Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Wedding!

The BF and I have been to at least one wedding a year the whole time we've been together, and until last Sunday, all of them had been on my side of the family. We've been to a wedding at Disneyland where the guests were given Mickey Mouse ears instead of champagne; a sunset wedding at Hulihee Palace on the Big Island; and a hillbilly wedding at a campground in Idaho. The reception was held in a barn and my cousin Ted got drunk and fell into the bonfire, but he wasn't hurt so it's okay to laugh about it. Actually, that whole wedding was a pretty accurate picture of my family. The catering was barbecue, we tapped the keg before sundown and everyone brought out their car whiskey to pass around while the little kids threw things in the fire to see what would burn. Good times.

I imagine the BF felt the same way at his brother's wedding on Sunday. It was the first wedding on his side of the family, and also the first Jewish wedding I've ever attended, which meant instead of the couple's first dance, we did the communal Horah dance and lifted people up on chairs. Every single person who went up on the chair was gripping that thing for dear life, so I'm guessing it's kinda scary, though not having gone up in the chair myself, I can't say for sure. Still--white knuckles, every one of them.

There was also a LOT more talking than any other wedding I've been to. Something like six or eight people got up to make a speech, and each of them had two or three typed pages of notes. They were all very good speeches, because it was a crowd of hyper-educated Jewish East Coasters, and I gather this is pretty usual for this type of gathering, but I'm not going to lie--I liked the dancing best.

The location was tits, by the way, a vineyard outside of Charlottesville, Virginia with polo horses in the pasture next door. Waiting for the ceremony to begin, a bunch of us went down to the fence to pet them and take pictures of each other with the Blue Ridge mountains in the background. Here I am! I clean up real good, don't I? You'd never guess I was from hillbilly stock.
The only part of that trip that wasn't so much fun was the airplane ride. Now, it wasn't the smallest plane I've ever been on. That honor goes to the 12-seat puddle jumper I once took from Moloka'i to Oahu where the pilot requested that we all "lean forward" during take-off. But this plane, a two-propeller 34-seater, got the Indiana Jones theme music stuck in my head for days. All we needed was a couple of brown fedoras and the yellow map with the red line moving across it, and we'd have had ourselves a real adventure on our hands!

Mazel tov.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Poetry Beat

One of my favorite writers is Diane di Prima. You might not have heard much about her. She was a Beat Poet--still is, I guess, does a person stop being part of a movement when the movement has moved on to other things?Anyway, you wouldn't have heard much about her because all of the other famous and "important" Beat Poets were dudes, and she was writing at a time when there wasn't really any societal or artistic freedom for women.

I'm considering Diane di Prima today because last night, my poetry teacher took me to an event hosted by her feminist poetry collective at the Dixie Club in SoHo. (There's no part of that sentence I don't like.) They showed a 26-minute indie short film called "The Poetry Beat," about the life and work of di Prima, which included interviews with women who knew her back-when, women who were influenced by her work, and di Prima herself, now living in San Francisco with her poems, watercolors, and little yellow dog. There were poetry performances by di Prima at all stages of her life, from when she was a well-titted young woman with golden-red hair, until today, still well-titted at 77 but a bit grayer in the hair.

My favorite anecdote was from a woman who hosted di Prima at a commune in Maine one year. The commune had 8 children under the age of 2, so when di Prima got a bit of royalty money from one of her books, she celebrated by buying the commune women a crate of Pampers diapers (until then, they'd been using and endlessly washing cloth diapers). The women loved it, but the men complained about how much waste disposables created. "It was an easy way for them to be down on Diane without calling her a pushy woman," said the commune manager.

I like that story because it illustrates the problem I have with the Beat movement. On the one hand, I like the writing that came out of it, but on the other hand, some of its more celebrated figures were raging misogynists. Jack Kerouac can go hell as far as I'm concerned. His book On the Road made me cross-eyed with rage. It's supposed to be about these guys who are all hip and free and not tied down by societal bonds, but they're constantly getting women pregnant and then abandoning their families to hitchhike across the country. Freedom bought for the price of a woman's suffering. Disgusting, I say!

Diane di Prima really gets it, though. I wish I had time to find some of her poetry to put up here, but my break is almost over and I guess I should get back to working for the Man so I can earn my cheese and waffle money.