7 January 2008...12:42 pm

The Elephants Continue To Come To My Garden At Night

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Greg and I went to see Charlie Wilson’s War yesterday. I was bored by the entire production; the pacing was clumsy, the narrative had no structure, and the characters were as deep as Julia Roberts’s lips which is really quite deep as lips go and not deep at all as characters do. It’s like there had been a director’s strike and the entire film was shot in the absence of Mike Nichols.


The story of this country’s involvement in Afghanistan has ascended to the status of leftist parable. Near the end of the movie Charlie Wilson–played by Tom Hanks plus several plastic surgeons–asks several evil senators for a million dollar appropriation.

Half the population of the country is under the age of fourteen!

The audience is duly impressed that Charlie Wilson knows so much that he is basically Afghani now. The senators of course are not.

No one gives a shit about building schools, Charlie.

Thank you, Mr. Nichols. I had no idea.


The primary subtlety of the movie is the question of which women Wilson is sleeping with and which ones are scenery. The only character I wanted anything for was Gust Avrakotos, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman being completely gross and yet still not relinquishing his fierce hold on my heart. He propositions Julia Roberts and she says no but she wants it. She oozes wanting it. I wonder if women really had such blond hair during the Cold War. It seems likely.


After the movie we passed Red Square walking home down Houston. When my father dropped me off a few weeks ago I had noticed him peering at the nonsense clock on top of the building.

It never says the right time.

He was still looking at it.

I mean it isn’t even a clock like it can’t say the right time. The numbers are wrong.

Well–my father generally prefers to move right along after conversations have veered near the him maybe not getting something territory–then what’s that?

That’s the name. It’s called Red Square.


And who’s that guy?

My father was pointing at something else on the roof. He sounded delighted.

It’s a statue? I don’t know.

Yesterday Greg told me not only that the statue was Lenin but that it had actually come from the USSR. In fact, it was commissioned by the Soviet government for the actual Red Square in Moscow but never installed after the communist government fell. The statue was found in a backyard in Russia and came to America like an obedient immigrant in 1990.


Communism ended, a wacky developer wanted to play radical, and so an icon of the Soviet revolution wound up saluting the gentrification of the East Village. Four months after the USSR withdrew from Afghanistan, the Red Square building opened for tenants. Here in Manhattan, we’re still winning and then in Afghanistan, everything is still fucked. At least the leftists were right!



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