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Intellectual House o' Pancakes Webdiary

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2007-07-15 - 7:47 p.m.

Remember when swing dancing made a big comeback about 7 or 8 years ago, and you could barely navigate down Broadway for all the lindy-hoppers and jive hepcats swingin' all over the place?

"Please, just let me get to the subway entrance. I beg of you!"

"That's some off-time jive, queenie. We're just havin' a ball!"

I hated that shit. When is it due back?

I made the mistake of watching Grey Gardens alone. Like a horror movie, or the Grammy's, it's really best to watch this documentary with friends, otherwise it's just you and the Bealeses (and the Maysleses) alone in a room, confronting everything you fear about aging, craziness, loneliness, housekeeping.

If you haven't seen it, I'll summarize: it asks the questions: when does eccentricity cross the line to schizophrenia? What's the difference between "artistic temperament" and narcissism? What is the proper relationship between an adult child and her parent? These are all questions that have plagued me for a long time, too.

It is mildly horrifying to listen to the conversation between the isolated residents of this crumbling mansion, and witness as it flows from coherent and uplifting and wise to muddled and dark and wrong, within the space of a few lazy exchanges.

Also, it is set in the mid-70s...Seeing documentary footage from that era instantly presses a sad and suffocating button for me.

Anyway, it's a brilliant movie, and like all the Maysles stuff, highly recommended, but beware!

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