Tag Archives: Six feet Under

(ON TOPIC) How to Survive a Move

I was already halfway through Beyoncé’s latest album when my phone started flashing. A series of signals were triggered in my brain that in turn started some neurological process involving chemical neurotransmitters and synapses and yada yada yada. In short, my phone was trying to tell me something: I had eight new texts and six new podcasts to listen to. Add this to the two movies I’d downloaded on iTunes, the new Hello Mr. issue, three new books, and 47 new emails. It was enough to send me under the covers of my air mattress with a pillow locked tightly over my head, temporarily paralyzed by the media hurricane that wouldn’t let me sleep. (How does Queen Bey do it all?)

It was the night before I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and I was trying to distract myself from figuring out how all my personal possessions, now sitting before me in an organized pile of boxes and bags, would ultimately fit in my newly acquired 2000 Toyota Camry. As I welcomed the angelic sounds of Beyoncé into my ears–driver roll up the partition, pleaseee–I wondered whether if what you own, the stuff of your life, signifies the stage of life you’re in. What does it mean that I don’t own pots and plates but have purchased, assembled, and disassembled IKEA furniture since freshman year of college? (Learning about sites like TRNK makes me want to be grown up and living in my dream flat in London, populated by “pieces” that each have a story. Can ya feel the pretension, y’all?!) But before I had an answer, I was in Los Angeles after a six-hour drive full of Beyoncé tracks and tears.

Here’s what moving feels like to me:

Hey! Hi! Hello, friends with which I’ve spent years cultivating a meaningful bond! Hello, city that is the most geographically interesting place I’ve been in years and whose streets make me feel like Dorothy in Kansas, ruby red slippers and all! Hello, apartment that has the most beautiful natural light I’ve ever seen and roommates who don’t annoy me and a perfect puppy who licks me and then falls asleep next to me and subsequently becomes the model for my future boyfriend! Hello, you all! Okay goodbye.”

BOOM.

Moving, in that respect, seems so unnatural. But my most recent move from San Francisco to Los Angeles felt a bit different. My post-move slump was a lot shorter than usual and, in truth, I’ve found myself in many moments of, well, joy. And I think I’ve figured out why.

1) Entertainment

In the opening of Pixar’s Up, an eight-year-old Carl Fredericksen sits in a movie theater, mouth agape and goggles on head as he stares at his idol on the silver screen in front of him. To me, that single image best encapsulates what moviegoing feels like. With very few exceptions, there’s nothing I’d rather do on any given day than sit in a movie theater and watch a movie. Since moving to LA seven weeks ago, I’ve seen nine movies: Very Good Girls, Begin Again, Free Fall, Test, Obvious Child, How To Train Your Dragon 2, The Fault in Our Stars, The Normal Heart, and Stranger by the Lake. I also went to the LA Film Festival and attended a program called I See Music, during which they screened Beyoncé’s entire visual album followed by a Q+A with some of the people who know her best. (I talked to her cousin afterward and somehow managed to keep my fanaticism at rest.) The list would be longer if I had more time, money, and the ability to accept the fact that I’d be compromising my physical and social well-being.

I often go to the movies by myself, which, for me, creates a significantly different moviegoing experience than if I bring a friend along. I like processing a movie on my own after I walk out of the theater, so sometimes it’s nice to exit without a friend asking, “So what’d ya think?!” Bringing a friend also excuses you from the remarks of snickering teenagers who think it’s funny you’re seeing a movie alone, as was the case when I saw The Fault in Our Stars by myself on a Saturday afternoon. In any case, there’s something that feels different about seeing a movie in LA. Maybe it’s the history of this town, where the movie studios born in the early 1900s have since given way to the industry of which I’m now a part. I go into the theater to watch a movie, and then I leave and could very well be walking in the neighborhood where the director or writer or actors live. I watch 500 Days of Summer and then take the Metro downtown to Bunker Hill where Tom convinced Summer that, in spite of popular cultural belief, LA is kinda sorta beautiful. Everything feels just a bit closer to home.

"500 Days of Summer" - Tom & Summer's Bench

But there’s more to Entertainment than just movies. For one, I just finished Season 2 of Orange is the New Black. Did you know that TV is getting good? Because it is. I read an article this month called “Queer as Friends” by Max Mosher and was reminded of how much we truly believe in TV. I’ve had particularly memorable experiences losing myself while watching Sex and the City and Six Feet Under. I came out to my parents the night after the fictional David Fisher came out to his mom and listened as she expressed her frustration over the fact that she was the last to know. Most recently, I finished watching Sex and the City in its entirety because I was too self-conscious as a “straight boy” to watch it when my mom did during its original run from 1998 through 2004. I couldn’t always connect with Carrie Bradshaw’s shopping habits or interior monologues, but there were moments when I truly believed that she lived in that beautiful brownstone–that I, as a NYU student living in Manhattan, could’ve spotted her gracefully exiting her apartment one evening to catch a black car with Mr. Big. “We believe because it makes life easier,” Mosher writes.

2) People

I promise I’ve done more than just consume movies and TV by myself since moving. (It was really hard to write that sentence.) There are people out in the world, too! (It was even harder to write that one.) One of the first social events I attended was a cocktail reception hosted by the NYU in LA Alumni group. I was pleasantly surprised to see a few familiar faces and was quickly reminded of how special it is to be a part of a bicoastal creative community.

I’ve also found myself on a handful of “friend dates.” I have friends from my previous homes in New York and San Francisco who have good friends living in LA, so I asked them to set me up with them. At least once a week since I moved here, I’ve been meeting these friends of friends for dinner and/or drinks.

A few weeks ago I found myself with four new friends, all women. (Not the first time this has happened.) Two were gay, and two were straight, and conversation consisted mostly of their LA horror stories. We spent two hours talking about dating. Whether the date was with a man or a woman, from Tinder or from OKCupid, they all echoed the same sentiment: dating in LA is depressing. In the age of dating apps, everyone is seemingly shopping around for the next best thing. One woman mentioned that she quickly grew tired of women who were on their Tinder app during their date. Others expressed frustration over their ostensible requirement to withhold emotion while dating–over receiving a, “Woah woah. We’re just hanging out,” if they, by some miracle, reached a third or fourth or even fifth date. I couldn’t help but wonder (said Carrie in voiceover)…are we growing increasingly resistant to commitment? Do we even know how to date anymore, or is a fundamental rift forming in this Digital Age of romance? All of these dating apps may not necessarily be working against us, but they’re certainly changing the conversation. The “Don’t ask how we met because you know we met on Grindr” face is my personal favorite manifestation of this evolution.

We noted how Sex and the City our conversation was, but quickly laughed and pointed out how terribly unrealistic that show was and how our lives were thankfully a bit more grounded in reality. As we paid our bill and exited the restaurant, one woman said she’d like to see a show called No Sex and the City, which would feature all the men and women–the heroes–behind the lives of Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte who made their lives look oh so slick and shiny. Who cleaned their apartments, for example, and what were their lives like when they went home to a land that was assuredly void of Versace couture dresses and blue satin Manolos?

As I fell on my bed at the end of the night, I couldn’t help but think about how the Entertainment in my life had become inextricably tied to the People–that these two separate things had joined to become the tunnel through which I’d make a smooth transition into life in sunny LA. More important, though, I thought about what would happen if we paid just a little more attention to each other. If we sat down across from someone, silent, ears open, and ready to listen.

I haven’t written a blog post since 2013. As tough and periodically sad as moving can be, it’s got me writing. And for that, LA, I am grateful. May the creative juices continue to flow. For now, I gotta go make a spreadsheet before I fall asleep to figure out which piece of media I’m going to consume next. G’night.

zZz…I sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker…zZz….

 

An Ode to “So You Think You Can Dance”

You don’t expect to cry while watching reality TV.

This was the condition under which I was operating while watching “So You Think You Can Dance” this season, so I feel compelled to write about the Experience I had while doing so. I don’t watch much reality TV, but I just caught up with this season of “SYTYCD” and feel comfortable saying it’s the only reality show I’d consistently follow.

Let me explain:

The only other time I’ve cried while watching a TV show was during the series finale of “Six Feet Under.” That said, I’ve cried during almost half of the “SYTYCD” episodes this season. My brother doesn’t understand how I could get emotional while watching someone dance, and I’m sure he’s not alone in this feeling; not anyone who watches the show is going to connect with it.

I tried to explain my attachment, though, beginning by saying that dancing—like any art—is an incredibly personal thing, requiring the dancer to externalize the internal, to take emotional turmoil and filter it through the movement of the body. When someone is willing to do this in the public eye—in combination with incredible technique—the result can be something transcendent and beautiful. Magic, really.

So go watch this video and cry. It features Sasha, who I believe should’ve been this year’s winner. And if you feel nothing, you’re a robot, metaphorically speaking.

An Ode To “Six Feet Under”

A recommendation is a funny thing. If it comes from a close friend or family member, it’s easier to decide whether you should accept or dismiss it. Coming from a professional critic, however, you should never be as quick to take his or her words to heart because you just don’t know them as a person. You don’t know what makes them happy or sad or what movies and books and shows they like and don’t like. But you do (hopefully) know these things about the people close to you.

So, to the people who know me, I’d like to use this post to recommend something to you all. I had an experience over the last seven months, and as I usually do when I have an Experience with a capital “E,” I write about it. I feel like I’m treading on thin waters here because while I want to talk about this experience, I also don’t want to offer too many words about it and therefore rob you of the opportunity to discover it as an Experience for yourself. So, let me choose the following words carefully:

Stop whatever you’re doing and watch HBO’s Six Feet Under.

Without reservation I can say it affected me more than any movie or TV show I’ve ever seen. I know it’s a risk to invest a lot of time into something just because I said so, but taking risks feels good. (As my animation teacher once said, you never grow when you only stick to what’s comfortable.) Nevertheless, what I will offer are two things to keep in mind while watching:

1. In the beginning, don’t analyze the shit out of it. Sometimes when you hold things up in a mirror for analysis purposes, the magic of these things often goes away. (This reminds me of the David Lynch quotation I used in my first post last year: “Psychology destroys the mystery, this kind of magic quality. It can be reduced to certain neuroses or certain things, and since it is now named and defined, it has lost its mystery and the potential for a vast, infinite experience.”) So, start the show, let it breathe, and then let the emotional impact of it all hit you like a brick as the seasons progress.

2. Spread the show out over an extended period of time. Historically speaking, I’m known to cram a whole series into a week or three (LOST. Cough. LOST.) and to consequently skip over certain plot points or character details that really color in the show. I spread this series out over a period of seven months and am very glad I did so. I almost wish I would’ve saved the final episode to watch when I’m 30 or 40 or 70.

I think I’ll close this post with an email I wrote to my friend Ryan after finishing the last episode. It appears below as it appeared to him, but with a few less curse words peppered throughout. Some comments were in response to things he previously wrote to me, but I think you’ll still be able to follow along.

Ryan. I just finished. And I didn’t buy ice cream. I do have Spider-Man gummies Will bought me though.

For one, how could I even attempt to take what I just experienced lightly? I’m literally out of words. How do you reduce the experience of watching that show into little f-ing words??!!!!! I’ve never cried while watching a TV show or movie, but I just cried uncontrollably throughout that episode. My heart was literally racing. I was thinking of a line Alan Ball wrote in American Beauty: “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it, like my heart’s going to cave in.” The beauty and magic of that episode and the whole series made my heart want to freaking burst. It made me want to live my life, you know? You know what I mean. I should probably stop now before I keep writing without actually saying anything because, as mentioned above, my feelings toward this show are indescribable. I can’t watch any other TV show now. Everything pales in comparison.

OK gotta go. I have to wipe my tears and go start again with Season 1.

Love, Jono

What I forgot to mention in the email is that I’ll also never be able to listen to Sia’s Breathe Me without crying. We’ll discuss this once you’ve watched the series. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my love letter to Alan Ball.

I wish you a wonderful viewing experience. Go feel things.