Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Feeding Mona Marie Claire": A story based on "Blood and Tears" by Danzig, as suggested by musician Andrew Tweedy of Buried Inside (8/100)

Feeding Mona Marie Claire

I graduated with a film degree and ended up with a job instead of a career. The only work I could find that required no skills but still had enough tact to sort of frown upon felony charges was a job delivering groceries to the elderly. That’s how I met Mona Marie Claire. She was an actress, still is if someone were to ask her what she does, though she’s over eighty years old and hasn’t had a leading role in fifty years and not so much as a cameo in twenty-five.

I was obsessed with writing a successful script. I kept a pad and pen sitting in the basket of the cart when I was going through the grocery store and when I wasn't at work I was writing through the night, passing out in my desk chair more often than not. I finally sold my bed, got enough money to pay postage on a couple dozen scripts.

Mona was always watching her movies when I would deliver the groceries. She knew when I was coming every week, but I don’t think she ever planned it out. I don’t think she even knew that I was aware of her acting career, let alone that the fact that it could possibly be her on the screen, bronzed and busty, sparkling with chastity in the 1950s, clutching scarves to her chest and fainting between two prospective lovers, being Mona Marie Claire better than anyone: the virginal tease.

I wasn’t sleeping very well or very much. It had been months and there was no reply from any of the scripts I sent out. When I’d go out for Mona’s groceries, I’d take all day and add on anything I wanted to the bill. First it was just a Twix, but when she didn’t notice, I did it again. In a few weeks she was feeding the both of us. She didn’t seem to care, and if she did, she never mentioned it. I would sometimes try to make small talk when dropping off the groceries, some comment about how many people were at the store or about something different on her list, but she would only nod or wave me off with a smile. The only time I heard her voice was when she had lines in whatever film it was she was watching.

I was working on a new script because I was always working on a new script, convincing myself they were becoming better and better, slowly realizing they were all just different sorts of decent. I was missing the x-factor. That’s what I was thinking about one day on deliveries. I spent so much time focusing on the one scene or shot that would define my art that I missed the idea of an ever-receding context, the idea that a scene needs to fit into a film as much as a film needs to fit into something larger than it and larger than that, even. I was about to tell Mona all of this, just gush to her in an insomniac’s ramble, but as I turned to her, I noticed the film: The Mercy Club. 1954. Mona Marie Claire’s character is Hosanna, a newly married girl thought to be living the perfect life up until her husband’s betrayal. In this scene, she is absorbing the story of her lover’s infidelity, crying with both passion and dignity, both literally and figuratively holding her head up. It’s famous in some circles, as the director called for Mona to be wearing heavy, black eye make-up, seated and looking upward as the camera shoots her from the ground. The man speaking is off-screen, but his voice is resonating through the image of those dark tears, those Mother Mary tears collecting one, two, and three before dropping from the corner of her jaw. I see this and can only think of our usual non-sequiturs. I watch until the end of the scene, the part Mona ad-libbed on set, the part where she looks at the voice off-screen and says, now smirking, “Darling, nothing lasts.”



Danzig is a band fronted by Glenn Danzig, a very angry man of very little stature. He's from New Jersey, if that explains anything. His first four albums are pretty kick ass. I was in a band that covered the majority of Danzig II, and we even paid tribute to it with the artwork and title of our second album. Danzig is also an internet celebrity and book enthusiast. He should start doing stand-up, as he's one of the funniest dudes ever, albeit unintentionally. My friend Jack met him once and said he was pretty cool, though when everyone else was on the bus, Danzig just sat in the back painting D & D figurines and looking at porno mags. Danzig is the little brother of metal culture: if you're a metalhead, you're allowed to make fun of him, and if not you can go fuck yourself, because he's awesome.

Andrew Tweedy is a member of the Ottowa, Ontario band Buried Inside. The band recently broke up (or at least decided to play a couple more shows and make no plans for new material or gigs), which is a bummer, because their last couple of albums were amazing conceptual pieces of soundscape-sludge. Their 2009 album Spoils of Failure is especially badass, as is the Eugene-Debs-influenced (amongst other things) Chronoclast from 2005. Their first two albums (1999's In and of the Self and 2001's Suspect Symmetry) have a bit more of the hardcore and straight-ahead pummeling stuff, but are still killer. In keeping with the idea that Canada is one tiny city where everyone knows everyone else based solely on the fact that they're all Canadian, I can only assume that Tweedy is meeting up for coffee later on today with Trish Stratus and the dudes from The Tragically Hip. And the members of Exciter will be out front begging for change. Check out Tweedy's solo material, where he gets all tender and lovelorn.

"In and of the Self" from In and of the Self

from Suspect Symmetry

"Time As Imperialism" from Chronoclast

"IV" from Spoils of Failure

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Jesus Christ" by Brand New, as suggested by writer Adam Gallari.

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