1. The Films. I went to the National Gallery of Art’s Friday afternoon film series, and saw two contemporary films from Afghanistan. The first, a short called “My Kabul” followed a taxi driver around the bombed out city. The driver loved his city, loved it the way it used to be, not the way it is now. His passengers (all male) told of their experiences during the war. Which war? Many wars. Wars against the Soviets. Wars against the Talaban. Each recollection was more tragic than the one before. With the feel of a home made movie, it provided an interesting trip around the city. The main feature was “Osama”, an award winning movie, set during the time of Taliban control, the time in which Kabul took on the features that were shown in the opening short. The story is that of the mother of a 12 year old girl. The father is dead. The mother has no way to earn a living. She decides that she can disguise her daughter as a boy (name: Osama) and have him go out and earn some money working for someone they know who has a small food store. Not surprisingly, this is a short lived attempt, and poor Osama gets in more trouble masquerading as a boy than anyone should have to face. And there is no happy ending. The critics say that the film gives a good look into Taliban controlled Afghanistan. I don’t know if it does or doesn’t. But it’s horrifying either way.
2. Theater. Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth” at the Rorschach in Exile (the performance taking place at Georgetown University). It’s a play I like and the company did a terrific job, particularly (I thought) the actress who played Sabina. It is the story of the human race, going from crisis to crisis by the skin of their teeth. And of course, flood, wars, famines and good times come and go and come again as the wheel, the alphabet, the multiplication tables, and more are invented, but bring about no perceptible improvement in the human condition. Very different plays are “The Skin of Our Teeth” and Peter Weiss’ “Marat/Sade”, which we saw the week before. But very similar plays. The futility of it all. The repetition of history. Crisis and chaos. Chaos and crisis.
3. Music. Last night at Carter Barron – the Blues Alley Youth Jazz Orchestra, featuring musicians from eleven to sixteen, including thirteen year old Allan Rado, son of friends, whose guitar solo was first class. Then the Army’s Jazz Ambassadors (who, to my surprise, turned out to be virtually all white; I think there were 19 musicians and only two African Americans), who were a bit too constrained. It sounded like each piece was carefully arranged, with very limited improv. It was a perfect night, weatherwise, and Carter Barron is a great venue to attend – it takes advantage of the breezes, you can see from every seat, and the leg room is more than generous.
4. Event. (1) The welcoming dinner for Adas Israel’s new rabbi, Gil Steinlauf, Friday night, attended by about 200 members of the congregation was a very nice event, and an opportunity to see a number of people you don’t see very much over the summer months. (2) Beginning the process of cleaning out the basement – a car full for Goodwill, and probably at least as much for the trashman.