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Entries in durga chew-bose (44)

Wednesday
Jan012014

In Which We Had Previously Been Comatose

In Hollywood

by DURGA CHEW-BOSE

We’ve written twenty-three books between us and movies financed nineteen out of the twenty-three.

John Gregory Dunne, The Paris Review, 1996 

When he was done, the executive asked the writer, “Do you know what the monster is?” The writer shook his head. The executive said, “It’s our money.”

– John Gregory Dunne, Monster, 1997 

The millennium is here, the era of “fewer and better” motion pictures, and what have we? We have fewer pictures, but not necessarily better pictures. Ask Hollywood why, and Hollywood resorts to murmuring about the monster. It has been, they say, impossible to work “honestly” in Hollywood.

Joan Didion, I Can’t Get That Monster Out Of My Mind, 1964

Scriptwriting partners Joan Didion and her late husband John Gregory Dunne had a code for when it was time to cut their losses with a production company and fly the coop. In meetings, while negotiating the terms of a script, if Joan and John sensed the beginnings of disaster — studio dawdling, uneven notes, nonplussed silence — one would look at the other and say, White Christmas. Their choice of words, however, had little to do with Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, with treetops glistening or sleigh bells in the snow. Instead, it relates to Vietnam. As Dunne explains in Monster, his 1997 account of Hollywood’s pecking order detailing the eight-year, twenty-seven-draft saga of Up Close and Personal, Joan and John’s code was a nod to the Fall of Saigon. In April of 1975, “White Christmas” was played by army disc jockeys on the Armed Forces Radio Network as a secret signal to the remaining Americans that “the war was over, bail out.” 

John shares this anecdote a quarter of the way through his two hundred page book as part of an epiphany he and Joan have days before his aortic valve replacement surgery in 1991. To a degree, their penchant for weighing a project’s cost imitates Dunne’s expedient writing style. Bottom line? Utility leverages storytelling. Luckily, his reserve of keenly culled nuggets on Hollywood types, like Didion’s and his brother Dominick’s (perhaps the most imbued by celebrity) is never scarce. For every six or so tailored sentences, one diverges and is often marvelous. Hollywood hobnobbing, near spurious hooey.  

For instance, at a breakfast meeting with Scott Rudin, the producer detailed to John and Joan a visit he took to Michael Jackson’s Neverland with director Barry Sonnenfeld. Michael was late, en route but still in the air. And so, Rudin kicked back, enjoying the Ranch’s amusement park and zoo. He and Sonnenfeld were invited to stay for lunch and were seated at a table set with expensive linen. They were served ham and cheese sandwiches under silver domes on expensive china which they “washed down with Pepsi-Cola,” as Michael was the company’s spokesperson. For dessert? Bite-sized Snickers in a silver bowl.  

Similarly absurd was Dunne’s account of Sunny von Bülow’s room in the Pavilion at Columbia-Presbyterian where John coincidently was recovering. Every afternoon a high tea was served “while a cocktail pianist in black tie played such the dansant favorites as “Send in the Clowns,” and “Isn’t it Romantic?”” 

As a quick aside, Sunny had been comatose for close to ten years at this point and her husband, Claus, had been twice accused of attempting to kill her. Incidentally, Dominick had covered the second trial for Vanity Fair, having only written for the magazine once before — a March 1984 piece entitled “Justice” chronicling the trial of his daughter’s killer. Like his sister-in-law, who zeroes in on diagnostic if not sometimes distracting ritz (in Blue Nights, the red soles on her daughter’s wedding day Louboutin’s that showed when Quintana “kneeled at the altar” or Madeleine-type episodes brought on by Saks or the St. Regis) Dominick too, never missed an occasion to mention Sunny von Bülow’s embroidered Porthault sheets.  

Despite the Hollywood mixing, Monster is in many ways the ultimate articulation of Dunne’s pragmatic writing style and accordingly, the writer’s and any writer’s inherent nearness to the idea of End. After all, in it he admits that the central reason he and Joan agreed to write Up Close and Personal in 1988 was due in large part to Dunne’s health. Earlier that year John had suffered his first collapse while speed walking in Central Park. “When I regained consciousness, I was stretched out in the middle of the road rising behind the Metropolitan Museum, a stream of joggers detouring past without looking or stopping, as if I were a piece of roadkill,” he writes. Heart surgery was inevitable and as doctors’ visits, tests, and hospital bills were soon to pile — a “very expensive gig” — the WGA’s health insurance became crucial. The deal was closed.  

Later in the book, in a rare moment of self-reflection Dunne describes the replacement valve’s clicking sound and how it signified “reassuring proof [he] was still alive.” This newer, louder heartbeat, so to speak, appealed to John’s mortality. So much so that Monster itself is structured around Dunne’s many hospital visits, often yielding for more thoughtful bits as if the narrative, like John, had been ordered to meter the pace.  

Even Joan, whose voice is rarely heard in Monster, has her say with respect to John’s condition. One evening, a couple years after John’s surgery while dining at Chinois in Santa Monica, a certain Michael Eisner, who too had had a similar operation, expressed to Dunne that his bypass surgery was in truth “more serious” than John’s. Didion, maddened, immediately shouted, “It was not!” "[She’d] never been an easy fit in the role of the little woman."

The clicking sound of John’s valve resonated with Quintana too who, entertained by the sound, began calling her father the Tin Man. While throughout Monster many friends and colleagues fall ill or die—of old age, of a sudden heart attack, of complications from AIDS, of unhealthy sped up lifestyles—there is an indistinct quality to that last image as both John and Quintana have since died. As though John was writing from his prophetic gut, from that sense of congenital doom and loss that writers are born with, of which his wife described in her 1966 essay “On Keeping a Notebook.” Perhaps it is Dunne’s use of “reassuring proof,” like a child who despite being promised something, commands an actual “Promise.” Or maybe it’s him and her, father and daughter, paired in a single moment, attune to each person’s inherent rhythm. Or maybe it’s simply this reader’s willingness to let the image go there. Either way, the “clicking” abides. It greets the page and far outlasts it. 

Panic in Needle Park

It was John Foreman, a friend and producer, and former Princeton classmate, who first approached Joan and John about writing a screenplay based on Golden Girl, Alanna Nash’s biography of the network correspondent, Jessica Savitch. Five years prior, Savitch had died in a car accident. Martin Fischbein, president of the New York Post, was also in the car. At this point, John and Joan had already written the screenplays for The Panic in Needle Park, Play it as it Lays, A Star is Born, and True Confessions. At this point, they were still incapable of “good meetings,” meaning, they could not schmooze or quicken deals. They were not ‘package’ material and certainly understood that screenwriters occupied an “inferior position on the food chain,” or as Jack Warner (of the Brothers) once said, were thought of as “Schmucks with Underwoods.” But they liked Nash’s book and were ready to proceed with Disney. Or so they thought. 

With Disney comes the Kingdom. And with the Kingdom comes the fairy tale. But Jessica Savitch’s story was no fairy tale because in the fairy tale the princess never dies. She is however made over.

Savitch was a woman whose news reporting inexperience was outdone by her ambition. Impelled by some inner fidget, she restlessly wanted more. Her strive had presence, prompting collateral excess. As Dunne describes, she had “an overactive libido, a sexual ambivalence, a tenuous hold on the truth, a taste for controlled substances, a longtime abusive Svengali relationship, and a certain mental instability.” In Disney’s eyes, her “ugly duckling turned golden girl” story possessed too much ugly. Interracial love affairs, cocaine, a gay husband who eventually hung himself, and abortions, were all embargoed narratives. The stuff of Didion and Dunne. A couple who no matter what city they visited, made sure to stop at its courthouse.  

Having come off the success of Pretty Woman, Disney wanted a similarly Cinderella setup. As Dunne puts it, they wanted a Pretty TV Reporter. That is, they wanted a Rodeo Drive sequence, in which instead of swapping sky-high over the knee boots for a polka-dotted polo dress, Michelle Pfeiffer as Tally Atwater would lose her perm and pink blazer for more beige, more poise, and ultimately, the guidance, respect, and love of her news channel director. His name would be Warren Justice — “an appropriately classless first name” — and the role would go to Robert Redford. Near the end of Monster, Dunne fondly remembers one evening when while watching Three Days of the Condor on cable, Redford called him to discuss his character in Up Close. There he was, code name Condor, on Dunne’s television. And there he was too, on the other end of Dunne’s phone. For John, “he was, when all was said and done, Robert Redford.” At a glance, infinite.  

But returning to Up Close, where within the first seven minutes of the movie, Pfeiffer clumsily spills the contents of her purse everywhere. Redford, forever wearing a collared shirt, bends down to help her clean up one tube of lipstick, a loose tampon, some change, and a crumpled dollar bill. Nickels, dimes, no Money, and a pair of female things. Pfeiffer is crestfallen, and in her boss’ eyes, nothing but nerves and legs. Within the first ten minutes, he asks her, “Do you always wear that much make-up?” Later he offers her a job as the weatherperson in which she wears oversized clown glasses and a goofy yellow rain jacket and hat.

Play It As It Lays An early draft of Up Close was given to Mike Nichols who responded with the “graciously noncommittal comment” that his marriage to ABC’s Diane Sawyer created an unfitting atmosphere for any project about TV news. While Joan and John never mentioned this detail to Nichols, Diane Sawyer’s first on air experience at a channel in Louisville, Kentucky, was what inspired Tally Atwater’s debut.  

A few years past and not much came of Didion and Dunne’s original Up Close script. In those in between years, Joan worked on her Central Park Jogger piece for The New York Review of Books and John finished Playland. They had meetings with Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer detailed in a section titled, “Bully Boys,” began writing a script in which they called Michael Crichton for advice on string theory, and endeavored incorporating with Elaine May and Peter Feibleman as a rewriting team and company, only agreeing to work on productions that had already began shooting. No more first drafts, no more free meetings or readings; “the meter would start running the moment the screenplay arrived.” 

Then Scott Rudin rolled in. Monster is dedicated to him, along with director, Jon Avnet and in memory of John Foreman. Rudin did as Rudin does: he got the movie made. He was “the bully boy’s bully boy.” But most importantly he offered Dunne the most producer-ly advice ever. When asked by Dunne what he thought the movie was really about, Rudin, forever skewed to money and éclat, answered, “It’s about two movie stars.” 

Which briefly brings to mind Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama The Newsroom. Rudin is an executive producer on the show and one cannot help but wonder if he gave Sorkin similar advice. The show, much like Up Close is less about the news and more about the dopey hearts of those involved. Basically, it too is centered on two or more “movie stars.” The newsroom is their stage and so far, their love entanglements are its crux. Everything else is merely crosstalk. Women with alliterative names in silk shirts flail their arms, stutter, shriek, and may as well be spilling the contents of their purses everywhere. Meanwhile, the men speak in sports metaphors, are romantic dolts, and threaten to congratulate their female coworkers for having gumption and good ideas. Music swells, smug smirks are protracted. Sorkin, forever the guy who writes soap operas about guys on their soapboxes.  

While Rudin did push for more romance in Up Close, reminding Joan and John that it was a love story after all — to “deliver the moment, deliver the moment” — John was adamant about one thing. He told Rudin, “I don’t do love.” Thing is, composer Diane Warren and Céline Dion sure do. Avnet hired both and the song “Because You Loved Me” came to be. Number one in the United States for six weeks, its music video featured Céline in a makeshift control room performing with burning credo as clips of Pfeiffer and Redford, punch-drunk and sweet for each other, fade in and out. Today, sixteen years later, clips of Emily Mortimer and Jeff Daniels’s Mac and Will could comfortably replace those of Tally and Warren.

While an appraisal of Sorkin, Dunne and Didion, all in one breath, is slightly offhand, it does invite a closer look. In October 2011, A.O. Scott did exactly that for his review of Bennett Miller’s Moneyball, which was co-written by Sorkin. In it, Scott opens by referencing Didion’s 1988 New York Review of Books piece on the presidential election entitled, “Insider Baseball,” published mere months before she and John agreed to write Up Close. “The process” as she explains and as Scott quotes, is “not about ‘the democratic process’ or the general mechanism affording the citizens of a state a voice in its affairs, but the reverse: a mechanism seen as so specialized that access to it is correctly limited to its own professionals.” As Scott spells out: narratives that function as “durable forms that cater to this appetite for exclusive knowledge, inviting the reader or viewer to learn something about how the professionals do it and to feel vicariously, like one of them.” 

Sorkin’s breakneck dialogue deals with characters, mainly men, who run countries, television networks, professional sports teams, who invent algorithms in order to make friends and humiliate girls. As Scott points out, these characters are all, by some means, a performance of Didion’s sentiment. They claim “specialized” speak, when inevitably the tensions return to sex and money, and winning. Proximity to transparency, to insider-y yackety-yak, assumes entrance. And yet, as Didion reminds, “what strikes one most vividly about such a campaign is precisely its remoteness from the actual life of the country.” Her remarks about the electoral process could be applied to Sorkin’s Zuckerberg, to Will McAvoy, President Bartlet and Billy Beane: “These are people who speak of the process as an end in itself, connected only nominally, and vestigially, to the electorate and its possible concerns.” All that walking, all that talking.  

Interesting then to examine Dunne’s Monster, which in many ways is the ultimate insider’s look into Hollywood’s process. Written from the vantage point of someone who was involved from the very start, from meetings to rewrites, rewrites to more meetings. From the Beverly Hills Hotel where Nora Ephron, who was staying across the hall, volunteered business advice or to Tony Richardson’s Bonjour Tristesse-type St. Tropez hamlet — Le Nid du Duc — where his daughter, the late Natasha ‘Tasha’ Richardson was once a chain-smoking teenager who wore a micro miniskirt and as Didion writes in Blue Nights, “devised the fables, wrote the romance.” Or back in LA, a few years later, for the funeral of Tasha’s father and a gathering of friends in his Hills home — the Kings Road house that once belonged to Linda Lovelace. The list of trivia goes on and on. Who, what, when, where, why, how, Hollywood!  

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion were deeply embedded in the “private idiosyncrasies of very public people.” As Dunne affirms, he was simply there — “the reporter’s justification for what he does.” Surely, Sorkin could sniff out his next script there too. Didion and Dunne’s ‘White Christmas,’ an elucidation of what A.O. Scott terms the “half-secret language…a body of artisanal lore.” 

It was announced last year that Didion would be penning a script with Todd Field. Todd Field who wrote and directed In the Bedroom and Little Children, and who in Nicole Holofcener’s 1996 Walking and Talking, proposes to Anne Heche’s character by hiding the ring in her round birth control pack.

As a filmmaker, his movies look like worlds Didion might mine: tortured, grieving parents in one, and the crepuscular, discontented mood of middle-class suburbia in the other. Both films are literary. Both films portend menace, as if from the opening credits, somebody has a hunch. Both are carefully constructed — quiet and sustained like a yawn. Both are all whites, pale blues, and greens, with freckled, sun kissed skin. In both films, light filters through windows no matter how melancholic the scene. Even each poster’s plain serif font: exactly bookish. Precisely Joan. And yet, no matter how ideal the pairing of Field and Didion, Dunne tolls — that “clicking” sound, sounds. Her all white office; his wood-paneled office. His, hers.  His first draft and her reworking of it. “The version the studio sees is essentially our third draft,” Dunne told George Plimpton. He went on to share that he and Joan, before beginning any script, would watch Graham Greene and Carol Reed’s The Third Man. “The best collaboration between writer and director I can think of.” 

Monster, despite little emotional bulk is nostalgic by nature. Eight years, twenty-seven drafts, and two presidential elections later, John wrote it as though summoning memories at a table of close friends, far into the night, long after dessert was served and more drinks were poured, at that delirious hour when leftovers are pulled out of the fridge, unwrapped, and eaten without plates. One gets the sense he could have written twice as much. One gets the sense his memory was trained to pocket stories, not for sentimental reasons, but because he knew what he was seeing, others would savor. His account is entirely generous, if not a little boastful. His last words, “We also had a good time,” belong sincerely to Joan.  

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She tumbls here and twitters here. She last wrote in these pages about ways to describe Casey Affleck.

"Nocture" - Wild Nothing (mp3)

 

Monday
Nov252013

In Which We Hear His Voice In Our Waking Dreams

101 Ways to Describe Casey Affleck's Voice

by DURGA CHEW-BOSE

1. near-caterwaul

2. a kid whose lunch is being tossed back and forth between bullies

3. a screech

4. half-grieving, half-reveling

5. like it’s quarreling with itself

6. a voice that’s still trying to find its sweet spot

7. velcro

8. sinuous

9. very earnest

10. a straw scraping the bottom of an empty can of Coke

11. distended

12. dehydrated

13. scraggly

14. weepy

15. a cursive lower-cased L drawn with one’s nails on a chalkboard

16. Macy Gray-ish

17. what the guys in Archie Comics must sound like, especially Jughead

18. a scared Boy Scout

19. corkscrewed

20. teeming

21. curvilinear

22. someone whose joke doesn’t land and is quickly trying explain the punch line

23. a yowl followed by a yip

24. a flutter

25. oxidized

26. the leftover voice after a long sob

27. itchy

28. frenzied

29. rippling

30. meandering yet determined, both

31. sweet but shrill

32. frustrated

33. like there’s spit forever in the corners of his lips

34. a hungry cartoon mouse

35. a cartoon squirrel

36. a cartoon whose catchphrase is “Ack!”

37. the guy in the horror movie who’s watched all the horror movies and knows all the plot twists

38. the voice of someone who perpetually smells like lozenges

39. like a boy from The Sandlot

40. a squall

41. a brooding squall

42. nasally

43. the voice of someone with unusually long limbs

44. cracked

45. a canoe when it scrapes over shallow rocks

46. frail

47. betwixt and between

48. mewling

49. a gradual screech

50. reedy

51. a bicycle with uneven training wheels that make the sound of loose-screws when the wheels turn

52. an old stool that doesn’t quite swivel like it’s meant to

53. a sidekick’s voice

54. a kid who’s just eaten all his Halloween candy and is simultaneously hyper and puke-y, and drowsy

55. a banjo of a voice

56. fretful

57. the voice of an adult who wears Airwalks

58. a far-off sound someone from the city might hear when camping in the woods for the first time

59. flu-ish

60. an underdog

61. an unlikely hero

62. a swing in a park on a windy autumn night

63. Ben Affleck with a cold

64. the sort of person who loses his voice on the happiest day of his life

65. off-key

66. weather-beaten

67. a character from The Brave Little Toaster

68. the friend who always loses the bet

69. the friend who, regardless, always says, “wanna bet?”

70. acute

71. sprightly

72. like someone with a clothespin on his nose

73. thin and spindly

74. a kid flexing his muscles in the mirror before the first day of school

75. someone who is especially physically demonstrative when exasperated

76. uppity

77. a video store clerk

78. someone who is always pulling up his pants

79. squiggly

80. heartsick

81. acrid

82. quaking

83. post concert-voice

84. a confident class clown

85. someone who’s been walking in the desert for days

86. someone who says, “I’m feeling lousy”

87. a low-mumbling marble-like Marlon Brando (only in some roles!)

88. trembling

89. the voice of a paranoid conspiracy theorist

90. gravel falling on a pane of glass

91. iffy

92. a bit blotchy

93. someone who is suddenly truly thrilled because he just remembered he had a chocolate bar in his backpack

94. metal-y

95. a violin with rosin residue

96. husky

97. perplexing

98. high timbre

99. creaking attic floorboards

100. skittish

101. a teenager who just got his braces tightened

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She twitters here and tumbls here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about the kittens.

"In the Name of Revenge" - Beautiful Small Machines (mp3)

"The Wretched Sounds of City Cars" - Beautiful Small Machines (mp3)

The new album from Beautiful Small Machines is entitled The DJ Stayed Home and it was released on November 10th.

Thursday
Jul252013

In Which There Is A Filmy Glow That Trails Her

Recently

by DURGA CHEW-BOSE

Three years ago today, Anthology Film Archives screened Andy Warhol’s Empire – an eight-hour shot of the Empire State Building filmed from the 41st floor of the Time-Life building in 1964. I didn’t go to the screening, nor could I imagine anyone who might, but that Saturday afternoon I remember wondering if the experience, much like a runner’s high (though entirely in opposition to the threshold of endorphin release), produced some kind of floating, near-delirious state in its audience. I considered loitering outside the theater around the time the film let out if only to see the faces of those who had lived through it. While oxymoronic, there is something distinctly “summer” about spending a third of a day in the dark, zoning out, watching time pass. Like something very teenaged. In no other season can a person devote the majority of daylight inside and still emerge expecting to see the evening sun. 

Before I met the kittens, a sister and brother named Annie and Dean, Sarah described their toy-sized bodies to me by cupping her hands together. Half an avocado, a squash ball, maybe two, could fit in that space. I was reminded of my friend Kate who years ago before I knew her, smuggled a hedgehog from Korea back to New York. She named it Louise. When Kate tells the story of how she snuck Louise through customs, Kate cups her hands and smiles just like Sarah. It’s funny how holding something small makes us grin as though we are up to no good. As though anything miniature is not yet meant for the world, and yet, there they are, yawning, sleeping, narrowing their eyes.

I never met Louise because she died of depression, but I’ve imagined her in the space between Kate’s cupped hands, and I imagined her again, in the space between Sarah’s hands.

Sarah brought Annie and Dean home on a particularly hot day; the kind of day that if they were babies and not kittens, years from now she might recall the day they were born in a storied, exaggerated manner. Heat waves in retrospect become folklore.

+

After showering, the lotion on my inside elbows always dries last and stays cool longest, especially when air from my fan hits it.

At night, my fan brushes my hair over my face. It feels like spiders are crawling all over me.

+

In June I went home to Montreal for my father and stepmother’s wedding. I began to tear up during my speech as I described a moment from childhood where one afternoon at a café, my father drew on a napkin the algebraic formula for when two people’s eyes meet in a room. While we often spent weekend afternoons together, especially in the summer –at cafes or at bookstores talking about who knows what – this afternoon and that piece of napkin algebra has outlasted them all. It was my father’s way of playing pretend with his daughter. I must have been old enough or tall enough for my feet to touch the ground, but I listened intently, like only children whose feet don’t yet touch the ground listen.

A few days after the wedding my father and I went to a bookstore. He couldn’t come inside with me because now he has Willis, a puppy Welsh terrier. I went in and sat by the window reading from The Selected Letters of Willa Cather while my dad found a bench and a coffee.

Willa in my lap, Willis at his feet.

+

Until you see your friend riding her bicycle, it’s so hard to picture your friend riding her bicycle.

Until you see your friend wearing that shade of pink that half the table argues is coral and the other half argues is salmon, it’s so hard to picture your friend wearing that shade of pink.

+

A couple weeks ago I saw a pregnant woman take a picture of her shadow. She was amused by its roundness. A few blocks later I was still thinking about the woman and soon my thoughts wandered to her future child a few years from now. Instead of a boy or a girl, I pictured a shadow. Mother and child shadows at the beach, feet walking and waddling towards the water – the baby’s shadow arms shaped like mini Popeye muscles, puffed out with floaties.

+

Whenever I see a swimming pool I think about a friend of a friend named Greg who, a few summers ago got a job painting pools. Despite having brown hair, Greg had a red beard, and no matter what time of day or no matter how many showers Greg took, all summer, Greg had specks of blue paint in his red beard.

+

Immobile and in pajamas, Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window is a New York City heat wave personified. He’s stuck and sticky and upset and paranoid. But Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont is dynamic, lissome, as though her feet are attached to spinning records. She enters the small Greenwich Village apartment in airy Edith Head gowns, tossing on a chiffon shoulder-wrap, lounging in chartreuse. Even her nightgown appears unreal: a filmy glow that trails her.

But Lisa Fremont’s mobility, in all of her gossamer goodness, has a clear purpose. Near the end, she climbs a fire escape and slides through an open window as her boyfriend watches panicked from across the courtyard. She is spry, agile, nimble. And it comes as no surprise.

+

Neighbors keep their windows open. I hear the clatter of utensils being sorted. I hear someone practicing the trumpet, repeating The Godfather theme. I hear a dinner guest arrive with wine and inquire about an opener. I hear a phone ring; it sounds like a landline. I only hear landlines ring in homes with parents. Has a parent moved next door? But I mostly hear utensils being sorted, twice, sometimes three times a day.

One night I hear a couple argue outside my bedroom window. Upset, she doesn't follow as he walks away.

A few minutes later he comes back and says, "Baby." 

I can hear resistance because I can hear nothing at all, but then I hear two pairs of footsteps stumble and find that sweet spot home.  

+

Sarah and Jesse invited me over for dinner. There was more food than room on the table so Sarah moved the lamp to the floor. It sat at our feet like a pet might, an old family pet that no longer begs for scraps of food, that no longer cares to. I looked down at one point and saw Sarah’s sandals flopped beside the lamp, her legs folded under her bum. In fact, nobody’s legs were under the table. Everyone’s bodies were slightly turned and the floor beneath the table was just the lamp, the sandals, and an oval-shaped yellow yolk of light.

Later that night I went home and wrote Sarah an e-mail. I told her I thought that dreams, it’s likely, are lit with lamps that sit on floors.

Durga Chew-Bose is the senior editor of This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about Sidney Lumet.

"Heart Talk" - The Polyphonic Spree (mp3)

"Popular By Design" - The Polyphonic Spree (mp3)