Sarah: hello, I'm Sarah Duff or "Dizzy Puff", depending on your mood, and this is Rachel "The Tiger Tafoya", and we have come up here to preach to you about how to save the environment while still supporting democracy (we may look like communists, but I promise you, we just like the color red). I assure you!
Rachel: Now, Sarah came here last year, and that may not seem like a long time, but she really liked what Solebury was about. She saw the heart of this place a-pounding with love and compassion and the desire to help everyone. She wants to help this place become a great forest of creativity. She is beautiful dancer and she can talk to animals. She is basically a mature version of Eliza Thornberry and who doesn't want to be lead by Eliza Thornberry. Come on.
Sarah: Oh ho ho ho (hug) you're too kind.
That right there is a difficult act to follow indulging laugh
Now, please allow me to introduce, Rachel, Tafoya, a truly beautiful soul and a role model for orphaned pandas everywhere. Seriously, I know. We both took ethics last year. Did you all know she’s the current junior class pre- cough cough CO president? I think she’s doing a GRRREeat job. She’s a writer, did you know that? Any of you read those twilight books? Hm? Hm? For realsies guys, who could take a pipe to that face?
Rachel, goddess, oceanographer, destroyer of worlds has been here at Solebury since the dawn of time. She knows what's what, yall.
Henri, our lovely companion, is part three of our ménage à trois. We are conducting a speeding train towards victory. Just make sure you're on board.
Rachel: Henri is really the backbone of this organization; we couldn't do it without him.
He has a perfect attendance record and he's gotten the Nobel peace prize (Sarah: Three times!) and he's been in the lead role of every play since he's been here.
Sarah: Henri gives me a reason to get up in the morning and really just motivates me day to day.
Rachel, while Sarah plays guitar: So, we gathered you all here to this assembly today because...well...we just really think you're all beautiful and we just love to look at you. We're just going to take a moment...to...aw look you at you all....
Anyway, we really think the environment is uhm quite the thing, ya know? We want to bring it to you all, in high DEF. we’re thinkin’ more trees, little bit more of that uh green stuffs. How bout one them compostes? Yeah you like that? Kyle rossi likes it. We like books, do you like books? Of course you like books, how about we get more books in that big building on the hill where hanna works? Wanna get more books?? Eh? Huh? Yeah? We should doooit. Let’s work on our…veganism because that’s a growing trend. We like our vegans, we like ‘em healthy. But we don’t wanna upset all the carnivores, YEAH YOU LIKE MEAT!
How many of you out there like cookies? Though we love cookies and wish to see the triumphant return of cookie day…
We don’t do those bribes.
We support magic of both the harry potter and the gathering variety (Sarah: we’re going to bring you magic) Hand motions.
In conclusions: vote for us and we’ll save all the polar bears.
The story was written in two pieces, the first when I was in high school when everything was fresh in my memory and I went around feeling persecuted and more than a little superior. I was at war with everyone for reasons beyond their control. I disliked wealth, I disliked anyone as pretentious as me and I drew lines where there needn't have been any. Maybe some people helped me draw them but I blame no one but myself for my anger and bloated sense of self-importance; it'd be ridiculous to think anyone could have made me act that way. So when I began writing it, it was just an extension of the self-important cloud I walked around in. I felt like lashing out and this was my way of doing it. Then when I saw what it had turned into, the first half of the story, I put it away and didn't touch it for nearly three years. Then, in a time of emotional turmoil I pulled it out again because once again I was angry and alone and afraid and felt like lashing out. It was either go back and finish the story or cut off all my hair. I think the commenter would have preferred the latter of the two but anyone who has to spend time with me should be glad I finished the story. They can choose not to read it but they would have had to look at my giant mohawked head for the months it took for my hair to grow out again. I can assure you this was the less painful way. Not because I don't think that someone could read it and think I was taking potshots at them, but because it's fiction, by this point, all of it and you can choose to not read it and I beg you not to take it seriously as it's not meant to be. The idea that I remember anything clearly enough to pass off as something that happened in high school is fantasy. I couldn't if I wanted to and I don't want to. The people in this story are not anyone I know; they're fictional constructs that my angry, confused and shallow brain created. It's arrogant, it's angry, it's hateful, it's pretentious and overall it's dreadful, and I know it's all fake. Anyone who thinks they recognize themselves in this story didn't do anything that happens here. It's nonsense, a farce; just look at the ending. It's all fiction. I'd never dream of calling it anything else. I didn't hold grudges in between starting and finishing the story; by the time I finished it these were no longer people I knew, they were overblown caricatures all from my fevered ego, but all the same if I've offended you, please, please, please just tell me.
One word below and I'll remove it because I intended this as something for the ten people who come here regularly to laugh at or sympathize with or critique or talk about. It's not meant as a condemnation of any one person or group, nor is meant to retroactively win arguments I had with the world while I was in high school. That would be counter-productive. The story is a purgation of violent feelings inside me brought out by a bad time in my life that passed in a shorter time than it takes to read this nonsense. We all have them and this was how I responded. I then let it sit for almost another year before cleaning it up, taking out the grammatical mistakes and putting it online to get it off my harddrive and out for people to read and judge so that it wasn't sitting around reminding me of its constant presence. I didn't hide it but all the same I didn't expect any but maybe the seven followers on the sidebar to read it. As I'm sure you know, blogs don't exactly come with world-wide readership. But I'm not married to the piece. It means so little because it's simply a work of delirious pretend. The things I am proud of are the thousands of references to works of fiction, films, obscure historical events & figures, paintings and pieces of music, but I'm not so proud that I can't see how insignificant this is. After all the moral of the story is not to be small-minded but the story itself is also small-minded in that it presents a right and a wrong viewpoint and places cartoonish personas on one side and slightly more developed characters on another. Frankly the people I depict as heroic are too short-sighted and cynical to be so entirely, anyway. And furthermore even if you, commenter, are someone who thinks that the story is one long slight (presumably you know exactly who I am based on the temporary name you chose) I don't want at all to chastise you for things I think you may have done. If you hadn't done something that my brain turned huge in imagining, I wouldn't be me, would I? We're all shaped by our experiences and my grossly overreacting and invention in response to your behavior made me in part who I am. I know you might not but I rather like who I am and I owe it to anyone and everyone who's ever made me angry, even if you've done nothing wrong. There are hundreds of people I've been angry with for no reason at all and everyone in this story is one of them and I don't suggest that you're monstrous or evil or cartoonish. You are not in this story, there's only me in this story. I'm only railing against myself and I owe you a great deal of thanks for continuing to be yourself so that I could evolve and get over myself and be able to purge all of my vicious and nasty feelings out in one long rambling story that makes sense to maybe three people. If many of my close friends don't understand half of what goes in there, what chance did I think someone who I never really connected with (for lack of trying on my part, admittedly) would get them. I'm not trying to sound condescending but this story is the contents of my brain fired against a wall and no one should feel offended or hurt because I needed to pull the trigger. Not that I consider your pain or offense minor or insignificant because they're not.
By this point I'm sure you've thought that I've simply rambled off incoherently again and for that I apologize. I was never very good at making a concise point. But I'll reiterate, don't lose an ounce of sleep over my silly story on some little-read blog. I write about antique sex movies and Filipino women-in-prison films for fun, I have no moral high ground and I don't pretend I'm a better person than anyone else. I'd happily discuss it with anyone (that's why I put it up after all) but if you don't find yourself willing to talk or simply have no desire to, you just need to put the word "Stop" in the comment section on a borrowed screen-name that you can then delete. I won't pursue matters further, I won't try and figure out who wrote it, I'll respect your wishes and remove it. I'm not so proud that my story is worth more than someone else's piece of mind. If you meant your comment as simply a slight and have no intention of coming back or posting again, I can understand that, as well as you most definitely saw the piece as a slight, for which I apologize as it's not. And please understand that I'm being as sincere as I know how to be, and though your memory of me might not allow for that to mean much, I'm trying so hard to be sympathetic and put myself in your shoes, I just ask you to try and do the same for me. I'm not writing to hurt people. I'm not who I was in high school and if you don't want it up it will go down.
by Dušan Makavejev
Mr. Abdemel is a brash, cartoonish billionaire who wants to pay to have Niagara falls shut off and who thinks Karl Marx shot archduke Ferdinand. The reception waiting for them at his house is nice enough, a hippie band bearing flowers, a beautiful estate (for a lout, Dollars has nice taste in homes), and a honeymoon that seems to be ripe for intimacy and genteel married sex. That is until Dollars starts rubbing Miss World down with alcohol and pulls out his gold-plated penis and starts urinating on her. Our heroine draws the line there, even with a billion dollars at stake She wants to escape but that won't look good for the mogul so his mother has her shipped off to France in a suitcase (after an interesting period of naked captivity with Jeremiah Muscle, her gigantic black servant). When she gets there she runs into all kinds of mishigas involving a singing Spanish heart-throb, a tryst on the Eiffel Tower that almost ends in tragedy, a stint in an actionist commune and finally as a model for a chocolate commercial. I should point out that we occasionally flash to Anna Planeta, the captain of a barge headed down the Seine with Karl Marx as the bearded figurehead. She takes on a soldier, a deserter from the battleship Potemkin, as her lover. She welcomes children aboard first enticing them with candy and then appears to seduce them. Before the police raid the boat, you realize that her commitment to an ideological extreme drove her more than a little mad, at least in the eyes of outsiders.
And that incidentally is what most people thought of Makavejev when he released Sweet Movie. They thought that like Anna Planeta, his incendiary brand of socialism had driven him off the deep end and Sweet Movie was just excess unchecked. In one sense he is the captain of a great ship headed through a country that had once held so much promise and now seemed so quiet and conformist. He was looking for survivors and his movie was meant as a kind of password between members of the underground, but it seemed like he stood utterly alone. The most popular response was to simply stand aghast at the things presented, as if there was nothing else to the movie but nudity and baffling set-pieces. It's been described as a love it or hate it movie, though I don't think that's true. I certainly love it but I think that even if you didn't like the things you were being shown you could absolutely love the cinematography, the lush production design and the beautifully underplayed score, just as a for example. Pierre Lhomme's photography really is astonishing. Makavejev had said that he wanted Sweet Movie to be a love letter to colours and Lhomme was only too happy to oblige. Every room and person Miss World encounters has such a well defined and fun palette it's like the movie is set in FAO Schwarz (Otto Muehl, the leader of the commune, later called the movie pure kitsch, but the depiction of his group ought to have shown him otherwise). And because they're so clear, when we enter darker spaces, the colours become textures just like the wood inside the bowels of Anna Planeta's ship or the walls of the Therapie Kommune, when Lhomme's camera is noticeably handheld. There is something almost magical about these scenes and they're certainly ahead of their time. I remember watching these and being totally hypnotized, totally in awe of the fact that so much of this film could have been made yesterday. There are so many scenes that are enchantingly shot, especially when contrasted with the flash of the opening competition or the sight-gags that serve as the introduction to the sailor. The reason I think they work so well is because they make us feel like the cameras are spectators as much as we are; we're just observing this behavior and that's crucial in the Kommune scenes. If he'd properly lit and framed vomit and shit, we'd probably all puke ourselves. Instead the effect is that of a whirlwind of senses and events that no one is in control of and everyone is experiencing like an outsider. It's an intoxicating style that greatly helps one to get lost in this sea of political imagery and strange behavior. In fact it wasn't the revolutionary ideas that initially struck me initially about Sweet Movie. I remember the first thing that stuck out as being completely unforgettable was the song that Ann Lonnberg sings when we first meet Anna Planeta. That's the thing that always grounded every bizarre ass thing that happens in the realm of storytelling and film, rather than of weird-for-the-sake of weird. No one actually depraved could have gone looking for a song as perfect as this. And no one could have found so much beauty in hopelessness.
Dušan Makavejev was one of the first generation of Yugoslavians to have access to cameras and film schools and is one of the only people to ever break into the international scene in any meaningful way. He made four films in his native country (the best of them, Innocence Unprotected, is one of the best films about film ever made) before finally getting himself effectively evicted. The film that did it was W.R. Mysteries of the Organism, a kind of slavic I Am Curious that fuses documentary footage of sex therapy and sexual curios with a free-form narrative a la Godard about a woman who takes a break from hammering home Marxist dogma to seduce a figure skater who's the pride of the nation. His movies all drew lines between fascism and modern life and poked fun at Yosip Broz Tito's government with a knife. After W.R. pointed out that in practice nazism, Tito's communism and Nixon's republican government were not really all that dissimilar, the government film board gave him his pink slip and he went looking for money elsewhere. It didn't take him long to find it and before long he was using French, Canadian and English money and a cast of outsiders like Sami Frey, Pierre Clementi and Carol Laure. But needless to say it didn't go down quite so easily. Where W.R. had excited the international film scene and was the reason he so easily secured financing for another film, Sweet Movie made most people avert their eyes out of shame. Reviews were unkind enough that it waited almost thirty years for a DVD release and thanks to its showing the human body doing what the human body does it's still banned in England. Makavejev may have made other films after this, but none so unflinching and none as good (though Manifesto really is quite excellent). The reason no one wanted Sweet Movie is because the spirit of 1968, every new wave the world had produced and all the revolutionary fervour that had so captured the heart of everyone under thirty had failed. It was business as usual as far as everyone was concerned and they didn't need some foreign eccentric shitting all over their blissful conformity. All the strikes and rallies and progressive candidates were dead and Makavejev was one of the few people actively grieving. Hence the film's one foray into documentary footage, that of the Germans discovering the bodies of dead Poles in Katyn forest. You may have moved on, he seems to say, but these people are dead and injustice is still everywhere. Sweet Movie is thus a big, New Orleans-style funeral for idealism. Unsurprisingly attendance was low.
As a statement it's perfect and I couldn't ask for anything more from it. Everything, down to the posters and trinkets that hang on Anna Planeta's boat like some Maoist TGI Friday's, have meaning to them. Nothing was accidental. To look at but a few almost imperceptible things that have no effect on the story. The sailor who boards the Survival is a cast away from the Potemkin. "Isn't that the revolution that failed?" she asks him. It is, but it's also the name of the flagship film of Soviet montage of which Makavejev was a fervent disciple. Soviet Montage influenced his first four films heavily and this is especially fascinating when we realize that Tito's government had broken from the soviets in Makavejev's lifetime. Makavejev went looking for inspiration in the culture of a national antagonist at a time when the man running the country wasn't above burying his enemies in quicklime. It's a small gesture, I suppose considering how new and insignificant the film schools in the country were when Makavejev was starting and by 74 he saw that his revolution, too, had failed and had only managed to get him ejected from his homeland. Battleship Potemkin is about one sailor causing a rebellion on a great ship, Sweet Movie is about the same soldier boarding a smaller one and being eaten alive by his own ideals. The authorities show up at the end of both movies and find revolutions in progress, except one is led by a woman alone surrounded by the bodies of her allies. And again, this is just in one piece of wardrobe and one line of dialogue. When you realize that such things appear every thirty seconds, you see why I'm so in love with this film's theory and design, to say nothing of its assaultive content.