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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Magicians Do Not Exist and Comedy is No Laughing Matter

Magicians Do Not Exist
Comedy is No Laughing Matter

Last night, I went with my friend Alison to see L'Illusionniste (The Illusionist) at the Los Feliz 3 movie theater. This was made by the people who did "The Triplets of Belleville." I LOVE this particular aesthetic, and so I was so excited when Alison said she'd go see the film with me.

It was a rainy night here in the city of Angels. I love when it rains in LA, the city takes on, for me, a more cautious, thoughtful tone. No one knows how to drive in the rain or get wet, it seems, and so the poetry rises up from the streets as the lights shine down upon the pools of water where once there were potholes and cracks from an ever churning city of transience.

Vermont and the Los Feliz neighborhood is an area of town I LOVE when it rains because it becomes like New York, or like Uptown in my hometown city of Minneapolis: artsy, urban in a strange bohemian sophistique, almost literary.

We got there so early (Alison's influence, trust me, not mine!! LOL) and bought our tickets. They wouldn't let us hang inside the theater so we walked across to Fred 62 for a cappucino and cup of coffee, (me and Alison, respectively). There was a CUTE guy sitting at the other end of the counter eating soup. He looked like an ex-boyfriend of mine and I just quietly checked in for a moment to make sure it wasn't him. I don't think it was, but he certainly was listening to everything Alison and I were saying. Isn't it interesting how that amends your speech? Like, I knew he was listening and I continued my conversation with A and yet I sort of amended my own speech- why? I didn't even know this person and would probably never see him again, but he reminded me of someone that I know and so....


We walked back to catch our movie and entered the sweet little theater on the left. I love this little movie theater where they have a curtain they pull up and down like the gathers of a petticoat. The cute guy from Fred 62 was sitting just in front of me. I sat in the one strange aisle that darts across the entire theater (almost) in the middle and therefore sat in the very best seat in the house, halfway back (there are only about 20 rows) and smack dab in the center.

As the film began, a family consisting of about 6 children ran in, shouting "Maman! Maman!" They couldn't decide if they would sit way up front or way in back, and after testing all the seats decided upon way in front.


My acting coach, Candace, is the daughter of one of the American Comedic geniuses, Phil Silvers. He coined that phrase, and the more I work with her and study with her, the more deeply I see the truth of that statement. Now, first of all, I am a comedic actress, and I am performing a one woman comedic cabaret about my love life. I decided to do this because whenever I tell people about my dating experiences and love life, they laugh and laugh and laugh! The more painful the experience for me, the more deeply people laugh and must think I'm kidding. In all honesty, I'm funniest when I am not trying but am merely being my sensitive little melancholy self. yes, I do have a very positive attitude, but it is a muscle i have developed and continue to develop to overcome my shyness, my nerdiness, my awkwardness, my sorrow. It's like running, for me. I don't actually like it until after I have done it, but I know what it does for me, and so I keep, well, trying, anyway.

So I recall once watching "The Pink Panther" at the Aero in Santa Monica with Alison and our mutual friend Chris. Everyone howled and HOWLED at Peter Sellers and his antics, but all I could see was how desperately he longed to hold his wife, make love to her, have her return his love in truth and reality instead of in presentation and lies and fakeness, and the pain of that caused him to cover with oafishness. I saw that CLEARLY. I suggested it to someone after the fact and they said, "No! He's just being funny." But I saw it.


The film, L'Illusionniste,is based on a screenplay that the French actor and comedic great, Jacques Tati, wrote, apparently intending it to be a love letter from father to daughter.The film becomes increasingly self-referential (as it should), even featuring a live action sequence from "Mon Oncle." Wonderful. I love that sort of thing, and, one thing I believe about animators (having once dated one for a few years) is that they LOVE to hide more and more and more and more secrets and references and homages in everything they do. I bet I could see this film time and time again and just begin to see the world of the filmmakers.



This film would have broken my heart
if it weren't already broken.
Me heart, yes, it has been
Broken open-
but broken.

Thank god because the piercing sadness
set against the whimsy and beauty of the film-

a series of stunning moments (potentially family-phagic rabbit stew, useless clowns committing suicide, alcoholic ventriloquists left rotting in alley-ways after devoting their lives to a dying art)-

I watched the film and instead of slinking slowly into my usual Piscean wallow over the sorrow and pain that the world of the losing live in,
I looked instead for the life and the recovery and the forward movement,
so as to not render the lives of the dying pointless,
but meaningful.

In the tale, the magician and the performers of his era- vaudeville performers, acrobats, ventriloquists, clowns- are being replaced by pop singers and rock bands and TVs and Radios (it is set in the 1950s and 60s in France and Scotland......) He is forced to find work performing in remote villages for small crowds and in one small village in Scotland, he meets a simple village girl who is dazed by his magic. He knows they are mere sleight of hand tricks, but she begins to believe that he can magically create anything and make all her dreams come true. So, without asking, she follows him to Edinburgh and he runs himself into the ground continuing to try and create magic for her as her desires grow more and more worldly. At the same time, she is blossoming into womanhood and is beginning to notice young men her own age. Of course.....

Her innocence dooms the Illusionist, wounds him at the heart, when her actions seem to run right over his tenderness. At the same time, I began to see how her unknowing, pigheaded demands for more things, more, more..... actually save him from the fate of so many of his fellow performers of the dying ilk. While his peers are drinking themselves to death, he is having to reinvent himself and move with the energy of the world instead of insist that it should be different than it is.

Of course, eventually, she grows into a woman, and naturally, falls in love with a young man who can give her the next portion of her life.

And so, the magician has nothing left to give her, but his truth.


He leaves her, in secret, and leaves Edinburgh, to return to Paris (one assumes), having renounced all tools of his trade- his top hat, his scarves, and even setting his rabbit free- and leaves her with the last of his cash and a cookbook and some trinkets and a note that says, simply,

"Magicians Do Not Exist."

Neither do we, do we?
No, not really.

I suppose magicians do exist, but only in the moment of the act of committing magic.

I am only a singer when I am singing.

I am only a human being, when I am being.

Eventually, my body will die, and my ashes scattered, and those who remember me, will keep their idea of me and the energy of Erin alive, until eventually, they no longer need it..... and I was just some long forgotten memory of an energy that once lived, and loved, and blogged, and drank coffee, and got teary-eyed over aging vaudeville performers as I sat in a dark theater one night as the rain beat hard against the brick and mortar of a town built on fault lines, disrupted by earthquakes, over a planet filled with lava, circling some ball of fire in the sky, twisting and turning and spinning throughout some idea I might have and energy may carry of a universe of countless countless stars falling like my tears.

And even the legends, eventually, die out.

And although I am sad that the Magician ceased to exist as a magician-

For I do not believe him, that MAGICIANS DO NOT EXIST

For right now, right now, right here, right now,



But only in the moment.
Only in the moment.

The beauty- deep deep beauty-

is that he did not hold on to his idea of


Rather than take it personally,
(as he watched his friend the ventriloquist take it personally, whither and die without his dummy, drunk on the street, forgotten, eventually, even by the Illusionist himself....)
instead, he
lets life continue
tells the truth
and takes the journey to some next step in his life.

As he rides the train, and still remembers his habits- contemplating performing a small bit of magic so as to charm a child, but then deciding not to-
there is a continuing glimpse at the beauty
of the sun rise and set over a lush earth, alive with movement,
and he settles into himself, heartbroken, but having lived.

And through the city and over the hills,
the wind sweeps away the debris.

Let it sweep away your pain, and your tears, and let the sun find you fresh and full of life, no matter who or where or what you are in this moment.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beyond the Roots

Beyond the Roots

I gratefully attended a killer event last night. The music was. Yes. My favorite FAVORITE was Chaka Khan. Whatta voice.

I also had the pleasure of observing both self and others in the Hollywood setting.

I love my city of angels, and I love my Hollywood, but damn. We can be full of shit.

So this morning when I awakened (late) (and finally, thanks to Liz for calling me to get my sleepy head roused from bed!) I was writing morning pages about it and it turned into this song:

Parading, and masquerading,
as a guru and an angel
but you ain't got no-
no you ain't got no-
peace in your heart.

Flying and multoplying
all over this girl
oozing honey
But you got flies babe
in your stream of words
you pour down on me.

I don't see everything either
But I see you're a wheeler dealer
And I got big compassion
For whatever
led you
to become
the jive talker
you are today
it's okay...

Oh, oh, oh....

Hiding and colliding
the tears you keep just
behind your snake eyes
you're made of so much
more than your words
and yet you pay the game

But I don't buy it
So I while I tried it
I need a man who opens up his heart
Wide as the sky
For that man
I would try

But you don't really know what I mean....

I don't see everything either
But I see you're a wheeler dealer
And I got big compassion
For whatever
led you
to become
the jive talker
you are today
it's okay...
I love you!
Just in my way.


It's okay.

Oh, oh, oh....