Friday, October 01, 2004

A Warning Note

Jonas Mekas--poet, Lithuanian immigrant, and legendary figure of American experimental cinema--founded the film column of the Village Voice almost five decades ago.

I love movies, which is why I'm drawn to this hilarious and passionate example of "movie love", a short piece Mekas wrote in the Voice in 1969:

"This is an open warning note to the projectionist of the Museum of Modern Art: Last Thursday I sat through a beautiful, old, silent Russian movie, and while I watched it silently--and two hundred other people watched it, silently, you couldn't hear a needle drop--you, there, a rotten, no-good, stinking, cowardly, snickering, stupid, squirming, yellow bastard, you were there talking in your projection booth at the top of your stupid, creaking, ugly voice, providing to the film the most horrible soundtrack the devil could ever invent; you, who are supposed to love films, whose bread and life is films, whose profession is the projection of films--how come you hate them so much, how come you have so little respect for the films you project and for the people whom you serve, who pay for your bread? I am still so disgusted with you that I don't want even to hear your answer. I have only this to tell you: WATCH OUT! If you plan to do the same again, that is, if I catch you again destroying films with your horrible yapping, remember this: Watch out, on your way home. I'll be there in the dark street, waiting for you, with a heavy hot splicer in my hand, and you should begin to count your seconds by the time you leave the projection booth. I am not going to reveal what I'm going to do to you, it will all depend on how angry you make me again, you horrible creature, destroyer of old beauties of cinema, watch out, this is my first warning!"