All notes with the topic Paul Pescador | Notes on Looking

Summer and the movies, by Paul Pescador

1. We’re sitting in traffic. It’s the first day summer. No, thats not true, its the first day that June gloom has burnt off and the heat has set in. We’re sitting in the car stuck in gridlock traffic. It’s Saturday and we’re trying to get to the beach for a birthday in Malibu. We’re dead silent; frustrated and exhausted by the heat and traffic. We sit and listen to Siri read us directions as she sends us on and off freeways. Somewhere between the 101, 105, 405 and the 710 intersection, I remember why I never go to the beach. The traffic is like Godard’s film Weekend (1967): miles and miles of traffic and car accidents. I shout out, “There better be a dead body!” When I think of summer, I think of Jacques Tati’s film, Mr Hulot’s Holiday (1954). Mr Hulot’s Holiday takes plays in a French beach town during a summer holiday. The protagonist, Monsuier Hulot (played by Tati himself), is a fumbling middle-aged man who wanders around with his trilby and pipe. We rarely hear him speak, as his humor is action-based. Hulot is reminiscent of characters developed by silent film stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton: underdogs and outsiders who constantly get themselves into trouble by pestering others. Most of the film’s characters don’t really develop — they are more types than characters: a sneaky kid who pull pranks, a naive shy heroine, and a grumpy waiter who constantly gets frustrated when anything goes wrong at the hotel. Although they are not fully developed as characters, I find pleasure in watching them....

Palm Springs and the Movies – Paul Pescador

I drive into Palm Springs, it’s early January and I’m down to see a friend from high school, someone I haven’t seen in years. I’m also there to see family, as my previous trip home, a quickie which only lasted 48 hours, didn’t go over well with my mother. On my way into the city, I pass by the Cabazon dinosaurs; these large sculptures, a 100 ton Tyrannosaurus rex and a 150 ton Apatosaurus. These structures have been used as backdrops in many films, including Paris, Texas (1984) and The Wizard (1993). I drive by hundreds of windmills alongside the mountains. I used to go hiking up those mountains. The last time I was in middle school and went with my father. We got separated from our hiking troop and were lost for hours. We were eventually found by a park ranger, after a minor search party had been sent out for us. I continue my drive and pass by Toucans, a tropical-themed gay bar, and a California Pizza Kitchen, you know what that is, and I meet my friend on the downtown strip. She insists that we go crystal shopping, so we go. She buys a clear one, which is suppose to help her with anxiety and will cleanse her chakras; and I buy a purple one, because I think it’s pretty. We walk by Forever Marilyn, a statue by Seward Johnson of the actress Marilyn Monroe. Originally installed in Chicago, Seward’s Marilyn and was moved to Palm Springs in 2012. The 26-foot tall Marilyn stands in the center of downtown in her iconic white dress from the...

Fairfax and the Movies by Paul Pescador

This summer I did a screening in Los Angeles at Cinefamily, a movie theater on Fairfax between Beverly and Melrose which screens independent/cult films. (Paul Pescador, 1 – 9, 2011-2013, presented at CineFamily in cooperation with Human Resources, August 4, 2013) A few years back, before Cinefamily opened, the venue was The Silent Movie Theater, which would occasionally screen old silent films, oftentimes with a live musical accompaniment. I first heard the story about Silent Movie Theater a year ago from a friend over brunch. She started the conversation with, “My friend was shot in the chest in that theater”. I paused and looked up from my burrito. “So my friend worked at the concession stand at the Silent Movie Theater, and the owner of the theater, who was secretly gay, his lover hired a hit man and tried to kill him off.” “Why?” “I guess he had a lot of money and wanted it. The theater was a fun side project for the owner, as he was incredibly wealthy. My friend was a family friend of his, she was in high school and would work the concession stands wherever they did screenings.” “So what happened?” “The lover hired a hit man. The agreement was that the hit man was to shoot the owner and take out anyone else who was close by, making it seem like a robbery. My friend was working the concession stand. She was shot, but didn’t die. “What happened to the owner?” “Oh he died.” “Jesus! How did they tie it back to the lover?” “Well, my friend was ok and was able to identify...

Scary Movies, by Paul Pescador

There is a moment when the summer heat finally calms and fall sneaks up on you. You feel it in the morning, cool and foggy. Different from other parts of the country, the shift in season is more subtle in LA. I notice it in the light as the harsh summer sun softens. I go to Target with Daniel and the back-to-school stuff has been put away and all the Halloween costumes and decorations are now front and center. Glittered bats, fake blood, plastic pumpkins. Fall is here. I hate when it gets dark early, I sit at my office, it’s only 5pm and the daylight is gone. As someone who grew up in Southern California, in the desert of the Coachella Valley, I recognize fall by the crispness in the air, and a wet mildewy smell that reminds me of pumpkins. I grew up in the middle of nowhere; the closest house was a few miles away. My family lived alone on a one-acre plot surrounded by tumbleweeds. When I was a child, no one came to my house at Halloween, as it seemed too scary; and not Halloween scary but murder and rape-y scary. The house was pushed back on the property, and you would have walk up a long, low-lit drive away in order access it. This need for isolation came from my father, who felt that it was the only way for him to find peace and quiet. The rest of us were not as excited by this. In middle school my mom and I would spend weeks decorating the front yard with Halloween decorations,...

LA Movies by Paul Pescador

It’s the weekend before Labor Day, the last few days of summer. My summer began late as I spent much of it finishing up a film, which was a collection of shorts that I have been working on for the past few years. Now that this project is completed, I have been spending much of the month of August watching movies. It’s so hot outside, and it is the easier to find a cool dark room to escape into than try to get work done. Not much goes on in late August; my day job has slowed down: a few emails trickle in here or there. Also most of the galleries are officially closed. Rather than spending the end of summer by the pool or even on vacation, I’m in bed watching films with a rather nasty cold. Everyone I know is sick. This illness seems to be passed between friends, similar to a kale salad at a picnic. I struggle to get out bed: used tissues are piled on the floor at my feet. I sit with a laptop and a stack of dvds. Different from a winter cold, which is so much about shivers and trying to stay warm, a summer cold is all congestion as one struggles to breathe and make one’s way through heat with 90 degree humidity. All the sheets have been thrown to floor as I can’t seem to cool down.  My house doesn’t have AC, so instead it’s filled with small fans and all the windows are open. We have dishes of water everywhere for our two chihuahuas, and we constantly take...