Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I want me this cat I found (A holiday story)

I want me this cat I found is a line from the The movie J.T.

I remember this movie from my childhood but I haven't seen it in 40 years. The story is set around the holidays in New York city circa 1969. It isn't a Christmas story per se, and as I recall it wasn't broadcast as any type of holiday special. But the story, nonetheless, carries the spirit of Christmas in fine form.

I first saw this movie when I was about the same age as the story's main character J.T. The movie just kind of showed up on television one Saturday afternoon without any fanfare. I remember clearly I wasn't planning to watch TV that Saturday afternoon but my calendar was clear for the day so I took up residence in front of the set. That small decision turned out to be a big decision that will follow me for the rest of my life.

I think the movie was only broadcast a few times after that. And just as mysteriously as it appeared, the movie disappeared from the airwaves never to be seen again, or so I came to believe. I think I probably saw the thing a total of maybe one and a half times but that was enough to make a lifelong impression on me. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had a similar affect on a cohort of other kids as well. Rather than just let the movie disappear into the recesses of our collective subconscious memories, for some reason we all held on to it. For me it was always near the surface of awareness, but just out of reach. And there it remained, through puberty and graduations and marriages and children and divorces, undiminished by time or fading memory. Sporadically reaching out with brief flashes to remind me it was still there.

Over the years I would occasionally look for this film. Whenever I was in a video store I would carefully search the videocassette holders for a hint of those images burned indelibly into my young psyche. But never was I able to find those unmistakable pictures. When I later found out that many others were looking for J.T. as well, but not finding, I knew it was just a matter of time before I found him. Unable to remember any details about the movie or even the name of the movie my childhood friend was nearly lost. All I could remember were those gritty scenes etched into my young mind. Those all too real depictions of life that they don't usually show on TV were as but a dream. In an age of blow dried, air brushed, photo shopped and scripted to the last detail television, J.T. was reality TV to the nth power. And it was almost lost.

The one thing that I and the others were able to hold onto was that one memorable line that each of us had probably uttered in all earnestness at some point in our young naive lives: "I want me this cat I found". That was it, that was all the evidence I had that this movie ever existed. But that was all I needed (uh, that and the internet) to find my lost childhood. You see J.T. was me, J.T. was everyone who was looking for him. And there are a lot of us. Now I realize, of course, that perhaps that is exactly what the filmmaker intended to accomplish.

J.T. brought it all back, the memories, the hopes, the dreams, the sweet, the sour, all neatly arranged in the recesses of memory. There, once again, was the naivete of that little man child who managed to maintain his innocence despite having his childhood forged by the blighted, racist, uneven world of ignorance and selfishness that now seems quaint when compared to the gamut that today's youth must face. J.T. may not even register with today's kids whose concept of poverty means people who cannot afford new ipods and Xbox games when the old ones are tarnished with the stench of last semester. Looking back, I guess the movie J.T. was probably a little too real for the seventies and maybe even the eighties. But now it is time that the movie was seen again.

Every December the annual favorite "A Christmas Story" is broadcast on 24 hour continuous loop during the holiday season. "It's a Wonderful Life" is not far behind. The animated holiday treats "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" once signaled the true beginning of the holidays but have been subjugated to second tier status lately although they still manage to bring the spirit of the season. But J.T. towers above them all in my mind. It is a beautiful story that captures the ugliness of life as it truly was, or is. It is a story of making do and working with what you have to get the best that can be had from it. It is a story about me. It is a story about you. I plan to ambush my now chronologically grown kids and make them watch this with me one day. I suggest you watch it with your kids too. And if you are really, really lucky they will be young enough to still be affected by the film.

I do not claim any copyright to this film and I suspect JTClarion, its Youtube poster, does not own the rights either. So I call upon the great TV powers that be to bring back the movie "J.T." for all to see. Until then (or until the copyright police kick in the door) for your viewing pleasure, I present, courtesy of JTClarion, the best television holiday special you never saw.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pimps, Preachers and Politicians

All traffic in that which does not belong to them.

Some things neither can be bought nor sold.

The owners should not be left standing by the highway waiting in the rain.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Are there rings around Uranus

Yes it makes me angry every time I hear it. But the story must be told lest the accomplishments of America's forgotten negroes simply be forgotten.

Working under the most difficult of circumstances with inferior equipment and training these forgotten heroes who created something out of nothing and showed the world the power of their potential that was otherwise left fallow.

Now, they are simply forgotten, not even an asterisk in the footnotes of history.

And although people continue to believe what they want to believe, we will never forget the truth.

All life on earth is cancelled, film at eleven

I hate the tease.

Both kinds.

But I guess at least the TV bobbleheads don't try to harvest me for free drinks whilst they do it.

Still, the same rule applies to both kinds of tease, put out or go away.

Thankya, thankya very much

Sunday, November 1, 2009

I want me this cat I found

If you are looking for the movie J.T. click here

Whether we continue on our present course or not is a determination yet to be made, and not necessarily by those in the driver's seat. What we now know is that we cannot sustain our present situation. It's one thing to disagree with the current heading and speed, it's quite yet another to plot a new course. Everybody has an agenda but there really ought to be a 3 strikes policy for people who produce uselessness.

I suspect that we are at a major turning point in the development of the world, perhaps even in the evolution of mankind. Maybe as a society and a species we encounter historic turning points quite frequently, perhaps even daily. Because we more often choose the proper course we never realize its historic import. Or maybe it's vice versa. During the run up to historic events of the past some voices were heeded and some voices for taking the road not traveled were simply ignored. The resulting decision then becomes history.

So the trick is to ignore the fools. But which is which? A small mind tends to remain that way. A great mind has difficulty comprehending the limits of its ability. The proper decision may not feel good but it should feel right.

People tend to understand a lot better when they know what's at stake for them personally. But you cannot save people who do not want to be saved. And sometimes the best teacher is a little asphalt rash.

Look beyond the dummies and find the ventriloquist.