Time & Binge

May 18, 2011

Times Square Armed Forces Recruiting Station.  When Bush went to war with Iraq in 2003, more people signed up here than any other recruiting station in the United States – they say somewhere just over 10,000.  The neighborhood nickname is “Crossroads of the World,” but normally Times Square is where you go after the war, not before – like after WWII, when soldiers came back and pumped the Deuce with a new slang and the girls in town with about half the Baby Boom generation.  Here, Dan Choi was the first openly gay man to enlist after the government revoked “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” On New Year’s Eve, the Army Corps of Engineers seals it up in blast-proof metal like Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Times Squared, Ken Jacobs, Nervous Magic Lantern. Ken Jacobs is a veteran downtown experimental moviemaker, and this week staged his Nervous Magic Lantern at Anthology Film Archives.  Ken and his Lantern:

After the screening, Ken Jacobs stood before the crowd to solicit comments and questions which he was all too eager to shoot down.  Campus Whits was the first to chime in, that as a tour guide who works Times Square five days a week, the movie was a perfect abstraction of the flagrant neural catastrophe Times Square inspires.  Jacobs commented on my job as a tour guide, “Wouldn’t you rather just steal money?” I didn’t get the chance to advise him, that’s what tips are for.

Ken claimed there was no story in Times Squared, and that movies are too concerned with the next and the next and the next.  But the movie does have a story, which a British woman in the audience pointed out.  Ken sort of concurred, but was quick to exit stage, “Thanks, good night.”  The continuum of visual effects, blobular and cragged movements of light and color and nonrepresentational dimension, is played in tandem with a raw street recording of Ken taking the subway, where the machine talks to its passengers, making his way into Times Square, where a steel-drum subway musician plays a doting and ripping “My Way.”  The sounds are the hypnogogic reality of a routine.  At the close of the movie, Ken trudges back to his walk-up loft, huffing and puffing up the steps, where his wife greets him, “How was Times Square?” Ken says, “Fabulous.”

The Nervous Magic Lantern is the mechanism of the “Theater District,” and the imagery which fans forth the lantern in back of the theater sparks the plasm of the city, a place to where the central nervous system of millions of people are drawn.  The magic of the nervous lantern reveals the unreadable yet not unintelligible chamber of codes, and afterwards your eyes are sore.

Bathroom at Mars Bar.  This place is closing soon, on 1st St. and 2nd Ave, surely to be replaced by a Connecticut Muffin.

Time gives the appearance of being infinite, since time will always be there, but people are always asking each other where it went.  To invest your time with meaning, you take time as finite.  And carve up time because you gotta get this thing done now, like Jack Bauer on 24. But at Mars Bar, you binge time.

Anthropologist Morris Freilich, who spent time with Mohawk steelworkers in the Little Caughnawaga neighborhood in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, lays the groundwork for ethnographic study with first the conception of Time, and whether the community under scrutiny perceives reality as the Past, Present, or Future. While in Eastern Trinidad, Freilich studied East Indians, whom he says are a Future people, and local Creoles, who are “the Now” people.  East Indians associate with family, but Creoles are free to make friends.  Freilich charts the “Sanction” of East Indians as “Supernatural,” and Creoles as “Fatalism (“Cultural Models and Land Holdings,” Freilich, M., Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 4, Caribbean Issue (Oct., 1960), pp. 188-197, GW Univ. Institute for Ethnographic Research):

Campus Whits enjoyed three movies last year above all others seen:

The Fighter was a movie-within a movie that used the setting of small-time 1990s boxing as a vehicle for a way of viewing stories of the world.

In Dogtooth, the fiercely imaginative and adaptable realities of childhood behavior are run through the pantomime of a psychic prison.  The children are taught to fear the cat and so revel when it is slaughtered.  They understand that to lick the body of another is to expect a gift in return for the act.  “Bruce!” the youngest daughter calls to her nameless sister, “Bruce! Bruce!”

Hot Tub Time Machine crafts the metaphor of time-travel as a way for screwed-up dudes in their forties to understand each other.  “Your bullshit’s my bullshit,” cries John Cusack to his old friend, Lou (Rob Corddry).  It is not an easy promise to make, especially when its supposed to be 2010 and you’re in 1986 because you got naked and drunk with your buddies in a hot tub.

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