May 23, 2008

Billary's Slip

If you hadn't seen her naked all these months, in those yellow-fin, fat-lady pants suits, if you hadn't listened to her plastic weep, and watched her tongue hanging out and white-lathered with ambition, and working up her own manogyny, you'd assume it was just coincidence. And now with this latest drama, you'd assume that "Hill's" mention of Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, in the context of how a campaign can change in June, was just another example of political lips shaped like a torn pocket. Not a Hush-Hush Sweet Charlotte mind.

And perhaps it was just coincidence. Or perhaps it's just that Ms. Billary is so entwined in the zeitgeist of American political history that she cannot help herself, she cannot not bring to mind those subterranean desires that reveal us all as Manchurian candidates, hair-triggered to respond to the slightest mention of violence. As though this whole society is one vast organic suicide bomber.

But what if it's something else? The most horrifying suggestion is that she understands on some very deep level that by throwing the association of Obama and RFK together she'll spook the electorate. "Mamma knows best, don't you go out with that man. He'll come to a bad end. Yes he will." And of course why would we want to go through that all over again. And we all know that Obama has received threats, we all know he's a target, we all know -- I've heard it myself and wrote about it just a few months ago -- how many in the black community would rather he not run at all than to endure just the thought of his coffin carried through the streets of Washington.

It's hard to imagine that Hillary doesn't get this. But then perhaps she has this double, this 'other' Hillary who peeks out from out of that gabardine-minded heart and keeps the attention coming. That's the thing you have to fear. Maybe we should just let her become president because otherwise, she'll keep having these temper tantrums, and these psychotic episodic outpourings that will get more and more perverse and loud. And dangerous.

The Bicycle Thief Revisisted

This is the scene when the father and his son, having lost their one good lead to the bicycle thief — and after the father has suffered the excrutiating sensation of having punished his child one moment and thought he was dead the next — and now to make up for things they go to an expensive restaurant. The father has almost no money left. He is at wit's end. There is a boy from a wealthy family at the next table. Father and son are throw fate to the wind. The next day their lives will unravel just a littl more, leading up to the climax. To the moment when the father realizes his son's love is all he has, and will ever need.

May 18, 2008


Puck, photo by Vilmos Zsigmond, originally uploaded by macnamband.

Photo by Vilmos Zsigmond

May 10, 2008

The Nanny

He picks up Bobby from soccer practice. The first time I saw him he came right up to me, from across the field. Twenty-five, 6'4" maybe, stringy. English short-hair was part of the initial impression. I thought he had an accent but later I couldn't hear it. "Hi, I'm Olivier," he said. "I'm Bobby's nanny." Congratulations, I thought. Bobby is 14. I wouldn't have thought he needed a nanny.

And it was odd that Olivier would introduce himself that way. If I'd been in his place I would have tried to pass myself off as a friend of the family or at the least as an unidentified walking object that accompanied Bobby. I just wouldn't have used that word, "nanny". But Olivier seemed to think nothing of it. "I'm Bobby's nanny." As though "I'm Bobby's uncle". There was that sort of intimacy. A revelation. Almost in the vein of, "I'm Bobby's therapist."

Bobby, by the way, is always "Bobby". Never Bob. Or Robert. He's seems like a good enough kid. He's friendly although he can be derisive. You can see that for a long time he was a Bobby, not clearly boy or girl, but now he's out of that, he's a Bob. He has a deep voice for 15, he's tall for his age, he's in P, clearly. At tournaments, between games, he reads far more than any of the other players. As you would expect, he goes to one of the exclusive schools. He has that nurtured, self confidence you find in those children.

Meanwhile, Olivier waits for the practice to end. He pushes the soccer balls into a corner of the goal. He talks briefly on his cell phone. If a parent of one of the other players arrives he talks to them. You suspect he's lonely. Sometimes, he wears dark, wrap-around sunglasses. As though to say, "I'm Bobby's nanny and I'm armed and sort of dangerous in a way...."

Yes, so Olivier is part bodyguard. Bobby could be kidnapped after all. It's happened in this city. There was that boy that was 7 or 8, kidnapped from a bus stop, and then eight years later he got free. It could happen, although with Bobby, you get the sense he could see it coming. He would struggle. He's tuned in to what might happen to him. He's been warned that his priviledge makes him a target.

And so Olivier has a grand purpose. Not just the mundane, especially when Bobby's mother offers his services, say to pick up other kids to go to practice. She will write in an email, "Okay, have him stand on the northeast corner of Presidio and Sacramento and look for Olivier in my gold Lexus."

May 2, 2008

A Clean, Well Heated Room

At the Crown Plaza down the peninsula, a local Montessori elementary school celebrates its 10th anniversary. The theme tonight is "Vienna" and during the silent auction you are encouraged to waltz. The school director has put up tall gaudy mirrors around the room to suggest elegance in the midst of 'hotelance'. What would you call it? The room holds 350 people, all Chinese tonight, all parents and their children from Burlingame and Hillsborough promenading around the dance floor, girls in white dresses; boys in white shirts and bow ties. The children are all cute in the way children are who seem more like miniature adults. Everyone is smiling. Every parent has a camera. The director is trying to speak but the sound system is poor. The dinner is buffet. People waltz but no one knows the steps. The dancers are stiff. They work from a box step; there’s no whirling, no dervishing. No mistakes. Everything is under control.

The biggest student in the room is in the 9th grade. He's a burly child with a furrowed brow. I’m sitting across from his mother who has come with her estranged husband. They are not Chinese. Her hair is down. She is not wearing a long dress but more a cocktail dress. Which is to say, I suppose, that she has a certain sexuality and she wants you to see it. Going out at night is a chance for sexual expression, no matter the occasion. Her husband is burly like his son. He wears one of those tuxedos with a collar reminiscent of a pastor. No bow tie, just a white collar, shaped like a trapazoid. He’s a landscape contractor, his Ford 150 is outside. The son has learning disabilities, but you might not guess that if you were not his teacher. He always seems serious,always looking down, trying to figure something out, get things organized. You very rarely see him laugh. Yet he likes acting. If you get him out of from under himself, he comes to life. Tonight, he looks composed in his white shirt and bow tie. He seems confident.

Some years ago, when the boy was much younger, his mother went into a rage one night and set fire to the house where they all lived. The house burned right to the ground. Nothing left. Her husband and son barely escaped. Later, the mother went away, but whether to jail or to an institution or to stay with relatives, no one knows. Or no one will say. The Chinese are above all, discreet. The mother now lives by herself. She refers to ‘my son’ whenever she talks about him. The word 'son' is in bold as it were, as though to say, 'he's mine, I don't care what I did or what you think'. She seems pleasant enough, but she watches everyone at the table closely. No doubt she wonders what people know of her life and whether they are judging her. Our eyes catch and they don’t unhook easily.