' Cinema Romantico: The April 29th Birthday Vortex

Monday, April 29, 2013

The April 29th Birthday Vortex

"Sedona is famous for its so-called vortex sites, spots where the earth's energy is supposedly increased, leading to self-awareness and various kinds of healing. (Think of them as spiritual hot tubs without the water.)" - Dwight Garner, New York Times

I have been to Sedona. When I lived in Phoenix what seems like 1200 years ago my friends/roommates and I took my Mom when she visited up to the site of the vortexes. I felt nothing. It was beautiful, sure, all the wide-ranging vistas and the immaculate Chapel of Holy Cross, but I will confess that I never felt the spirit stirring within me. And I think I know the reason - it is because April 29 is my own spiritual hot tub without the water.


The first real memory I have of watching “Seinfeld” is Jerry and George deciding to masquerade, respectively, as Murphy and O’Brien in order to score a free limo ride that, as it must, goes haywire when it turns out O’Brien is “the leader of the Aryan union.” While I confess it’s entirely possible that I am mis-remembering this moment – that the first time I ever watched “Seinfeld” may have been earlier (my mother was watching “Seinfeld” in those days when no one knew about it) or later – this would have placed my seismic “Seinfeld” moment in the winter of 1992.

It was the summer of 1993, of course, when I encountered Daniel Day Lewis as the heroic Hawkeye in “Last of the Mohicans” on the same TV in that same basement and felt my life change for better or worse (probably worse).

It was the spring of 1995 when I finally decided to go and see this “Pulp Fiction” everyone was talking about and became entranced with this Mia Wallace – the character, of course, and the actress, sure, but mostly the………performance.


These were the three most vital elements of my indoctrination to the visual arts. “Seinfeld” showed me what was funny – or, more accurately, what I considered to be funny. Episode after episode there were lines and reactions and situations that made me laugh so hard I would be laying on the floor (literally!) with tears streaming down my face (literally!). I had seen and heard funny things before and I have heard and seen funny things since but “Seinfeld” is my comedy summit, forever and always.


“Last of the Mohicans” made me a devout patron of the cinema even if I did not realize right away that this is what it had done. I had been moved and amazed and overjoyed by other movies and by books and by music but it was “Last of the Mohicans” that made me realize what art was truly capable of and gave me the strongest and most critical push toward the movie zealousness I now inhabit.


Uma Thurman in “Pulp Fiction” made me realize what a performance in a movie could be. As a child raised on certain old-fashioned films of the late 30’s and early 40’s and on 80’s ridiculousness I had never seen an actress/actor doing quite what she was doing – existing in both eras at once. It was never that I was aware that Uma was Mia or that Mia was Uma but up until that point actors and performances were, in my mind, a fusion – I simply could not separate one from the other. Uma as Mia made me realize what could be accomplished by a performer. (“You can get a steak here, daddy-o.” The line is retro but the delivery isn’t retro. That’s what Uma did with Mia.)

So what do these three bits of historical personal business have to do with April 29th being my spiritual hot tub? Simple.

Today is the birthday of Jerry Seinfeld and Daniel Day-Lewis and Uma Thurman.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go meditate.

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