Meditations: Leonard Leauge

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I regret making this.

Ok, I think it’s been long enough… i’m just going to say it. Are you ready? Alright, here we go…. (inhale)… the Justice League movie sucked.

Granted, it wasn’t as bad as Batman vs Superman or Suicide Squad, but the there’s no denying that the two hours of pedestrian acting, obnoxious CGI, and weird story decisions that made up the movie could suck a golfball through a straw. That’s not even mentioning the fact that the film underperformed at the box office, which I guess isn’t correct on my part because I just now mentioned it.

It’s all a damn shame too, because I genuinely enjoyed Wonder Woman.

Despite all this though, Justice League give me something that I would never in a million years expect it would give me; a newfound love and appreciation for the works of Leonard Cohen. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.

It all started when I went and saw the film with a few friends during my first few days back home for Thanksgiving break. Ironically, while the film is a bit of a dumpster fire, I do remember it having a very well crafted opening credits sequence. A montage of how nations around the world dealt with the tragic (yet ultimately meaningless) death of Superman, the sequence did a good job of painting a world that had lost its protector (but it’s OK he comes right back about halfway through the movie). While the imagery of black flags bearing Superman’s insignia and a sad looking Ben Affleck were powerful, what really makes it all work is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” by Norwegian pop artist Sigrid.

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Batman and Flash watch as their box office and Rotten Tomatoes score plummet.

It’s one of the better covers I’ve ever heard, and I was humming the tune long after the film was over. I actually at first believed that the cover was an original song by a talented and clever up and coming pop artist. Once I went to check her out Spotify however, the weird Norwegian pop that started playing quickly reminded me that I still live in the modern music industry.

It wasn’t until I watched Red Letter Media’s Justice League Half in The Bag Episode that I found out who actually wrote the song. During the review, host Mike Stoklasa, mentions off hand that he knew he was in for a bad time time when the opening credits of the film were accompanied by a  crappy Leonard Cohen cover.From there, things made a lot of more sense, and I immediately went digging for the original version.

Up until that point, I had only really known Leonard Cohen as the hallelujah guy who “probably died or something”. Once I finally got a chance to pick through his discography and read up on the man. It took only a few days for me to quickly fall in love with the man and his discography. His songs were contemplative, thoughtful, and could genuinely make me feel really emotional times. Cohen’s low and almost conversational vocals and silky smooth classical guitar playing was a hypotonic combination, and during those first few days I remember listening to songs like “Suzanne” “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” and “Who by Fire” on almost near constant repeat.

Then there are those lyrics… those sweet, sweet leonard cohen lyrics.

Those were the reasons and that was New York. We were running for the money and the flesh, and that was called love for the workers in song, probably still is for those of them left,” you don’t get that anywhere else.

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The man himself.

The timing was also pretty good, as I was already going through the obligatory college freshman folk/americana singer songwriter phase, so adding Mr. Cohen to my Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, and Warren Zevon filled playlists was a very natural choice.

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Aquaman is still lame.

The whole thing has me a little frustrated if I’m being honest. It made me realize how narrow minded I can be when it comes to music, which can be a little problematic considering that I pride myself on being a music aficionado. I could name you every Pink Floyd or Beatles song, but somehow it took watching a lame superhero movie for me to come to appreciate the discography of one of the great american songwriters. It’s a little embarrassing actually.

So what’s the moral here? Same old crap really: have an open mind, try new things, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket  blah blah blah…

But in all seriousness though, you would do well to keep your ears open. Who knows, maybe the opening credits of Fifty Shades Freed will be just as life changing.

 

 

Jonah Fights the City Part 2 – Ain’t no love in the Heart of the City

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After surviving a United Airlines flight, Jonah and his much more likable brother in arms Owen find themselves in the middle of the urban jungle. With vigor in their hearts and easily stealable wallets in their loose pockets, the pair sally forth into the great unknown. Meanwhile, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf the White must travel west in an effort to convince the Rohrrim Tribes to aid the Kingdom of Gondor in the coming war against the dark legions of Sauron.

The ride from the airport to the hotel was the first moment of levity I had had all day. Travel doesn’t really stress me out as much as keep me on my toes. Even during my residency at the airport, all I could think about was how I needed to ensure that the rest of my journey would go smoothly.

Even while on the plane I couldn’t relax, but that was for a number of reasons. Here is a comprehensive list of them.

  1. I, in all of my infinite wisdom and foresight, had forgotten that Spotify did not work well with airplanes. So my ride was going to be a tuneless one right out of the gate.
  2.  I had absolutely no idea how we were going to get from the airport to the hotel. I mean I figured we would just take an Uber, but then there was the question of how many shekels it would cost us.
  3. The couple sitting next to me on the plane were from Australia, which wouldn’t have been a problem if I hadn’t represented New Zealand in Model United Nations club earlier that week. I spent the whole ride praying to Lorde and Peter Jackson that they wouldn’t break my fragile, Kiwi legs.
  4. Once the plane started to descend, my ears found out that I had to cut part of their Christmas bonuses for that year, and decided that the best course of action was to put me through a skull crushingly intense pain.

Overall, three out of five stars.

I turned to Owen, who was taking footage of the rolling cityscape with the camera he had brought with him. I’m sure the rays of sunlight shining through the New York skyline were a very profound sight to behold. I wouldn’t know because I was checking Tinder.

It was at that point that I realized that Owen and I had never actually discussed how our film would do in the competition, so I brought it up. The fest had roughly all of the same categories as the Oscars, like best picture, screenplay, direction, etc. After some discussion, we decided that we had a fighting chance in most of the categories, going so far as to say that actually winning something was not too far off.

Our confidence would not have been as high if it hadn’t been for what had happened a couple weeks earlier. Continue reading “Jonah Fights the City Part 2 – Ain’t no love in the Heart of the City”

Exploring Gotham

Every few weeks, when the homework multiplies or the little kids I work with make me want to tear my hair out, I get this itch: the overwhelming need for a crazy adventure.

Sometimes, that means hitting up a underground bar with some break dance and DJ buds, or getting sloshed with my roomies. But sometimes, I just need to get outside and explore the city.

Chicago is a lot like its comic book alter-ego, with twists and turns and unexpected places; perfect for an adventure.

So I’ll enlist the help of my partner in crime and together we hike wherever the wind takes us.

Ever stay at Navy Pier past closing time and walk through the stained glass museum? Or go in search of the perfect hot chocolate on a cold, rainy day? (Hint: try the Hershey factory)

It can be as simple as exploring the Harold Washington Library or taking the Blue Line to Bucktown for pizza; but if you’re with me, things tend to become an adventure!

This time I had a hankering to follow the Chicago River. We tramped up and down, from the swanky East Bank Club to River City on the South branch. It may only have been three miles round-trip, but boy, was it eventful!

First, we took pictures of the “bridge-that-is-never-used” and found an abandoned rail yard, where I climbed my first train car. After a stop at the Boeing building (you know, the one literally suspended above the train tracks?) we parkour-ed around a couple of walls and fences to end up walking on a ledge about 20 feet above Wacker Drive, heading south.

My chosen destination was a strip of forest right along the bank I’d noticed when working as a deckhand on the river.

The sun had set by the time we weaved through the wooded area into something I would never have expected: a shantytown, Chicago’s very own Hooverville, right next to one of the richest apartment complexes in the city.

Noticing some fresh embers in a small pit fire, we soon figured out there was someone at home and booked it. I’m all for adventure, but that was enough for me!

But, don’t let that stop you from exploring on your own. Take some time one afternoon and just go out and see what you can find.

Who knows, maybe you’ll run into Batman.