Thanksgiving Day morning, 2010. The house feels like a meat locker, which means though it’s sunny it is a bit chilly outside. There’s something I’m thankful for—an autumn holiday in Los Angeles that that occurs on a day that actually feels something like autumn. I’m also happy that the house feels cold—I like it when my senses get to participate in the illusion of holiday weather. (It helps that the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is there to remind me of places where weather doesn’t have to be conjured in the mind or by leaving one’s socks off.)
Gee, let’s see, what else am I thankful for? I’m thankful that Sarah Palin, author of the thrilling new tome America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag, just can’t seem to keep her perky Alaskan mouth shut. Each time she parts her lips and allows the genius to flow forth it rekindles the hope that even the dimmest Tea Partier won’t be dim enough to actually roll out the red White House carpet for her in 2012. I’d take the prognosticative properties of the Mayan calendar over that election. (I suspect too that Dan Quayle is probably grateful for her possible usurping of his place as the Single Silliest Person to Ever Hold High Office in the United States.)
Every month I give thanks in my own way for Michael Torgan, Phil Blankenship, Julia Marchese and all the staff that tend the New Beverly Cinema, Hadrian Belove and the good folks at the Cinefamily, Gwen Deglise, Grant Moninger and David Moninger at the American Cinematheque, the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the as-yet-still-running-and-relevant film program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Downtown Independent, the Art Theater in Long Beach, the Bay Theater in Seal Beach, and everywhere else that regularly or irregularly provides revival and alternative film programming for lucky bastards like me who live here in Los Angeles. I recently overheard someone loudly complaining in that whiny, entitled way that we hear occasionally from certain ostentatious connoisseurs (think the guy in the movie line with Annie and Alvy) about the size of the screen at one of these local cinema treasures and how, oh, my TV at home is just as big, maybe bigger, blah, blah, blah. He didn’t much care for my comment that yeah, it really is a damn shame that everything can’t be perfect and meet our exceedingly high standards. But really, what perfect interior world do some of us live in that we can’t put away the attitude for 90 minutes in the presence of a brand-new print of a perfectly wonderful movie that we’ve taken the time to come out and pay to see? Presumably this person could have stayed at home and watched the DVD in near-HD quality (it is available). But rather than enjoy the presentation, which featured that beautiful print, fine projection and sound and the company of a throng of viewers who were loving every minute of it, this guy just had to make it known that he knew better, that for him there’s always room for improvement. Well, maybe there is, but there’s also plenty more opportunity to swallow our niggling perfectionism and just be grateful that there are people in this city who have devoted their careers and lives to making sure the rest of us have chances to see amazing things on big (and less big) screens all around the town. On this Thanksgiving Day, and on every other day for that matter, how about a little gratitude for that?
I continue to be grateful for the people I know who have been close friends for years and who I’m so happy and honored to be able to call new friends—Bruce Lundy (A #1, the Duke of New York) and his wife Pattie, Don Mancini, Danny Getzoff, Andy Torres, Paul Reilly, Brian Conboy, Katie Warrener, Mark Wagers, Beverly Pura, Dottie Soghomonian, Stephanie Zacharek, David Edelstein, Charles Taylor, Farran Smith Nehme, Jim Emerson, Ali Arikan, Matt Zoller Seitz, Bob Westal, Paul Brunick, Bill Ryan, Greg Ferrara, Sheila O’Malley, Ray Young, Peter Nellhaus and everyone else who I’m too foggy to remember while watching the Radio City Rockettes showing off all that flesh while Al Roker is bundled up in his heavy-duty coat and hat.
And on each day of the year I’m also grateful for the love and devotion and support of my wife Patty, her generous and high-spirited parents, my own energetic and more open-minded-than-ever mom and dad, and the inspired lunacy and pure joy that radiate from my daughters, all of which I would defend from the grandest 3D CGI beastie Hollywood could ever concoct. The everyday challenges are more difficult than those imaginary demons could ever be, and I know that the fight against them is not one that I manage on my own. We’re all in it together, ladies and gentlemen, and I know that no matter what life throws us—and it has thrown us some doozies lately—as long as we have the ability to hold each other up and have a laugh and enjoy each other’s company and just plain ol’ love each other, well, we may never be rich, but we might just be happy.
Speaking of happy, I hope everyone reading this, and all the multitudes who are not, find happiness and good cheer on this holiday. We all deserve it, and to some it’s a gift, but we all need it and I hope we can all be a little bit better at being the delivery system for it in the coming year. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
Coming tonight: “I’d recognize that undercooked pie hole anywhere!” Giving thanks for one of the year’s most maligned treats and the movie critic who stood up for it.
And now, because it seems to now be a tradition of sorts around here: