Friday, January 03, 2014


There is something overpoweringly literary, Hemingwayesque, but  at the same time very small town about New York in its first great snowstorm of 2014.  The preparations and warnings and seeming reaching out in camaraderie were everywhere apparent.  For me it seemed an Event, as it has been decades since I was in an actual snowstorm, and the feeling of Community, that which I have so long pursued that has for an equal amount of time eluded me, seemed apparent, even on TV, where everyone suggested reaching out to those in need.  Nice.
   It seemed especially nice for new mayor Bill De Blasio, who was no sooner inaugurated, family on hand,  than he faced his first crisis, which made him look very Mayoral, and probably excited the envy of Bloomberg, who didn't get a chance to look… oh, how shall I put this…? Big. Anyway, I think it was probably all handled very well, but how else would I feel from inside my very sheltered apartment, where I was urged to stay the whole time, and sometimes I do listen.
    All of this, strangely, has set me thinking about Stanley Kubrick, once my very dear friend, because the one thing I am tempted to go outside for is to go see Gravity.  My son, about whom I have been requested not to write, but how can I help myself, said it is a great pity that Stanley can not be here to see the film, he would be so impressed.  Having been through Lolita with Stanley, and having been reunited with him for Dr. Strangelove, which I went to see the opening performance of hoping Stanley would be there so I could invite him to my wedding,("Stop being a writer," Don said, just before we heard the 'click-click-click' of the bus counter that was Stanley counting the house: "We just broke the house record for the Criterion," he said, and came to the wedding.)
       Don at the time was producing the first televised Jets games for WOR, and Stanley took him aside and told him to keep the camera on the line, not follow the ball.  "The line is where the most interesting action in the game happens," Stanley said.
    "Stanley," said Don.  "If you'll let me run a credit at the end saying 'Directed by Stanley Kubrick,' I'll keep the camera anywhere you say."
    Not too many years after that, two little children in tow, we moved to London, where everything was "happening" at the time. We went to a grand Sunday lunch at the country home of Max and Gary Smith-- Max was a close friend and Don was working for Gary on a TV show at the time-- where Stanley was living next door.  So I took the two little very adorable children through the hedge, as in the fantasy parable by E.M.Forster("The Other Side of the Hedge," check it out, you'd never have anticipated it from him) and rang the doorbell of the great house, which it was.
   The bell chimed, loudly, melodramatically, a style you wouldn't have really anticipated from Stanley, at least the way he had been. The door creaked open-- no kidding-- that eerie painful sound you always thought was overdone in horror movies.  Two great, lean, shiny Dobermans, snarled and leapt into the air in front of us, snapping at the air, barely constrained by their chains.
    "Stanley?" I said, into the shadowed darkness.  
    He recognized my voice. "Gwen?"
     "Yes," I said.
     "I'd ask you in," he said, "but the dogs would go for the children."
    That was the last I saw or almost saw of him.  I got a long letter of apology from him, partially typed, with an extra, pained PS across the top of it in his very small, tortured hand.  And like a fool I let anger and hurt get the best of me, and threw it away, instead of saving it and selling it for a fortune at auction, to some Kubrick-phile.  Maybe even the director of Gravity.
     It's hard to tell from my slightly snow-draped little balcony that overlooks the rear of my building, and faces the back of several more, including the overbuilt monstrosity from which the crane fell last year, how bad the streets might be.  But I am confident that everything that was promised by the new mayor will be delivered.  And if not, a thaw will likely come, and slush.  And at that point, maybe I'll make my way to the movies.