one day in the late mid-eighties
I feel as if I've told this story. It's not an elaborate, or remotely monumental, story. But, it's a useful story to establish some context for this week's film--Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
When this film came out, January 2001, it's not like I was busy with other movies. But, I was far from most movie theaters. I was living with my girlfriend at the time in Arkansas. That relationship was challenging but was going well right then. But, in Forrest City, Arkansas, the biggest city nearby, there was only one movie theater that I ever knew of, and it had three screens. I saw two movies there in the three months I lived in the area (The Mummy Returns and Valentine). It was a dark time for the movie-loving side of me. I knew of this movie, still. I still had my subscription to Entertainment Weekly
(a subscription that has been continuous since 1994, but which I have recently chosen not to renew because by the time issues arrive, most of the information has already shown up online. And, what information (say, an interview), has not already shown up online, will show up online pretty quickly.)
so I knew about current films. I just didn't have access to them. Didn't even have torrents back then, not that I am admitting to ever using torrents in the present. I had been using computers regularly for a while, had even gotten "online" as far back as the 80s--a BBS of some sort that I barely remember... like torrents, it was a way for people to share things, games mostly. I wouldn't really be online for a many more years. Regular access to the internet came when I worked at a law firm in 1997. Didn't have internet access at home until 1999. My website, later entitled lemming drops studio was first born that very year. One of the first things I wrote on my website was a bit linking the school shooting at Columbine to the violence in Kosovo (a comparison Michael Moore would later make in Bowling for Columbine). As far as I recall, that was April 21, 1999, only a day after the shooting.
2001 was the year I wrote the script for my first issue of Wannabeheroes
(That was a short-lived comic that had been outlined for 48 issues... back in 1996 when jury duty meant you sat there all day every day for like two weeks, I turned an 8-paragraph concept into scribbled details for 40 issues. I also did some character sketches about the same time. By the way, Wannabeheroes was about four teenagers who lived in the real world but got it in their heads that they could be superheroes. After the attacks, September 11, 2001, the scripts were fairly easy to get into. It was set in that very moment in time, immediately after the attacks, and would cover the next several months. I would eventually write complete scripts for 18 issues and would draw the pages for two whole issues and part of a third. Talking about those scripts was something that bonded my future wife and me.)
and the year I got together with my wife. We would first meet in person on Halloween. We would marry the next March in Vegas. We would separate the day before my birthday in 2012...
But, let us not get ahead of ourselves. January 2001, I don't think I knew who I was. I got together with Miranda because I was tired of being depressed and thinking I should take what I could get. She had her good qualities, and in retrospect, I know that I could not have made any other choice or I would not be sitting here today, with Hedwig and the Angry Inch playing on my television.
I lived in a small trailer in the middle of the woods. Seriously, you'd open the front door and see nothing but trees. Depending on the day of the week, there were anywhere from 2 (then 4) to 7 of us staying there. It would have been like a strange little commune had we gotten on better than we did. We had a cat, a dog, and briefly a bird. We'd last until April. I'd return to California. Less than a year later, I'd be married. My wife had two children already. I'd later adopt them. Our third child--Saer--was born in December 2002.
Flash forward to more recent years and Saer would enjoy the television show Glee. She's still a bit obsessed. She especially likes Darren Criss who played Blaine Anderson. Recently he took over the role of Hedwig on Broadway. Knowing he was taking on this role after John Cameron Mitchell (who plays Hedwig in the film, and who wrote and directed it) left, Saer was interested in the movie. For years, I'd intended to watch it but had never gotten to it. Now, I had the opportunity--or, rather, that excuse--to watch it, so not even a month ago, we watched it. And, before it was over, I knew I had to use it in this blog. I found a way to fit it with three other films and this month was born. In the weeks since, I've listened to the movie soundtrack and the Broadway soundtrack a lot. If not for a trailer in Arkansas, if not for a comic book called Wannabeheroes, if not for a television show called Glee, I would not be sitting here now watching this movie.
And, I have neglected the movie itself tonight, I suppose. But, out of the various themes important to Hedwig, one is the idea that we are built out of our histories, built out of the parts we've managed to keep and the parts we've given away. The lyrics to "Hedwig's Lament" (which just ended as I type this), go like this:
I gave a piece to my mother
I gave a piece to my man
I gave a piece to the rock star
He took the good stuff and ran
Fortunately, the end of the film suggests Hedwig's still got some good pieces left. And, I know I still do as well.
And, I promise I will talk about the movie tomorrow.