Tuesday, September 04, 2001

"Film is so rarely great art that if we cannot appreciate great trash we have no business studying the cinema."
Pauline Kael
June 19, 1919 - September 3, 2001

Film critic extraordinaire, Pauline Kael, died yesterday from Parkinson's at age 82. Kael's writings have inspired generations of film makers and film lovers, and helped promote the careers of such directors as Robert Altman and Martin Scorsese. The quote above (from memory, I apologize if it's not accurate) has always been one of my favorites. I feel it's the film criticism equivalent of Emma Goldman's quote, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

Also said yesterday, at a campaign rally in Minneapolis for a local Mayoral candidate: "My attitude is you win some, you lose some, and then there's that little-known third category" - Al Gore, 9/3/01.

Meanwhile, in the wake of more shark attacks in one season than anybody can remember, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has pulled a series of billboards saying, "Would You Give Your Right Arm to Know Why Sharks Attack, Could it be Revenge? Go Vegetarian, PETA." A rare show of good taste from PETA.

One theory for why there have been so many shark attacks this year is that we have now trained the sharks to not fear us, and to see us as a source of food. This is because many scuba and sight-seeing tours now do shark petting. Yes, shark petting. The tour guide feeds the sharks and gets them to circle the boat. While the sharks are distracted with the food, brave (? how about stupid?) tourists reach out and pet the sharks. Wake up folks, this isn't the Discovery Channel here. You fuck with nature and nature will fuck with you.

My own experience with sharks in the wild is limited to the smallish Sand Sharks that follow the fishing boats off of Cape Cod. When we were growing up my paternal grandparents had a house in Onset where all the Goldstein Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins would gather every summer. My uncle Phil would be up every morning before the sun to go fishing.

I remember one occasion when I went with him. He did not have a boat of his own, so we were out on a boat with about twenty or thirty fishermen and a crew of maybe four or five. I had fun trying to fish, but seeing as I don't eat them, I wasn't too motivated to catch them. As the blood and guts of our catch piled up on deck, more and more of the Sand Sharks would be following us, waiting for the rejects that might be tossed back.

When they'd get too bold, and get tangled in people's lines, the boat's crew would haul the sharks up on deck, take a sledge hammer, and smash its head in. I don't recall if they were thrown back, as a warning to the other sharks, or if they were kept for dinner. But that was the end of my career as deep sea fisher.

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