Tuesday, April 2, 2013
LONGTIME NO SEE
I remember when I first saw 'Longtime Companion' at the movies. I hated it. I was in my very early twenties, idealistic and opinionated. I was living in Lisbon, in Europe, and I and my arty friends had tongues making nests in our cheeks. My friend hated the movie even more. I had never been to New York City, and this was not how I wanted to see it - this gilded ghetto cage of fading white moneyed faces, (so telling, the Fire Island scenes of the Pines house floating above the foliage, the real world blotted out and invisible below). This ain't no hip hop. This ain't no No Wave or even new wave. It was operatic dinner parties and hi energy fizzling out. Blacks and hispanics and rice queens were not invited to the last days of disco, even if they soundtracked it. "The Saint Disease" it was first called, and that is a history I came to understand through work and personal experience.
The fact it was about people dying, a tide of accumulating rot, swelling and gaining strength, rolling over the darkening sky on the beach was the most distasteful part. I failed to have a heart for this peculiar, more monied-than-thou ghetto, even as they died faster and more painfully than the rest of us outside of it.
The ghetto never died in New York. It did become more inclusive, these days all can rest there and go to high tea. The Pines, if anything, is more monied than ever. Aids never went away either - it took on different shapes, it became the perfect cross-dresser. I watched 'Longtime Companion' again last night and I forgave it, because there was nothing to forgive. These people did die, and it had to have been horrible. This is New York, and all the movie wanted to do was show them and honour them. They deserved to flicker across the silver screen, because now they are gone, all gone.