Tuesday, July 28, 2009


July is not a good blogging month for me - there is too much to do: vacations, mine and people visiting me - softball games - baseball to watch, too hot, usually to do a lot of writing... And I suppose I've been a bit burnt out, after taking too classes in the spring, then knocking out a bunch of Japanese film posts in June... not a lot of posts, but longish posts...

Excuses excuses. There are things to do - one thing to do is post a response to Joseph B's Mr. Bernstein Meme. The principal is simple - a memory, with the same kind of disproportionate importance of the girl in white on the ferry, cited by Bernstein in Citizen Kane. Which also puts me in mind of Caveh Zahedi's monologue in Waking Life about Holy Moments... I have been thinking about memory - I have been scanning slides - which create whole webs of associations. The knowledge about who is in the pictures, where, what they are doing - the memories, the sense memories, of the things in the pictures (when I remember them) - and the memories of watching slides themselves. My family had - well, probably thousands of slides. Once a month or so, we would set up a screen, make a big bowl of popcorn, turn off the lights and go through them - grabbing boxes of them blind, going through them almost randomly... An event.

So - that is what I should write about - but it is harder work than it should be. And - I have a lot more slides to go through - making it easy to procrastinate.... Now: I can stick pretty close to Bernstein's memory - a girl, spotted once... In this case - an Asian girl, college aged, throwing a frisbee with some friends in JFK Park, in Harvard Square, 12-15 years ago. Summer - she had short hair, shorts and a tee shirt, she was really good with he frisbee... I don't know what about her stuck - I have spent lots of afternoons in JFK park, eating lunch, reading, whatever - lots of kids throwing frisbees (and playing soccer and volleyball and sunbathing and walking dogs and kids and everything else people do, lazy summer afternoons...) But I remember her.

Though I hope I can write something about this, say:

A train, photographed somewhere on the line from Northern Vermont, NIagara Falls and Toronto, sometime in the summer of 1977 or 78. Nothing spectacular - and honestly, it doesn't really spark any memories. What it does do, though, is remind me of James Bennings' RR - and that film sparks memories. All of it - but especially, starting with shot #4 (the link above has pictures of all the trains in the film), of waiting or trains to cross roads. I had forgotten that - it's rare, now, to have to wait for a long train to cross a road - but when I was a kid, it happened quite a lot. Maybe it happened most when we were traveling in Canada - I remember long trains, trains crossing roads, or running alongside roads. I remember counting the cars of trains, especially when they were crossing the highway. And - some of those big monsters - 100 plus cars - I remember some of those. I remember counting cars on trains - one of the games we played when we were driving (my family) - counting horses, counting snowmobiles, not to mention road bingo - games we played, driving to Vermont, Canada, etc. There's a lot there....

And finally - that train, that trip, to Niagara falls - that's the picture at the top. I haven't come to the rest of the Niagara slides. That's likely to bring back some memories, when I dig them up.

1 comment:

Joseph B. said...

Nice stuff, Sam.