Category Archives: music

Into the Dust

While Dave Roback was a Boomer, Mazzy Star was one of the few worthwhile things Generation X (Hope Sandoval was born in 1966) ever produced.

David Roback, the musician best known for cofounding the beloved, genre-eluding band Mazzy Star with singer and lyricist Hope Sandoval in Santa Monica in 1989 has died at age 61, a publicist confirmed Tuesday. No date or cause of death has been given.

https://www.lamag.com/article/mazzy-star-david-roback/

I still remember where I first heard their classic song “Fade into You,” at the old Tower Records bookstore in the East Village. I immediately recognized the guitar chords as a ripoff of Bob Dylan’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door. I think that was Mazzy Star’s appeal. They weren’t original but if you were born in the 1960s, you could hear memories of your early childhood in Dave Roback’s guitar solos. They were a Generation X band who successfully (and quietly) rebooted the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and the Velvet Underground.

They were also one of the very few American rock bands who alluded to obscure (well, obscure in the United States) German romantic poetry like Novalis’s Blue Flower. The French filmmaker Olivier Assayas made a film (very loosely) based on Mazzy Star’s lead singer Hope Sandoval. Dave Roback has a cameo near the very end.

Building the Perfect AV Set-Up On a Tight Budget Part 1: Audio

Here on WWM, we watch a lot of movies and I at least listen to tons of different kinds of audio recordings and play different types of old software looking for insight into the recent past and how we ended up here.

When you spend that much time with media, a good playback set-up is crucial and can make for a huge quality-of-life increase if you’re like me and studying outdated media is pretty much your life. Thankfully, the massive overproduction and cycling out of consumer goods that has occurred in the last 50 years has left a lot of ways to get around paying enormous sums of money to get extremely high quality AV playback.

Since I’ve moved to a city where enormous quantities of used electronics are regularly remaindered and dropped off at thrift shops, I’ve embarked on a quest to set up my absolute perfect AV set-up for as little money as possible. Extremely cheap prices/people leaving stuff on the street has allowed me to finish it.

While I’m by no means suggesting everyone or really most people should own this much media equipment, I at least hope some of the tips and suggestions here are helpful. I’ve divided the article into separate sections for each piece of equipment that made the cut and why it made the cut/tips for hunting down your own in the wild/how I acquired each piece/any hardware or software mods I recommend.

Since its a big list, I’m breaking it into two articles, one for audio playback and one for video playback.

So lets get to it!

AUDIO

AMPLIFIER/RECEIVER: Yamaha VX-463

I bought this Yamaha receiver for $20 with a remote at a thrift store. While hardly the flashiest component I own, it gets the job done, can put out true 5.1 discrete audio (extremely useful for DVDs), decode Dolby Pro Logic II surround (which is 100x better than Pro Logic I) and I can turn off the internal Digital->Analog Converter chip. The only downside (if you can call it that) is the lack of a built-in phono preamp. However, this opens a lot of options for other phono pre-amps which frequently sound better.  It takes HDMI, RCA, optical and coax, so I’m pretty happy. If you see one of these models from around this period, grab it. You can get them even cheaper if you only need one that can do stereo (and unless you plan on investing in a 5.1 set-up of speakers that’s all you’ll ever need.) I’ve never had a problem with a Yamaha receiver, but most receivers made by a large manufacturer with quality checks will probably work fine, especially if you only need stereo.

MAIN STEREO SPEAKER PAIR: Ohm Model E Pair

I found these unused in the box they came in from when whoever bought them and proceeded to never use them. They were free on the street on trash day. They were manufactured in 1978. They’re essentially knock-offs of the famous Henry Kloss AR-2 speaker design, and sound almost as good as a fully refurbished pair of AR-2s, which leads me to my next buying tip: Many fairly excellent knock offs of the all-time great vintage speakers have been made and can be had for far far less money than the originals. While your chances of also finding unused 1978 bookshelf speakers on the street is low, you can still pick up great speakers resembling the AR-2 through 4 models for very cheap at flea markets. Look for the Ohm brand or the Optimus brand (which is the branding Radioshack used to sell speakers for a long time.) Either of these will be fairly cheap and sound excellent. If you’re willing to hunt around a bit, you should be able to get pairs for the $10-40 range. Obviously if you see original AR or KLH speakers in that price range, they’re 100% worth grabbing too.

CD PLAYERS:

Playstation SPCH-1001 (modded)
Oppo 970HD
Pioneer LD-909

CDs are great and definitely the cheapest form, for now anyway, to get verifiable legit physical copies of albums. If you’re anything like me and/or lived through the 80s or 90s, you probably have dozens laying around. Many come with bonus tracks and other nifty things. You can make perfect 1:1 copies. People have been quick to discount the CD as a format, but I still use it every day. If you want the quickest path to an impressive audiophile set-up that incorporates physical media while spending the least money possible, CD is the way to go.

Since CD players also tend to be incorporated in other common electronics, I’ve only included the three devices I actually play back CDs on in this entry. While many other devices I own can technically read CDs and/or SACDs (PS2, PS3, Dreamcast, Sony BDP-390 Blu-Ray), I pretty much never use them for playing music, since it puts unnecessary strain on the lasers and they don’t sound nearly as good as the three I chose. In an interesting coincidence, sound quality vs. ability to play anything whether its scratched or not had an inverse correlation. I’m going to go over them now in terms of sound quality from best to worst.

PS1-SCPH-1001 (modded)

The first release version of the original Sony Playstation has, by luck, chance or covert design, one of the best DAC chips ever made. A DAC (Digital-to-Analog-Converter) is one of the more expensive chips on the motherboard of a CD player and is the final step of processing between the 1s and 0s on the CD and the actual sound you hear from your speakers.

Think of a recording as a loaf of bread. A digital recording is that loaf cut into a bunch of very tiny slices, but for whatever reason your speakers can only eat full uncut loaves of bread. In an analog recording (like vinyl or cassette) the bread is unsliced but can get kinda moldy/nasty if it’s left out in a way digital doesn’t. However, with digital you still have the issue  of reconstituting the bread. A better DAC reconstitutes the bread/audio more smoothly and evenly without a bunch of stitching and whatnot present. In my experience the quality of a DAC doesn’t tend to directly correlate with price range, and sometimes cheaper more common components will sound better than fancier or pricier ones. Which brings us to the Sony Playstation SPCH-1001, which can be gotten easily for less than $10 (mine was $8) but has one of the best sounding DACs ever made.

And it can play Metal Gear Solid!

But to get the best sound out of it, you need to take apart the Playstation and do some very simple modifications first. I have done all the ones in this guide, but I have done and can heartily recommend removing the capacitors and muting chips near the DAC and replacing them with jumper wires. The improvement in sound quality is immediately apparent-its the most even and balanced sound I’ve ever gotten from a CD player. It’s nuts. You can also add wireless remote functionality for $5-10. In terms of bang for your buck you can’t really beat it. However, be prepared to replace the laser assembly at some point (very easy to do and parts are on Ebay for $10-15.)

OPPO 970HD

This is technically a DVD player but it also is an exceptionally nice CD player and it has the added value of playing pretty much every weird proprietary audio format you can throw at it (SACD, HDCD, DVD-A.) If you enter the code 90210 in the maintenance screen it will play all region DVDs too. The laser is strong and does a pretty good job reading scratched discs. I got mine for $10, but I put that in the “damn I got lucky” category more than the “I expect you can walk out the door and find one for that.” Generally these run $100-120 used. I’d say its worth it if you like collecting foreign language DVDs or run across one for cheap.

PIONEER DVL-909

The 2nd to last model laserdisc player ever sold in the US (the last was the nearly identical DVL-919). This also plays DVDs. The CD playback sounds exceptional if not quite as good as the PS1 or Oppo. It has the added benefit of having maybe the most sturdy optical drive I’ve ever encountered. You can throw pretty much any scratched CD at this and it will play through fine.

I got mine for $25 but used these aren’t usually that affordable, sticking in the $350-400 range. They’re also enormous. I have a collection of laserdiscs, so it’s worth it for me, but I wouldn’t broadly recommend this as a casual solution to…anything really.

TURNTABLE: Technics SL-3200

Mid-range used Technics direct drive turntables are excellent and built like tanks. And you never need to replace belts. And the sound is awesome. I inherited mine, but they can be had generally for $100-120, cheaper if you look around since they’re fairly common. Anything Technics that says direct drive on it will be worth your time.

CASSETTE DECK: Nakamichi BX-300

The most renowned tapedeck of all time is the Nakamichi Dragon. Used, these go for $1000-1200. However, the BX-300 has all the same features as the more famous deck except for some azimuth adjustments, and can be gotten for a fraction of that price. It also is direct drive, so no belt replacement. I got mine for $10 and then spent $50 to have it repaired, but you can get a serviced used one on ebay for $200-300. Are there far cheaper tapedecks? Yes. Do you really need a tapedeck in 2019? Eh…probably not. But if you want one, this is the one to get. The sound is excellent, the playback speed is digitally controlled and basically perfect, and you get three heads instead of the usual two.

 

CONCLUSION:

So far, we’ve covered options for speakers and playing back CDs, vinyl, cassettes, SACD, HDCD, and pretty much anything that’s not a reel-to-reel or 8 track, at very high quality. I’ve spent a total of $123, not counting wires or my Playstation controller.

Can I beat that on video portion? Tune in then to find out!

Do you have any audio finds you’d recommend? Leave em in the comments!

A Man Called Ove: Celebrating the Use of Space in Swedish Cinema

What are we beyond our memories? It was just after having a petty argument with the florist, an ignorant teen as she was that Ove first exposes the dimensions of his existence. Grieved by the death of the only love of his life, Sonja, we see him dissipating his space by magnifying his trivialities. A man that knew no work than the one that involved car engines, we see a reflection of unfaithful involvement with life in his disturbed yet deliberate movement. Who is this man; one may ask. There are blatant contradictions in his existence. Who is this being who dejects life and then lives only to uphold every law of it? We get our answers, unwoven thread by thread, in Hannes Holme’s A Man Called Ove.

The most fascinating element of this film is the use of space. We not only see the characters associating meanings to a particular space but also get metaphorically represented by it. For instance, the movie hardly shows us panoramic view of the entire space. Mostly, we are kept in the ‘guarded’ and ‘restricted’ space of Ove’s residential colony, his home and during the latter part of the film, his car. The only instances of open space with elements of movement and divergence come in the flashback scenes from Ove’s childhood and adulthood when there were present, reasons for him to escape linearity. This contradiction in the use of space in the representation of past and present tells us about the importance of life in the eyes of this weary old man called Ove. After the death of his wife Sonja, his life has lost any motivation to move beyond the linearity and hence the only space he restricts himself to is the restricted and regimented space of his residence. Moreover, it is only during his budding friendship with Parvaneh that we see the open space of a restaurant or the city road being brought back to his life (Interestingly he relates such openness with the time he used to have with his wife).

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It is hard to deny the metaphorical use of space in the narrative of the film. The one that strikes the most is the train station. It is this space where we see intertwining of Ove’s past, present and a probable future. It is this space that stands for the very nature life; which is nothing but a mosaic of losses and love, of things being built and destroyed. So much so that the moving train almost felt like the ruthless movement of life itself. We are introduced to this space time and again to emphasise on the philosophy that life cannot be contextualised unitarily. It is the semiotic nature of everything that life offers us that makes it beyond every degree human comprehension. One baring example of this can be the scene from Ove’s mother’s funeral.

Lastly, I’ll take this discussion on memories to the use of strong representational symbols. And the one that struck me the most was the cat. Like every morning of life, this cat kept on showing up on Ove’s door, every time more undesirable than before, even after his constant shooing off. As the movie progresses, we can see the changing relationship of the cat with the protagonist that ran parallel to the change in perspective on life that he had. It is when Parvaneh tells him that it is you that have to take care of this cat that I see a bell being rang in Ove’s head telling him that his life shall be engineered by his own volition.

Even though there existed a beautiful sub-narrative that talked about inclusivity and diversity (the fact that Ove became friends with an Iranian refugee and a gay man) it is the natural display of empathy that inspired the screenplay. The very idea that we can delve into each others’ hearts while not being patronising at all speaks volumes about the most important common denominator that we share – humanity.

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The Avant-Garde, Zeenat Aman

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The cinema of the 70s is often termed as an era that marveled the art of pop culture reorientation. A decade that immersed itself in the chaos of coming of age screenplay and ever inspired music ensemble, the flights of imagination was anything but predictable. It was during this period that Hindi cinema saw the rise of its one of the most ground-breaking actress, a gifted performer and a formidable fashion icon – Zeenat Aman. The characters that she adorned were unafraid of juxtapositions and oozed liberation that was rarely seen in the public eye. From being an adultress in Dhund (Obsession) to a cheerful prostitute in Manoranjan (Entertainment), Zeenat Aman redefined narratives of gender roles in not only Hindi cinema but also in the entire urban Indian society. A former Miss Asia Pacific (1970), she was the first South Asian woman to win this coveted title. Even though her acting skills were second to none, Zeenat Aman had sealed her name in the history of Indian cinema for her unparalleled contribution in revolutionizing the use of fashion in Hindi movies.

The looks adorned by the lady swing across the spectrum of avant-garde fashion. She had never ceased to reinvent herself and often pushed the boundaries of artistic expression by her V-neck hem slit evening gowns or her infamous Boho looks. This post is a tribute to some of the most foresighted, coming of age and classical fashion statements of the woman that charmed the 70s and cemented her position in the pop culture.

  1. The Boho Chick

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Dubbed as her first block-burster hit, Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971) paved the way for Zeenat’s towering success. What began as a role received by fluke, later unraveled into a timeless performance that got her the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, and most importantly, her perennial place in the pop culture.

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Playing the role of a girl separated from her family who subsequently slips into drug addiction, the character of Janice was unconventional for her period but beheld potential for a memorable performance. And for the visionary as she was, she delivered, and delivered with utmost excellence.

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2. The Girl with a Guitar 

When Zeenat Aman held a guitar to belt out a soothing lullaby for her lover in Yaadon Ki Baraat (The caravan of memories), she gave us a melody of a generation. The climatic progression of the music with the innocent smile decorating her face, Chura Liya Hai (Now that you’ve stolen my heart) is the musical beauty of the highest order. Apart form its melodious supremacy, it was this long white gown that etched Zeenat Aman in every man’s heart for years to come. Complementing that look with a choker necklace, she added one more feather to her overtly decorated hat of fashion laurels.

3. The Femme Fatale 

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Although, every song of Zeenat Aman has been a masterpiece in its own right, there is one song that not only concreted her as a superstar but also reflected her ideas of empowerment through sexual liberation. In Laila Main Laila (Laila, I’m Laila), a song that has been subsequently covered by a dozen singers and actresses, Zeenat Aman unleashes her femme fatale and explodes into the space where she adheres to no boundaries, rising above the artificial constructions of gender roles.

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In Aap Jaisa Koi (Someone Like You) and Don, she takes her seduction to next level and amalgamates it with her impeccable acting skills to deliver the critically acclaimed performances as a cabaret dancer and a villain respectively.

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Zeenat Aman had metamorphosed into a multi faceted performer who freed herself from the fear of being judged for her decisions. She pushed the limits of visual representation in Hindi cinema and became an icon for all the actresses that followed. Apart from her mounting commercial successes, she was critically well received for her depiction of a rape victim in Insaaf Ka Taraazu (The Scales of Justice). She was translated as a visionary, an artistic maverick, and a farsighted actress for her coming of age role of a cheerful hooker in Manoranjan (Entertainment). With more than half a ton movies on her name, Zeenat Aman was and will always be the first and the most beloved diva  of Hindi cinema.

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From Renee Smith to Sita Devi: Retrieving the Forgotten Enchantress of Silent Era

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Indian cinema had birthed a fair share of visionaries even before the beginning of what later came to be termed as the Golden era. Under the reigns of the British Raj, certain Indian artists thrived upon the offerings that colonial engagements with art had to offer and used the political situation of the period to engage cinema in a dialogue of cultures. The dialogical development of cinema, with silent movies relying heavily on scenic photography and camera angles, what unraveled on the big screen involved not only the oppressed lot making a statement but also the privileged lot participating in the process. The emancipating nature of art drew many budding filmmakers to garner the global recognition of not only Indian art but also Indian culture in general by using films as language. In this democratising activity of filmmaking, one of the most celebrated manufacturers was Himanshu Rai who dared to look beyond the logistical restrictions of his space to harness a global outlook. However, this post is not about him but about an unsung actor, who despite not being biologically involved in the cultural milieu of the subject matter of her work, adorned many characters in a number of such experimental films. Though, she was born as Renee Smith in an Anglo-Indian family, the cinematic history would remember her as Sita Devi.

The silent movie era of Indian cinema had a brief but eventful affair with German collaboration. Though much has not been written about her, Sita Devi’s momentary presence in Indian films can be seen in these very collaborative projects. When Himanshu Rai joined hands with a Bavarian film company Emelka, a film named Prem Sanyas (The Light of Asia) was released in 1925 which was generously budgeted and was directed and produced by Himanshu Rai himself who also appeared as one of the actors. This very film had the young Renee Smith (Sita Devi) playing the character of Princess Gopa, who is decorated quite intricately with the cultural symbols of Buddhist ritualism. This was her debut film, and thanks to her blossoming presence on screen, she became an overnight star. She later went on to work under the banner of Madan productions but could never repeat the success she garnered in her very first film.

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Renee went on to do two other films with this Indo-German collaborative project, which seemed more like a trinity now, that were also classified as period dramas showcasing the grandeur of Indian culture. Interestingly, these three films spanned three different religions (Buddhism, Islam and Christianity) rightly spanning the diverse cultural fabric of the country.

The artistic outlook of Renee Smith and her respect for the art of cinema can be traced from the diversity of roles she played in this trinity and also the distinct nature of each of those characters. Despite sprouting as a star in her very first film, she did not hesitate to play the ‘other woman’ in Shiraz (1928) and a villain in Prapancha Pash (Throw of Dice, 1929). Despite the social perception of that period for such roles and the impact it had on the careers of the actors who played them, Renee chose to explore the shades of her artistic capabilities rather than fearing social stigmatization.

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The short filmography of this illustrious actor involves many socially unconventional roles in movies such as Bharat Ramani (Enchantress of India, 1929), Bhrantri (Mistake, 1928) and Kal Parinaya (Fatal Marriage, 1930). Despite not being culturally relatable to the majority of the population, the success of Renee Smith established itself upon her ability to immerse herself in the complexities of her character, reaching the finest degrees of method acting. She came across as an exotic representation to many of her contemporary directors, but that only worked towards constructing a strong narrative around the creative credentials of this effervescent actress.

With her films being showcased in German and English to the elite cinematic audience of Europe, including the royal family, a couple of Renee’s films were also immortalized for global audiences with German translations (Das Grabmal einer großen Liebe and Die Leuchte Asiens). It is hard not to mention the famous rumour of the period which said that Renee’s sister Patty was often used as her double in some of the sequences. Renee Smith has been unfortunately forgotten by the repositories of Indian cinema. In her short yet colossal montage of work, Renee aka Sita Devi has displayed the full dimension of her artistic prowess and the lengths of her creativity. I hope the reading of this post will only generate more discussion on this wonderful actor, getting her the rightful place in pop culture, something she so unequivocally deserves.

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Picture Credits: British Film Institute

Revisiting The Oeuvre of Bazaar-e-Husn

There aren’t many works of cinematic art that become cinematic in their own right. The legacy of these works transcends what is projected on the screen and venture into the arenas of popularity that was quite unintended by the creator itself.

Pakeezah, a Hindi Cinema classic that took almost 15 years to complete, is one such movie whose legacy is unparalleled and finesse unmatched. The fervour around the film was as much due to the stories that revolved around each and every person associated with it as the climactic plot of the film itself.

The journey of making Pakeezah is no less of an odyssey for its director Kamal Amrohi and the lead actress Meena Kumari. They both were in the romantic company of each other both during the commencement and the conclusion of the film, however, going through a judicial separation and an alleged extra-marital affair in between. As much as I would love to delve more into the depths of this theme, the main focus of this work is rather centred upon one of the most intelligently designed sets from the movie – Bazaar-e-Husn.

Translated as a ‘fair of beauty’, Bazaar-e-Husn reflects the budgetary prowess of Pakeezah’s production. Often termed as a perfectionist, Kamal Amrohi had to shed almost a million rupees to build a perfect settlement for a desired reality of erstwhile Muslim royality.

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The set for Bazaar-e-Husn took six months to complete with over 600 men working on it. A publicity material for the film described it as:

“There is nothing make believe in this set. Dozens of genuine shops from the various parts of the country were bodily shifted to the set to lend it the authenticity it demanded. These shops remained on the sets for more than a year involving a payment of huge compensation to their owners. Nothing so fantastic was ever attempted or achieved in a single film.”

Despite involving investment of such magnitude, the set has only been used for just one dance sequence in the entire movie. Since the plot of the movie shifts from Delhi to Lucknow, the only display of Bazaar-e-Husn that we get to see is during the opening mujra of Sahibjaan in Inhi Logon Nai. Despite having such a brief presence, the choreography of Inhi Logon imbued with the charm of Meena Kumari, makes the scenic experience of the establishment quite unforgettable.

In the only dance sequence where the glimpse of Bazaar-e-Husn is shown, we can see the flavour of the tawaif (courtesan) culture of Delhi in its maturity. As Sahibjaan (Meena Kumari) is performing her teasing dance number, we can see a lot of motion behind her that manifests itself as daily routine at such establishments. We can see parallel mujras being performed at other courts and commodities such as betel nuts, ornaments and fruits being sold. Despite the commotion in the streets, one finds it really difficult to take his eyes off from the leading lady and take a moment to ponder upon the life at Bazaar-e-Husn. However, as a myriad of vivacity and vividness, Bazaar-e-Husn not just beautifully merges with the choreography of the mujra but goes on to enhance the aesthetics of it. It provides it with a context that paints a picture in the viewer’s conscience which is like a medieval portrait of a desired escape.

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Apart from the monetary shelling, a lot of artistic capital also went on to contribute to the making of this enchanting establishment. Hundreds of dancers were specifically trained for months just for the picturization of that brief mujra sequence of Inhi Login Ne. This not only gives us a glimpse of Kamal Amrohi’s traits of perfection but also goes on to expose his tremendous respect for the art that he intended to pursue.

If Pakeezah was Amrohi’s dearest creation, Bazaar-e-Husn would undoubtedly be his most vivid fantasy. As the making of the movie saw no signs of completion, and while being intertwined in a personal turmoil, Amrohi never shed a single shade of doubt on his brainchild. In an interview which he gave to Time Magazine for the project that he had penned, directed and also intended to act in, he said –

‘Jab tak Pakeezah khatm nahi ho jaati, tab tak mujhe maut bhi nahi aayegi’

(Even death is waiting for me to finish Pakeezah)

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Pictures: National Film Archives of India

Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)

It was fitting Cohen’s song Everybody Knows anchored the sound track for Atom Egoyan’s Exotica, one of the best films of the 1990s.

When we grieve for a celebrity’s death, we do not grieve for the celebrity.

Leonard Cohen was eight-two-years-old when he died, not twenty-seven like Heath Ledger, the victim of a freak accident involving prescription drugs,  or forty like John Lennon, gunned down in the street by a madman. Cohen died an old man with his work finished. He had successfully completed his life cycle.

I first discovered Cohen’s work in my late twenties. I had just ended an unhappy relationship. My hair was beginning to fall out. I had not accomplished what I had wanted to do in life. Something about Cohen’s gravely baritone and despairing lyrics captured exactly what I felt. I was no longer a child or a young adult. I was a man. Cohen’s music was music for disillusioned adults, not hopeful teenagers.

There will be much performative grieving for Cohen on leftist Twitter and leftist Facebook, followed by the inevitable reminders from people like Ali Abunimah that Cohen was a Zionist who refused to honor the BDS Movement’s call for a boycott of Israel. Well, “that’s just how it goes.” That people like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen can be heroes to people on the left even as they support apartheid in Israel is just a contradiction we have to deal with. Great artists contain multitudes, some of it bad. Richard Wagner, after all, was a racist and an antisemite. Roman Polanski is a child molester. Bruce Springsteen endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

Celebrities who reach old age have been around since our childhoods. We grow up with them. We grow old with them. As we age, and face the inevitable disappointments that life brings, they always seem to be lurking around in the background, always there for us to remind us of what we aspire to be. As a “failed writer” I’ve always dreamed of being someone like Leonard Cohen, someone who could write a book called “Beautiful Losers” and get paid for it. Cohen’s words, and his music, are deceptively simple. They give off the illusion that you really don’t have to be a genius to do something similar, that you just have to be sad.

There is a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins called Spring and Fall. Something about it explains why we grieve for celebrities we’ve never met. A little girl is crying over some fallen leaves. Autumn is approaching and she’s sad. The narrator, Hopkins, chides her. You’re not grieving for the trees, he tells her. You’re grieving for yourself. The narrator, in turn, it not chiding the little girl. He’s chiding himself. Unlike the little girl, he does not feel a subconscious premonition that some day he will die. He knows that some day he will die.

When we grieve for a celebrity’s death, we do not grieve for the celebrity.

We grieve for our own mortality.

Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Found in Escapes

What if I seek light in
This night.
Flicker lights falling upon my
Cheek, glistening a part of it, a part
Still left hidden.
What if I seek journey here
Sitting at a deserted bus stand, who
Uses them anyway? Maybe,
Some adventures are good untravelled
What if I seek dance in
The still trees and fully
Blossomed but burdened petals
Of this red red flower, Maybe
Some emotions are best unspoken
Nothing has
Broken down in this part of
The world. The passers by
Still passing, the pretentious
Still talking
What if I seek forgiveness in
This waning crescent moon,
This stillness, this halt
This long drawn silence is not
Here to stay forever,
But it’s still mine
So I don’t see anything moving
But my memories, Maybe
Some notes are better unplayed
Some songs,
Better unsung.

 

Picture: It’s me trying to discover Fort Kochi