Category Archives: Surrealism

My Latest Poem For The Screen: ‘Endless Shards of Jazz for a Brutal World’

And the world is oh so brutal…

“Tubman, Turner, Truth…”

POETRY.  MUDRAS.  MEMORIES.  

Numa Perrier as the 'Awareness Addict' haunted by America's sins...

Rebel internally in order to reconstruct the world externally.

Mesh the words, the worlds, the pain, the laughter…find where the horror lives and exorcise it. But always breathe.

Endless Shards of Jazz for a Brutal World is a whisper in the dark.  A long slow murmur that exemplifies the spiritual condition of being at war with one’s self…and the merciless racism that exists — in past, present, and future tenses.  This film is the interpretation of a poem whose feeling and zone of consciousness is one on its last leg trying to break through the icy surface of all that oppresses.

Click here or on the image below to see the trailer…

New Poet Cinema's new film...

a poem for the screen by Dennis Leroy Kangalee

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Weaving Rugs and Building Floors: Some Pier Paolo Pasolini and Samuel Fuller, But Completely Alessandro

Afghan Hound
Written & Directed by Brian Alessandro

"Afghan Hound" (2010)

“Afghan Hound” (2010)

A New Director has made a powerful motion picture, which is now available to audiences on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

Brian Alessandro’s 2010 Afghan Hound opens with a shot of garbage. An indication of the mess that slowly forms when a white American war veteran and an Afghani carpet weaver’s lives intersect. Although understandably perceived as a film about a PTSD and a Vet’s struggle to come to grips with the horror he inflicted in Afghanistan at the start of America’s invasion shortly after September 11, 2001 — the film is less a portrait of PTSD and more an illustration of the warped relationship America and historic white racism have with the Oppressed and colonized. It is set in the here and now, within the fray of the 21st century circus and the themes of white guilt, war crimes (an oxymoron if there ever was one), revenge, and punishment could be applied to just about any time period in modern man’s consciousness. Chris Leeds (Adam M. Griffith in an impressive performance) is a veteran trying to resolve and accept the horror he inflicted and experienced as a soldier in Afghanistan. He is reflective, introverted, and fragile when we meet him and yet at least he seems to be able to support himself – he’s a carpenter. And while he may not be Jewish, he is a Catholic and the suffering he must endure is rite of passage ritual into a state of grace. He is 33, like Christ was when he was crucified. Although it is not a primary aspect of the film, it is wholly un-subtle. Is Alessandro implying that Americans (i.e. “white people”) must suffer to the depths in order somehow be reborn, be cleansed, be…treated for their institutional philosophy of militancy and imperialism? Whether at home or abroad, white America has its nose in everything and dictates to everyone under the sun. Except to itself.

Enter: Zemar – spookily interpreted by Lavrenti Lopes. Zemar is the Afghanistan-American (he grew up in Flushing) who initially befriends Chris (they swap trades, Zemar teaches Chris about rug weaving, who in turn gets lessons in carpentry). Their exchange of energies and ideas is affirmative and creative as they both build things…and yet, as Zemar reminds us: “Everything begins with philosophy.” Which, of course, means that there is an inherent idea behind any organized act or decision. And how we render those actions is based on ones philosophy. It is quite clear that the director wanted it to be known that America’s treatment of “the other” and its own soldiers – is quite a conscious act.

I wrote earlier that Afghan Hound is not really about PTSD in my opinion – as that skirts the issue. It is about the recognition of guilt and admission of sin. And how a white man willingly accepts his punishment – even if only it allows him to feel something stable and “real.” This is no coincidence or something to be taken lightly. The white man – cut off from his own center, his own “soul” as it were must always go to the “natives” to feel something. He must always be led, taught, entertained, or forgiven by a person of color in order to be free of his burden, his shame. He has been going to the black man for his music for centuries now – because it enables him to feel. But what he can’t seem to do is actually forgive himself. People of color throughout the world do nothing but forgive. It’s not that the colonized don’t know who they are — it is perhaps that the colonizer doesn’t know or can’t admit who he is. And the Chris Leeds of the world wouldn’t know where or how to begin to forgive…themselves. Their world is too unstable.

In one of the film’s most genuinely moving scenes, Chris announces to his friends and family — after imploring them for their American nationalism in which he excoriates everything from the A Bomb to Britney Spears – “at least the sunset is trustworthy.” He knows it’s the only thing man can rely on, the one constant that may never change and it is an emotional sunset or sunrise that he needs, he needs something to lean against that he can rely on. Zemar becomes his sunset.

It is when Zemar begins pursuing revenge on Chris that the film takes a surrealistically absurd turn. Alessandro powerfully crafts elements of Sam Fuller and Pasolini into what emerges as a kind of delicate ‘Theater of Torture’ – all executed and inflicted by Zemar who shows himself to be quite the guerilla sadist. And this is the power of Alessandro’s directing – he expresses the terrifying fact that even the oppressed’s ability to enact a reasonable or rational act of revenge – has been corrupted!

Maya Angelou once wrote that she did not believe that blacks would treat whites the same if they were in positions of power and if their roles in western society had been reversed. She wrote this in reference to Jean Genet’s play “The Blacks” (which she appeared in originally) and while she may or may not be right, in the case of Afghan Hound – revenge is something Chris wants Zemar to have and, once again like a good sacrificial lamb – he offers himself and exposes himself to Zemar’s bizarre, yet benign, S&M fantasies (the scene where Zemar rubs his hands over Chris’ combat uniform as if to indicate the homo-eroticism of Fascist military fatigues is excellent). Zemar wants this white imperialist to suffer, to be punished, to be abused…and yet for all the debasing he does – it is Zemar who comes off appearing more warped than Chris, thereby endowing Chris with more sensitivity, almost in a strange way letting him (the white audience) off the hook, since the empathy is given more to him than to Zemar. If there is a criticism I have of Afghan Hound it is that.

Lopes bothered me half way into the film, he was too cocky and his cat like prancing was off-putting at first. I also was uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons. As an African-American, I was delighted to see another man of color play a role that was complex and off-kilter. However, the “bitchiness” of the character bothered me, and at times bordered on a strange shifty eyed Arab stereotype via Peter Lorre – and yet in the last 10 minutes of the film Lopes finds a way of redeeming Zemar – not as a person – but as a character in the film. Because no matter no matter how “true to life” some movies’ people seem – one must not forget we are watching characters. And behind every character…is a philosophy.

Griffith did well as Chris – it’s a role Viggo Mortensen would’ve craved had he been 25 years younger. Griffith is a better actor, but there were times I did not believe his brooding. It would have been even more powerful if Griffith was more like his delusional white friends and had still been PRO-America and then gradually lost himself in Zemar’s Velvet Underground revenge games – discovering his own status as a racist imperialist and as a ‘pawn in the game’ but these are minor points and only ones I speak of in order to be fair and honorable to the film. To not be tough on a tough movie would be to dishonor it. And all works of art are flawed. It’s just that there are times when the artist must speak to his fellow artist and tell him exactly how his work stirred him and what questions it prompted. That’s how we all grow. It took great courage and talent to make Afghan Hound. For all his absurd “spiritual suffering” ethos, Scorsese couldn’t do it (he lacks the courage – plus he’s too busy making sure DiCaprio is brushing his teeth or God knows what) and neither could Aronofsky or any other establishment director who supposed to be known for taking risks and being honest.

American cinema does mirror the American society in that it is a socio-pathic, self-aggrandizing world that does little to change, challenge, or reflect on our history, mores, and accepted values. For this alone, Alessandro must be commended.

Final Note: Brian Alessandro’s use of wide-angle masters and subtle shifts in acting styles (look at the white American family the movie with that of the Afghani family, even the styles – within the perceived Naturalism – is different!) is effective and bristle with tension and a strange un-reconciled understanding. I am not sure how he achieved some of the things he did (which I am grateful for) but I know his work beckons repeated viewings and I hope he is a director who will continue to make honest and penetrating films.

*

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
A Message on 125th Street, Harlem NYC (2011)

A Message on 125th Street, Harlem NYC (2011)

She was a quote whore and had legs like a seagull, beautifully bent as if awaiting take-off, eager to follow the visiting ships. We’d wheeled hypnotically for hours at a time once before in different corners of the world, often flapping in a cul-de-sac of frustration. I had learned of her through a truncated message tossed from a virtual skyscraper and tried my best to reciprocate.

I’d spent the better part of my life on the wing, but my wandering had slowed when too many of my fellow searchers were snared in world wide webs devoted to no one but the faceless spirit of the machine.

She sat like a beautiful Spider Monkey cross-legged on volcanic stone, waiting at the wall.
I caught a glimpse of her from above and behind, through the scalding chinks of the coppers’ chains and the dimmed windows of their Chevy Impala. There were crumbs and old newspapers and a crushed coffee cup kept rolling back and forth under the passenger seat. They picked me up for rolling a cigarette outside of Central Park – I wasn’t even smoking, I was just rolling it. They said I broke the law and was loitering and would have to be booked and they said they had witnesses. They drove around for a while and went back to the park entrance where they snagged me. My cigarette was still on the cobblestone. They asked around if anyone had seen me rolling the cigarette. The hotdog vendor just stared at them. He must have thought it was funny.
They shoved me back in the cruiser. Now they were pissed. They drove a bit, then laughed as they blared the siren and slapped me around a bit. I wanted to fight back — but if my fury had gotten the best of me I’d never make it to the wall.

They beat me so badly, a couple of the dead mariners’ souls’ tumbled out of me spilling onto the corroded seats of the car. I began to wonder if they would turn my feet into tobacco pouches.

— from “The Albatross Wall” (2009)

The Albatross Wall

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

“What Happened to the Brother on the Block? (The NY Horror Vol.1)” – Spoken Word Recording

“What happened to the brother on the block? He turned into a Starbucks!”

Inspired by the Twilight Zone, the comedy of Pryor & Mooney, Theater of the Absurd, & the Folkways Spoken Word Recordings, this darkly-poetic satire about corporate-friendly gentrification in “21st Century Urbana” was recorded in one take in May 2010 and was mixed by Isaiah Singer, who applied spare musical arrangements and sound effects to support the “surreal midnight vulnerability” of Kangalee’s reading. The result is a perfect introduction to Dennis LeRoy Kangalee’s dramatic spoken word and fiction.  It was the first installment in a series detailing the gross bizarre suburbanization of NYC and, of course, led to his theatrical realization of “Gentrified Minds(The NY Horror Vol.2)” which includes an abridged version of this story via his now abandoned persona, the ‘Nomad Junkie’. .

Read an excerpt of the original story here.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Notes of a Devolver: Part Two

 Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery by Charles Bell, 1815.

Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery by Charles Bell, 1815.

I was sitting on the cross-town bus, heading east just barely past the park.
It was sunny and the ancient sadness of the fires roared down on us cutting through the trees and grass and the tall buildings sparkled and I remember thinking how pretty – how truly pretty – life was untouched. How amazing a sun, how incredible our land actually is. How important architecture could be…if we were as human as we think we once were. And I remember my stomach griping and bursting inside as if the plastic of my soul was beginning to stretch and finally snap.

Staring out into the sun long enough I always think about the beauty of birth and the horror of slavery. I wonder what the animals have thought. I wonder what the butterflies have thought. I certainly know what the sharks have thought. Sometimes, late at night-early in the morning far deep in the pocket of the twilight, I can hear them burp. And I have no pity for them and I explain this to the Animal Rights People. Believe me, I tell them, they have eaten a great deal more than some people ever will.

It is in the shade, only in the shade, that I can reflect upon myself. As soon as the bus dove back under and the park and the sun and the painful poetry all vanished harshly – and not without cruelty like a gambler’s luck – I am able to hide and die a little in between the tall buildings and skyscrapers which cast the only eternal harmlessness that we can still rely on. They got it all wrong – she or he or it or whomever they were that proclaimed a “little death” is in between our loins and our orgasm. All great fucks are affirmative and they give us sunshine inside where we cannot seem to be touched. A little death is not between two lovers – it is stuck somewhere between our organized madness and the revolving doors of Monday-through-Friday and the urban renewal of more shadows to lurk behind and more sadness to cover your cup.

The bus ride was peculiar as all things seem to be when you’re looking for signs. It was empty and the tryptophan roared.

The old man’s name was Harvey and he had eyes the color of smog-infested snow. At first I thought he might have been blind. His hands were like overgrown claws. His face was etched in a permanent scowl and I expected a gruff, ornery voice. But is was tender and buttery and tended to trail off and get lost in the back of his throat. He had muttered something to his sisters, two well-dressed old ladies, and it wasn’t until he pushed back his cap that I noticed the small hole in the center of his forehead, as if a tiny third eye had not quite grown in.

I looked up and read an ad on the bus: Save Darfur, People Are Dying.
Outside a homeless man struggled with his cardboard box, the wind pulverizing the flaps at the edges and sending endless newspapers into the air. I looked back at Harvey.

“You lost?” he asked.

“No…”

“Oh. You look lost.” 
I didn’t tell him I was going to a job interview. I don’t think I said anything. “I feel lost,” he said. He turned to his sisters, “We’re all lost aren’t we?”

“Hmm,” the older one said.

I got off on 66th street and walked south. Before I reached the end of the block, I turned and looked, as if I knew. Harvey stood at the corner like a face from some ancient circus poster. But with the sun dazzling the way it was I could not tell if he was smiling or frowning and from where I was standing his lips appeared to be two glistening orbs circling and crying out to God knows what.

Angels, demons, we are all the same.

*

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Notes of a Devolver

PART ONE

Trepanned girl's skull [3500 BC, Nat.History Museum, Lausanne (Rama)]

Trepanned girl’s skull [3500 BC, Nat.History Museum, Lausanne (Rama)]

SUNDAY

I can’t read the news.
It was easier to understand when I was a boy. Now, the writing seems to be just…words.
People who don’t enjoy what they do – never die. That’s cause they’re never born, they simply exist through life and they hang around like gnats, forever. Doing EVERYTHING, buying EVERYTHING, watching EVERYTHING all the while the grip on their soul gives way and leaves a tattered trail of crisp-withered tears like the leaves in a Twentieth Century autumn. 
Crick! Crick-Crattle, Flip! Crick-Crattle, Flip! That’s the sound of a dying man’s soul turning over, changing color, getting older…

*

I’ve already explained to Nancy that I’m dying. I feel myself slipping, the rot setting in between my teeth, eating away at the edges of my brain. Have you ever seen your bliss deflate like a helium balloon in the bleak corner of a public school gym in a working-class neighborhood which thinks it’s middle class? (to be in the middle is to be wedged-in-between, safe within someone’s sticky pages. The top or the bottom – but never, never the middle…)

*

Monday

The frantic sea of job interviews and emails and…how hard it is now to even look for work. It has gotten physically harder for transients who don’t want to be transients. Yes, I am one of “those” who don’t have a computer!
And the havoc I have brought upon myself: Bold unflinching masochism!

I’m taking up space. I’m a good person and I try hard and look for the goodness in people (and I usually find it much to the chagrin of most people who act ashamed as if I have found out something about them that they would rather not divulge; I realized being “good” irritates people) and am most grateful when others can overlook my sins or faults and can see a shade, a figment of the man I am trying to be.

But I am taking up space.

And I should either add something beautiful to my surroundings or simply give up the air I am breathing because life – no, the anxiety of life – is simply not worth it. I am ashamed to be part of it. And so I had to say, “YES,” when I was asked because -…Well, because I wanted to be able to tell Nancy I had a job and that I was hired and just once share a moment of victory.

The job starts tonight.
And I need this type of job the way I need a hole in the head.

*

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: