He must have been a conductor. Or she was. I couldn’t tell by the contents of the open moving box that had been discarded so tragically on the corner of Ben Yehuda and Micah Streets.
Sheet music. Film reels. Probably 8 mm and super 8 mm. Maybe home movies. Of his children. Playing on the beach. Or swimming in the old Gordon pool. Or a Passover Seder. Who the hell knows?
Audio reels. Which are thinner. I know because I had learned how to use the old reel-to-reel recorders. Nagras we called them in film school. One of them had the word “Interviews” scribbled in Hebrew.
Pots. Pans. Plates. All the accoutrements of an existence.
Discarded on the sidewalk for anyone to grab. Or for the trash truck to collect.
And you see that a lot in this country. When someone dies. With no next of kin. His apartment is gutted and all the non valuables are tossed on the street. Ingloriously. Cruelly.
But I had a difficult choice. The sleeper sofa which was in great condition. Or this box of art. This cardboard house which contained a man’s (or a woman’s) soul. His triumphs. His failures. His artistic footprint. His drawings on the cave wall. His dialogue with his creator.
We took the couch of course. Because our apartment on Dizengoff Street was bare. Our loves whisper echoed loudly in the empty Bauhaus. With it’s tile floors and it’s high ceilings. And reverberated off those walls. And we couldn’t afford a couch. So we watched movies on the bed. On an old 32 inch TV that weighed a ton. With a DVD player.
And it took us an hour to carry that 70’s style plaid sleeper those three blocks to our apartment. And blood, sweat and tears carrying it up those two flights of stairs. Because they spiraled. And the hallways were narrow. But we lifted and twisted and turned and removed those small little wooden pegs at the bottom. And finally got it in.
And we sat on that comfy couch. And imagined the small Ikea rug from the catalogue that had been sitting in our bathroom for ages. And the bookcase. And the window curtains. Like two children playing house.
But an hour had passed and I had completely forgotten about the soul of the poor man that was forlorn on the sidewalk. And I rushed out of the house like a man possessed. And sprinted the three blocks to Micah Street. But it was gone. Salvaged perhaps by a curious passer by. Or flattened in the back of the trash truck.
Gone. And all that was left was a straggling sheet of music.
One day all of this will be his. And yes I know it’s not much. It’s not a house. Or money. A cardboard box that contains my soul.
I call this my “Hurt Box”. Just like the movie. Because it contains all the various works of art that I have created in my life. And each one of these projects almost killed me in their own unique way.
There are dozens of 16 mm and super 16 mm reels. Because I bought an old wind-up film camera in college on eBay. A WWII style Bolex. And I would film parades.
Like this Polish Day Parade in Philadelphia.
Or short movies.
But by the time D. is old enough to be interested in what his father has accomplished (after those teenage years when all they can feel is contempt and shame towards us…) he’ll have no where to play these reels. No projectors. No old shops on Lillenblum Street that offer Film to Tape conversions. These things will be relics. Dinosaur Fossils.
There must be hundreds of MiniDV tapes. That I shot with my favorite digital video camera. Thanksgiving at my Uncle’s house. My parents (his grandparents) talking about that fateful day in ‘67 when they were caught in a snowstorm outside Temple University. Broad Street. And they happened to share a ride. That lasted for hours. At the end of which my father mustered the courage to ask my mother on a date. And last week they celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary.
And there must be thousands of pages I’ve written. Short stories. Unproduced screenplays. The entire essence of my being squeezed out onto those pages. My dialogue with my creator. My digital message in a bottle.
And so many hundreds of thousands of photographs that I’ve taken over the years. Of family. Friends. People I used to know. Some alive. Some not. All woven deeply into the fabric of my existence.
My greatest success. The Coat Room. A feature length independent film which is on a Digital Beta Master tape. But Beta players are being shipped off to scrap metal collectors worldwide. Once the industry standard for broadcast, the world of TV and Film has gone digital.
And there won’t be anywhere to play it.
Or my most heartbreaking failure. The Identity Burglars. Also on Beta. Which screened at an empty theater in Hollywood. And I watched with my pregnant girlfriend from the VIP section of the Mann Chinese Theater. And the five people that came to see it walked out after twenty minutes. And left us alone in that massive theater.
And then she had a late term miscarriage. And she left me. Heartbroken.
And all I have left from that night is a laminated badge with a white lanyard that proclaims me “Filmmaker”. That’s in the box too.
And if one day you happen to walk down a street in Israel and see a cardboard box with old film reels, tapes, digital photos on CD’s and page after page of writing
And it says: “Shit that I’ve made” on it
But there is a very comfy couch, a sleeper sofa that you and your girlfriend really need for your empty apartment. Because you are young and so madly in love. And like all young lovers you have no means.
And like all young lovers you don’t need anything but each other.
And maybe a place to sit.
I won’t blame you for taking the couch.