Marvelous Abundance of Ordinary Human Life

Excerpt from Alan Moore's forward to Harvey Pekar's Cleveland:

Harvey Pekar's Cleveland[Harvey Pekar] takes care not to show a writer's hand in his immense body of work, placing the emphasis on his exquisite eye and ear. This is where his genius resides: not in elaborate contrivance of baroque adventures, but in simply witnessing the marvellous abundance of astonishing phenomena surrounding him in his plain, ordinary human life. 

Whether the musicality of a co-worker's chance remark or lyric quality to some mundane transaction, Harvey notices it and then writes it down so everyone can share his fugitive perceptions. Generally impoverished, his world is nevertheless rich in observation to the point where fiction is unnessecary; to the point where making something up is practically an insult to the stunning bounty of prosaic existence. 

Every panel celebrates the worth of being who we are, and when we are, and where we are; the value of our individual lives and times, and of the shabby, legendary places where we live. 

Page 56


Humans Together

Cleveland International Film Festival March 24 — April 3, 2011

"In a world where there are no longer books we have almost all of us read, the movies we have almost all of us seen are perhaps the richest cultural bond we have. They go on haunting us for years the way our dreams go on haunting us. In a way they are our dreams. The best of them remind us of human truths that would not seem as true without them. They help to remind us that we are all of us humans together."

~ Frederick Buechner, from Beyond Words


Cleveland International Film Festival, March 27, 2010

We spent the weekend shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded cinephiles, our collective gaze fixed on the lights flickering on the cave walls.

We watched a butcher in Jerusalem let trouble stir life into his cold bones, confining a nibble of vitality to be preserved forever in a meat locker and the icy waters of a nearby spring.

We watched Joseph Brodsky gazing back at the St. Petersburg of his youth: potatoes, paintings of nudes, shelves of books, his parents dancing after the war, an orchestra of musical instruments floating in the sky like clouds.

We watched a Croatian sniper try to dodge the trajectory of his own bullets while hunting down the traumatized Little Red Riding Hood he had fallen in love with through the scope of his rifle and nearly destroyed.

We watched a Mongolian folk singer search for the lyrics to a song hidden in the unrepeatable archives of fading human memory.

We watched Renaud Capuçon perform Gluck’s Orfeo Melody on a 1737 Guarnerius violin in the Paris subway from 7:57 a.m. to 7:57 p.m to mostly indifferent commuters a couple of days before playing the same piece to a sold-out auditorium in the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Our hearts were collectively broken until a blind woman renewed our hope by venturing as close as possible to warm herself in the glow.

We watched, Juan Pujol Garcia, a double agent from Spain and his contrived network of spies convince the Nazis to prepare for an attack on Pas de Calais as the Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy.

We watched art collectors, dealers, galleries, and auction houses enthusiastically inflate the value of contemporary art to staggering and unsustainable heights through secrecy, speculation, tax strategies, and cornering markets.

Cleveland International Film Festival