Friday, May 31, 2013

Breaking Bad In The 1920's

We saw The Great Gatsby last week and I was full of anticipation. I've read the novel several times...and am a huge fan of the first movie version with Robert Redford.

When I first heard about this movie I thought...why make another one? Then heard it was Lurmann and Martin and I started getting very excited for it's release. The two year wait was worth it!

Why do I love the novel and story so much? I love the dreamy tone of the novel with the insights dropped and dripped into a decadant setting...and it  has many layers of meaning relevant to Buddhism.

“I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.” 

“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him” 

This movie depended on the charisma and earnest emotions of Leonardo DiCaprio's performance. If we don't care about him and his spirit then it's going to be a failed story.  Much of the story fits so tightly into understanding the ideals of The American Dream. The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

The American Dream has always been an interesting strange ideal to me as a Canadian. We just do not teach our children this ethos nor do we believe it in Canada. And although I never believed in this ideal and thought it strange and even "fancy" (Canadians don't like fancy lofty ideals) there was an element that was similar in my mind to the concept of maya and illusion in Sanskrit and in buddhism. Not so much a literal connection but another reason why The American Dream has always been a fascinating ideals to me...also a futile and dangerous ideal. 

In Buddhism the idea is that everything we see here is a kind of illusions...for example "Subsequently, in Mahayana Buddhism, illusion seems to play a somewhat larger role. Here, the magician's illusion exemplifies how people misunderstand themselves and their reality, when we could be free from this confusion. Under the influence of ignorance, we believe objects and persons to be independently real, existing apart from causes and conditions. We fail to perceive them as being empty of a real essence, whereas in fact they exist much like māyā, the magical appearance created by the magician. The magician's illusion may exist and function in the world on the basis of some props, gestures, and incantations, yet the show is illusory. The viewers participate in creating the illusion by misperceiving and drawing false conclusions. Conversely, when appearances arise and are seen as illusory, that is considered more accurate."

So the idea that a nation or a person would be so invested in the social structures and materialism for the sake of materialism or social climbing or "progress" or "improvement" is very deep and interesting to a tragic way. The idea that a writer would take these kinds of layers of conflict on in America during Prohibition and class division was always brilliant to me. The idea that Gatsby really did manifest his destiny by being a gangster along the lines of The Godfather was just so brilliant. We create these ideals and we are not able to predict the potential ways a person can work the system to claim a material victory. 

Considering the massive economic collapse of the United States...a remake of this novel in movie form now seems very wise. Lurmann and Martin have made a glamourous sexy lively tragic and gorgeous gangster movie. Their movie is literary both visually and actually with montages of the narrator watching, recording and writing sometimes cursive is layered on top of the movie action. In this way I felt as if the repetitve musing s of  the narrator about who the characters were, with references to Gatsby being a Khrishna, Hamlet type tragic figure to the image of a billboard with large eyes looming...watching...that there was no God in this novel.

For me, the novel itself...the act of storytelling and artifice-making is the the consciousness of "God". There is no god except the story. And life is a story one which it is difficult to see it as an illusion but only as "reality". Our social constructs, our beliefs, and our values are also results of our we make a living. People are selfish, and careless, and not capable of self-reflection except in poetry, art and story. Story and art uses fakery and illusion to help us see through the illusion of reality.  

And this is why I liked the movie so much...and of course the costumes and sets and emotional POW of sorrow was awesome.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Candy On The Beach

We woke up pretty early today to have coffee on the beacch. I started out in shorts but it kept on raining so had to layer up. But any time on the beach is good time.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

More Bridgeport Area

 About a 15 minute bike ride from our place is this coffeeshop. I posted about it before but was over there and thought I'd take pictures again.
 I love the coffee percolator display in the washroom.

 I posted photos of Maria's Packaged Goods here before...
. Maria's is directly across the street from Bridgeport Coffee.
Stagg and I went to Maria's one night to see a friend of Trevors (Trevor from my previous post
...actually when I was at Working Bikes, his DJ friend was there too!)DJing. I love how he packs his records.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Working Bikes

 About three blocks from our house is a fantastic non-profit organization called Working Bikes
A friend of mine, Trevor, who volunteers at Old Town School Of Folk Music...took me on a tour of the facility. Trevor is on their Board of Directors...and he's just a great interesting guy. He really uses his city, rides his bike everywhere, goes camping and touring, knows all the cool places to listen to music...and god dammit, I can't seem to beat him at Cribbage.

Working Bikes rescues discarded bicycles and gives them new life by redistributing them as tools of empowerment in local and global communities.

Countless bicycles are discarded or sit unused in basements or garages in the United States every year. But in a developing country, a bicycle can truly change the life of an individual, their family and their community. Bicycling is, of course, a form of transportation. But bicycles are also used for towing cargo, and even as a source of electricity through the creation of pedal-powered machines! In areas plagued by poverty, high levels of unemployment and lack of reliable, accessible transportation, a bicycle can help provide access to jobs, education medical attention, and other resources.
Global Impact:  Working Bikes ships thousands of bicycles each year to our partners in countries throughout Latin America and Africa including, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Uganda, Ghana, and many others.
Local Impact:  Working Bikes partners with homeless transition, refugee resettlement, and youth empowerment programs here in Chicago to donate bicycles and put them to good use on the streets of our own community.
Working Bikes donates over 6000 bicycles each year to our international and local partners.

Saturday, May 04, 2013


 I love this grocery store that is a block from our house. It feels old fashioned and less flashy than the corporate grocery stores around the city with their fancy signs. For example, the butcher section still uses hand painted signs: love.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Hawkeye and Apps

 I love cabana set ups and Stagg and I cruised a decor store a while ago and this set is so cool.
 WWe tried to do some work on the car with one of my co-workers. We pulled up in his alley by his garage and tried to tweak a couple things. Stagg is there dressed for winter in the spring. It's been a long winter. Yesterday was 85 outside but it's been cold today and looks like rain again. Crazy crazy long winter.
 OOh look at my daughters cat Hawkeye..who is almost 7 years old.
 SStagg and I at Skylark Tavern.
I I do not know why I took a screen shot of my apps...but here they are some of them...