Today’s cultural highlight was a visit to Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla museum (Krunska 51, Belgrade 11000). The other cultural immersion involved crossing the Saba river to visit high-rise workers apartments built in the Russian “brutalist” style of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. I’m sorry but they didn’t seem depressing enough to me — they were just dull. All hail the ghost of Nikola Tesla.
There’s nothing like lying on a bed and smelling…what is that? Something rank and musty. Sheets that might have been cleaned but were so cheap to begin with and have been slept on so often by so many dicey travellers (or by grandma and grandpa for decades) that they smell like a Goodwill store. The pillows smelled even worse. I finally used a pillow off the living room couch but that didn’t help much. And the bed was a fold-out so the mattress sagged and groaned and was maybe three inches thick. This is the first Airbnb I’ve ever been this unhappy with, bedding-wise. It’s not Airbnb’s fault — it’s the Belgrade thing. If you look beyond the rich culture and the storied architecture there are some economic and infrastructure issues. It’s been 17 years since the Kosovo War bombing but the city is still recovering in some respects. Am I unhappy here? No — I love it. But the bed is rank.
I’ve posted this photo because I’m flabbergasted by James Stewart‘s baby blues. But I was also thinking how this moment in Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Man Who Knew Too Much isn’t all that different from that final bit in Sofia Coppola‘s Lost in Translation when Bill Murray whispers something romantic into Scarlett Johansson‘s ear. What if in addition to the information about an assassination attempt and “Ambrose Chapel” Louis Bernard had added, “I also want you to know before I die that I love you, and that if I were to somehow survive this knife wound and if you should ever reconsider the wisdom of being married to Doris Day, that you would never want for a better lover or a more devoted companion than myself”? Hitchcock’s 1956 film would acquire a whole ‘nother level of intrigue.
Yesterday Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, currently in Manhattan with her daughter Emma for a performance of Hamilton (which probably set her back $800 or even a grand for two tickets), had her wallet stolen on the R train. Not a major tragedy unless she was carrying wads of cash, but still….hello? Here’s how Sasha put it on Facebook: “You know you’re in New York when someone steals your wallet right outta your purse…”
“Are you kidding, Sasha?,” I wrote on Facebook. “An out-of-towner having her wallet stolen? That’s Sandy Dennis and Jack Lemmon in The Out-of-Towners. You actually did that clueless tourist thing….whoa, wait, what happened? Never coming back here again!
A guy named Todd Alcott commented, “Don’t ride the subway while chewing on a piece of hay. It’s a dead giveaway.” But the phrase that caught my attention was “right outta your purse.” How did the thief manage that?
“You’ve lived in the city, Sasha,” I wrote. “You know the realm, you’re no dummy and you’re not Thelma Kadiddlehopper from Emporia, Kansas. Always carry your wallet in a super-snug place next to your person. NEVER in a large or medium-sized, semi-open or easily-openable handbag. (Of course it was one of those two.) That’s like carrying a sign saying ‘Hello, subway pickpockets! This is your chance!”
Bernie is going to lose the California primary — agreed. But this a semi-closed primary that doesn’t allow people to vote unless they’ve registered (the deadline was 5.23) as either Democrats or “no preference” voters. Unfortunately thousands were dumb enough to register with the American Independent Party, which sounds good on the face but is actually an extreme right-wing, anti-gay party that can’t vote in the Democratic primarily. Plus there’s a sizable Latino voting bloc that’s in the Hillary camp; ditto African Americans who don’t like Bernie because he doesn’t look or talk like their kind of guy.
Best thought: “Don’t look into a camera — look through it.” Of course, self-explanatory — always pay attention to content more than composition. Disputed thought: “Storyboards are the refuge of cowards.” No — always storyboard, always make sure your script is as clean and tight as a drum, always prepare until you’re blue in the face. And once you’ve done all that and you begin to shoot with your actors and crew, then you can re-think it and improvise and follow freshly-hatched instincts. Always, always have a well-prepared, fully thought-out scheme in case your momentary instincts lead you into an unworthy or mediocre realm.
Hey, I could do this. Five hours of stories and life lessons from an online poet-samurai columnist who’s been through it all, played the game, not played the game, learned how to churn out thoughtful, well-sculpted daily prose without frying my brain, enjoyed moments of triumph, made a better-than-decent living, hit most of the major film festivals, whored myself out to a select few festivals in cities with attractive architecture, worshipped The Kooples, run into occasional difficulties, kissed ass, had my ass kicked, sacrificed any resemblance to an actual “life” to this obsession, restored my soul, learned to be a bulky scooter/motorcycle man, bought Italian shoes with care, dealt with the Twitter scolds and banshees, fought it out in food courts, my cup runneth over, etc.