Available in italian
As I recently wrote in a tweet, I’m reading the awesome book “Bruce“, by Peter A. Carlin; A reading that’s shaking my soul, because it’s like digging into the soundtrack of my entire life.
Springsteen is simply Bruce for me too: a friend, a companion, an alter ego, the voice of the “beaten up and the fairs”. He’s surely not the Boss, a nickname that he obviously hates too: furthermore, isn’t the boss usually a synonymous of despicable?
Bruce came into my life with The River, on a smooth highway getting goose bumps. I heard – and saw in Betamax, those big old videotapes – dozens of versions, all of them. But one, in particular, thrilled me: the long spoken intro version that made him cry too when performing it live. I don’t know if you ever listened to it, wanna try? don’t forget tissues.
I then followed Bruce for my entire life and he, I like thinking so, did the same, hiding behind some weird coincidences. I always deeply loved him and besides many music crushes – the biggest for the Cure – I never cheated on him.
Because at full volume or in background, he’ve been always the one who played in my life. Especially when I fell down. “Come on rise up”. And I got up. “If I should fall behind wait for me”. And somebody stopped waiting for me. “I wish I were blind when I see you with your man” and even the worst delusion would turn into poetry.
In 2004, like Ames, I tried to find him closely too. A trip to New York inevitably turned into an unforgettable tour of his New Jersey. That’s why I walked on the wood boardwalk of Atlantic City and Asbury Park, the city of his famous postcard record cover; that I touched the white and blue Madame Marie’s cabin on the beach; that I set my foot on the atrium of the Stone Pony sacred temple; that I moved in circle through the streets of Freehold, trying to grab the scent of the Springsteen; that I really ate a pizza at Federici’s, with my eyes glued not on the mozzarella but on the myriad of Bruce pictures hung up on the walls of this legendary pizzeria.
Than I came back home – meaning my life – but without closing the door behind, in order to better listen to his invitations that I always forward to myself many times: “Mary climb in, it’s a town full of losers and I’m pulling out of here to win”.
Sometimes, to find again “good old” movies, you don’t have to follow a director. You have to follow an actor.
It’s the case of Ryan Gosling. Start with “Drive”. Then take a seven years back leap and find him again, really young, in “The Notebook”. At that point you can skip as you like, back and forth: “Blue Valentine”, “The Believer”, “All Good Things”, “Half Nelson”, “The Ides of March”, “The Place Beyond the Pines”. Always and anyway you’ll find him, Ryan Gosling, and the “good old” movies.
But what defines a “good old” movie? Honestly, this is the harder question to be answered because, in this world, not everything is easily explainable in words. You don’t take a seat and watch “good old” movies. “Good old” movies rule. When they start they grasp and carry you away. Since the first frame. They take you in their arms, they take you with strength, with a trick or a special song. Certainly, for all their duration, you are not anymore where you were before and there’s no way to come back not even for a second. “Good old” movies don’t accept you being distracted, they just make that impossible.
Your life becomes that film and when at the credits you are flung back, it’s like awakening from an hypnosis, coming back from another world. You don’t suddenly rise up, you don’t immediately remember who you were before that movie started: you stay there, running through names that seem to be made so long on purpose, to give you the time to recover without facing consequences of a too harsh trauma.
Then, when you proceed with your life, an unexplainable feeling stays inside you for a long time. With that Ryan Gosling’s face. Gosling, who above all, seems to have been taken hostage from “good old” movies, till he can’t choose something different to work in.
For this reason, if you are looking for “good old” movies, you just have to follow him. Hoping that he’ll never take a different road. At least without warning us first.
Disponibile in Inglese
Come ho scritto in un recente tweet, sto leggendo il meraviglioso libro di Peter Ames Carlin “Bruce”: una lettura che mi scuote l’anima, perché è come scavare all’interno della colonna sonora di tutta la mia vita.
Anche per me Springsteen è semplicemente Bruce: un amico, un compagno, un alter ego, la voce del cuore dei “mazziati e giusti”. E di sicuro non è il Boss, un soprannome che anche lui giustamente detesta (capo, del resto, non è quasi sempre sinonimo di stronzo?).
Nella mia vita, Bruce ci è entrato con The River, su una superstrada spianata che portava dritta ad accapponarmi ogni poro della pelle. Ne ho sentite – e viste in Betamax (le cassettone che si infilavano ai mie tempi nel videoregistratore) – decine di versioni, tutte quelle esistenti, credo. Una, però, mi lasciava senza fiato più di tutte: quella con la lunghissima intro parlata che faceva piangere anche lui, quando la recitava dal vivo. Non so se l’avete mai ascoltata, ma se avete voglia di provarci non dimenticate i fazzoletti.
Bruce l’ho seguito poi tutta la vita e anche lui, mi piace pensare, alle volte ha seguito me, nascondendosi dietro bizzarre coincidenze. L’ho sempre amato dal profondo e nonostante una lunga serie di sbandate musicali – l’infatuazione più grande quella per i Cure – non l’ho mai tradito sul serio.
Perché a tutto volume o di sottofondo, nella mia vita, a suonare c’è sempre stato lui. Sopratutto quando andavo sotto di brutto. “Come on rise up“. E mi tiravo su. “If I should fall behind wait for me“. E qualcuno si fermava ad aspettarmi. “I wish I were blind when I see you with your man” e persino la peggiore delle delusioni si trasformava in poesia.
Un po’ come Ames, nel 2004, ho provato anch’io a cercarlo più da vicino. Una vacanza a New York si è inevitabilmente trasformata in un indimenticabile tour nel suo New Jersey. E’ stato così che ho camminato sul boardwalk di legno di Atlantic City e di Asbury Park, quello della sua copertina-cartolina; che ho lisciato con la mano il legno del gabbiotto sulla spiaggia di Madame Marie; che ho messo piede – il mio piede – nell’atrio di quel tempio sacro che è lo Stone Pony; che ho girato in tondo per le stradine di Freehold cercando di captare l’odore per me mistico degli Springsteen; che ho mangiato sul serio la pizza da Federici’s, con gli occhi incollati non di certo sulla mozzarella ma sulla miriade di foto di Bruce appese quasi tutte storte alle pareti di questa leggendaria pizzeria.
Poi sono tornata a casa – che sta per la mia vita – ma senza chiudermi la porta alle spalle, di modo da sentire meglio quel suo invito che rigiro sempre in più occasioni a me stessa: “Mary salta dentro, è una città piena di perdenti e io me ne sto andando per vincere“.
Speaking of Falling Skies (the TNT tv drama produced by Steven Spielberg): those sparkling spikes on the back don’t get out of my mind. The point is that watching them lighting up clicked something in my head.
Let’s start from the beginning. The skitters, freakish alien creatures, put on Ben’s back (the second-born child of the “story hero” Tom Mason) an implant that makes him a sort of slave. The implant, when removed by humans, leaves some painful marks: spikes that start from the neck and go down on the back of the poor Ben. A fact, this one, that makes him an outcast forever, specially because his spikes every now and then light up hypnotizing and throwing him elsewhere.
At this point something clicked in my head: I see in this image a giant human metaphor. Getting out from the tv show, I look around and among mortals like us I can see a lot of people that under their shirts, blouses or jackets hide Ben’s spikes.
These people have been hurt by their past so much that they carry a permanent trace of it. Apparently they look like the others, they get muddled with them. The truth is that they really are outcast and they know that very well, especially when their spikes suddenly light up. It can happen everywhere, when they are alone or among others: the result doesn’t change. Every Ben on this earth, with his heart, head and soul, for a little while goes away, recalled with no denial possibility, from his personal freakish skitter of the past.
After all an implant is an implant. Right?
I always asked myself how would have been watching “OC” if you live in Orange County or “Gossip Girl” if you really are a rich Upper East Side teenager. Following “Er” or “Grey’s Anatomy” if you work as a doctor or “CSI” if you are a cop. But I know for sure what does watching “Mad Men” means if in your life you are one of them; yes if you are an ad man. Specifically (without taking any credit) I was and I am both a Peggy and a Don Draper. I dealt with more than a dozen of Pete Campbell and helped me a lot of Joan (in some cases as much as busty). I did a hundreds of presentations, created a lot of slogans, spent as many – too much – week ends and festivities in the agency. I spent a thousand nights for as many pitches and dealt whit any kind of clients.
Everyone talks about “Mad Men”. About how much “well done” it is. But, I ask myself, how can they judge? Which standard uses who doesn’t know this world from the inside? Following “Grey’s Anatomy” I never understood if what I was seeing was the truth or a series of really well done bullshits. Namely, interns live really that way? And are they really treated like that? Do that kind of procedures really exist? Is it really possible that a 16 weeks fetus can stay in an incubator and survive? I had to ask my cousin, a real doctor, to clear my mind. After all, how could I know? That’s the point: the same is about “Mad Men”. Because in this case it’s me, whit a few others but not all, who can guarantee. And here I am doing it: believe me, there is no bullshits, it’s not a fiction. In a few words doing this job, in every single role, aspect and detail, was and still is (maybe just in a less cool way) exactly like this. In the good or in the bad it’s something that you too can judge.