Racine, Wisconsin fire department fights fire at Mitchell School, May 28, 2024

May 28, 2024: The Racine Fire Department fights a fire in Mitchell School’s gym. The school suffered a more serious fire in February 2014.

Another Week: Number 75

by | June 2, 2024


How do our lives ravel out into the no-wind, no-sound, the weary gestures wearily recapitulant: echoes of old compulsions with no-hand on no-strings: in sunset we fall into furious attitudes, dead gestures of dolls.

As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

These beautiful last days of spring are steeped in bleakness underneath — and yet the sun shines, clouds roll through, and time ratchets forward, conveying us all toward … whatever.

On Sunday at my mom’s, we watched The Princess Bride because she had never seen it, which is inconceivable.

Monday was Memorial Day. Apparently, I missed a clothes-dryer fire across the street at my neighbor Gene’s house — but I did see video footage from Israel’s strike on a refugee camp in Gaza with a distraught dad unzipping the body bag of his 14-year-old daughter and holding up the plastic bag containing her severed head.

On Tuesday there was another fire, this one in the gym at Mitchell School across the other street, and the school emptied onto the sidewalks for about 30 minutes, just as they have practiced in their frequent fire drills all year.

I planted some SunPatiens in my garden beds on Wednesday, as an added attraction for “the” hummingbird (I have no idea whether it’s the same one) which was back at my feeder.

Late Thursday afternoon, former president Donald Trump was convicted on all 34 felony counts in his cover-up trial. Immediately, he and all prominent Republicans began savaging America’s justice system — a brazen violation of their solemn oaths to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and bear true faith and allegiance to the same. When one of our two political parties can so casually dispense with the rule of law in support of their favored criminal, we are in for a very stormy future.

Friday, I added some Cleomes (Sparkler 2.0 Purple) to my flower beds. On Saturday, robins were escorting their juveniles around the yard, showing them how to pull worms out of the soil for a living. The youngsters, of course, were eager to eat but indifferent to the work of hunting.

Also on Saturday, Wendy’s husband Harry died.

Wendy was one of Amy’s closest friends. She lives a few blocks away and took Amy to many chemotherapy appointments up at Froedtert Clinical Cancer Center — usually followed by thrifting expeditions all over southeastern Wisconsin.

Last December, Wendy sent me a text asking about a neurosurgeon. Harry had suffered an apparent seizure, so Wendy took him to our local hospital. He was soon diagnosed with glioblastoma and they embarked upon their own cancer journey at Froedtert. During Amy’s last days, Wendy was busy taking Harry to treatments.

Now they’re both gone.

I went for zero walks this week.


Do the Right Thing (1989)

My mom’s a big movie buff with decided tastes, so finding a film she has not seen but might enjoy can be a challenge. Lately, I’ve been cribbing from a Marie Claire list of “The 100 Best Movies of All Time: The Ultimate Must-Watch Films.”

I have seen a number of Spike Lee‘s “joints,’ but never Do the Right Thing, one of his most important works, so on Thursday night my mom, my sister Karen and I rented it via Prime.

It’s a study of a bunch of characters in Brooklyn’s Bedford–Stuyvesant neighborhood complete with boom box rap music and generous use of the word “fuck,” so I was anxious that Mom might gong it — but she likes Danny Aiello and she grew up in Cicero, Illinois, so this type of neighborhood ensemble appeals to her.

The plot revolves around a pizzeria operated by Aiello’s character, and there’s tension between the assorted races sharing these city streets during a summer heat wave. It builds, and eventually explodes.

Four years ago, it happened in Kenosha, where I grew up.

It happened in Cicero in 1951.

It’s an ugly snag in our makeup that keeps tripping us. Spike Lee shows it through the eyes of a bunch of neighbors — after first getting us familiar and empathetic with each of them.

All three of us agreed that this is a very worthwhile movie.


Little Women (2019)

After absorbing Spike Lee, I figured another movie from that Marie Claire list, Little Women, would be a piece of cake for my mom. It’s a period piece based on Louisa May Alcott‘s literary classic with a solid cast and there’s not a single “fuck” in the whole two-and-a-quarter hours. I also wanted her to enjoy something by Greta Gerwig despite her aversion to even considering Barbie.

It didn’t go wonderfully.

The main problem is that Little Women continuously jumps back and forth between the more current situation and a time seven years previous when the four sisters all lived under their mother’s roof. It happens so often that using titles to identify the time leaps would be annoying, but both settings are in the 1860s and seven years doesn’t age the characters much, so you have to pay attention.

Mom found this exhausting. She did perk up near the end once the time-jumping ended.

I had already seen Little Women with my wife Amy Beth, named for two of its characters, during its theatrical release in 2019. It is, of course, slightly precious, and the characters — especially the boyish Timothée Chalamet — don’t mature much in seven years, but Saoirse Ronan is as captivating as ever, and it’s a cozy escape.



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