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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Paris Days 29 - 33 - bounce


When it comes to obscenity, I alternate unpredictably between prudishness and Tourette's, and so I have spent about half the time since posting the last entry embarrassed about the title ("fuck la crise"). I was also embarrassed to miss three postings in a row. That turned into five thanks to an incident that gave me new reason to regret "fuck la crise" - life has issued a little warning that the reverse is much more likely to be true.

My laptop is dying. It's a four and a half year old PowerBook that I have handled as though it were made out of spun sugar - not once did I bring it to a cafe, leave it in a hot car, feed it crumbs, or submerge it in bathwater. It's 25 percent past its life expectancy making it, in human years, something like 103. It is exhibiting symptoms consistent with extreme senility - dementia, irritability, a tendency to wander, inability to form new memories, and a kind of twilight zone between sleeping and waking that has manifested itself in the sleep light always being on, for example right now as I type this blog entry into it. This thing with the light was the result of a progressive deterioration, which began with an intermittent but very bright flickering that gathered in intensity and duration, and as anyone who has suffered through Afterwards well knows, that is nothing less than Death flashing his brights and telling you the time is nigh.



Though on some level I understand my existence as a writer to be predicated on others' enjoyment of my suffering, it seems like the height of bad taste for me to dwell on what this death watch has been like for me. Who wants to hear about other people's technology problems? I seriously think the rate of suicide from boredom must have doubled among bartenders after PCs became commonplace. Suffice it to say that I no longer need the ghosts of this old monastery/hospice/military hospital to wake me up, my heart racing, at two in the morning.

The frustrating thing is that I feel like I'm so close to being able to pull this off. Juliette once put it this way after I had a big memory slip near the end of a 110-minute recital: "You go on a long trip, you're on the road a month, then you're on your way back and two blocks from home you have a wreck." The trick to this whole three-and-a-half-year self-employed filmmaker/writer/violinist journey of mine is that it was always a viable path as long as nothing expensive happened. For the 18 recent and interminable hours in which my laptop would not respond to electricity, tears or threats, I glimpsed the end of the road, and it was a tall and very hard wall.



"About la crise," one of you wrote in last week. "Don't obsess (unless it's exciting): you're smart; you're sexy; more important you know how to
bounce."

I like this thought, especially that last part. I want it to be true. To make it true I need to ask your help. In order to deal with my technology meltdown, to make it through this next, hopefully last stretch before the book is finished and put up for sale, and to get me through to May when I can embark on some institutional fundraising for my video projects, I'm passing the hat among readers of this blog.

If this blog has given you any pleasure, provided any insight, or distracted you from something unpleasant you really should have been doing, like work, please consider making a donation. Any donation - $5, $10, it doesn't matter - will earn my profound gratitude (writers are always shocked to be paid).

I'm also offering these tokens of my gratitude for more substantial support:
Giving is easy - for gifts of less than $35 (or if you don't want the tax letter), you can use PayPal to paulfesta@gmail.com or send a check, made out to me, to 3482 22nd Street, Apt. B, San Francisco, CA 94110.

For gifts of $35 and more, ODC Theater - where I have a three-year residency - is acting as my fiscal sponsor and can provide you with a receipt for tax purposes. Please send a check
made out to ODC Theater to the following address:

Rob
Bailis
Director, ODC Theater
351
Shotwell Street
San Francisco, CA
94110 - re: Paul Festa

Please include a note indicating that the donation is toward my residency. Please also send me email letting me know that you have donated so that I can make sure you get your receipt and gifts.

If you can't give right now, I understand. Believe me I understand. I hope you keep reading.

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Paul Festa’s first film, Apparition of the Eternal Church (2006, 51 min), captures the responses of 31 artists to the apocalyptic music of Olivier Messiaen (with Justin Bond, John Cameron Mitchell, Harold Bloom; screenings: Grace Cathedral, Barbican Centre, Library of Congress; “Remarkable”The New Yorker; “Stunning”Chicago Sun-Times; “Sublime”Globe & Mail; numerous awards). Festa performs the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, opposite members of the San Francisco Ballet and The Cockettes, in his award-winning second film, The Glitter Emergency (2010, 20 min), a silent-film drag ballet comedy (“Enormous visual and musical inventiveness…full of pleasure and joy...Festa gives a bravura performance."—Film Threat). He produced, wrote and edited, with director Austin Forbord, and was chief archivist, for the Emmy-nominated documentary Stage Left: A Story of Theater in San Francisco (2010, 80 min: with Robin Williams, Bill Irwin, Peter Coyote; screenings: Geary Theater, KQED; “Intriguing...entertaining...a valuable record”—Variety). Performances as violinist and actor: ODC Theater, Center for Performance Research, Kunst-Stoff, TheatreFIRST, North Bay Shakespeare, Albert Fuller's Helicon Ensemble (Merkin Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall). US, Boston, NYC, SF, LA and DC (Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress on the “Betts” Stradivarius) premieres of Messiaen’s Fantaisie for violin and piano. He is the author of OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, based on Apparition of the Eternal Church, and several anthologized essays, and has written for The Daily Beast, Salon, Nerve, and The New York Times Book Review. Current projects include a novel and Tie It Into My Hand (2014, ca. 80 min), a documentary feature that has screened as a work in progress at the Cannes film market and at ODC Theater in San Francisco (with Alan Cumming, Gary Graffman, Peter Coyote, Mink Stole, Robert Pinsky; "A fascinating exploration of the artistic life, as rollickingly entertaining as it is insightful and stirring."San Francisco Bay Guardian). Education: Yale (B.A.; prizes, honors, distinction), Juilliard (Cert., Adv. Cert., scholarships). Residencies: Yaddo, MacDowell, ODC Theater, Centre des R├ęcollets.

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