Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Levity is an Irresistible Temptation

Youth has no age, Picasso famously said. Never ask a woman her age, my mother always told us.

Despite evidence to the contrary, I don't think of myself as old but sometimes I am reminded of how long I've been around.

Robert Stigwood died a few days ago and if you weren't around in the '70s, this is probably meaningless news to you. But for some of us, he's the man who shaped the pop group the Bee Gees into the disco powerhouse that defined "Saturday Night Fever," thereby ensuring that scores of us draped ourselves in polyester and platform shoes to dance until the clubs closed.

So if he's dead, so is part of my youth.

For that matter, I heard a performance on the radio today by the Flaming Groovies - easily one of the best band names ever - who first came onto my radar in the mid-'70s with "Shake Some Action," four and a half minutes of pure power pop perfection.

They're touring again despite no longer being in the flush of youth...or anywhere near it.

Then there was tonight's entertainment, seeing Paolo Sorrentino's "Youth" at the Criterion, where I witnessed one employee informing another that there's a difference between the popcorn at Criterion and that right across the parking lot at Movieland, despite both having the same owners.

"It's creamier here," this callow youth insisted, tossing  a mouthful in his open gob. "Over there, you take a bite and it's dry." Mine was creamy with a hint of crunch and way too much butter.

The beautifully-shot film had a meditative quality as two long-time friends played by Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel met for their annual vacation in the Swiss Alps. There was not so much a story as a series of vignettes, some of the two aging men discussing the past and present and other more dream-like sequences that contributed to the other-worldly quality of the film.

Their discussions of the aging process were beautiful as they walked through the bucolic countryside and bittersweet as they realized how much of their lives were in the rear view mirror (and most of childhood already forgotten entirely), while observing the youth around them, certain that they had no clue how fleeting it would be.

It's true. One night (or actually many) you're dancing to "How Deep is Your Love" and the next thing you know, Robert Stigwood is dead and it feels nothing like four decades in between.

My flaming groovy years may be behind me, but I still feel as ready to shake some action as ever. If you don't believe me, try me.

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