Plague Diary 3: The Dream

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Here is a random city shot on film from some time during my travels in 2017 or 2018. I am not sure which city it is actually, SF maybe?

I finally had a pandemic dream. I knew it was coming and as is usual when my subconscious is trying to make a point, the symbolism is heavy handed, like Hallmark card heavy handed. I dreamed I was driving my truck through a city. This is the same city that always shows up when my dream brain is looking for City and I find that kind of interesting, like I have a Platonic Ideal City floating around in my head somehow. However! In the dream there were big medical tents set up in the median of a avenue that I was trying to merge onto via a traffic circle. There was lots of traffic and European police officers in faceless round helmets and bright hazmat suits milling around by the tents and in the street. There were abandoned cars pulled up haphazardly with the doors open. There was a big iron fence with spikes on one side and a huge thorny rose vine on the other with tendrils trying to reach into my window. It was nearly impossible to thread the truck through all this without disaster and in fact the effort woke me up.

 

SO yes we are all trying to gently thread our way through this complicated landscape with heartbreaking dangers on all sides. I am disheartened today by the sudden avalanche of stupid crazy people denying that this is happening, saying it is a conspiracy (seriously, WTF? Why? What would a conspiracy on this scale even begin to hope to achieve? Like maybe there’s a Batman villain out there who hates small restaurants and wants them all to close? It makes NO sense at ALL.) and saying that we should immediately restart daily life as if nothing had happened, was happening, is happening. These people are useless idiots and there are way too many of them, lead, of course, by the idiot in chief.

I cannot go on or I will utterly lose my shit. Why is that orange creature still in office? Why are people surprised that the working class actually does make the world go around? And so on. This has been a colossal failure on the part of the disaster we call a federal government, a failed government in a failing state. Pretending this is the greatest country in the world is not helpful.

That’s really all I got today. I am going to try to make sweet potato and kale calzones fromthis website – pretty much everything I’ve made from there so far has been pretty good with the caveat that you need to about double all the seasonings but all of it is vegan and fat free, so awesome – and then I will go for another walk around the neighborhood along with the endless parade of everyone else walking around the neighborhood. I still think closing the beaches was a terrible idea and Harvey agrees.

 

 

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Plague Diary 2

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So I found this written in the sand yesterday morning and now I share it with you, because we are all not freaked out enough already and we need some truly creepy The Stand kinda stuff in our lives.

I suppose I am a Stay At Home expert now: I have had a Zoom happy hour and I have mask envy.

Yesterday afternoon, they closed all the remaining beaches. Fortunately, I had gotten up early and spent an hour in the morning at Sunset Beach, where I found a plastic bottle colonized by mussels* and a piece of sea glass that looks as if it has been melted. Hopefully it is not from Fukushima and wildly radioactive although, given that we just seem to keep sliding into the the most unlikely timeline, it probably is. Harvey tried to eat it for some god only knows ridiculous dog reason but I got to him in time and brought the piece of glass home to radiate slowly on the windowsill.

Then in the afternoon I found out about the beaches. This was just as I was madly cleaning the house for the Zoom happy hour with my friends in Asheville. ZOOM! It went really well! i got kicked off halfway through because my internet is chancy but I got back on and it was just so lovely to see all their faces. They all looked great. I, on the other hand, look like Jabba the Hutt in a blue gray wig on Zoom. Every time we have a Zoom meeting – and we have at least two a day at work, at 9:30 and 4:30, which has nothing to do with them checking up on us and making sure we’re working, no, nothing at all – I have a sudden startled moment of cringe when I see my giant face on the screen. My GOD my NECK! Or, uh, what used to be my neck. When I had a neck.  Actually though I like the zoom meetings. I like seeing my coworkers and pretending I’m being just as productive at home as I am at work.

I’m trying but it’s hard. On one of the nonprofit facebook groups I belong to someone said, remember, you’re not really working from home. You’re experiencing a pandemic, an unparalleled disaster in world history or at least in living memory, and you’re trying to work through it. It’s okay if you can’t focus. That was good to know because boy howdy, I cannot focus. First of all it’s tough at home because it’s too easy to go, oh hey! I should really mop the kitchen floor real quick! And make soup! Possibly also bread and while I’m at it, I need to sort those papers. And second because, ya know, PANDEMIC. Here we are. We are in the middle of a fucking pandemic. It is so insane that it makes me stop, just stop and freeze and stare into space. That is usually when my son will emerge blinking from his room and say, PANDEMIC. COVID-19! What are we going to do?

I don’t know what the hell we’re going to do except what we are doing, which is wear soft pants and eat too many pretzel crisps.

I have a hierarchy of soft pants now. There are pants that I can wear outside and pants I cannot.

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This is just a nice picture from a year ago – the before times – about 3 blocks from my house.

OK, I know, standards have changed but I’m still not wearing my sheep print pajama pants to the supermarket no matter how comfy they are. I have worn them on morning dog walks around the neighborhood but every time I seem to end up also wearing my purple plaid warm waterproof jacket and about halfway through the work I become uneasily aware that that’s a lot of purple pattern. And to think I wondered why that jacket was so cheap. I have two pairs of purple soft pants as well and the same goes for them. I’m not ready yet to be Purple Lady. Soon, no doubt, soon I’ll be purple lady and have a small dog in an old stroller plus some other accoutrements too depressing to think about. But for now I am still only half purple and I have two large dogs and okay, yes, i do talk to the neighborhood deer. Good morning, deer! I say, Hello! They seem to appreciate it.

Today I had to go to the supermarket again – it is where my pharmacy is and I had to get a new supply of loaded needles to stick into my much abused belly fat. I’ve gotten much better at stabbing myself with needles but fortunately I will not need this skill for much longer: I got approved for a big pharma plan for poor people and I will be getting a 3 month supply of blood thinner in the mail on Monday. Whoo hoo! I am grateful that such programs exist BUT allow me to point out that if we had fucking national health care like a civilized real country I would not have had to spend hours on the phone over the last week begging and proving that I was poor but HEY we can’t have that! ARGH. Anyway, i was at the supermarket, and there were quite a few people actually wearing masks now. Some of them were quite fashionable cute masks and I am jealous. I tried that no sew tutorial mask thing that I have been plugging and found that, alas, it doesn’t really work well – it hurts my ears and still fogs up my glasses. Sigh. There is still no rice or flour or yeast or plain seltzer in cans. The cat litter is suddenly all gone, like the entire cat litter aisle is empty, which is very strange. The cashiers and bag people are still unmasked and ungloved. They are spraying the carts with disinfectant as they come in now.

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Harvey a couple weeks ago, before they stopped allowing us to have fun.

I also had to go to the vet. Harvey (who has his own Instagram account now because why not) woke me up this morning freaking out about his ears. He wouldn’t let me look at them and while I tried to put some enzyme ear cleaner in, it didn’t go well, so I called the vet.  Vet appointments, along with everything else in the world, are different now. Now you drive into their parking lot and call them and tell them you’re there. Then they call you back and get you to explain why you are there in detail. Then a vet tech (a perky vet tech; why are they always so perky?) comes out in a mask and gloves and you open the car door while they stand 6 feet away. They bring their own leash and clip it to your dog’s harness and then they take your dog inside. You wait in your car. Then they call you and if your dog is like Harvey, they tell you that he will not let them look in his ear, which, if you are me, will cause you to wonder just why the fuck, then, am I here? Are you people not the experts at looking into dogs’ ears? Even Harvey’s? But you are friendly and polite and anyway, the upshot is that they think he has an ear infection so they gave him a one dose big antibiotic in his ear and sent him on home with me.  If it isn’t better in a few days he will have to go back and be sedated this time so they can look in his ear. About an hour later they called to get my credit card number so I could give them $105 which COINCIDENTALLY  is almost EXACTLY as much as I got back from the state of Oregon this morning so goodbye, tax return and Fortuna, oh somewhat mean spirited goddess, why?

I have rambled on! Let me just close by sharing this extremely depressing clip and reminding all of us that this is probably the time for a socialist revolution in this country or, at the very least, MEDICARE FOR ALL RIGHT THE HELL NOW, ALONG WITH WORKER PROTECTIONS FOR EVERYONE. I don’t really want to eat the rich – I’m vegetarian, and anyway ew, have you SEEN the rich? Unappetizing. – but I do want them taxed at a level that will support the USA entering the 21st century in a sane, kind, sustainable way that cares for all its citizens and not just the 1%. This, comrades, is the time to achieve that. Solidarity!

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I miss the beach. I miss the damn beach. This is from a year ago.

 

* mussels really like plastic bottles. I don’t know what that’s all about but I have found a lot of them now. Also these are weird looking mussels and I suspect they might be the evil zebra mussels or some other kind of mussel we probably shouldn’t have around here.

 

 

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Plague Diary 1

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This has nothing to do with Corona virus but it is a good picture of where I live now.

Hello 6000 Onions! Long time! I am back –  I am dismantling my other blog, Mobile Hermitage (no point in linking, it will be gone soon) on the grounds that I am no longer mobile and no longer in a hermitage. (Also it costs money; this one is free.) Of course, now we are all in our little hermitages just a-hermitin’ away. Welcome to my world, fellow plagueys! I moved to the coast of Oregon in the fall of 2018 and so my dispatches now will feature way more marine life and less Appalachia.

On a more serious note, I do want to keep some sort of plague journal because, as every email and news article and printed bit of info floating around Facebook is letting us know in these exact words, these are troubled times. Troubled historical times, at that, and so here, for posterity, starts my own plague journal. So let’s make a timeline!

During the second week of March, my internet home Metafilter had gotten me a head start on the national panicking. My boss, however, was having none of it and as late as March 13, the world was going along more or less as usual. By March 15, though, the local supermarkets were running out of toilet paper, flour, rice, dry beans and, of course, hand sanitizer, bleach wipes and lysol. Not to mention masks and gloves. I didn’t take it seriously either. Ha ha, I said, I think I have an old dust mask in the toolbox.* I know I have a little bottle of hand sanitizer around somewhere.** I just bought toilet paper a couple weeks ago! I said, laughing like a damn fool. ***

On Monday, March 16 I went into work to the news that I had been deemed inessential and told to clear out my desk and prepare to work from home. Everyone was sort of panicked and freaked out, understandably. By Wednesday we had closed the Advocacy Center to drop ins and by the following Monday, March 24, everyone was working from home and Zoom video meetings were the new normal. On Sunday, March 23 my son came home to Astoria Under Quarantine: by Monday, March 24, the governor had issued the Stay At Home order. This was in large part triggered by everyone treating the shut down like a snow day and flocking to the beaches to party on. The coast responded with an outraged squawk so loud they heard it in Salem and closed the state parks on Wednesday. This, by the way, has made my life exponentially harder because Harvey**** needs a ridiculous amount of exercise and we rely heavily on Fort Stevens.

Today is Wednesday, April 1. April Fools has been cancelled, a small thing but a telling one. Over the last few days I have been out of the house too much: to Costco, to Fred Meyer a couple of times, and, more excusably, to Sunset Beach, which is the closest beach still open. It feels like a slow motion wave: first the stores were all the same, then the staff started wearing masks and gloves, then the crowds took all the toilet paper away, then the staff ran out of masks and gloves, then the stores started rationing toilet paper and then, suddenly, in the last couple days, plexiglass shields have sprouted on check out lines, Time to Sanitize! plays across the loudspeakers and the few shoppers move quickly away from each other.

Downtown is a ghost town, like a scene from The Road my son says, and only the houseless folks are there, walking down empty streets with shopping carts and luggage trolleys piled with trash bags and broken rolling suitcases. It is easier, somehow, to overlook the scope of the housing crisis when the downtown streets are full of people and the houseless are just part of the crowd. Now the rest of the crowd is gone and the cracks in the social contract are in pretty fucking high relief.

I am working from home. I am working RIGHT NOW actually – no, really, I’m writing a fundraising letter at the same time as I’m writing this; it actually helps. I’m one of the lucky ones: my daughter and my brother were both laid off with no guarantee that there will even be jobs for them to go back to. My chef son, who would ordinarily now be applying for summer season jobs at resorts doesn’t know if there will be any resorts for him to go to and the resorts don’t know either.

I’m scattered and scared and, well, I guess I’m doing okayish. I have some health issues that are making this difficult: gallstones, which means I am on a NO FAT or INCREDIBLY LIMITED FAT diet that’s making stay at home very trying – although less trying I guess than it would be if there were restaurants open, since I can’t eat anything at any restaurant. I also had a pulmonary embolism, unexpected and so far inexplicable, that showed up with the gallstones. So I am on blood thinners, extremely expensive blood thinners. The hospital gave me some for free and we – the doctor, an adorable RN named Ron who I have only met on the phone (plague times!) and me – have been trying to get Big Pharma to give me a few more months worth. There have been hiccups in this process and anyway right now I’m supposed to be giving myself injections of, I kid you not, pig intestinal lining in the stomach, or, as son said, “what the hell kind of dark crazy magic spell is that?” It’s fucking horrifying and every time I do it – twice a day, two awful times a day – I freak the hell out for about 30 minutes.

Well! First plague journal of who knows how many? 6000 Onions, indeed. I’m back. Weird fucking times indeed. I don’t know either, y’all, I don’t know. All I know is here we all are, in this strange new world and I hope we all make it through to the other end.

* I did indeed have a mask in the toolbox! In fact I have 2, N-95 masks from the before times when people casually bought such things to sand their floors. That’s why both these masks are a little, uh, dusty. Also the rust from the bottom of the toolbox has made them unlovely indeed. So I’m not going to donate them; I’m keeping them for us.

** I found two little bottles. They’re almost empty now and I guess that will just be it. That is going to be a big old bummer; I keep one in the car and one by the door.

*** We just made it – still had a roll left when toilet paper showed back up at Costco. I have never bought a giant thing of toilet paper from Costco in my life before but hot damn, I did last weekend. It fills up the entire closet. It’s ridiculous and I am ashamed but strange times call for strange measures.

**** Harvey is my new dog, my Oregon hound of indeterminate origins. He looks a little like Perdita, who is still with me but white at the muzzle and stiff in the joints. Harvey is about 3 years old and prone to bouncing off the walls; he is very smart and very ADD. I love him but he is making my life lest restful for sure.

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In which Perdita has really Had It with Harvey’s shenanigans.

 

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MOVE!

OK! It’s UP AND RUNNING!  Don’t worry 6000 Onions isn’t going anywhere, it will continue to be sadly neglected – I might post stuff there that has nothing to do with the Mobile Hermitage, like rants about the end of America as we knew it and stuff like that – AND I think, at the moment anyway, that it will continue to hold a lot of my darkroom photography. Everything is in flux right now so it’s hard to say what will happen. But anyway, welcome to the MOBILE HERMITAGE, where all blogging AND PICTURES and MONETIZATION TO SUPPORT MY NEW HOBBY OF DRIVING AROUND LOST related to my ongoing journey can be found. Or will be found soon, because I’m in a Starbucks in a Giant in Delaware and I have run out of patience and knowledge to keep working on this damn thing.

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Giant Changes

We’re going to take a break from James Bond. I watched The Man With The Golden Gun a couple weeks ago with my friend Jay, and it was good, despite technical difficulties (the fucking DVD player fell through a stupid time hole again and decided everything was going to be black and white only from now on; that’s what I get for messing around with century old technologies) but shortly after we watched it, I decided to completely upend my entire life because WHY THE HELL NOT.

I quit my job and, if all goes according to plan, I’m leaving Asheville in mid June for a year. A year spent touring around the country in some form of vehicle, taking pictures. YES I AM FINALLY DOING IT. Oh and in other news I’m having a solo show at the DeSoto, which actually has been in the works for a year now but is opening on Thursday, May 4!

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OK! I’m super excited and also nervous and also freaking out that I won’t be able to find an actual vehicle and will be reduced to sleeping in the back of my 19 year old Saturn station wagon Batly. This is a bad idea, because despite the undeniable fact that Batly is the BEST CAR EVER, she is growing old and would like to retire and long road trips are now only fond memories of her youth, much like cartwheels are of mine.

I have been doing all this crazy research on what kind of vehicle I want. It’s hard to find. I am too damn old to sleep on a futon in the back of a pickup and shit in a bucket. But, I am too young, ornery and poor to want to live in a gold plated 50 foot bus. What I need is something in between. I want something nobody will look at twice. I want to extend my largeish middle aged lady invisibility to what I’m driving. I want to go stealth, slip under the radar and park wherever I feel like it, in the cities, the burbs and the woods of America. What I want, in short, is a truck camper. I thought I wanted a van, but then I started looking for a van and it turns out that while I wasn’t paying attention camper vans went from being plentiful and cheap to being made of diamonds. They are trendy now and newish ones go for like EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. That is slightly outside my budget.

So I am looking for a used truck camper and a used truck, because like my wardrobe, truck campers are composed of separates. This is not easy.  Truck Camper Magazine, my new bible (I now subscribe to Truck Camper and the New Yorker and I think that basically says everything anyone needs to know about me) recommends buying a camper first, but there are hardly any used campers out there and most of the ones that exist are far, far away. The logistics and the money are complicated. I thought I had this enormous budget but really it is not very much to buy a camper and a truck, even though I have already upped it. It is discouraging. But I have six weeks to find them and make them mine and DAMN IT IT WILL HAPPEN. In six weeks, the kids will be taking over the house and the animals, and I will be on my way. In six weeks, I will have put a bunch of stuff in storage, cleaned everything out, moved into my new camper and I will be heading off to parts unknown! Yikes! Yay! Oh hey all my widely scattered old friends I am coming to visit and use your shower!

Meanwhile, I’m frantically framing art for next week.  I hate framing.  I keep telling myself to put the camper on hold right now, stop endlessly refreshing craigslist and just clean the damn glass, but it’s tough. I’m excited about the show but there is so much else going on it’s tough to focus. Still. SHOW! Come and see it. Come to the opening. The opening is also my birthday, so it is PARTY PARTY time with a vengeance.  If you do not know it, the DeSoto Lounge is on Haywood Road right off 240. The sign on the side of the building says ElDorado. The opening is Thursday, May 4 from 5 – 8. Hope to see you there!

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Live and Let Die

Well! I watched this a couple of weeks ago and took copious notes. I would have gotten it written up sooner, but first off, I went to Ikea in Charlotte with my friend Jennifer and bought way way way too much stuff – some of which was super random and I am not sure what the hell came over me – and some of which I am still slowly assembling into the world’s most hygge living room ever. I mean it is so ultra hygge. It is hyggey. It is, even, hyggeriffic, or it will be once I get two strong people over to lift the furniture so I can cram the rug underneath and once I replace the tabletop because I forgot to double check the fucking dimensions and got one that is too small, DAMN IT. I mean it’s so simple to remedy, I get to Charlotte easily twice a decade or so. ARGH. And I don’t want to make a tabletop because it will be like the usual kind of thing I make – halfassed sort of hippie crap only black with, possibly, skulls. I’m too old for spraypainted splintery plywood tables. I embrace hygge now. I want a real table top.

okraSo the living room is almost done but remains a bit in flux and then I caught not the flu but a “flu like illness” which is apparently indistinguishable from the flu in the lungs, ears, eyes, throat, nose and feverish brain of the sufferer. I have spent the last week in bed, which is super sucky because, among other things, I started a photo class at AB Tech last Tuesday night. I need to get my technical chops up to speed, I think, and also I need a bit of a kick in the ass because I feel like I’m slipping back into a rut. Therefore, class, and I came home Tuesday all excited about shooting pictures every single day for my homework and then woke up Wednesday in total misery with a fever.  Then I spent five days in bed, like, literally in bed, sweating, coughing, unable to think or read anything heavier than Angela “pity she was such a fascist because she’s just so damn amusing darling” Thirkell.  Hence pictures like this one, Compositions in Cat and Kleenex.  I went to the doctor this morning and now I’m on steroids for my wheezing lungs and some mysterious cough pill for my hacking cough and tomorrow I get to go back to work, lucky me. I went in for a while on Sunday but didn’t last long.

ENOUGH OF THE PROBLEMS OF TEDIOUS REALITY.  LET US RETURN TO THE LAND OF BOND.

Live and Let Die – a new Bond, a new decade and man, it really shows. This movie is different than the earlier Bonds. The 60s bonds were aspirational, sort of – they reflected this oh so cool sophistication and glamour. Did it really exist? I don’t know, maybe? Sort of? But there was an overall aesthetic there of elegance and smooth, polished surfaces. Very Mad Men. With this movie, though, that’s over and instead it’s all IN YOUR FACE wild and let’s do a lot of drugs and let it all hang out. The whole feeling is different. It’s hard to pin down, exactly, but the pace is more frenetic, there’s a ton more slapstick and there are a lot of rougher edges, rougher streets, just a sort of less sophisticated feeling. There’s also an offhand acceptance of mysticism – Tarot cards, psychics, Voodoo, general magic – that you wouldn’t find in the earlier, or, for that matter, the later films. I think this is sort of the fantasy Bond film but I also think that was so much a part of that decade, much more so than even the 60s. And then, of course, there’s the terribly, sadly, obvious fact that Roger Moore is, well, no Sean Connnery. He’s not terrible! He’s fine for who he is, which is Roger Moore! But he’s not the borderline psycho, extremely tightly wound yet chillingly competent Bond that Connery was. He’s more sort of, I don’t know, puppy Bond. He’s friendly and he’s trying very hard.

The movie starts off with death by earbud at the UN and then shifts promptly to death by jazz funeral in New Orleans and then, naturally, to a voodoo ceremony somewhere in the Caribbean. Voodoo. Voodoo. Voodoo. SNAAAAAAAAAKE!! The song is by Paul McCartney. I knew that. I mean, I know the damn song, it was long ago implanted into my subconscious mind forever, but I don’t think I quite realized that it was actually a James Bond movie theme song until I watched it. It kind of blew my mind. Then came the titles, which my notes say were different but not how, so I don’t remember and then there’s a note about how much I begged for a digital watch like that myself. Digital watches! We are introduced to  the new Bond in his oh so amazing bachelor apartment with to die for polka dot wallpaper in the kitchen and a sexy Italian lady spy in the bedroom. M & Moneypenny show up and Bond is dispatched after a little slapstick to the New York City of my childhood, which is to say, kinda edgy, grimy and possible even a bit scary. There’s an extended car chase in cars which I just cannot, no matter how hard I try, see as desirable fancy or even nice cars. They all look like hooptys to me, even the fantastic white pimpmobile with the side mirror armaments.

OK! Turns out the bad guy is also a UN delegate who has lots of super cool masks, a very freaky psychic girlfriend, a main minion with a hook for a hand, lots of hideouts that change into restaurants in Harlem and, dude, lesser minions galore in super high waisted bell bottoms and afros! The menu in the Harlem bar and grill is painted on the wall which is red like the whole groovy place and everything is under $1. And, at some point, Bond asks for somebody’s name and they say “Names is for tombstones, baby.” Yeah. Oh yeah. Anyway Bond gets captured and then rescued and then he’s off to the Caribbean, where he hooks up with a young CIA lady spy who seems a little easily spooked for her chosen career. Bond flames a snake with a can of aerosol aftershave – aerosol aftershave? WTF? – and wears a powder blue leisure suit, oh my god, he looks like an idiot. See? Declasse, the 70s. The CIA lady is this movie’s obligatory dead girl so Bond promptly runs off with psychic freak Solitaire and her deck of magic Tarot cards. There’s an extensive chase through what are supposed to be poppy fields (pretty sure they’re hops; poppies don’t look like that) and then a long crazy car chase sequence in a double decker bus with lots of cool island village shots and then they get captured again, told the whole evil plot – it is, briefly as follows –

  1. Give everyone free heroin.
  2. ????
  3. Profit!!!!!

and taken to New Orleans.

In Louisiana they try to kill Bond by feeding him to a bunch of alligators which of course will not work, particularly because the villains, in a foolish oversight, don’t stick around to make sure he dies. I mean, duh. He escapes via cigarette boat and then the hook hand villain, plus a bunch of other minions, chases Bond for a long time, a very long time, in another speedboat. That scene, which goes on forever – did I mention how long it was? – is the one that we adored as children. There’s a caricature redneck southern sheriff, perhaps THE caricature redneck southern sheriff, who joins the chase, out to get both of them. They career all through the bayous for hours. Days. There’s an alfresco dinner party and a wedding that both get crashed through by the speedboat chase. And then, there’s the one quite nasty and overt bit of racism in the movie, on the part of said sheriff. It’s sort of devolution into farce with a soupcon of racism and, um, well. I loved it when I was a kid and I missed the racist part, or, more likely, it was just so much part of the surroundings that it went without mention, in passing, just the way things are. Ugh. But the sheriff’s car gets blown up and hook hand gets away, then, so, serves him right.

I should mention here that pretty much the entire cast of this movie is African American except for Bond, Felix Leiter, the creepy comic relief redneck sheriff and maybe Solitaire, the weird psychic Tarot card wielding love interest (she is sort of ethnically ambiguous and possibly interplanetary.) That is quite cool and it’s awesome to see all these black actors, some of whom are seriously chewing up the scenery – I am looking at you, crazy laugh Voodoo guy – which is the right attitude to Bond. So it is very fun. Is it exploitation? I’m not enough of an expert to say. It only made me acutely uncomfortable that one time, but, I’m a white girl from the 70s: I don’t even know.

OK! Bond returns to the Caribbean to rescue Solitaire who is going to be sacrificed at a Voodoo ceremony because why the hell not (turns out she can’t be psychic after she has sex with Bond) and it gives the filmmakers a chance to really go for it with the giant snake and almost virgin tied to a stake scene.  Turns out under all the voodoo graveyard stuff there is an entire underground lair! OF course there is! Complete with uniformed minions although why you would bother with uniforms if they’re just going to be underground with nobody to see them except other minions, I don’t know. Why a giant grow op needs so many minions, I don’t know either. There is a fat bored minion who is totally great! There is Kananga gone completely over the top unhinged, also great! Kananga is a great actor. There is the shark tank from Thunderball, the monorail from You Only Live Twice AND, after Kananga is somewhat messily  disposed of and all is well, Bond and Solitaire leave on the train from With Russia With Love! All bases covered, here. Hook dude returns but to no avail and the happy couple chugs off to, um, who knows, with Baron Samedi Crazy Laugh Voodoo Guy sitting on the caboose.

This movie is now straying into the realm of movies I actually remember fairly clearly, so I was obviously growing up when I watched this on TV. It’s not terrible. It’s not the best thing ever, either. I think it’s a solid B-.

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Diamonds are Forever

First movie in my newly repainted & rearranged living room! I have been busy the last couple of weeks. When it’s done, finally, finally done and berugged (I need a new rug. Rugs are much harder to find than I thought plus they’re expensive, dude, so expensive) there will be pictures and you will weep with envy and joy for the sheer beauty of it. That will be when I finally get the damn knickknacks sorted and the rest of the art hung. But for now suffice it to say that it’s painted, and the color is – wait for it – ….silver bullet. Yes. Silver bullet! It looks much better than it sounds although let’s face it, it sounds awesome. And there’s an ………accent wall. Which is green. An accent wall! It belongs in a heavy Rizzoli coffee table book, my new living room. They could call it Mid 20th Century Small Vaguely Ranchesque Southern Houses for the Working Classes. With accent walls.

However! Onward and upward to Bond! I didn’t live blog this one because that’s gotten old, besides it’s too context free to be entertaining. Instead I took 5 pages of handwritten notes. Five. Pages. Let that sink in for a moment. Sometimes I concern myself. I felt so scholarly that I pretended I was writing a thesis on James Bond. I could when I’m done with this project – The Bond Lens: Class, Gender, Race and Explosions in the 20th and early 21st Centuries. But! Let’s get to the movie! No thesis tonight, just spoilers: like Pussy, galore.

We start right out with Bond – Sean Connery again, in his last appearance as Bond, which is a pity, because through the whole movie it feels as if he’s finally gotten comfortable with the character – crashing through a Japanese house wall. He’s searching for Blofeld – remember Blofeld? He’s the Teutonic evil dude with the white Persian – and his search takes him around the globe in quick succession, including a rather nasty bit where he strangles  a girl with her own bikini top. Eventually he tracks Blofeld down in a sort of combination plastic surgery clinic and mud spa (yeah, okay, surgery patients in 1971 were  always dropped in huge vats of goop, why the hell not?) and after a brisk fight, Blofeld is dead. OR IS HE?

Cue the titles. The song is by Shirley Bassey and it’s – not bad! Really not terrible. Like, you can see that if it was 1971 and you were sitting in a dark Holiday Inn sort of lounge bar, you could even enjoy listening to it as you wept silent tears into your scotch.

And here’s Bond proving he’s cool by guessing shit about sherry in some upper class yob’s fancy fucking drawing room (that just happens to be painted the SAME GREEN AS MY NEW ACCENT WALL DID I MENTION MY NEW GREEN ACCENT WALL?) and they’re discussing South African diamond mines. My note here says “oh fuck if they start defending the SA diamond mines I might have to OH FUCK WINT AND KIDD I REMEMBER THEM THEY ARE SCARY!” and yes, enter two really memorable Bond villains, the psychopathic duo Wint and Kidd. One of them looks like someone, some totally well known 70s comedic figure, but I can never remember who. Anyway they are scary! They scared small me over and over, because I realized on seeing them that I have seen this movie like a million times. It must have been on TV a lot. Like, a LOT.

OK! Then there’s a bunch of stuff proving that Wint & Kidd are bad dudes and something, something, stolen diamonds have to get to the USA. Moneypenny has a cameo in a British border patrol uniform and eventually Bond ends up in the Amsterdam apartment of an American diamond smuggling chick (Jill St. John! Didn’t she go on to become a real movie star?) in her underwear. You know, like you do. Cue the slow mellow jazz. She has a whole fingerprint ID kit in her bathroom that’s pretty fucking nifty – it’s a Polaroid and a microfilm reader, I think – but Bond has fortunately gotten fake fingerprints in so his diamond smuggling cover is not blown. Phew. Then there’s an elevator fight with a lot of broken glass.

Bond is off to Las Vegas with a casket. There’s an A-frame funeral chapel with a lot of abstract orange stained glass – SO 70s! – and Bond nearly, but not quite, gets cremated. Off to a casino and enter another girl, Plenty O’Toole, who says when confronted with naked Bond, “There’s a lot more to you than I expected.” Groan. But this movie is actually really tight and stylish and the slapstick bits are well executed. Plenty gets thrown out a window, which doesn’t kill her but does foreshadow her demise (obligatory dead girl bingo square!) and Tiffany Case, aka the Amsterdam girl, is back. They go to Circus Circus and there’s a brief elephant vignette! This made me happy as did a moving Hertz neon sign somewhere in Las Vegas.

Then there are a bunch of car chase sequences including one with the moon rover because, in a casual aside, Bond crashes the set where they’re faking the moon landing. This is less stylish than previous Bonds, either because it’s the US and we just aren’t stylish or because all the cars look like more like beaters than super cool antiques. The line, apparently, is thin. The whole thing is like a Dukes of Hazzard episode, in fact I made a note that this is probably what inspired the show. But they get away and then are off to the worlds most amazingly tacky beautiful hotel suite WITH A LAWN JOCKEY and they have sex on a BED MADE OF AQUARIUMS. Not exactly cozy, OK, but 10 out of 10 for style.

Bond does some fancy aerial work that made me dizzy and ends up in Howard Hughes
Wilfrid Wood, crazy billionaire,’s private penthouse. It’s, surprise, Blofeld with a voice changer and a big round floor map. No, wait, there are two Blofelds. He’s been cloning himself, or, well, getting doubles with plastic surgery (now that’s a job description) and, while he’s at it, cat doubles too. Bond gets knocked out, but instead of just shooting him, Blofeld gets Wint & Kidd in and they drive out through a part of the desert that just lifts up (I love this. I loved this as a kid. Movable fake landscape big enough to drive a car through!) and dump him inexplicably in a big pipe. Of course he’s totally fine, although in his next scene he’s wearing a white suit and a short wide pink tie, so is he really fine?

That would be the scene where he meets Bambi and Thumper, who are supermodels who kill. They are quite awesome but Bond beats them and finally we discover that the whole point of stealing all the diamonds was to put them on a satellite array which produces a city killing death laser. Of course it does.

The laser is controlled, naturally, by one cassette tape on an oil rig. Bond parachutes in; Blofeld yet again resists the urge to just kill him and instead locks him up in a storage closet full of old paint tins and an escape hatch. There’s a big battle, the tape gets switched back and forth, Tiffany Case runs around in a bikini and Blofeld gets to say “PREPARE MY BATHYSPHERE!” which is a sentence I too hope to utter some beautiful day. Now Blofeld is finally dead . . . OR IS HE?

In the last scene Bond and Tiffany Case are sailing away in a huge ocean liner. Wint and Kidd reappear and are summarily disposed of and that, my friends, is that. This is a good movie. I mean I really liked it. It more or less made sense, the acting was as good as it gets for Bond, the gadgets were cool but not over the top (there is a scene where Q  hits the jackpot on every slot machine!) and generally, it’s a really nice Bond flick. I give it an A. Goodbye Sean! Next stop, Roger Moore.

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