Friday, April 30, 2021

Three Beautiful Things 04/29/2021: Lab Work and Results, Lunch at the Snake Pit, The King of Zydeco

1. I hopped in the Sube and blasted up to the clinic this morning to do a set of labs in preparation for my appointment on Wednesday, May 5th with nephrologist, Dr. Bieber. I just now read the results and, once again, the numbers look stable. In fact, my GFR, the measure of my kidney function, improved from 12 to 15 since January. I'm optimistic that Dr. Bieber will agree that I'm continuing to remain stable. If so, this is good news moving forward and is further evidence that the troubles I thought I was having in Pendleton were temporary and, I still think, caused by dehydration.

2. Around 11:30, Stu and I met at the Snake Pit in Kingston and dined on the outside patio. We talked about a variety of things, including the North Idaho real estate market (it's scorching hot), travel plans we might have, and the crazy making subject of money. I can't quite figure out for myself if I enjoy barbecued meats at restaurants, so in order to further test this question, I ordered beef brisket with sides of mac and cheese and cole slaw. I was happy when my plate arrived that the serving of brisket was moderate. Often, I think, when I order bbq, there's more food than I really want. This helping of brisket wasn't as rich as some bbq I've eaten elsewhere and so I enjoyed it. The sides were good and I left the table feeling happy with my order and pleased that I didn't feel overfed. 

If, on Thursday, the world seemed to you a bit more orderly and a slightly more peaceful place, it's because Stu and I worked diligently over our lunch to solve the world's problems.

3. I returned to the Vizio room this evening and watched another documentary by Les Blank entitled Hot Pepper (1973). It runs just under an hour and focuses primarily on the King of Zydeco, Clifford Chenier. 

I'm really starting to get into the swing of how Les Blank constructs his films. Without introduction, with no voice over narrator, with no context established, Hot Pepper just gets going and we are in a little club near or in Lafayette, Louisiana. Clifford Chenier's band is performing and he and the people who work at the club negotiate how to deal with a drunk guy who is staggers up to Chenier and his band and dance/staggers in front of them. 

This scene sets in motion about 55 minutes of scenes that alternate between Chenier performing in other clubs and in front porch settings and a variety of shots and segments documenting, again, without comment, on life in the Lafayette area. The film visits a barber shop, bars, a couple of mojo women, and gives us sustained shots of children playing, men working, the social scenes in a handful of clubs, and, most gloriously, the visual beauty of the bayou country. I can't repeat often enough that none of the pictures that move on the screen are narrated. Les Blank does nothing overt to tie the parts of this movie together. Rather, he gives us viewers the sense that we are moving about Lafayette and Lake Charles and other nearby places as we would if we were there both looking at how people live their lives and listening to them talk with one another, joking, telling stories, sharing wisdom, and remembering the past. 

I might be stretching things a bit here, but I can do that because this is my blog(!), but the fluid ways Les Blank moves us from one scene to another, as he records people talking, often making the viewer strain to understand what they are saying, often not making it overtly obvious what ties the different scenes together, reminds me of some of Robert Altman's story telling in his (not documentary) movies. 

I guess I would describe Gap Toothed Women and Hot Peppers as lyrical and anthropological at the same time -- his films observe the details of everyday life in an anthropological way and are filmed poetically, exploring the beauty and dignity of how people live their lives and of the landscapes surrounding them. 

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