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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Both, book “Keep On the Positive, Fallin’ Up, My Story,” published 2011, written by Taboo, Jaime Gomez of the Black Eyed Peas with Steve Dennis and “Berlin Alexander Platz,” a film and screenplay written by Rainier Werner Fassbinder I really liked. I do not say that often about books and films.   

The film “Berlin Alexander Platz” is 13 episodes, released 1980, 16 mm color, originally  made for television. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s television screenplay is the second screenplay written and adapted from a novel.  First screenplay was written by Jewish writer Alfred Doblin. The story takes place  late 1920’s in Berlin. Franz is released from prison after serving some years in prison for killing his girlfriend. Franz tries to make money to live on.  Endlessly he tries. I admire him that he really tries hard but he fails.  He reminds me of me.  I try hard to make money. How I perceive the story is that Franz falls in with the wrong crowd after he gets out. He cannot see the differences between people who have negative intentions, who might use him like Reinhold and treats him very manipulative versus people like Mieze who treats him positive.  Maybe Franz has never had good friends in his life.  Therefore, he does not know. Maybe he has always known negative friends. Reinhold associates and lives among criminals who try to manipulate, black mail and try to get away with things which carry on into their personal lives. For example, how Reinhold treats women. At first I did not understand it.  At first he seemed to be a womanizer. I said, oh yeah a typical womanizer.  I know that, but then as the story unfolds his womanizer character emerges as a person who physically abuses women; also he likes men.  Franz although he murders someone in his past, he does not act like Reinhold.  Franz acts more naive to the world.  He matures better than Reinhold about women.  Franz basically knows Mieze is a good person.  She is valuable for him.  Mieze wants to protect Reinhold.  She is smart; yet at times not smart. She sees right through Reinhold.  He perceives that.  She wants to know whom he hangs around, his friends.  She wants to break the walls down.  Reinhold wants to take Mieze away from Franz.  Reinhold is into the act of it. Reinhold evades her questions about Franz: what Franz was like before she met him.  Franz never reveals his past to her.  Reinhold lies to her about him.  She does not know it. In the whole film Franz does not meet any good people except the bar tender at the pub, his first girlfriend, Mieze and the couple who see him lie on the road hurt.  It is a harsh world to live among people as such.  Where’s the positivity?  He meets it in Mieze.  The film ends positive.  He is not charged with Mieze’s murder because someone accuses him of killing her.  Reinhold is charged with manslaughter. He will serve  prison time.  Franz is acquitted and finds a job as a garage gate keeper, more like garage security. He realizes he was deceived by these people, a great lesson to learn; however, as in life a person finds out the hard way to get burned from masks, undercover, manipulation and socio pathic qualities among people who live in the big wide world.  The film does not hold back about people.  It is more pessimistic than optimistic.  Many films are usually written more positive than negative, but I welcome this type of realistic film. For life is not always positive so films for me do not have to be positive, but I realize people who fund films prefer the positive story.   

I did not realize the screenplay for Berlin Alexander Platz was adapted from a novel written by Alfred Doblin, a Jewish writer.  Professor Peter Jelavich wrote a book “Berlin Alexander Platz: Radio, Film and the Death of Weimar Culture.” He described the back story and history of Alexander Platz.  The actor Heinrich George played the Franz character in the first film directed by Phil Jutzi in 1931. He had clout so he insisted that Franz be written without many flaws.  Jelavich said, Fassbinder’s script followed the novel more close than the first film.  I remarked to my partner I rarely view many films such as Fassbinder’s “Berlin Alexander Platz” film, which depicts an antagonist; for example, Reinhold who is depicted very detailed and more than one dimensional. 

Taboo’s book, biography does not hold back either, “Keep on the Positive, Fallin’ Up, My Story.” His story is a very detailed honest account, a person of color’s tale who tries to make it in the music industry, a hip hop musical artist with the Black Eyed Peas in Los Angeles. I liked it a lot for this reason.  Very few artists write about their lives as open and bold the way it really happened, the good the bad and ugly. Yet, everyone is human. Everyone has great positive traits and weaknesses.  Who can be so brilliant?  

He grew up in Los Angeles. Black Eyes Peas stem from the Los Angeles music group mentality like the Doors, but from a different era and culture of music. Doors formed in late 60’s, the time of the LA’s hey day.  The counter culture evolved all over the U.S.   Black Eyes Peas formed in the early 90’s, as a hip hop, soul, rhythm and blues group.  When I saw Taboo, I knew he was Latin.  I guessed he was Mexican. He said people thought he was Asian. He said normally Mexican people did not mix with Black people but he did.  He started out as a break dancer. Learned it on his own. He loved dance and music.  He disliked the 8 a.m.-5 p.m. job, but had to work at regular jobs at times to support his child and bring in some income.  He was a teen father.   

The Peas is Jaime’s up side. He said he was friends with the Peas members. I felt he was very lucky to find friendship and camaraderie with his band mates because friendship does not happen often between band mates. More competitive. Jaime attended open mike places where rap and break dancing took place.  He first saw and heard Will-I-Am, WillOneX rap so intensely at the Whisky a Go Go.  The Peas had ups and downs but eventually landed a recording contact. As a group at recording sessions, they made up songs all night, improvised and threw out ideas and recorded them.  Made songs by meeting people.  Jaime said it was his best time.  Will is the leader of the band.  Jaime travelled all over the world with the Black Eyed Peas through touring. Jamie gave me an inside view of what touring is like because I do not know it.  Jaime’s down side was his drinking, drug taking which worsened as the Peas became successful because he felt he did not have a problem. At a certain point, he obtained a grip with his drinking and drug taking. It changed for the better.  

I like the Black Eyed Peas music. I felt he wrote this auto biography to describe and inform the public his side of the story, to clear up misconceptions about the Peas and himself which the mainstream media exaggerated or did not know about Jamie, but published instead. If James Morrison of the Doors wrote about his side of the story as Taboo, it might have been different.   

Many autobiographies and biographies hold back a lot.  For me the best auto biographies are personal, open and unafraid like Suzie Rotola’s, Bob Dylan’s first girlfriend in New York and Janice Ian’s.  Bob Dylan’s autobiography, Chronicles, Volume I was over guarded and paranoid compared to these two.  Jamie Gomez’a auto biography was the exact opposite of Bob Dylan’s auto biography for a male music artist.  He was personal as Suzie Rotola and Janis Ian. Actually I did not think a male music artist could do it.  Reading his auto biography confirmed and clarified what I experienced about people in the entertainment industry: film, television and music. I know because I have been there, but with more of the behind the scenes as a maker. I always wondered how a musician makes it because I dabbled with music myself in the late 70’s in Los Angeles where I lived. I do it now somewhat with the open mike.  I did not understand this scenario very well; however, I knew artists in the entertainment field were more b.s than real.  Yet, some people are depicted on a pedestal above everybody else. Everyone has flaws, but people do not want to admit flaws.  We deal with monsters in life because we have to. Fame and money affects a person because the North American business mentality elevates a person to a privileged level. A person begins to believe in this false superiority, to treat everyone else as less than, which in reality is fake, a characteristic not admired from me. 

“Berlin Alexander Platz” and “Keep It On the Positive, Falling Up, My story” I raved about because both were realistic depictions of life.  One was written from real life, while the other was fictionalized from a novel and adapted into a screenplay, and then made into a film.  The stories were not prettified.  They were raw, as is. I am one of those few who loves it this way.