Monday, September 05, 2005

Temporary Structures

Labor Day Weekend in Civic Center was all about putting up temporary structures.

There was a Will Smith vehicle, "The Pursuit of Happyness," being filmed at City Hall on Sunday, and it included lighting cranes beaming in the perfect light for an interior scene.

I didn't see this happening, but the description reminded me of how frigging stupid, hidebound and almost Kabuki-like in its traditions Hollywood filmmaking can be.

Did they learn nothing from Vilmos Zsigmond in the 1970s and his use of natural light? Why the hell do we need this mixture of reality (a City Hall office) and complete unreality (the lighting from outside cranes). Use a frigging virtual set. George Lucas does. Otherwise, go with capturing reality.

When I was extremely poor (very recently, in fact) and there were no jobs of any sort to be had in San Francisco, I did anything that paid me money, and that included being an extra on a couple of commercials and one movie.

It's interesting for a while, but then the day gets very grueling, very stupid, and you wonder how little your life and your time is worth as you and everyone around you are treated as cattle.

Albert Malkin, my fellow friar from "La Forza del Destino" at the San Francisco Opera, has been an 80's capitalist pig extra in the Financial District over the last week for "The Pursuit of Happyness." You can get his account here.

Being an extra at the opera is much more fulfilling. They also treat you like cattle, but it's INTERESTING.

Every year at about this time, there is the September Springing of the Tents for Rich People's Cultural Openings.

What's annoying is that the opera, whose opening is this Friday, commandeers the sidewalk across the street from my apartment for an entire week.

However, I just ignore the signage and walk where I please.

The Spanish-speaking tent builders certainly could care less.

Across the street from the Opera House there is ANOTHER large white tent.

This is for the opening concert of the San Francisco Symphony this Wednesday.

The Opera had the upper social hand for decades over the symphony crowd, which didn't even play when the opera season was going, but there was a crucial social readjustment 25 years ago when Davies Symphony Hall opened and the Symphony left the opera house it had shared for decades.

Some socialite obviously went to war with another socialite over their respective openings, and for years all of San Francisco society has lived with the absurdity of going to TWO expensive, society openings within three days if they want to be taken seriously. If anybody knows the real history, I'd be fascinated to hear it.

The insides of the tents are sort of ghastly, at least in my experience, with sort of mildewy smells mixed with catering dishes filled with rich food, and grotesque Stanlee Gatti designer creations stressing overconsumption, and scary society women who are mostly blonde second wives mixed in with the truly scary rich old buzzards who have survived their wealthy spouses who are usually accompanied by their mostly gay male "walkers." All of this takes place over upholstered plywood on an ugly tar parking lot.

The great temporary structure in the neighborhood is still David Best's "Burning Man" pagoda/temple in the Hayes Valley, which I wrote about in my very first posting here.

And though I hate to link to the hideous San Francisco Chronicle, they have a great cartoonist named Don Asmussen (the "Bad Reporter") who did a week-long "Burning Man" set of comics that are brilliant. He starts off as the perfect prude, and ends by calling his pants a "two-legged crotch burka." Click here to see them.


p said...

great post...I’m also glad that you're impressing young French boys with your new acquired knowledge of asterix and the galois…and the reality is that being cattle sucks…
by the way did you that wang kar wai is going to remake welle’s lady form shangai?

cookie jill said...

Those tents look like part of the setup they had for the opening of the libarary. (I was schleping coffee for STarbucks up there at that time and had to serve those "well heeled" folks at the reception)

I actually had a great time being an extra for Seabiscuit. Dressed in period clothes. Being fed and watered well while watching the ponies and cameras go by at beautiful Santa was lovely. Think I got a glimpse of me on the rail for all of 1/2 second.

sfmike said...

"Seabiscuit" at Santa Anita sounds lovely. My one movie extra experience was at 16th and Valencia in front of a leftist bookstore that had been transformed, for Hollywood, into an "occult book store." Watching that part of the Mission wake up was fascinating, especially with the police doing easy movie duty telling the drug dealers/users to move it a block down to Mission Street. However, the "holding pen" for extras was an abandoned storefront that had one toilet for about 60 people who were getting more bored and tired and grumpy as the day wore on and on.

The movie, by the way, was some Reese Witherspoon - Mark Ruffalo mystical romantic romp (which sounded awful). As usual, all the lead actors looked like midgets. Ms. Witherspoon looked to be about 4'11'' and Mr. Ruffalo not that much taller. Why is it that little people tend to photograph so much prettier (and that includes porno too, according to Susie Bright)?

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