American History – Packaged

Thursday is Bargain Day at Cobble Hill Cinema on Court Street. I took the chance to see The Butler. And as the evening offered the chance to meet Jonathan Lethem – author of Motherless Brooklyn, who lived here on Dean Street until three years ago I went to see it in the afternoon. It was cloudy anyway and when I arrived at the cinema first raindrops were falling.

The movie – based on a true story – is about a White House butler, Cecil Gaines, who served in the White House for 35 years and seven presidents from Eisenhower to Reagan. He grew up on a cotton farm in the south, never went to school and was trained as a house nigger by the Lady (Vanessa Redgrave) after his mother was raped and his father was shot. He and his wife Gloria (Oprah Winfrey – great!) have two sons. Louis is radically fighting for black rights, Charly decides to serve his country in Vietnam. The family is close to fall apart because of different ways to deal with being black in the American society. Cecil retires under Reagan (Alan Rickman). Years later he and Gloria support Barack Obama’s campaign and Cecil can hardly believe that after all they have gone through the country finally gets a black president.
Not only it is great cinema but as well a splendid lesson of American History in the last century. I used up plenty of tissues. And when I left the cinema I held the door open for three elderly black ladies.

When I stepped out onto the street ( and crossed Butler Street – isn’t that remarkable) the sun was beaming hot again. I had an iced Chai Latte on my way home and changed into my lightest summer dress for the reading. Took a cardigan though.
The event took place at Barnes & Noble on the Upper West Side. I went there earlier to look for shoes up there. When I tried on a pair of riding boots I realized that apparently not only my feet have become wider but the right one more than the left one. That doesn’t make it easier to find proper shoes to survive the fall and the bit of winter I will see.

The reading then was unusual. There was just the author, nobody who talked to him. A B&N event person just introduced him and then stepped back. He told us he would read a bit and then answer questions.
The book, published just two day ago, is a family saga about American radicals. The part he read was about Rose, a communist, the Red Queen of Sunnyside, Queens in the 1930s. Her daughter lives in the counterculture of Greenwich Village. The story spans to the Occupy movement. Other aspects of history, but American history as well.
Sadly I had forgotten to bring my copy of “Motherless Brooklyn” – that I am just reading. So I could not have it signed.

I had forgotten to bring my broken umbrella as well. When I tried to leave the bookstore a thunderstorm was going on outside. So when I arrived at home I was pretty wet. I found my collection of homework and received critique letters in a puddle on the stairs to the unused roof deck behind my bed. I had left the door open for fresh air.

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