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I've been to Wyoming.
Do you have Amazon Prime? Then watch Transparent.
Do you not have Amazon Prime?
Then get Amazon Prime here.
And then watch
In case you do not know, and most people do, but I may as well tell you: For 99 bucks a year, you get all your Amazon stuff shipped to you for free, two-day. And, you get all the Amazon Entertainment that is free, for free.
Transparent is a free one. Ten episodes. Gulp them down over a weekend.
Created by my sort-of friend Jill Solloway--I used to do Sit N' Spin in LA with her--Jill has done something wonderful here and I would like you to watch it.
I give away very little when I tell you the father of Transparent, played by the brilliant Jeffrey Tambor, has decided in his 70s to follow his true nature and live full time as a woman. Then, it's pretty much Jewish King Lear, with the three horrible kids vying for the spoils of an upcoming very fancy house sale. (What, No Cordelia? Ah, modern times.) Sure, I just summed it all up, too much. But honeys...it's all in the playing. And the playing here is amazing.
These smart yet clueless people are doing the best they can. They are ill-formed and need each other desperately to finish up the baking of their personalities. It's a slow burn shit show. Funny. And sad. And nothing beats watching Jeffrey Tambor become the woman he was meant to be.
Friends, it is time to get behind the Trans beings of this world. They are as real and wanting as you, me and the Mormon next door.
The three actors playing the three grown children, well, all of them hit their marks brilliantly, with the right tone.
The ex-wife of the father, played by Judith Light, is a bit cliche, but I bet she is modeled on someone who is a cliche. Plus, Judith eats the scenery. In this case, a large stainless refrigerator in a large white kitchen in a weird condo in the Marina.
Jill wrote and directed most episodes. The ones she did not write stay within the tone, spot on.
I love this show. Not every bit of it. And certainly not the final episode. Come on, Jill!
But you will see things here that are so human and funny and real, it can only happen when some new entity like Netflix or Amazon Prime says to an executive producer of a show: Go for it. We don't have any notes for you.
And what do you get when you don't get notes? You get incredible human originality. In this case it is Jill Solloway's. And it is non-cynical. It is reaching for the truth about what it is to be a human being facing your hellish self, hellish others, love and death.
You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll wish you were a trans retired Jewish professor.
Tell your friends.
And Jill, give me a job.
Words are awful tough.
People put on them what they want. No matter how clear.
I don’t care much about particular words. I like, more, how words are placed together. Each word is just okay. When some person gets up and says Vagina Vagina Vagina—I don’t think much of a point is being made. What is this Vagina doing? And why do you assume that I am compelled to react to one word, repeated?
Words lose meaning because they only have the meaning we give to them. Like money. We can decide at any time that fork no longer means anything at all.
It is essential that words, basically, keep their meaning for a few generations so when we see them we understand them. But it is truly their placement that makes the difference more than the intrinsic meaning of each word.
I love this dog in my arms today. You put that all together, you have a feeling, an action and a relationship. The words are relational. The experience of the words creates a relationship inside you with the outside when you read them. I chose love, dogand arms because those words are quite solid in meaning, for us. Of course for a culture that is not so fond of pooches, or sees them as food, well, that sentence means something else entirely. But it is still relational.
Slogans lose power quite fast. Fight the Power. Save the Whales. Hell No We Won’t Go. A Woman without a Man is like a Fish without a Bicycle. Though, the last one, Gloria Steinem’s, still holds some saucy vitality since each word is so clear and the choice and placement of each one is pretty spectacular. I imagine she was not so calculated, that it just came to her.
Slogans assume too much. So if someone were to say to you today Fight the Power what on earth are they assuming you think this means? Get the top dogs off your back and take some control? Shut down your computer? Or, sadly, if something powerful comes through you, fight it, because it is probably not real, perhaps something arising from your defenses? There are not enough words there and there is not enough relationship.
I do not think writing and words are as important as actions and deeds. A quiet kind of love is better than a noisy kind of person trying to make it sound like they have love in them. I do hope that writing can be a reflection of the relationship between subject and deed. And hopefully capture some of that aliveness, or deadness if necessary.
Our language will change. Mostly because the words will change. But the need that words come together in some form of clear relationship to each other will always be the same. It’s all about what is against what and how something else works against that and how if feels when it is all together.
Though this sounds very obvious or similar to a milder form of a Lenny Bruce screed about the arbitrary powerlessness of negative words, I do hope today that I think more about how words are put together. Because I am relation to the others. Even though a part of me tries to protect myself into thinking I am not.
I am in the forgiving mood today. Probably because October in New York City is about as nice as getting a bunch of virgins in heaven. We are given May, June and October as gifts for our enduring the other nine horrendous months in this town-without-its-own-weather.