I once saw a small stage play in Los Feliz based on the dissolute life of Dylan Thomas. I forget the name of the play but I was affected by the production and the immediacy of the small auditorium-sized playhouse venue. The vivid nature of the poet’s tortured existence and death were close enough to touch. The play ended with Thomas’ death, naturally, but the Christmas theme permeated the play. The final scene was ushered out by my favorite Christmas dirge, “Little Drummer Boy.” Funny that I always liked the song but it wasn’t until I saw the play that I carefully listened to the lyrics and was able to appreciate its message, which in the play, embodied the soul of a lonely, soul-stricken poet with nothing to offer but his words and art. The lonely path of every monomaniacal artist.
I saw the play alone. I don’t recall being drunk, but it was the ideal play by which to get loaded. As the final Christmas carol faded into the stage’s darkening finale, a shiver ran up my spine as I listed to the lyrics. Yes, even I, the atheist heathen that I am, was touched by the Christian sentiment. The shiver ran up my spine because I was flooded by memories of many a childhood Christmas spent in front of the television soaking in the the holiday spirit as I watched the story of the Little Drummer boy who brought his injured lamb to the Baby Jesus in the hopes of a miraculously feat of healing. In return, the boy beseeches the Jesus for help in exchange for his song since he professes to have nothing of material value to offer. I was always struck by the song’s anti-materialistic humility. I bought the VHS tape and replayed it often. Listening to the song as it accompanied the dramatic portrayal of Dylan Thomas’ poetically tragic life, I was touched by the proposition that many of us have only our souls to offer. How much are those worth?
This is the song that reduces my hardened heart to a soft warm pile of mush every Christmas. I’ve never liked upbeat Christmas crap like “Deck the Halls” or “Feliz Navidad”…I can’t stand those. In fact, they make me ill! They do nothing to convey what I imagine Christmas should truly represent. The story of the Little Drummer Boy encapsulates all that Christmas means to me.
It might be easy for me to spout some hollow bullshit that people utter mindlessly this time of year…”this is what Christmas is all about” as if stating some mysterious kernel of wisdom that no one has considered. This is what Christmas is all about! You know…about being poor and singing to Jesus and hoping he can heal your injured lamb.
It’s all BS. I’ll tell you what Christmas is all about.
Christmas is not about touching displays of humanity. It’s not about the spiritual.
Courtesy of Facebook, it’s about this:
That’s right. It’s about Tiffany. It’s about overpriced, pretentious garbage.
Christmas is pop culture on steroids. Christmas is about gifts and reprehensibly immature consumerism. Christmas is about last-minute shopping and zombie hordes looking for sales. Christmas is swarms of faux pious souls who decide to worship one day out of the year; Christmas is about lights and trees and Santa Claus and all that frenzied soulless commercialization.
That’s what the hell Christmas is.
There is nothing religious about this day; the only worship involved is the worship of the 4th Quarter’s profit margin and the ever persistent clamor of society’s default manner of appraising Christmas season’s sales as an overall indicator the economy’s health. Did we spend more or less this year? Christmas is black Friday and free shipping and lines.
Christmas my ass.
After the annual morning trek to my parent’s house to gobble down a couple of tamales for breakfast, I headed back home and endeavored what to do this fine Christmas day.
It’s Christmas, I thought, surely the movie theater would be empty. I drove my son to a theater nearby and noticed that quite a few people were lined up to catch the mid-afternoon performances. Dismayed to note that my idea wasn’t quite so unique, I bought a couple of tickets for “Black Swan” for $19.00. How the times have changed. Before the movie, we endured the predictable and wearisome stream of trailers. A couple seemed memorable, one, not so much…
First was a trailer for “Rabbit Hole,” a promising cerebral tear-jerker with Nicole Kidman as a grieving mother of a young boy who is killed in an accident. Obviously, with such light-hearted subject matter, the temptation is for the director to milk the tear ducts with an abundance of lazy sentimentality. I could be wrong, and trailers are designed to give us the wrong impression, but this movie still looks like a promising and thoughtful examination of a very painful subject.
And if this movie is a tear jerker, next up on the trailer march was a preposterous-looking piece of chick-flick crap that looks like another in the long series of moronic cinematic offerings seemingly spawned from the distended guts of the equally moronic “Friends” NBC television series. This movie, “No Strings Attached,” looks like a complete piece of emasculated entertainment, Beta schmucks included.
The final trailer, “The Tree of Life,” was easily the most mysterious offering. Starring Brad Pitt, the story line, as suggested by the vague trailer, is difficult to ascertain and seems to involve the element of fatherhood and some young boys. Don’t know quite what to make of it, but I’m interested!
And the feature, the afternoon’s headline, “Black Swan.” I loved the movie. I told my son that this was one of those rare movies which keeps me so spellbound that I barely move at all in that span of time between the opening and closing credits. “Black Swan” ingeniously weaves the classic “White Swan” tale through the faltering sanity of Natalie Portman’s character and plays off the intricacies of the fictional story against the backdrop of the real life events of the movie. It’s hard to go wrong with movies about descent into madness! That is the way I look at it. And for all you saps who are tired of getting no or innaccurate results from Googling “Natalie Portman lesbian love,” your luck is finally about to change.