Wednesday, April 20, 2011


So the seated bearded gentleman in this photo is believed to be Lepke's father Barnett (potentially at this point my great grandfather's brother, though I'm still working on that - the geneological tables keep turning!) The others in the photo are Lepke's half-siblings. It was apparently taken by a matchmaker after the death of Barnett's first wife as he looked for his second - Lepke's mother would eventually be his third! Thank you to my "new" cousin, Joe Ross, for the link!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night

When I began thinking about my approach to my film about Lepke, I knew I wanted to avoid a historical timeline/narrative that would force me into a defined point of view on my subject. Positing an identity, motive or even basic biographical trajectory onto someone - even in hindsight - is much more elusive business than that. People are not one thing, and their story isn't either. I wanted to make a film in which I would push Lepke through a prism, and then deal with the multiplicity that comes out the other end. To do that, I've begun formulating a series of vignettes, which though freeing me from the constraints of traditional narrative, is simultaneously forcing me to find an alternate "glue" for the piece. At least that's how it works for me.

I like puns - if you know any of my previous work, that's pretty evident. So early on, I latched onto Wallace Stevens' "Thirteen Ways of Looking At a Blackbird" as my conceit for the vignettes - okay, 13 of 'em, and make 'em about a black sheep. That was pretty much as far as I thought I'd take it, until I found myself a little "stuck" .... I've been staring at these walls for a month now - posting, pinning, taping, moving bits of paper around on them trying to find my way in and not getting there. Well, to be fair, I'd gotten to about #6, but it still wasn't making much sense.
So today, I went back to the source, looking for inspiration. I printed out the poem, read each stanza. Just as Stevens contemplated his blackbird, I thought upon my black sheep. And low and behold -glue! With all deference and respect (and gratitude) due to Stevens' great (and completely otherly-intentioned) work, here I sit - 13 numbers assigned on 13 themes for 13 vignettes. Today folks, 13 is a LUCKY number! And that's what we're all about here, subverting the obvious!