Last Fumes Of Our Talents - Poem by gershon hepner
When we’re running on the last fumes of the talents
that we once tried so hard to cultivate
we’re forced to get out of our car, and lose our balance
in fresh air which does not intoxicate
as much as that stale air breathed while we would speed,
with wheels unbalanced and our windows sealed,
conditioned by stale air to frequently misread
the highway as a motor battlefield.
No dramas of epiphanies and second chances
await us in the station where we buy
some gas, and hope that some kind banker refinances
our lives before the fumes cause us to die.
Inspired by A.O. Scott’s review of “Crazy Heart” (Country Cronner whose Flight Is Now Free, ” December 22,2009) :
Crazy Heart, ” written and directed by Scott Cooper, is a small movie perfectly scaled to the big performance at its center. It offers some picturesque views of out-of-the-way parts of the American West, but the dominant feature of its landscape is Bad Blake, a wayward, aging country singer played by Jeff Bridges. recommendation. Some of Mr. Bridges’s peers may have burned more intensely in their prime, but very few American actors over the past 35 years have flickered and smoldered with such craft and resilience. Neither blandly likable nor operatically emotional, this actor has a sly kind of charisma and a casual intelligence. You suspect that he may be smarter than some of the characters he plays — the lounge musician in “The Fabulous Baker Boys, ” the deadbeat bowler in “The Big Lebowski, ” the egotistical author in “The Door in the Floor, ” to take just a few examples — but also that he knows every corner and shadow of each one’s mind.Unlike Mr. Bridges, Bad, who is 57, seems to be running on the last fumes of his talent. He drives from one gig to another in a battered truck, playing bowling alleys and bars with local pickup bands and sleeping in less-than-deluxe accommodations. He smokes and drinks as if trying to settle a long-ago bet between his liver and his lungs about which he would destroy first. The chorus to his signature song (one of several written especially for Mr. Bridges) observes that “falling feels like flying, for a little while.” That time has long since passed for Bad, who is scraping the bottom and trying not to complain too much about it (except when he can get his agent on the phone) . Drinking, cheating, love gone wrong — a lot of country music expresses the weary stoicism of self-inflicted defeat. Loss and abjection are two of the chords that define the genre. A third is redemption, which has also been a theme of modest, regionally inflected American independent cinema for quite some time. So even before Maggie Gyllenhaal shows up as Jean, a New Mexico journalist with a cute young son and some disappointments of her own, you can be pretty sure that you’re in for yet another drama of second chances and late-breaking epiphanies. But no one ever put on a country record in search of novelty or wild surprise. What you seek in those songs is honest feeling and musical skill. Even in decline, Bad has both of those things, and enough professionalism to keep complete self-destruction at bay. Performing in front of a small, appreciative crowd in Colorado, he strikes up an old hit and then hands the song off to the band so he can run offstage and vomit in the parking lot, returning just in time to sing the final chorus and make eye contact with the groupie he’ll wake up with the next morning.
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