Archive for April, 2016
I was dreaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray. I’ve been trying to write about Prince since the terrible news broke early Friday morning, Manila time. It seemed important to get the word out before all the commentators had picked the bones clean, shaken their heads over his weirdness, and made quips about “The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.”
They would not be wrong. He was weird, with a pure and honest weirdness that was not calculated for image-making, and he created a universe in which it wasn’t even worth remarking upon. At the height of his conflict with his record label, he did change his name into an unpronounceable symbol. This is cited as another instance of his weirdness, but let’s not forget that it hurt his record label, and it cost him millions. How do you buy albums by an artist whose name you can’t say? In his desire to get out of that contract, he churned out albums faster than the record company could sell them.
When Steve Rogers, bruised and bloody from fighting with a fully-armoured Tony Stark, puts up his fists and says, “I can do this all day,” it takes us back to the first Captain America movie and the frail little guy he used to be, and it reminds us that what makes Cap a hero isn’t his enhanced abilities or his fighting skills. It’s his spirit. He won’t quit.
We’re going to need that thought in the coming days.
Watch the movie. Reserve your tickets. Yay, Ant-Man!
On the morning of May 31, 1977, residents of Antipolo — a mountainous municipality just east of Manila — saw a military helicopter circling low over a deserted area. Minutes later something fell out of the helicopter onto the rocks below. Then the aircraft clattered away.
Curious residents ran to see what had fallen.
They found the bloody, battered corpse of a young man. He had been cruelly treated. His head was bashed in, there were burn marks and dark bruises all over his body. On his torso, an examining doctor would later count 33 shallow wounds apparently gouged with an ice pick. Several meters away from where the body had fallen, somebody found an eyeball.
The police came, took the corpse to a funeral parlor and started the process of identifying the remains. Somebody remembered a news story about a teenager who had been missing for more than two weeks. He was 16-year-old Luis Manuel “Boyet” Mijares, son of Primitivo, a former aide of the dictator, President Ferdinand Marcos.
Later that day, the phone of Manila Judge Priscilla Mijares rang. Journalist and family friend Teddy Owen tried to break the news about her son gently to her, advising her to send somebody to the Filipinas Funeral Parlor to identify the victim.
The person she sent called back with the devastating news: “It’s your boy.” All that remained of her good-looking boy was a mangled, tortured body.
He had been kidnapped, because shortly after he vanished the family had started receiving phone calls demanding a ransom of P200,000.By then, Boyet’s sister Pilita recalled, a Philippine Constabulary official named Panfilo Lacson (who became a Philippine Senator in 2001) had been assigned to the case and managed to trace one of the calls to a building inside the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City.
Although the family told the kidnappers they would pay the ransom, the calls suddenly stopped.
Over the objections of the police, Judge Mijares had followed Owen’s advice to leak the news of her son’s kidnapping to the dailies. The news came out on May 30.
The next day, Boyet’s mangled body was found.
From Chris Marker’s sublime short film La Jetée to James Cameron’s Terminator, from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to Back to the Future, time travelers have been finding that you can’t just go back to the past to correct the present. You end up with a whole new set of problems. The latest to grapple with these complexities is Jake Epping, a high school English teacher who is convinced to go back to the Sixties in order to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. As Epping is portrayed by James Franco, this comes with special circumstances. When Franco’s character emerges in the Sixties, won’t strangers accost him on the street to ask for James Dean’s autograph? And which James Franco will show up: the performance artist who churns out endless versions of himself, the disinterested emcee at the Oscars, or the amazingly empathetic actor who made us feel like our own arms were being sawed off in 127 Hours?
At National Bookstore, Php669 up.
I was blind, she a falcon
by Joanna Biggs
Are Elena Ferrante’s four Neapolitan novels even books? I began to doubt it when I talked about them with other people – mostly women. We returned to life too quickly as we spoke: who was your Lila, the childhood friend who effortlessly dazzled everyone? Or – a question not happily answered – were you Lila? S. said she had got back in touch with an estranged friend to give her the first volume in the series; K. felt that, impossibly, embarrassingly even, the books captured how she’d gone about finding an intellectual identity for herself. And we couldn’t stop talking about the experience of reading them: S. read under sodium-orange streetlight while smoking a cigarette outside a pub, unable to break off to go in to the friends waiting inside; E. had a week of violent dreams after she finished the first volume; A. had sleepless night after sleepless night to finish them, and walked to work the next morning her head still full of Naples; B. – a man – couldn’t go on reading as he started to feel bad about being a man. I got so confused about what was real and what was not while reading Ferrante on a train that I kept on forgetting that I hadn’t missed my station. The usual distance between fiction and life collapses when you read Ferrante. She knows it too: writing the Neapolitan quartet, she has said, was like ‘having the chance to live my life over again’.
Read it at the London Review of Books.