I suspect few people born in the 60's can find the hometown of their memories anymore. Geographically mine is here, where the born-and-raised are often a novel conversation piece. The hick-and-artsy come here for the weather and the competitive pool for attention, the former much better than New York, the latter less intense than, say, ChicagoBostonNewYorkLA, and for that matter Toronto. Money people who know entertainment, media, finance or all three, too real for LA but too awesome for Vancouver, come here. Internet startups nest in SOMA, close enough to draw notice from Sand Hill Road, but buffered from the vortex, the Daly City of the mind, the post-War horizon stare of work-eat-sleep-repeat that owns most souls down through Morgan Hill.
On 18th Street in the Mission, I am helping to empty a basement. In the street, a waif-piloted BMW, made to wait on a left turn into a gated garage, fitted into some Victorian gutted not long ago. The opposite traffic taunts her with the petulant languor she deserves for observing their right-of-way. A shiny black Escalade behind her, pig-faced, expressionless, Oakley-eyed in the style of would-be's at a circuit poker tournament, bristles behind her. BMW's bridled impatience has become a drama with no close. Seeing the clear second ot two of leeway she's given an oncoming car, he guns it around her. The oncoming driver wants no part of it crazy, and brakes short. Well, yes, that's what those shades are for, to help you mistake the limp city dick in that ridiculous horse-car for crazy.
This morning, it feels as if the heat of the week has finally broken. I've already felt myself wilt though. The cooling breeze, its eventual arrival and the heat's necessary relenting, fell out of prospect Friday night. Every noir betrayal in the fictions I've taken in have grown into a personal suggestion: you would do well to reflect on your shortcomings before they come calling on their own. The relief dissipates. Indeed any liquid thing seems a mirage, an evaporation I've contrived in a weak moment to revert to what it never really was, moments ago.
Of the last seven movies I have seen, two characters tried escaping themselves in Alaska; one starves on indigestible native flora. The other is eaten by an aging bear. He also left behind tapes. Watching them, I'm reminded of a motorcycle rider I saw in Davis, in shorts, no helmet, weaving at 65 or so, steering with his hips. I see him again in Vacaville a few minutes later, laid down. There are several medics, fire and a helicopter, but their postures tell me this it's denouement from here.
Another character, coping in a 1984-like world, struggles to break his dream out of prison and into real life. Which he achieves although the other way around. Yet another character, bearing the mark of a dark, aged Virginia Woolf-like vampire, in a premise that hints of Dangerous Liaisons, learns she must soften the approach, if she is to form a lasting grip on the next vulnerable blonde naif she fancies.
In the other three, it's all Toshiro Mifune all the time: The Hidden Fortress, Yojimbo, Sanjuro. The samurai, making his way through the soulless, petty dealings of the emerging, venal merchant class. Or skulking past enemy clans, warring in the vacuum of a fallen Emperor. It is all he can do to make it from one meal to the next. Everyone else, starting with those least prepared to kill, die a roomful at a time.
In the middle of the night, I'm dreaming a troll of a man, darkened and low-brow, pushing his forearm into my chest. A massive, old, square bruise on the left side of his face has become a permanent coloration, as if he was clobbered once, and enough, by a hot iron. He will go through this door first, that's his message. I grimace, an egregious lie. But at the next door, he will have relaxed. I will land on him from above, get my knee deep into his neck, ask about his problems, ask him if he knows no current started in this world ever fully fades, tell him he has his whole life to work himself out, does he want to conclude matters right here?
The hair-trigger animal killer in my own dream is me. It's a relief, but perhaps not the one I am suggesting. In this dream I am both things, the brute made blunt and cold by forces off-stage, and this new brute, forged in one instance of heat. I should go back to the movies to find out where he came from. So long as there is only heat, it is work I can do.