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November 25th, 1999

Still Know The Feeling
I have now watched The Chocolate Soldier and remembered why I found it a miserable irritating dorky dumb movie only a miserable dorky dumb individual would buy, let alone watch, as not even the music was very interesting and I buy these things for the music. It's just, you know, it's been thirty five years since I've seen it. Well, I had the football game going in the background. I followed it by watching Hair, another dated movie, but from a more recent period. Also dumb and dorky, but a nicer dumb and dorky with the ability to recall a mixed and not altogether missed past.

Hair has that weird naive umbilical cord still attached to it edge of innocence that also manages to stir memories of that fucking no talent brain dead war as they march into the bowels of the troop transports singing Let the Sunshine In at the top of their lungs in the last scene. Hair brings back my twenties and thirties, both good and bad, while the old Nelson Eddy Jeanette MacDonald films bring me back to the age of ten which I remember more positively, either because they were better times or my memory can no longer be trusted.

Enough of this. As I write, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is playing on the black and white set just to the left of my monitor, the red car with no top speeding into the desert and this Depp fellow handling the scene to a T. Without that fucking war this movie would make no sense and that book would never have been written. It was one of the few sane written descriptions of a world turned nasty and evil. "Then we ate some Mescaline and went swimming." Well, yes, we did. For an entire decade. Swimming, swimming. It was all we could do to keep our heads above water.

The afternoon progresses, The Chocolate Soldier melting into Hair and now accelerating into Fear and Loathing. I don't normally revisit this territory except on special occasions: holidays, long nights in the outback when the weasels are rustling in the bushes and the light is fading to black. Deep, dark, utterly jet #000000 black. Today is the holiday exception and I'm counting on the weasels to keep a respectable distance. I have finished my second Coca Cola of the day. Life is good.

Well, let's leave that. This is the Thanksgiving Holiday in this particular part of the world and I am sitting here watching movies as I have not travelled back to the family hearth to renew familial connections, that being planned for early next month. I think that's what this holiday has become here in the United States, a kind of generalized giving of thanks to whatever gods or spirits may abide for still being on the planet, a day to bind the family back together if only for twenty four hours, to introduce the kids to the concept of grandparents and reintroduce ourselves to the memory, if only the palest memory, of being kids under the parental tent. My trip to Seattle twice a year has always had that aspect. Living here in the Bay Area for the last thirty years has made me a Waldganger who often no longer thinks in terms of extended ties and if I didn't return once every so often, I'd be left in this river of change without any anchor, with only the vaguest memory of an earlier, more innocent and seemingly secure existence. I suspect I'm not a particularly extreme example and I experience this common need to journey back home whenever the winds blow cold and the summer recedes. The Thanksgiving feast and Santa Claus mixed together somehow with the fable of the grasshopper and the ant. Hi, mom. What's for dinner?

I am drifting even further and I am not expressing this well. Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate and best of luck to those who paste together their past on a different day and in a different way. I think you still know the feeling.

The photographs were taken on different days about a block apart on Broadway near Jack London Square in Oakland.