But this time I got proof!
Poor guy was exhausted. The audience there was much larger than what it had been the other two times I saw him. Like 700 people, maybe? Big.
But, okay. So, Friday morning, I got up at around seven-ish in order to be at work by 8:30. I worked till noon, at which point I raced home, threw some stuff together, and started driving for Chicago in my shitty little car (which desperately needed an oil change and a new muffler, sigh). Drove for about six hours, got caught in traffic once I got to the city, totally thought I was going to be late and finally resigned myself to saying "Well, whatever."
But! I found the theatre and was a little startled to see a very long line snaking out of the doors. Turns out it was the will-call ticket line (yeah, that was me as well). So I parked, which involved handing over my incredibly cluttered car and keys to an attendant, ran across the street, and waited in line with mostly hipster twenty- and thirtysomethings. Got my ticket and was promptly met inside the door by talespin (Carmen) and Ophelia--met via the Pendergast board. And Ophelia's daughter was saving some very decent seats. Awesome. So, basically, I was saved from being late by virtue of the theatre starting incredibly late.
Now, I have to say, I think this was the greatest beginning to a slideshow that he's ever had. So, he goes to begin, says his little beginning, turns to point to the screen... and there was nothing there. "Oh," he says. "It's not, um, working." So he goes off to one side and fusses with his laptop. Nada. "Okay... this has never, uh, happened before. I think I have to restart." He crouches down and starts rebooting his computer. Someone in the audience yells out, "Get a Mac!" Crispin says, "Well, actually, I am using a Mac."
As his computer boots up and stuff starts appearing on the big screen, Crispin points and talks. "The Apple logo! My desktop! That's a picture of the inside of my house. These are some things I'm working on... here's the program I use for the slideshow. See it bobbing up and down? That means it's working." Basically a stream of adorable babble.
Okay to be honest, I don't have much to say about the show that I haven't said already. Well, okay, I will say that I think both the slideshow and the movie work best in a smaller, more intimate setting; the slideshow, particularly, seemed to lose some of its spontaneity and some of the more dramatic highs and lows. I was also amused to realize he used one of my favorite paintings in one of his books (I mean, among a number of other classical pieces): "Triumph of Venus and Cupid." Which I like partly because it seems to make everyone a
A large audience also means that there is a lot more laughter in What Is It?, much of it incredibly jarring and inappropriate. It really kind of made me want to cry that people were laughing in the beginning as he crushed the snail and then tried to put it back together. I mean, raucous, grating laughter, even when Fairuza Balk would scream. And I'm sitting there with my hands over my ears because her screams are painful and just tearing up because that, for me, is one of the more tragic things I've ever seen. It still strikes something inside me, the image of saying "I love you" and then immediately and violently destroying what you love. It reminds me of the film Marnie, also, because I saw that when I was quite violently depressed and the ending where she rides the horse she loves to its death, basically, just felt so familiar and sad. I'm much better now, but I think there's always going to be a little part of me that fears I'll always hurt the people and animals I love somehow, and so that part in Crispin's movie just resonates very strongly. The clumsy but heartfelt attempt at fixing the snail, of not knowing how irrevocably broken it is, is also familiar. So, yeah, I couldn't even comprehend people laughing at that. (I mentioned this to Crispin, which I'll get to soon.)
Then the Q&A... okay, so Crispin comes up onstage and says "Are there any questions?" and some guy yells out "How can we get a refund?" (Hey, a mention from the guy's friend on IMDB. My reply was "Fuck you!" but I have no idea if I yelled loud enough to be heard.) Crispin's answer was totally appropriate and all class: "Well, you stayed for the whole movie, so you got what you paid for. Now, if you'd walked out in the first ten minutes or so, then I'm sure we could have come to an arrangement."
After that, he answered a few of the standard questions. At one point, someone asked him something and he began to answer as he usually does: beginning with something that doesn't exactly seem related at first and then slowly working his way around to a point. But the person who'd asked got impatient and interrupted him, and Crispin was like, "No, no, this is part of the answer, I'm getting there."
Also fun for me to watch was the mini-drama unfolding not too far in front of us as this one guy apparently had a burning need to ask a question; his hand would shoot up in the air and he'd wave it frantically and Crispin would not point to him. It was kind of awesome, and it sort of made me wonder whether or not Crispin was doing that deliberately (if he was, more power to him). Anyway, when it got to the point where Crispin said he'd take one more question, this guy just stood up and asked: "Is there a god?"
Which, actually, was not a bad question at all (though it does fall into those inane "tell us the meaning of life!" questions that often seem to come from people who are extremely high). Crispin's answer was something like, "I don't know, I'm not even sure that "god" is necessarily the right term for it. I am interested in the mystery of that question and what happens after death." It sounded like the answer of an agnostic to me (but I could certainly be wrong).
So then Crispin started the signing, and the number of people seemed far more oppressive when they all seemed to be going in different directions. I ran out to my car because I'd totally forgotten to bring my copy of "Concrete Inspection" in with me. The attendants had helpfully left the door unlocked but with no keys to be found. So I went back inside where Ophelia and Carmen were holding me a place, thankfully... but waaaay in the back. Which is fine, really, though I felt bad for them. Also there was a guy back there who was kind of pissed that Crispin was actually talking to people rather than just signing autographs and sending them on their way.
So, after a short time, they pulled him out of the signing to introduce the "midnight" movie, which he'd chosen to be Even Dwarfs Started Small. It's actually a very good companion to What Is It?, since he has been so influenced by Herzog. He mentioned when he introduced that he liked how the characters aren't nice to one another at all, they're people rather than caricatures, and so they interact in good and bad ways. Which was something he was pretty clearly exploring in What Is It?, so cool.
I'd never seen Even Dwarfs Started Small before, so it was really extremely fucking cool to see it on the big screen. I really, really liked it, but I missed the end. So, clearly, I need the dvd. It's actually quite funny, in that same unexpected way that What Is It? often is. You can definitely see how Crispin was influenced, so that's kind of cool. There will be more about contrasting the two in later paragraphs, so stay tuned.
But yeah, so Ophelia and Carmen were very kind to save our spot in line and let me sit in the theatre and watch the movie. While I watched, I ended up completing the little thing I gave Crispin this time. It's very dorky, but I'm sure you would expect that from me.
Okay, so, remember this interview with Crispin, portions of which I responded to unhappily when it came out? So basically what I did was I made a mix cd of lyrical music that, I felt, contradicted what he was saying. I also wrote a long, rambling letter, in which I provided commentary. Oh god, I'm such a big dork. Even better is that I wrote the letter on a piece of paper I'd folded to make "pages," and I ended up writing it so that the page order went from right to left rather than from left to right. Oops. So I had to number them, ahaha. Oh well. I did write that the whole thing was more of a thought experiment for me, and I was just sharing my results with him. I also included my email, website, and phone number (haha). No bites yet, ah well.
But this is the playlist:
Beethoven - Ode to Joy
Victoria - Ave Maria
Koepke - Wade in de Water
Moses Hogan - Elijah Rock
Ani DiFranco - Back Back Back
Tori Amos - Mr. Zebra
Neutral Milk Hotel - Oh Comely
Of Montreal - Tim, I Wish You Were Born a Girl
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Do You Love Me? (part 2)
Mark Knopfler - Boom, Like That
Stephen Sondheim - The Gun Song/The Ballad of Czolgosz (from Assassins)
Was Not Was - Dad, I'm in Jail
(rap and hip-hop)
Public Enemy - Fight the Power
Mos Def - Definition
(meaningful to me or just awesome)
Radiohead - Myxomatosis
Velvet Underground - Stephanie Says
Mogwai - I Know You Are But What Am I?
So yeah. Pretty good, maybe? I dunno. There's some stuff I didn't get to add, obviously, and some changes I would make now. I did also mention some bands that are just generally good for lyrical music also, so hey.
But yeah, so Carmen was kind enough to come get me when the line had dwindled, which is why I missed the end of the movie. Which is fine, because... Crispin! And also, it was getting late. I was somewhat personally disorganized, haha, understatement.
So I bought a poster for Lew, which you can see in the photo and which I still need to mail. (Yes, I am a failure.) When it was our turn, I approached him and was sort of like "Um, uh, I don't know if you remember me" and he was like "Oh yeah! Yeah!" Which, er, is nice but kind of surprising, considering how different I looked from the last time. Anyway, yeah, but I mentioned the way people were laughing during What Is It? and how disturbing that was. He was like, kind of quiet, "Yes, I've found that the larger the audience, the more the laughter increases." He seemed a little bit more resigned to it. I said I saw it as very tragic and he was like "Yes, yes." With lots of nodding.
Then I was talking to him about the color and the look of the film, because he was like "So, how does it strike you after seeing it... two times? No, three." I was comparing the depth of Herzog's black and white to the rich saturation of color in Crispin's film and he told me a little bit about the kind of film he used and everything. I told him, too, that the second time I was concentrating more on the story and was able to see much more of the narrative, while the third time I was more tuned in to the colors and compositions and the aspects of the artistry. So I was babbling about it like it was a painting.
And what's kind of funny is that soon after this show this interview came out, and in it (toward the end) Crispin says: "And people that see it a second time do have a different experience from the first time that they watched it. And, 'cause the first time I’m sure it is, there is a lot of information"; and "So it’s the second time, people have already had that experience and then they can start concentrating on the story." Which is, uh, pretty much what I said to him. Hmm, haha. Wonder how many people have seen it more than once? I think I deserve an award or small medal at this point. (Not that it was ever a boring or unhappy endeavor for me, of course.)
Actually, when he signed my book, I didn't look at it until later. But, okay, he pretty much signs the same thing everytime. But on mine, well, for the first he signed his name again right under the signature that was on the book when I got it. Then he wrote his usual message: "Thank you for coming to see What Is It?" Then, below that, like an afterthought: "Three times." Oh, it cracked me up. I got him to break stride a little. He also asked where I'd gotten the book. He was kind of confused, like, "Did you get it here? Do I have it for sale?" And I'm all, "Ha, um, no. I got it on ebay." He asked how much, and I told him that it was around $70. "That's not bad," he said. I respond with "Yeah, definitely. It's up on amazon.com for like a couple hundred dollars." Which is kind of mean of me, maybe, but it's not that it's not worth it... it's just that I don't have that kind of money. :( Sorry Crispin, hope you knew what I meant. I was working in the shoe store, geez.
So he signed Lew's poster as well, and I mentioned that Lew and I had seen him at the Warhol and he was like, "Right, that's right." Also mentioned that we had been planning to go together to see him in New York, but those plans didn't work out. Ah well. He was very nice about chatting, as usual, though he was so tired. Carmen and Ophelia took some pictures (and the picture for me as well). Pictures are embarrassing and awkward, and I kept talking to him the whole time, babbling on about the art and the color and how impressive the sheer... I don't know... brightness and vibrantness of the color in his film is to me. Probably I also said something about the books. Got to actually stand next to him, obviously. (I am lame, I know.) I was struck by how much he would smile when we were talking (like, THE adorable Crispin smile, where it's so wide it almost seems like his face might crack in half), but then when he takes pictures he ALWAYS does his Blue Steel look. (Or, the "hey, baby" look, which is kind of how he looks in my picture. Love it. Not posting any of the other pictures I have, though, where I'm grinning like the retarded foreign cousin, to quote David Cross.)
So next time, if I get up next to him for a picture, I'm going to pinch him and see if I can get him to change expression. And then he will never. talk to me. again. And I will never get the chance for that drink. (Insert sad emoticon of choice here.)
But, anyway, Ophelia and Carmen said some nice things, there were handshakes, and then just before we left he says in this small voice, "Are there many people left?" Aww. Poor guy. No, no there weren't many people left.
So then we did leave (after Carmen took a picture of the sign on which they spelled it CRISPEN), and Carmen drove my car back to Ophelia's where her car was because Ophelia's daughter had taken her car and left earlier. I had to shift things around to make room for people, god my car is such a trash heap. And Ophelia let me sleep at her house for like, oh, four hours or something, which was extremely kind of her. And then I got up, got dressed, was fed a little something and got directions and met her husband (they are all so nice)... AND THEN HAD TO DRIVE STRAIGHT BACK TO WORK.
And I was about forty minutes late. But they were forgiving, because they knew I was out of town. Also, it was kind of rainy. So, yes. That's about it, I think.
Oh, except for this conversation I heard in the bathroom in a service plaza on my home. Between a guy and his young son at the urinals: "DAD." "Yeah?" "Why do you go there?" "Well, because I'm bigger." "Okay... DAD?" "Yeah?" "Will I get bigger?" "Uh-huh."
It was cute, what can I say.