A song for Godzilla : Billy Pilgrim

Juli Kearns Art-Photos, Everyday Stories 2 Comments

A Song for Godzilla
A Song for Godzilla, digital photo
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A difficult decision whether to do this one in the Toyland Chronicle Series or The Child Experiments series. This is a H.o.p. and me co-production. He wanted me to take the photos of him playing with Godzilla, photos he was partly staging, and so we went across the street where we could take photos with the parking garage in the background. I like the way the clouds carry in them a hint of flame, while there is something still very innocent about the photo of a child’s play time with the figure.

H.o.p. and Marty are watching the ludicrous Hollywood remake of Wim Wender’s “Wings of Desire”. Earlier it was old Porky Pig cartoons (courtesy of my dad). “That’s the scottie from ‘Lady and the Tramp’,” H.o.p. said, and he was right. I don’t know when that particular Warner Brothers Porky cartoon was done but would have been some years in advance of the Disney, and there was the same little gruff scottie.

After Allen left (spent night, driving back through to MS after several days with parents), Marty took H.o.p. down to the studio this afternoon while I wrestled with the css for this durn thing. While I was, increasingly dazed, pushing numbers about, H.o.p. was being treated to his first ever personal recording session, seated on a floor in front of a mic, thumping on an electric guitar. They came home with product, H.o.p.’s first ever CD. A Godzilla song he made up.

I continued being belittled by numbers.

H.o.p. helped Marty clean the windows of the sound booths at the studio. He talked to the Funky Monkey girl a long time. He came home and drew a Godzilla CD cover for his first ever recording. I angsted over CSS and being unable to position my left border (oops, my dyslexic right) the way I’d like, reworked the default template to get the menu on the right and pushed things over to the right (oops, I mean left) but for the life of me I can’t get the width down to get rid of the bottom scroll bar without the header spilling over in Firefox. And if it matches up in Firefox it doesn’t in IE. But at least the left menu is in place and isn’t dropping down below content when the browser window is reduced.

For three days running now H.o.p. has had up on his computer some math games. They are what he’s been playing.

Godard’s Masculine Feminine has been released again. I pulled it out last week, not knowing this, watched and posted my version of a review. Vaguely serendipitous.

I forget why I was looking up the bombing of Dresden during WWII but I was and came upon this almanac entry and realized it was the anniversary of the assault. Always an odd feeling to realize one is reading about an event on its anniversary. I don’t recollect having been taught about the conflagration in school. Hiroshima and Nagasaki occupied a few paragraphs’ space in the text books, but Dresden was never mentioned. My initial knowledge of it came by way of Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”. I can still remember seeing the book for the first time in the library at high school. I”d not yet read any Vonnegut. The book wasn’t part of the library’s collection, either it was unofficially banned or was kept behind the counter, but someone I knew had it and it caught my eye, the name, the simple cover graphic. The book was one of those that you look at and it seems curiously alive. Not just a book. A world. Billy Pilgrim’s world.

So I was looking for more on Dresden that wasn’t the stripped down frame of military controversy and came upon two articles linked to from About.com. The first I only scanned as from the way a few things were phrased I thought I detected a hint of sympathy for the Third Reich, and checked the base url and the site is indeed one that says it offers up alternative little-known views of history, the kind of a site that has articles that state the concentration camp system was far different from what has been “hysterically” spread about them. And then the second article linked to from About.com was full of detail, published by Esquire magazine in the early ’60s, but as the other article had turned out to be at a questionable site, I checked out the base URL and found indeed that this second article was housed at a White Supremacist website. Crooked Timber has a discussion going on about Dresden and provides a link to Spiegel Online and an interview with historian Frederick Taylor who defends the bombing and talks about how Neo-Nazis have exploited Dresden. At Crooked Timber, Vonnegut’s name enters the discussion, held as passing along false or suspect information courtesy of David Irving’s 1963 book, “The Destruction of Dresden”. Though Vonnegut was a POW who survived the Dresden firestorm, he referenced David Irving in “Slaughterhouse Five” and apparently relied on the book as a resource. David Irving’s work was respected when published but later he got into revisionist history, questioning Hitler’s knowledge of the death camps and the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

An individual quotes from a Salon review of Frederick Taylor’s book that to Vonnegut, as a POW who was forced to dig up Dresden’s dead, 45.000 could easily have seemed to be 100,000, and the individual determines, in defense of the bombing, that Vonnegut was highly influenced by Irving.

But Vonnegut was at Dresden. Irving was not. Vonnegut may have looked to Irving for a number. But Vonnegut was the POW who lived through the firestorm and the horrific “mining” of the corpses. In respect of historical accuracy there is a difference between 135,000 and 45,000 dead, but 45,000 dead is no less repugnant or horrifying than 135,000. “Slaughterhouse Five” isn’t a numbers game, and isn’t only about Dresden.

I go to look for our copy of “Slaughterhouse Five” and wonder if it completely fell apart and was thrown away but finally uncover it. Paperback. Spine split and taped together, pages cracking and loose. It was 1.95 back in the early 70’s. Familiar blue on white cover, an arch as if to represent the doorway through which Pilgrim passed into Dresden’s Slaughterhouse Five where he and a number of other American POW’s and four guards would end up surviving the firestorm in a deeply dug meat locker.

And somewhere in there was springtime. The corpse mines were closed down…one morning, they got up to discover that the door was unlocked…The trees were leafing out…There was only one vehicle, an abandoned wagon drawn by two horses. The wagon was green and coffin-shaped. Birds were talking. One bird said to Billy Pilgrim, ‘Poo-tee-weet?’

It is a funny thing when you can remember the first time you even saw a certain book. Like looking at a face and sensing there is future history to be shared there. A funny thing to build a relationship with a book over several decades.

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