Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Bobby, the Death of a Kennedy

Time is my most valuable possession and I am trying not to fritter it away but it is also good just to sit in the sun and enjoy the enveloping warmth and for life in all its variations to pass by oblivious to my existence. I used to have fear of disappearing unnoticed but of late it seems a pity not to enjoy what is immediately available, especially as none of us can ever know that we could happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, including in our own homes.

I find difficult to bear that life is being cut short by individual or collectives acts which are unnecessary or which could and should have been different. This thought occurred to me late last night while watching Bobby and unusual film about the last day in the life of Robert Kennedy, seen through the experience of a number of fictional characters who were in the hotel at the same time as his assassination. Film critics including those I usually agree with disliked the film which I thought was brilliant because it concentrated on what ordinary people were doing and interested in at the time the razzmatazz of the primary election was taking place. It my view that many of these characters were played by outstanding actors added to the point being made that party politics and government is only minor part of most people's lives although individual politicians can have a significant effect through that combination of charisma and ability to tune in and express the moods and aspirations of the people. What they then do or are able to do if they get into power is another issue.

In the film Anthony Hopkins plays the retired doorman who cannot keep away especially when big personalities are visiting the hotel. He is accompanied on a day time visit by his find Harry Belafonte who bemoans about having to get up three times each night for pee while Hopkins recites all those who he has greeted in the past to Harry who has heard it all before several times, and wants to drink double single malt whiskies in preference to the cup of tea suggested by Hopkins. He gets to welcome Kennedy into the Hotel. Martin Sheen(he the West Wing President (the father of the filmmaker), plays an important campaign donor staying at the hotel with his wife, Helen Hunt, although the film does not make clear what he hopes to gain through a Kennedy administration, except perhaps being part of the society around the hoped for new administration. His wife is one of those shot on the night as they assassin attempts to escape.

Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings) plays a young man getting married at the hotel in a hurry to avoid being drafted into the Vietnam war and he is also one of those shot.

The Hotel's Manager, William Macey is having an affair with a hotel telephonist whose wife, the in house hairdresser and beautician played by Sharon Stone finds out from the disgruntled racist food and drinks manager who he has sacked because he is not allowing the Mexican employees time off with pay to go out and vote. The Food and Drinks manager (Christian Slater) one of those who take a bullet and in fairness to him he has been struggling to staff the Catering department because of the party being held for the result night and that there is also a major singing star appearing in the night club, (Demi Moore ) who has become an alcoholic and who is due to sing for Bobby at the campaign party, whose husband is played by the film maker and who walks out of the hotel unable to cope with self destructiveness of his wife.

There are two other groups of characters, one having a real life existence. A Mexican busboy (table waiter) is unable to attended an important baseball game where he was going to take his father for the first time, because he has no alternative but to work a double shift. He gives his tickets to chef Laurence Fishbourne for free who comments there is something special about the young man who cradles Bobby in his dying moments placing a rosary crucifix in his hand, as happened during the actual assassination.

The second group are campaign staff one a young unassuming black man who organises the campaign transport and where his colleagues affectionately refer to him as the next Transport Secretary(Minister) gets to meet the candidate in his hotel room as a surprise reward for his efforts only to have his heightened commitment and aspirations dashed a few minutes later, although he is consoled by a Black Telephonist who recognises his voice and has made initial contact with him. Other campaign staff are less fortunate with two shot, one who has just gone on his first acid trip with a friend having acquired the stuff from resident drug pusher, introduced to the two by a member of the coffee shop staff.

The film is brilliant and merited its nominations and awards because it intersperses these stories with contemporary footage of the campaign, especially the speech of Robert Kennedy about the need to tackle the gun and violence culture in the USA and the causes of such violence. The film is not just an interesting way of dramatizing an historical event because released in 2006, it is noted that the young assassin was a Palestinian. My fear is for the position of the man could become the first Afro-American president of the U.S.A.

The previous evening I had made a mixture of a meal from the rest of the Tex Mex and some Indian starters accompanied by the last glass of a excellent Chilean Shiraz Colchahua Los Romeros estate grown and bottle. It was a soft and smooth red and I look to see if I have the second and for the first time consider abandoning getting only two bottle of a wine as part of new case of 12 every three months. In contrast to the previous horrible weather night at cricket the sun was out again and it was warm evening as I made my way by car to the sea front in order to catch the start of the evening concert at the Amphitheatre.

As last year I climbed the steps, although there is also a long ramp, to the top deck of the covered walkway from which you can lean over a wall to look directly on to the bands or singers and where this year are playing under a weather proof awning, and over the assembled crowd to the Minchella café and Ice Cream kiosk to where about a score of bikers were parading their brightly covered expensive their trophies, I nearly said weapons, or if the music is not brilliant one can cross over the walkway and lean over the wall to view of Tynemouth Priory and Castle ruins to the North, or the Trow Rocks to South or just out across the large expanse of a beautifully kept clean beach to where there were some walkers and a few surfers. The combination of this view, the sound of the waves and a mixed crowd enjoying themselves was heavenly and it felt so good to be alive.

I was justified in getting therefore the first band whose name I did not note but whose music I would like to hear again, Two boys, one a drummer and two girls, the main vocalists demonstrated that they are excellent musicians reproducing a Pink Floyd sound in one number and where the girls create a good sound as did the male vocalist. The reason for being unable to give their names is that they were listed as part of the Cave Showcase, a local development which promotes and develop young teenage musicians and dancers. The extent of the local support was demonstrated by a young singer who performed four numbers with backing tracks and while still learning her craft clearly has potential and was supported by a identifiable group off friends and family. The final band was a more established group with an energetic male lead singer with an existing following. I estimated the audience to be around 300 to 350 with some stopping for a while as they passed by and some departing and arriving during the two hour show. Most were teenagers, but there were young girls doing cartwheels on the concrete where one could only admire their self confidence although as a parent I would have insisted they did so on the grass. There were a few oldies like me and the only discordant note was the sound of the skateboarders who were using the covered area below the top walkway. I could especially then during the girl singer and if it is a regular event I will make a complaint, especially the council has provided a special area nearby.

It was then time for the Big Brother eviction show where if there was any justice the young woman who had performed so pathetically in the first game task and had then campaigned ruthlessly to have the male of the real couple evicted would be the first selected to go. She also appeared to be seeking comfort from a man who had disclosed that he had a girl friend in the outside world and she appeared to get very frustrated when he failed to respond to her. Hooray, she was evicted, although the majority of the other contestant appear too thick to grasp the significance of this development. One girl has been warned for her filthy mouth and tempter and being exceptionally obnoxious although she was not consigned to the house prison although is the most likely candidate. The level of the programme, the residents, those who participates in the spin off programmes and attend the evictions confirms the true nature of English society. But then it has to be said I not only watch the programme but also look at the on line edition of the Sun and which with the New York Times which I also look at a very efficient in sending me emails alerting to every news worthy flashes as they happen. As I also watch the political programmes and get myself out and about I like to kid myself that I am more in touch with the spirit and aspirations of ordinary folk than most politicians.

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