Don’t Look Back

I was reading Brain Pickings and W.H. Auden was talking about writers – how as soon as they complete a piece of work, they start to think about the next one. They don’t think much about the past work, or if they do, they remember the flaws. It’s an interesting take on how artists create and view their own work. Not sure it’s true in all cases, but there is something reassuring about an idea of an artist looking ahead, not wanting to rest on past laurels.

I went to see “Purple Rain” last night. I haven’t seen it since 1984, when it came out. I forgot how new wave it was. The hair, clothes, makeup. As a movie, not great. The scenes at First Avenue bring the movie to life. Prince’s musical performances in the movie are astonishing, even by today’s standards.

My enjoyment was tempered by a Converse sneaker that suddenly landed on my shoulder (I should have been warned by the Suzie seat kicker sensations). I turned around with a glare and saw a woman around my age with a male companion. She didn’t look sorry or upset. That is my generation – full of “me” entitlement and disregard for others. Very Prince-ish.

TIFF is a little pretentious, but also endearing. Where else can you see a Rohmer retrospective, or a Japanese film about sisters that is supposed be like Ozu but really is like Sirk. Or run into people who call themselves film patrons and boast about seeing movies all day and night during the film festival. It’s a privileged lot, sheltered from the grime of life.

The last movie that I saw with my mom at TIFF was “The Father of My Children”. She was relatively mobile then. It was an okay movie but maybe not worth the effort of going all the way to King Street and having to take a cab home.

She used to save the New Yorker that I gave her for Mr. D. Once a week, he would knock on the door. I’d open the door and there he was: dressed in a spotless white shirt, pressed pants, polished shoes. Bent over (osteoporosis), with a cane and old World courtesy. His wife died a few years ago. They used to go every Saturday to the Coffee Mill and meet their Hungarian friends, recreating Europe across from the Guild Shop.

Lately he would stop me and ask me if he already picked up the paper and the New Yorker from my mom – he said his memory was going. And then he didn’t come for 3 weeks and were wondering if he was all right. People a certain vintage in my mom’s building keep disappearing. A couple of weeks later, K noticed in the very paper Mr. D used to pick up from my mom’s a a death notice – Mr. D died in a hospital. Just like that.


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