sucks that we have to be here."
There was a lot of contact. We all sort of bumped into each other all the time. We'd touch the arm of the person we were talking to, pat each other on the back. We all called our families on our breaks, then huddled together in front of the tvs.
After work, when Hilda drove us home, we were all quiet, and we stared at the downtown buildings when we passed them. Near home, I saw a helicopter in the air, pointed it out, and Hilda said really loud "they're not supposed to be flying!" and we stared at it the rest of the way home, 'til we couldn't see it anymore.
I called Daniel when I got home, and we were tense, and picked a pointless fight. I went into the living room and watched the news with Nino and Nina, and I cried for the first time, cuz I saw the people jump off the burning buildings, and it finally hit me. It really hit me.
The rest of the week was pointless, really really pointless. That weekend my cousin Connie and I went to Uptown Whittier to walk around, just so we could be around people. Everyone made eye contact. It was important, so important to make eye contact with everyone. We stood on a street corner to cross the street, and the car stopped in front of us was one of those lowrider deals, but it had one of those little flags on the front. We stared at the flag, then looked at the driver. He was a little cholo dude, and he made eyecontact with us, too.
"Hey, God Bless America, girls. Right?" he said.
"Yeah man. God Bless America." Connie and I said.

The Godfather I & II

Oh boy did AMC mess me up this weekend. I mean, I had all these plans to clean the apartment top to bottom, cook a bad ass dinner, and blah blah blah. But then, I turn on the tv in the morning, and, wait, what is this? An all weekend Godfather marathon?!! Wha...ttt?!!!
Well, there you go. But let me tell you, getting a sore ass from sitting around watching I & II over and over again (they WERE also showing III, thankfully, so I did manage to get my cleaning and cooking done doing those 3 hour stretches) was worth it. Man, those movies are so... So Raven!
You know, it's weird how they never get old. Like, NEVER. You really could watch them over and over again and find new things all the time. And you know, the first one came out in '72, the second in '74 (when I was born) so I've pretty much been watching those things all my life.
Let's see. My love affair started at birth, cuz I know my mom went to see Part II over and over again in the theatre, and I think she took little newborn me (to the horror of the other people in the audience, who were then pleasantly surprised by the fact that I only cried twice; once to get my mom to lift me up so I could see the screen better, and again when Fredo got shot).
During my elementary school days, I got to watch the movie every time the networks would show it on tv, complete with a full narrative provided by my mom and my uncle, who then answered all my little girl questions, like "By having Apollonia meet Michael with a deformed jaw and love and accept him as a husband anyway, do you think Puzo meant to show us that an Italian woman would be better suited as the wife of a Godfather, because she would know from the get-go of the monster within, mommy?" or "do you think this a parable on the isolation of immigrants in the USA, Tio?". You know, typical nosy kid questions.
I read the book when I was around 12, and that's when I discovered that the movie I'd seen on network tv was totally edited. I mean, wowe, NO WONDER I'd always liked Sonny! That little scene with him and the bridesmaid Lucy was the first sex scene I ever read (page 18, I still remember!) and it's still one of my favorites. By the way, I read the book so many times it tore in half, which ended up being a good thing, because it made it easier to fit in front of whatever textbook I was supposed to be reading in class.
Finally, when we got a VCR in middle school, I got to watch the unedited version, and I fell in love all over again. I got to see Sonny bang Lucy up against the wall, got to see the bloody horse head, Apollonia's boobies, and Moe Green's shot up eyeball. YAY!!!
In high school, The Godfather III came out, and... well, I went back to renting I and II again, over and over, until the memory of that horrid mess (Michael joking around with spiky hair? What the FUCK?) thankfully faded from my memory.
So see, it's been a lifelong love affair for me. Every two years or so, I go through my little Godfather marathons, and I always find a new little theme to explore. Like, what do these films say about the role of women? Immigrants? Family?
And then there's all these new little details, like hey! when they kill Luca Brasi, the camera moves behind a glass screen with a fish design (sleep with the fishes, my friend), oh and speaking of old Luca, he's SO the inspiration for The Usual Suspects' Keyser Soze. Think about it. And ever notice how right before Mike pops the cop and the other dude at the restaurant, you can hear the sound of a train, kinda like, his last chance to jump on the train to a normal life is leaving him behind?
Finally, there's always a new character to focus on. When I was little, I was all into Sonny and his big... uh, HEART. Then in high school I went through my Vito phase, old and young. See what I mean? Hell, I've even gone through a Tom phase! And then there's Michael, who's always been the love of my life (he's one of the reasons I only like guys with dark hair and big eyes, he's who I named my Ken Doll Mike after, who got to fuck all the Barbies until I unfortunately lost his head, and he's the reason why if I ever have a little boy, I'm gonna name him Michael, even if Michael Sprankle sounds kinda weird when you say it out loud).
This time, however, it was all about Fredo for me. I dunno, I guess maybe I'm going through a loser phase or something, cuz something about him just tore my heart in half. And you know, that actor John Cazale was really something else. I mean, think about it: the dude only made 5 movies before he died in '78, but Jesus, those were THE 5 movies:
The Godfather I, The Godfather II, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon, Deer Hunter.
Wow. Oh, and he was engaged to Meryl Streep. If ever anyone can claim artistic and personal perfection...
Anyway, geez, what a geek I am. I mean, look at me go on and on about this. And the sad thing is, I could probably keep going, but I'll stop. Just one last thing, though. I've noticed, like I said earlier, that everytime I watch these flicks I bond with a character. Right now I'm a rather unfortunate mixture of Tom/Fredo. You know, a goofy outsider. Who are you?