When I post though, I don't really think about readers, or rather, I think about the few friends I know read this for sure. Basically, I write this blog mostly for myself and the handful of regular readers I have gained over the three (!) years this adventure has gone on. You see, if I think about it too much I start worrying about whether what I write will interest you, or if someone will be insulted by something, or if I'm making sense to someone who has just wandered over.
In fact, I was rather horrified upon rediscovering the "stats"-button a few weeks ago and realizing that I might have quite a few more readers than I had thought. Yikes. I am going to work my hardest to ignore this knowledge and keep at my erratic post stylings just as before.
The balance between having a blog about what I do and wear (I hate both"style" -and "lifestyle"-blog as terms.) and what I'm listening to, watching, reading, making, thinking, are completely intertwined in my mind.
I've asked you readers before about what you think of certain things, mainly the dreaded "what I did today"-posts (or in my case "what I did not do"-posts), but I have never felt like trying to garner a particular demographic, or gain readers at all for that matter. I you like what I like, then welcome, if not, I'm sure you'll move on, thanks for stopping by.
That having been squared away, I'll tell you that I do love hearing your thoughts and will absolutely take requests, if you would like to read my insights on a particular topic. This post was prompted by one such request received by email from Aysha (Hi girl!). She asked me to recommend some films about gypsies that I liked, and how could I not oblige, these being some of my favorite topics: movies and the Romany.
I've mentioned Latcho Drom before, but I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this film, told entirely through music, really is. The film imagines the travels of gypsies over a vast distance and hundreds of years in time. It offers a wordless insight into to past and present of the Romany, and is also just a sheer visual delight (even when you watch it from an old VHS-tape on a tiny TV/VCR.).
The acclaimed Serbian director Emir Kusturica has explored the gypsy culture throughout his carrier. First of his marvelous story-telling turns about the travellers is The Time of The Gypsies, the tale of a young Romane boy with supposed supernatural powers.
A finely woven story with many vivid characters and a wholly believable world, is hard to come by in film these days, and Kusturica is master at all these aspects of filmmaking.
There is an air of authenticity to his Romany films, a sense that in spite all the seeming caricatures and exaggerations, you get the sense that you are being shown multiple facets of something genuine. His movies to me are like listening to Gogol Bordello, utterly ridiculous and heart-warming at the same time. Often his films are both dark and humorous in turn, though The Time Of The Gypsies is mostly a tale of hardship and woe as the main character Perhan passes from one tragic circumstance to the next. It is also a beautiful film with much power.
For a more uplifting, or rather side-splitting, gypsy experience I recommend Kusturica's Black Cat, White Cat, a hilarious romp of a film that will surely have you in tears. Of joy.
(I love this image.)
A hilarious adventure full of off-beat characters and unexpected twists, Black Cat, White Cat is well worth your cinematic time, whether or not you're into Gypsy movies. Custurica's knack for timing is uncanny and the artistic sensibility of Black Cat, White Cat is sure to tickle the aesthete among you, in spite the fact that it falls more into the raunchy comedy category than anything else. Take that Apatow!
Now, I will admit that my last selection is more fanciful and less gritty than the others, but in my defence I will say that it, like Latcho Drom, is more a family film and thus suited for all you mama's out there, many of whom I know are always on a search for a good movie to share with their wee ones.
A tale of two young Irish Pikeys who are taken on a life-changing journey by a magical horse called Tír Na NÓg (A faeryland in Irish mythology comparable to any mythological nether world, Tír Na NÓg is an Island that appears only under certain conditions. I remember reading about it in The Dark Is Rising cycle when I was but a wee tyke.) (I'm compiling a post, by the way, on my favorite children's fantasy books growing up, how nerdy is that.)
Like so many of the films I love, Into The West works on several levels; it's equal parts fantasy for children and a drama suited for grown-ups. It brings to mind both its screen writer's later work My Left Foot and another cross-over children's movie set in Ireland: The Secret of Roan Inish by my own favorite writer-director-editor-actor-genius John Sayles (I have a post coming up about him too;).
It is good to keep in mind when watching these stylized and fictionalized tales of the Romane, that they have traditionally been the underclass of Europe, comparable to indigenous tribes everywhere, in turns reviled, romanticized, exterminated, stolen, orphaned, appropriated and forgotten.
During the Holocaust Hitler murdered hundreds of thousands of Romany. They suffered similar pogroms to those Tsarist Russia levelled against its Jewish population. They have been hounded through the centuries as thieves and cheaters, and continue to be treated poorly in most countries in Europe, whether it be outright through lack of opportunities, neglect, or barely concealed racism.
Only six months ago Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing government removed almost 200 Romanian Romane form France, in spite the fact that as the citizens of a member nation in the EU they are as entitled as anyone else to move freely between nations within the union. I'm embarrassed to say that my own native country hasn't behaved much better with the recent influx of Romanian Romane. (They have been the first people seen begging on the streets of modern Finland, a fact that says something about the country and its well-fare state.)
Finland's native Romane are very distinctive from the main population not only because of their dark hair, eyes and skin (most Finns are relatively fair.), but because of their dress, which involves a dapper look from men and an stunningly glamorous style for women. Most Romane adults "take on the dress" that distinguishes them, but also keeps them somewhat isolated from the drab masses.
Growing up I was sometimes mistaken for a Romane kid even by Romane women, because of my long dark hair, dark brows and light olive skin, though I was rather pale and had light eyes. Because of what a wonderful, open-minded individual that my mother was I never shared the common misconceptions of the Romany and remember admiring the women for their formidable beauty and dress and wishing I could pass for one more often.
For a good reason too. The women's costume, which is specific to the Finnish Romane, is absolutely amazing. The skirt alone can weight as much as 25 pounds and consists of layer upon layer of material. Romane ladies often wear high heels just to keep their hems off the ground. Their blouses are intricately embroidered, or decorated with hand-made laces, a skill that's still passed down the generations. Oftentimes you can see a Romane woman wearing enormous, intricate gold jewellery, a remnant from their travelling days when one carried their earthly possessions on their person.
I feel as though the Romane ladies of my childhood are one of the many strands that comprise my taste in clothing, perhaps even my love of tall-tales, and fiddle music, or my romance with slow travel.
Here I am indulging my follies on Christmas Day, wearing appropriately enough, things gifted by my friend Summer, my mother and the wonderful Nicole. This twirly skirt from her was the corner-stone of this outfit. I love it so.
A rowboat journey and a walk in the woods were certainly some of the best parts of my Christmas, along with plenty of Gogol Bordello, chocolates and books. But more about that tomorrow.
Here's lookin' at you Aysha!