October 23rd, 2003


Beyond Belief

I dreamt of Pat last night. He still hasn't responded to any emails since his father's death and his location in Australia makes it hard to track him down. I know I could rely on Gideon in that regard, he might enjoy a Magnum PI style challenge, but I'm hoping it doesn't have to get to that. In the dream, Pat didn't actually appear, but two letters turned up from him, in those slightly lurid yellow manilla envelopes he uses. The letters were thick with enclosures, but I didn't get to open them. The thickness of them was enough to hold. Relief.

I seemed to be living back in Kilburn, but the house had been taken over by silver service butlers who ferried canapés to the top floor in a very narrow elevator - alright, lift, if you must. The penthouse was occupied by Lady Black-something, who was one of those loopy anti-semitic aristo types. The letters were brought to me by the landlord, who stood in the room for a long time listening to the vocal arrangements of Pet Sounds, which was playing on a cheap stereo. 'Absolutely gorgeous', he kept on repeating.

Maybe Pat is writing one of his sensitive and intricate letters half-composed in words and sketches. I hope so. I just wish he'd let me know that he was alive. I once wrote to Pat, and very earnestly, that he was the only man that I'd ever known that I would be prepared to marry. I still feel that way. This postscript caused some confusion for him. Oh well. I didn't consciously think of sleeping with him, I just thought that if there was a man that I should spend the rest of my life with, it would be him. I was thinking more of some rather sexless Bloomsbury style affair that lasted into old age. I miss him and he's another one of those few valued people who live as far away as you can possibly get. Unless he moved to the French Marquesas, in which case I'd be far more likely to visit as homage should one day be paid at Brel's grave. Fuck Gauguin though!

So, Angelina... As I've noted before, my current browser, Safari, although well behaved in many other ways, always reverts to its preset homepage. It's not much of a encumbrance and means I get short American blip news on celebrities and the like when I start it up. Since there's a new Jolie film in the offing, a fresh wave is approaching shore.

Ms Jolie's latest film is Beyond Borders (overly complex, slow loading for those of you still in modem land). "Set against the backdrop of the world's most dangerous hotspots...". So maybe that's Starbucks when an angry mob of anti-globalisers march by. See Angelina deftly operating her trackpad while avoiding bricks and molotovs. Suspected Al-Qaeda device noisily ticking in train station locker. Can she get her notebook to download the new Strokes album in time? Boom! "Peer-to-peer file sharing is killing music!", white type on black background, cut back to the station, a pool of over-reflective blood spreading from her head on the marble concourse.

My problems with her are fairly slight. It's my lack of interest in her that leads me to write about her. There are actresses I might fantasise about in a variety of ways (getting Romane Bohringer to help me out with the decorating for example. What a pleasant day that would be!), those who I might have nightmares about (Demi Moore) and the vast majority who don't produce any reaction of respect, admiration, tumescence, fear, cold sweats, what have you. Angelina is one of those. I just don't get her. One point of attraction is supposed to be her mouth. It doesn't do much for me. What I want to see in an actress/actor is talent and I have to believe that they're human. The entire celebrity world, especially American, is digitally enhanced to the point that it has entirely desensitised me. It's like those JG Ballard advertising hoardings that focus on tiny details of the physical appearance to such a tight focus they become issues in geometry. The idea that there is such a perfect mathematical point that we may choose to approach in our erotic world. So when I read that they had to digitally slice down Kate Winslet a size or two for a cover magazine.. For me, those extra sizes are what she has going for her. The majority of the rest are injection moulded [sic!] down at Mattel using a top secret recursive computer program. Conceivably by teenage boys or, just as possibly, malevolent gay men. It really isn't a laughing matter and I think people who have to observe this world (most of us English speakers) are being persistently psychologically tortured for the sake of impractical and disappointing jerk-off fantasies. If I put my Orthodox hat on, it's far simpler: this is Satan. This is the white noise that cuts out our ability to perceive each other truly. The Empire Never Ended!

What intrigues me about Angelina's new film is the crossover between its subject matter and her role as UN Goodwill Ambassador. In an earlier entry, I noticed that she'd been in Ingushetia, "visiting" Chechen refugees. I don't doubt she believes she's doing good work here, and she may indeed be helping some, but the broader picture, this use of celebrity. I'm not sure there's much awareness of that. It's certainly flattering to be airlifted out to the Caucasus, but any of us could go there and be immediately surrounded by broken people desperate for help. This is maybe more to do with the issue of Goodwill Ambassadors than any failure on Angelina's part. Back in classical Athens, idealised democracy 'worked' by randomly choosing citizens (it wasn't perfect, many were not considered to be actual citizens, such as slaves) for the state council. Why doesn't the UN do this? Many of us would love to travel around the world from time to time and we might do the job a lot better. I don't think we'd have any less of an effect.

I'm not sure specifically what these hotspots are they refer to and possibly no one really cares. Looking at the trailer, they seem to be SE Asia (Laos? Burma?), Africa (Rwanda?) and what looks pretty much like the Caucasus (Chechnya?) as there are people in fur hats with Russian accents. Jolie is a rich, somewhat insular, American socialite who falls for some leading aid worker played by Clive Owen (so the film will suck for sure). It's very much exotic locations, smouldering glances of resentment that turn to dangerous passions in dangerous places, etc, etc. It looks pretty bad. She's apparently donating profits from the previews to the UN which further confuses the reality of the whole thing. As a different film, it might have been a reasonable enough Bogart-Bacall vehicle once upon a time.

Angelina's signed up for a further two years of spreading goodwill. You'd think that her employers would have some issues with the possible confusion the film might cause. Perhaps they think that if people see her film portrayal of concerned American, that, by a sympathetic effect of magic, she will gain allure. It's not so far from the Arnie victory in California. As I said the other night, and have written here before, when in the bar: the time has come where America will have to be destroyed. It's horrific and will destroy most of us in the process as well. So, farewell Woody Guthrie, Joe Hill, Martin Luther King, as Steve Earle once didn't say. Bye, bye, noble dreams of yore. Yo, bring it on man! I can hear some in America saying. Whither goest thou now? It makes me weep. Honestly and profoundly.

My only final Angelina comment is that tabloid rumours suggest a recent week-long sex marathon with Val Kilmer. I had hoped to end my days never having to imagine such a thing. It's bollocks probably, but Kilmer is box-office death and might be hoping for some of that allure to seep into him if he gets himself sufficiently sore and enflamed.
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    Two men chatting in Yiddish on the doorstep. Why?

Oyster Sauce

In the interest of impartiality, I suppose I should add this link to an Angelina Jolie forum. There may well be others, but I'd liked finding the Angelina fan art section, albeit small, in the Neverland section. They seem a bit aghast at the thought of Val Kilmer's hands, and worse, pawing her body. Never minding bodily fluids. I would be too if I was a fan. But I'm aghast even more so!

So why am I still here going on about her? Don't worry, it won't last forever. I've been trying to find out what selection criteria the UN use to choose their various Goodwill Ambassadors. Maybe I'll see if I can get the job. Sure, it's voluntary, but there's bound to be expenses. Unless it turns out you have to pay for the staff support and helicopters yourself which would suck (a word I'm currently overfond of - it's that thrill of the forbidden). I'm sure Seamus Heaney doesn't have that much in the bank. Does he?

Should I hear anything back, I'll of course let you (that miniscule, select and highly exclusive set) know. We could all apply perhaps.

Oh, and Angelina looks set to play Catherine the Great in a film entitled Love and Honour. It's being directed by Randall Wallace, who also scripted We Were Soldiers and Pearl Harbor. So expectations of historical accuracy are pretty much zilch. Not surprising, since Catherine, all those horse rumours aside, is not much of a looker to my eye. Although that didn't stop Catherine Zeta Jones a while ago either. I won't be failing to rise to the bait, I'm sure, come release.
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    Silence (again)