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New Joy

I’ve been known to torment friends with film. In college I was convinced that The Disorderly Orderly was pure genius (not to be confused with Disorderlies). Then I went through a Mrs. Doubtfire phase. Norbit even sucked me in earlier this year.

While watching perplexingly uneventful Old Joy on the (not so) big screen at Brooklyn Heights Cinema last November, I felt it wasn’t the right setting. Something was missing. The movie pushed James’s tolerance level more than any movie since Grizzly Man (which I didn’t find hard to watch). Er, because nothing happens, or rather nothing’s said, plenty happens in long real time shots, one might say. And many said just that; the film made countless 2006 top ten lists.

But it struck me recently that the ideal circumstances to view Old Joy would be with an Oregonian, someone you’ve been friends with for ages, and quite ideally while stoned. It would be the only way the movie would work. No one else could appreciate the overwhelming Northwestness of the dialogue and setting. Green and wet, moss on trees, oppressively gray sunless skies…slugs. Yes, slugs sum up all that is Oregon. I couldn’t believe my fortune when I was treated to a slug on a rock scene. The only thing missing was slow shots of mushrooms bulging from the earth.


I only have one friend in NYC that fit the criteria. Another would’ve sufficed, having spent some formative years in Portland, but she couldn’t attend. Jessica so rightly brought along a vegetarian burrito, as big as a baby’s torso, 85% beans and rice. I won’t touch those starchy hippy beasts, but it was completely appropriate.

I have no idea what their provenance is, and I’m fully aware that burritos as we know them aren’t terribly Mexican, but the burritos I love–compact, dense and meaty–come from neither Tex-Mex nor Mission-style storefronts in Portland. These reasonably sized cylinders contain no filler, no cheese, are a little greasy and stuffed with typical taco innards like carnitas or pastor. Basically refried beans and meat in a flour tortilla. I’ve not seen these in NYC.


Brooklyn burritos aren’t for me, so I easily identified ultimate snacks of my own. I went to pick up hummus to nam prik-ify, and was faced with a new Sabra variety: jalapeño. So pretty and green that I couldn’t leave it on the shelf. It’s sharper, tangier and herbier than the red chile mélange in former favorite Supremely Spicy. It looks like it would be milder, though it actually sticks with you.


I also picked up a half pound of Bleu d'Auvergne cheese, which I’m not sure qualifies as a soft blue (in my sense of the term). Despite its pliable nature, it’s really a creamy blue cheese, not a blue/triple cream hybrid.  At room temperature, the piquant cheese is spreadable not crumbly and almost fooled me into believing it was the style I was looking for. It certainly out-classed the Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon I was drinking with it.

“Sorrow is faded worn out joy,” we learned. And most importantly, that watching Old Joy is much better with snacks, depressants and an accomplice. It’s worth waiting over a month for the Netflix shipment in order to glean quiet life lessons 2,900 miles from home

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