Sherman’s March

Was watching Sherman’s March: A Meditation on the Possibility of Romantic Love In the South During an Era of Nuclear Weapons Proliferation, the charmingly strange Ross McElwee hand held documentary by the charmingly strange Ross McElwee. At one point one of the women he was trying to get into the pants of (or had, it’s hard to tell) took him into the mountains of northwest Georgia to meet her survivalist friends. I was struck by how normal they seemed. Unextreme. A very subdued kind of crazy. You could hang out with those guys, eat BBQ, drink beer, throw some horse shoes. They’d show you around their bomb shelters. Lots of dehydrated food and nowhere near enough water. Plus guns, but not a scary number of guns. They popped off a few  rounds, blew up a few sticks of dynamite. Somehow it all seemed harmless. Normalized. They talked into McElwee’s ever present camera like it was the most ordinary thing in the world to do. Within a decade survivalists were forming goofy militias and wearing uniforms and armed to the teeth and blowing up buildings. By now they are so intense it is almost unbearable. What the hell happened? The internet? Email? Crazy right wing radio? It’s sort of like how the free speech movement morphed into the bomb making Weather Underground in ten years. SNCC into the SLA. There was no email then. No internet. Just LSD and Dylan lyrics and fascist cops. Now we have crazy fuckers in the White House. In Sherman’s March Ross McElwee is making lazy neurotic love to a hippie deep in a Georgia swamp. I believed only in linguistics and sex she says. Quote unquote. Reagan was going to blow the world up any minute anyway. H bombs everywhere. Nuclear reactors. Crazy fuckers in the White House then too. I love linguistics but damn I am nearly sixty now. Nihilism is wasted on the young.

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A scene I don’t remember from Sherman’s March, actually. Perhaps I was washing the dishes then. It seemed an appropriate thing to do. It’s not like, say, Lawrence of Arabia where you get up to use the bathroom and come back and Peter O’Toole says Aqaba and you have no idea what you missed. Sherman’s March just ambles by and it’s OK if you missed this young lady doing whatever it is she is doing.

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