30 November 2009

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love, Madeleine Peyroux
Careless Love (2004)

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

27 November 2009

Walking around

by Pablo Neruda (1971)

It so happens I am sick of being a man.
And it happens that I walk into tailorshops and movie
dried up, waterproof, like a swan made of felt
steering my way in a water of wombs and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me break into hoarse
The only thing I want is to lie still like stones or wool.
The only thing I want is to see no more stores, no gardens,
no more goods, no spectacles, no elevators.

It so happens that I am sick of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I am sick of being a man.

Still it would be marvelous
to terrify a law clerk with a cut lily,
or kill a nun with a blow on the ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
letting out yells until I died of the cold.

I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
insecure, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
going on down, into the moist guts of the earth,
taking in and thinking, eating every day.

I don't want so much misery.
I don't want to go on as a root and a tomb,
alone under the ground, a warehouse with corpses,
half frozen, dying of grief.

That's why Monday, when it sees me coming
with my convict face, blazes up like gasoline,
and it howls on its way like a wounded wheel,
and leaves tracks full of warm blood leading toward the

And it pushes me into certain corners, into some moist
into hospitals where the bones fly out the window,
into shoeshops that smell like vinegar,
and certain streets hideous as cracks in the skin.

There are sulphur-colored birds, and hideous intestines
hanging over the doors of houses that I hate,
and there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and terror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and venoms, and umbilical

I stroll along serenely, with my eyes, my shoes,
my rage, forgetting everything,
I walk by, going through office buildings and orthopedic
and courtyards with washing hanging from the line:
underwear, towels and shirts from which slow
dirty tears are falling.

It so happens that some poems - the best ones - stand best on their own. Just as they are, built of letters, oozing ink.
When I was small I would cut out, or glue empty pieces of paper to cover, the impossibly incorrect illustrations that horrible people put into my beloved story books. These illustrations puzzled me. At times, they even scared me.
Above all, they failed to match the moving pictures that ran along with my reading. This film behind my eyes was exactly what made it for me. The most beloved of my books had a magical gate hidden in them. Illustrations were a mechanical forest, an illusion that obscured the path between me and the gate.
This poem by Pablo Neruda has such a magical gate hidden in it.
As for the video or two that were made of it...
An illusion.
An obstruction.

26 November 2009


What are you doing, son?
I am dreaming, mother. I am dreaming, mother, about how I sing,
and about how you ask me, in my dream: what are you doing, son?
What, in your dream, are you singing about, son?
I’m singing, mother, about how I had a house.
But now I haven’t got a house. This is what I’m singing about, mother.
About how, mother, I had a voice, and my own language I had.
But now I haven’t got a voice, also a language I haven’t got.
In a voice I haven’t got, in a language I haven’t got,
in a house I haven’t got, I sing a song, mother.

Mustafa Nadarevic reciting Nightmare, a poem by Sidran Abdullah, a Bosnian writer and poet. The scene is taken from Perfect Circle, a Bosnian film directed by Ademir Kenovic (1997).
Sidran Abdulah wrote distinguished screenplays for some of the best Yugoslav films from the 1980s: When Father Was Away On Business (directed by Kusturica), Do you remember Dolly Bell? (directed by Kusturica) and Kuduz (directed by Ademir Kenovic).

25 November 2009

Fade out

Is it a video of a melody? Is it a melody of a poem?

"Street Spirit is our purest song, but I didn't write it. It wrote itself. We were just its messengers; its biological catalysts. Its core is a complete mystery to me, and, you know, I wouldn't ever try to write something that hopeless. All of our saddest songs have somewhere in them at least a glimmer of resolve. Street Spirit has no resolve. It is the dark tunnel without the light at the end. It represents all tragic emotion that is so hurtful that the sound of that melody is its only definition. We all have a way of dealing with that song. It's called detachment. Especially me; I detach my emotional radar from that song, or I couldn't play it. I'd crack. I'd break down on stage. [...]
It's why we play it towards the end of our sets. It drains me, and it shakes me, and hurts like hell every time I play it, looking out at thousands of people cheering and smiling, oblivious to the tragedy of its meaning, like when you're going to have your dog put down and it's wagging its tail on the way there. That's what they all look like, and it breaks my heart. I wish that song hadn't picked us as its catalysts, and so I don't claim it. It asks too much. I didn't write that song."

So speaks Thom Yorke about Radiohead's song Street Spirit (Fade Out) (1995). I always believed that the lyrics of Street Spirit appear weak against the subtle beauty of the video and the haughty echo of the song. As strange as it may sound, for this poetry, for it is poetry, you need to tune out (abstract) the lyrics and listen to what's left. And then watch these mini stories flash before your eyes in rhythm rather than in rhymes. Is Yorke right? Does it drain? Does it shake? Does it break? Did you fade out? Are you still there? Are you one? Are you more?

24 November 2009

Poema 20

Another video poem from the Moving Poetry Series (Four Seasons Productions). The setting is a tango bar in Argentina in 1922 and the poem is Poema 20 by Pablo Neruda.
I can write the saddest lines tonight.

23 November 2009

Stealing sugar from the castle

We are poor students who stay after school to study joy.
We are like those birds in the India mountains.
I am a widow whose child is her only joy.

The only thing I hold in my ant-like head
Is the builder's plan of the castle of sugar.
just to steal one grain of sugar is a joy!

Like a bird, we fly out of darkness into the hall,
Which is lit with singing, then fly out again.
Being shut out of the warm hall is also a joy.

I am a laggard, a loafer, and an idiot. But I love
To read about those who caught one glimpse
Of the Face, and died twenty years later in joy.

I don't mind your saying I will die soon.
Even in the sound of the word soon, I hear
The word you which begins every sentence of joy.

"You're a thief!" the judge said. "Let's see
Your hands!" I showed my callused hands in court.
My sentence was a thousand years of joy.

From My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy: Poems (2005), by Robert Bly.

20 November 2009

The Three from Prostokvashino

Russian children love Eduard Uspensky, who wrote for them such unforgettable books as Crocodile Gena or Uncle Fedor, Dog and Cat.
Yesterday, I posted Cheburashka, a unique and charming animation series based on Uspensky's book Crocodile Gena.
Today, however, I am in the mood for Uspensky's djadja fjodor - a beloved animation series The Three from Prostokvashino.
Russians love poetry and children. Charming, playful and witty, Russian animation for children survives and stands unparalleled.

19 November 2009


This is the first episode of Cheburashka (in English: Topple), an unforgettable and beloved Soviet cartoon (1969).
For the last few seconds that end the first episode (and which are certainly worth the extra effort) press here.
Cheburashka wakes up in a crate of oranges in Russia. Feeling lonely, Cheburashka answers a personal add and befriends a crocodile Gena, who works in the zoo as the crocodile.

18 November 2009

Le Piaf

Le Piaf was my beloved cartoon. Each day, I ran home in order to catch it at 7 p.m. Just in case, for one did not know what the daily cartoon would be.
Being that this cartoon was very short, it was more often than not broadcast prior to the cartoon of the day. Only on a good day they would broadcast three or more episodes of Le Piaf. Today’s post recreates just such a good day.
The episode with the smoking teddy bear – the very first one – was my favourite.

17 November 2009


Remember Gustav, the Hungarian cartoon (1964)?

16 November 2009

Nu pogodi!

The first episode of Nu pogodi! (originally "Ну погоди!" and in translation You just wait!). The series of these animated shorts began in 1969 and became enormously popular in the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe. These cartoons are almost wordless, albeit full of grunting, laughing, singing, waltzing and such. It is, however, the trademark of the series that at the end of each episode the Wolf, having failed to catch (read: eat) the Hare, will utter the fatal words announcing how inevitable the next encounter is:
"Just you wait, Hare!"
Nu pogodi!
An Eastern variation of Tom and Jerry?
Perhaps, insofar as Tom is a hooligan that abuses the minors, breaks the laws, drinks, smokes, plays the guitar and rides a motorbike.

15 November 2009

Make way for tomorrow

Make Way For Tomorrow is a film that was praised by Orson Welles, who reportedly said that this film "would make a stone cry."
The film was made in 1937 and directed by Leo McCarey.
The story is originally simple. An elderly couple loses a house. The adult children refuse to take both in. Consequently, the couple has to permanently separate.
Carefully avoiding to touch the subject, the husband and wife spend their last day together.
A farewell that takes place could indeed make a stone cry. Just like the farewell from dreams that never came true (Jagode u grlu), the farewell from the love of your life (Five evenings), the immediate farewell from a lovely stranger that you will never forget (yet never see again) (Two cars, one night).
Or the farewell from the only emotion that was safe and kept you sane (Disco Pigs).
If Make Way For Tomorrow could make a stone cry, Disco Pigs could make a stone die.

12 November 2009

Pig and Runt

That precious - fatal - moment of realisation. This scene is taken from a precious - fatal - movie Disco Pigs (2001). This film was directed by Kirsten Sheridan. The screenplay was written by Enda Walsh, who also wrote the (original) play. Cillian Murphy made magic on stage and on screen.

11 November 2009

Two cars, one night

two cars, one night from kofe on Vimeo.

Taika Waititi's awarded short film Two Cars, One Night (2003, New Zealand).
Two Maori children, one magic moment.

10 November 2009

Five evenings

This is a beautiful scene from Mihalkov's film Five evenings (1978). In the movie, the man (that you hear singing) - after being gone for 18 years - rings the bell of the woman (who unhappily wears curlers exactly at that time) and reenters her life as if only 18 days had passed.

09 November 2009

Bane Bumbar

Old friends agree to meet after 15 years on a Belgrade raft. A wild party ensues. After a lot of drinking and unsuccessful recoupling, the raft is untied and drifts aimlessly – with the last men standing - down the river.
This is the ending scene of the Yugoslav (Serbian) film Jagode u grlu (1985). The film itself is an ending epilogue to a superb Yugoslav (Serbian) cult series Grlom u jagode (1975).
In the film, the youthful freedom of the characters reemerges as aimlessness.
The series and the film were both directed by Srđan Karanović.
This song about lost youth, O mladosti - here performed by the Orkestar Jovice Nikolića Lepog - ended many a party in my day.
The rafts with live music on Sava and Danube are an old Belgrade institution. One should certainly do this prior to one's death – though the raft owners generally much prefer that the dying part is done at a certain distance.

06 November 2009

The darker brother

Harlem Renaissance Art

Scruffmouth | MySpace Video

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

("I, too", a poem by Langston Hughes)

05 November 2009

Back in 1929

Bessie Smith mourning for her man - blacker than midnight - who left New York for St Louis (he done left this town). A truly stunning performance.
The excerpt is taken from a short film St Louis Blues (1929).
The short was filmed in Astoria, Queens. Bessie was accompanied by the Fletcher Henderson orchestra, the Hall Johnson Choir and, on piano, by James P. Johnson.

04 November 2009

Weary blues

The Weary Blues, a video poem narrated by Dr. Allen Dwight Callahan. The poem was written by Langston Hughes (1923).

03 November 2009


An excerpt from Hellzapoppin', a 1941 film adaptation of an earlier (and more successful) staged musical of the same name. Lindy hop is here performed by Whitney's Lindy Hoppers, a professional performing group of Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, New York.

02 November 2009


A scene from After Seben, a 1929 sound short set in a Harlem nightclub, featuring also George Snowden doing the lindy hop. You won't have any trouble figuring out which dancing couple George Snowden, the Shorty Stump, belongs to. To the one that must have won.