Monday, June 18, 2007

Fahrenheit 311

Grand Central Station currently has an exhibit on display that pays homage to New York City's role in film. Everything from The Untouchables to Spike Lee's creations to You've Got Mail. Photographs, film clips, backdrops, and quotes from famous film makers. It's stunning and it's free and it made me fall in love with this place all over again. I am, shamelessly, one of those people who reads every word of every plaquard in a museum though I usually only look at any one image for about 5 seconds.

As I've wandered around this city the past week, I've been thinking about it as the backdrop of my life, the setting in which I will have some wonderful adventures and meet a host of characters, some of whom I have known for years and some of whom I have yet to meet. So it was particularly appropriate that at this tribute to New York's contribution to film, that I found two very poignant quotes about settings.

The first comes from Ray Bradbury. I think of him as the author of books about strange and mysterious worlds, that years later turn out to not be so strange. It turns out he was just more forward thinking and didn't care if people thought he was a little odd. It also turns out that he had quite a bit to say about film and theatre as well. "Drama and theater are not special and separate and private things in our lives. They are true stuffs of living, the heart and soul of any true city. It follows that we must begin to provide architectural stages upon which our vast populations can act out their lives." (To read more about him, you can click here:

I never thought of the city as having a job to do. Before reading this, I thought of the city as something we take into our lives, that we adapt to, because it is far too big and powerful to mold it to what we need. And this quote stopped me in my tracks and asked me to reconsider the role of setting. It told me that I am not here merely to exist and make my way through the maze of New York. I can actually carve out my own path here and the setting itself will be changed because I have been here and done something worth doing.

The second quote comes from Eugene Lourie, a little known art director of the 1950's. While he never made a colossal mark of his own, he is credited as having influenced the work of Inoshiro Honda's Godzilla. (For more on Lourie, click here: For someone consumed with a career in visual creativity, I believe he missed his calling life as a wordsmith because his discussion about setting and backdrop was one of the most beautiful and elegant pieces about art I have read. When asked about the artistic license of set designers to add or remove details from a set he simply said, "We were creating a poetic reality, a reality with a soul."

I'd like to think that I came to New York to do exactly the same work as these set designers. I wanted to be here with all of the beauty and ugliness, the pristine gardens and grimy streets and subways, in the midst of all the noise and the blessed few moments of peacefulness. I was willing to take it all, and then write stories in this blog about the things I truly loved. So in these writings you are getting a flavor of my life here and yes it's through my filters of my eyes and my experiences. Some people come to New York and they hate it, some fall in love with its perfect imperfections, and many vascillate between these two states numerous times. So while I could be accused of painting a picture of New York through rose-colored glasses, I prefer to think of it as just adding a layer of poetry on top of the reality and bolstering it up from the bottom with some soul.

1 comment:

JC McKee said...

Sounds like life is treating you well. Noone deserves more happiness. I hope all of your smiles continue. JC