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Calcutta at the library

A week ago I hadn't seen Pike, hadn't even thought about him, since quitting the job where we'd worked together several years ago. Now suddenly he's my flatmate, sort of a pal, and maybe eventually a friend. We'll see. We got to know each other a bit better last night, and as yet we've neither decked each other nor wanted to. 

He likes his music loud, but if I insert earplugs I mostly can't hear it. At no extra charge, the plugs also keep roaches from crawling into my brain via the auditory canal as I sleep. Slept nine hours last night, rather remarkable for insomniac me, so maybe I'm already at home here.

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Today I'm doing what I haven't done for a few weeks: opening the mail and sending out zines. For anyone who's been waiting, sorry about the delay — sometimes life is hectic.

In the mail, there was a pile of pre-read zines from Norma Jean of E-Motion zine. Thank you! Due to ongoing poverty I'm unable to buy zines and unwilling to trade for them, so you're my new source for reading material. 

Norma Jean also asked me to send a post card to the U.N., supporting some silly resolution endorsing gay rights. I am absolutely for gay rights; it's the resolution that seems silly — as if a U.N. resolution would make a quarter-ounce of difference to anyone anywhere.

But sure, I sent Boutros Boutros the card, by Ghali. The United Nations has never impressed me, though. Nations are imaginary lines people kill and die for, so even 'united', nations remain a bad idea.

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I'm tightening my belt, literally and figuratively, because my new reduced budget has begun reducing my waistline. At the narrowest notch on the belt, my britches droop over my butt, so using a hammer and nail I pounded two new holes in the leather. Now the belt will hold my pants up.

I'm still fat, though. Plenty fat.

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It's movie night at the Noe Valley Library, and the show was Louis Malle's Calcutta (1969). It's a documentary about the class divisions in that city, where the unbearably poor and the insufferably rich live very separate existences.

There's no added music, no effects, no embellishments at all. We see public bathing in the harbor, stroll through Calcutta's bustling Chinatown, watch hucksters and beggars on the street, and westerners and wealthy Calcuttans playing golf at the Royal Links. There are ongoing political protests at the Parliament Building, to silently oppose a law which forbids assemblies of more than five people. We go to the horse track, where red-dotted women study their bets before the next race. We meet several of the Sadu, people who've renounced everything to become beggars for philosophical reasons. "Why have you done this?," asks Malle. "Because life is an illusion," is their answer. 

It's never boring, but Malle's narration in his French-accented English remains resolutely objective and "just the facts," so if there's a message to the movie it's "Draw your own conclusion."

My conclusion? The major difference between the inequities and cruelties of America vs those of India is just that we're accustomed to ours, so it's an eye-opener to see theirs. Malle could easily make a similar documentary about the different worlds of rich and poor of California, and I'll bet Calcuttans would be shocked to see it.

The library's presentation was spartan: The projector was on a table between the seats, so its click click click wasn't muffled behind projection-booth glass. And there was only one projector, so the lights came up for rewinding and respooling between reels. I'm not complaining, though — those breaks serve a purpose for the audience, too. It's a chance to get out of the folding metal chairs and briefly restore bloodflow to your buttocks. Next time I'll bring a cushion.

There will be a next time, though, because the movie was free and that's a hard price to beat. There's a new feature, screening once only, at 6:30 PM on the third Wednesday every month. If anyone wants to join me, you're welcome to buy me a beer and a slice of pizza afterwards.

From Pathetic Life #10
Wednesday, March 15, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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