Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Lili, the Co-Op board, and Sweet Sweetback

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song - It's a very unconventional film, and something that gives an idea of how many blacks were treated in places such as Los Angeles about 50 years ago.  It was something I've wanted to see for a long time, and tonight was that chance.

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When I woke up today, I had 3 things on my docket:
  • Lunch with Lili, followed by foundation undergarment shopping.
  • Co-Op board meeting, where we dealt with urgent issues (which I can't discuss here.)
  • Going to the Drafthouse to watch a classic movie.
With a busy schedule like this, I got up earlier than usual and shaved, showered, made up, and dressed as Marian before driving to Millwood to meet Lili.  We then took her car to Mt. Kisco, where we went to a restaurant she raved about on her last visit.

Arriving in Mt. Kisco, we parked in front of the restaurant only to find that the parking meter wasn't working.  Lili left her car in the spot expecting a ticket, and we went to the restaurant. We weren't sure if the restaurant was open, as someone stuck some Pennysavers in the handles, and we had trouble opening the door.  Luckily, someone opened the door for us, and we went inside to enjoy a nice meal.
After lunch, Lili thought we could walk to the Elephant's Trunk where she could buy some foundation undergarments. She needed to make her breasts look nice while hiding the "bump" on Lili's back.  We were over 2 blocks away from the store, so I insisted that she drive to the store.  Later on, she admitted that this was smart advice, as she had a 3 pm Veterinarian appointment for her 2 dogs, and couldn't risk running late. For obvious reasons, this was my first time in this type of store, as I buy all my female undergarments online, or from stores such as Catherine's.  And it was nice to be in a place to totally dedicated to femininity as this store is.

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Once done shopping, Lili dropped me off at my car and drove home the long way.  At home, it was off with the dress, makeup, wig and other things that help define me as Marian. Then, I changed into Mario and went to the board meeting - which lasted over 3 hours.  Sadly, I can not yet talk about what we discussed. But once things become public, I'll talk about what will be publicly available.  Unfortunately, our problems need to be addressed quickly, and we will need to focus on the most important of them until we have a resolution. I ended up leaving the meeting after 3 1/2 hours.  Although it was closing down when I left, there was still more I had to say to our president - both board business and personal business.

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Rushing to the Drafthouse, I made it with a few minutes to spare before Sweet Sweetback went on.  And I was not disappointed by the film.  If I described the film as a man's escape from a crooked LA police force, making it to Mexico and safety, I'd be doing the film an injustice. The film has violence and sex. Yet, both are appropriately used in the telling of the story. And I could describe it as social commentary on race relations in the USA 50 years ago, but that wouldn't give enough credit to the film maker for telling a good tale of a man on the lam. Its star, Melvin Van Peebles applied for, and received workers' compensation for his work on the film:

Van Peebles couldn't afford a stunt man, he performed all of the stunts himself, which also included appearing in several unsimulated sex scenes. At one point in the shoot, Van Peebles was forced to jump off a bridge. Bob Maxwell later stated, "Well, that's great, Mel, but let's do it again." Van Peebles ended up performing the stunt nine times. Van Peebles contracted gonorrhea when filming one of the many sex scenes, and successfully applied to the Directors Guild in order to get workers' compensation because he was "hurt on the job." Van Peebles used the money to purchase more film

Certainly, this has to be the most interesting way one can get into a situation where one can collect workers' compensation.  And this film is NOT pornographic. Some people called it the first Blaxploitation film. I prefer to think of the film Shaft this way. On the Drafthouse's page for this film, the plot is summed up this way:

Melvin Van Peebles stars as a black orphan raised in a brothel and groomed to be a sex show performer. Set up by his boss and two corrupt cops for a murder he didn’t commit, Sweetback escapes custody and is thrust into an increasingly hallucinogenic world of violence and bigotry where no one can be trusted, and the possibility of death lurks at every corner…

I highly recommend seeing this film at least once.  It's not a great film.  But it is an important one.

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Given that I didn't have a chance to talk with GFJ this evening, I called her on my way home from the movie.  Surprisingly, she was at the office - and we chatted on my drive home.  We came up with an idea that could save her some money, transferring some of their office building sale risk to the Wasband in exchange for her absorbing the risk on the sale of their house.  Hopefully, this may be the germ of an idea which could help her separate her interests from her ex's as quickly as possible.

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PS: Years later,  Melvin's son, Mario Van Peebles made a film (Baadasssss!) about his father's struggles in the making of Sweetback.  Hopefully, I'll get the chance to see that film soon.

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