Luna & The Art of Racing in the Rain

I recently read the novel The Art of Racing in the Rain during a trip to the Balkans. The trip was fast and furious, just like racing cars, and the experience was wonderful, as it was reading this book. Today, I found out that Universal Pictures is turning the book into a movie and although IMDB doesn’t say much about it other than the project is being developed, I decided that writing about it was a good enough way of transitioning into writing about my dog, Luna.

To be honest, I’ve been wanting to write about Luna’s passing for quite some time. When I had to make the decision of putting her down I started thinking about all the times we spent together and everything I learned from her.

Luna and I were very similar, all or nothing kind of gals; very different from “Enzo” who is the dog and main character of the book and through whose voice and point of view we learn the story of a race car driver, his wife and daughter. In the book (and hopefully the filmmakers can find a way of doing this without entirely relying on voice over) Enzo is ready to be a human. He is ready to be in control and internal, in the same way that humans tend to be and he so admires. Instead, Luna was nuts, sometimes invigorating and often times overwhelming. She gave so much love in such an unintentional way. She had no self control, she didn’t know how to spread out her energy. She reminded me of myself when I go back home and try to do everything in just one visit. I will wake up early and exercise with my mom, I will stay out late and have drinks with friends. I’ll dance, talk, cook, and rest only when exhaustion hits. One of my favorite things, was to watch Luna running on the beach. She was a black fire ball, a panther in the wild, to her there was no tomorrow, no time to waste. When people asked me what breed she was, I told them she was half panther, half baby seal. That pretty much summed her up.

In some ways, Luna forced me to grow up. She grounded me and taught me so many things.
– I learned to enjoy running around the field when the grass is still wet from the rain — It feels so good against the sole of your feet.
– I learned that any place where you have never been, no matter how far or how close it is, is always exciting.
– I learned that sometimes you just need to go home.
– I learned that sometimes we get angry, but we don’t have to stay angry.
– I learned that we can be accepting, fully accepting of ourselves and fully accepting of others.
– I learned forgiveness (maybe I’m still learning this one).

I don’t know how to explain how much I miss Luna. Most of the time, I purposefully don’t think about it. Right now all I want to do is take her out for a walk. I want to ride my bike back home from work and be welcomed by her wagging tail that never failed to show honest excitement. I want to kiss her head and feel her soft shinny hair against my skin. I want to play with her ears and rub her belly. I want to watch her act like an animal; without rules or limitations, uninhibited and unapologetic.

I want her pure energy back.

I remember five things we were told to avoid in film school:
1- No children
2- No animals
3- No boats
4- No voice over
5- No dream sequences or flashbacks

This movie will probably have all these, ok, maybe not the boat. Best of luck to them and best of luck to Luna, wherever she is.

Props to Les Blank

Who doesn’t love a 76 year old man wearing a cardigan? Les blank is cool and approachable and at the end of his presentation I wanted to walk over to him and smell his sweater. Thankfully for my co-workers, I decided against it and shook his hand instead.

He spoke at an event hosted by the SF Film Society called “Master Class: Les Blank on Documentary” — thank you ITVS! Most film fanatics out there have heard of Les Blank, or, at the very least they are familiar with some of his films such as Burden of Dreams or A Poem Is a Naked Person. For me, it wasn’t until attending this seminar that I was introduced to some of his other work and got a taste of his unique voice as a documentarian.

Les Blank is tall, thin, and has a wonderfully trimmed, thick white beard. He is soft spoken, goes straight to the point, and most importantly, he is one of the most humble filmmakers I’ve ever met. If you tell Les Blank he is a true artist, he will give you a puzzled look followed by a nonchalant ‘thanks’; when you ask him what his secret is, he will tell you he has none; and if somebody comments on his amazing ability to get unlimited access he will make a joke and say ‘I just hang around until eventually people get tired of me’. Les Blank’s vision is not simple but he doesn’t waste much time presenting himself as a superior visionaire.

I have seen about four of his films, all produced by his production company Flower Films. After watching them I began to admire how Les Blank captures situations and people is a very gentle way. He doesn’t stage any of his interviews and he may toss cue cards up in the air to give himself a fresh start in the editing room. Rather than producing with his thinking mind, Les Blank feels the story and then goes from there.

By looking him up on imdb it becomes obvious that Les is constantly working, always looking for the next interesting story to tell. His films capture family, traditions, soul, passion, and so many other aspects of life. Without documentary filmmakers like him, we would miss out on a great opportunity to experience the world through a different point of view, from another angle, with a different lens. That’s what a brilliant documentary filmmaker does, he lets a subject be free to express itself without judgements or hesitation. Les knows how to be patient behind the camera yet he is fearless when it comes to finding the true nature of the story. And regardless of his liking of the label, I think Les Blank is a genuine, passionate artist whose films inspire, educate, and resonate with audiences of all ages, all around the world.

Props to these gals

I’ve been told that when it comes to social media, one has to be generous. I find that to be good advice for pretty much anything we do. In generosity one finds self satisfaction; it’s the karma thing and the fact that ‘what goes around comes around’ because only in generosity we can grow. Got it? Very well then, enough of that.

In an effort to be generous with my writing, I would like to make a habit out of posting one “appreciation blog” every month. For this month’s post I will focus on three fantastic women in the entertainment industry. I decided to group them together because: They are all still active in their careers; they have achieved significant fame and recognition and they have all incorporated quality writing into their original art of choice. And of course, I like them all.

Amanda July (Filmmaker, Writer, Artist) – I was just in the bookstore this weekend when I ran into a copy of No One Belongs Here More than You. In the beginning, I didn’t realize that the writer, was the same Miranda that directed all those corky, off-beat indie comedies about awkward relationships. I have always loved her films but I found out from visiting her website that she is a very well-rounded artist with plenty to say and the creativity to make it interesting. Amanda: Thank you for your awesome hair.

PJ Harvey (Musician, Songwriter, Actress) – I chose PJ because I have the same birthday! Okay, maybe not because of that. In her Uh Huh Her album (released in 2004) PJ Harvey not only played all the instruments, but, she was also the producer for it. Unfortunately, unlike the movie Laurel Canyon (by Lisa Cholodenko) there are not many women music producers out there. Because of that, I want to to say PJ Harvey: Thank you for representing.

Debora Copaken Kogan (Photojournalist, Writer, Performer) – Despite the fact that she is also a Libra -obviously the best sign, ever- through Debora’s acclaimed book ShutterbabeI am learning about the tremendous hard work that goes behind being a photojournalist. Through her beautiful photos and her honest words she shares meaningful stories and she does so freely. Debora: Thank you for being fearless.