The year looms without structure. A lease and current location in Philadelphia. Check. The possibility of relocation to a great American City of film, song, literature, yearning. Check. Some projects that involve travel, some projects that involve great American lives, and some adventures await. Some components are accumulated, as in cartoon IKEA assembly instructions. What this particular set of instructions lacks is a final image. How will the pieces fall together in 2010?
Somehow Helen Broderick, born in Philadelphia, star on Broadway and on film in the 1930s (and in particular a number of Astaire-Rogers musical romps) seems to sum up some of my feelings, my quiet “oh what the hell”-ness, at this time. In this screen cap from Top Hat she is giving the go-ahead to her pal Ginger Rogers, dancing with Fred Astaire, to pursue the Ginger-Fred romantic vibes that are a-sparking. Ginger thinks Fred is Helen’s husband but he isn’t — it all (at least in Ginger’s head) is very cosmopolitan. Only we in the audience are clued into the layers of meaning. I like the eager encouragement by Helen of her girlfriend. I like Helen’s open expression. And where are the formal occasions these days? “Heaven, I’m in heaven …”
My Philadelphia New Year will include yet another first for me — the Mummers Parade passes a few blocks from my house. To me this is a combination of New Year’s Day parade and New Orleans Mardi Gras over the top shenanigans. But I’m not from here. I need to study up on this 110 year old tradition. Image at right from a past parade.
So I look to movie images from 75 years ago to help me back to my sense of humor in a time of turmoil. I also look to fancy dress parades with a century of tradition and too much alcohol to ring in my first Philly New Year. And always, and finally, I return to words uttered by (wait for it) Judy Garland herself on the cusp of 1964 on her 1963-1964 CBS television series, before performing “Through The Years”. This was recorded in October 1963 (prior to the events in Dallas) and aired in January 1964. A call to peace, a call to humanity, a call to humility, a call to gentleness. I pause.
“We have a whole new year ahead of us. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be a little more gentle with each other, and a little more loving … have a little more empathy. And maybe next year at this time we’d like each other a little bit more.”