Friday, August 17, 2007

"Off the Grid" Reactions

In the Q&A that followed last night’s showing of the documentary Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa, one of the producer-directors said he was surprised (as a New Yorker who expects freedom-loving loners like the desert-dwellers depicted in the movie to be leftists) to find that this little community of people living on a southwestern mesa, while loving and raising marijuana and being suspicious of mainstream society, were also eagerly gun-toting self-proclaimed patriots, several of whom had served in the military and would do so again.

I refrained from shouting the L-word — libertarians! — in a crowded theatre. Speaking of crowding, I was saddened to learn that Scott Nybakken and Lefty Leibowitz — and who knows how many other lost souls — tried to get into the movie only to find it was sold out. But given how much construction is going on around Lincoln Center right now, Scott, with his love of architecture and documentaries about constructing oil derricks, and Lefty, with his long history as an “urban exploration” professional, may have been among the few people skilled enough to find the theatre entrance at all.

But we’ll hear more about this well-made documentary, I suspect, and you should all rent it if you, too, have trouble getting to the theatre.

The head of the Lincoln Center Film Society, on hand to lead the proceedings, echoed my own thoughts when she said that if lots of people hear about the free-wheeling, Road Warrior-like (as one of the producers actually called it) life of the mesa-dwellers and want to share it, we may see “the gentrification of the mesa” — reminding me of last month’s Debate at Lolita Bar on such matters.

At the same time, it has to be said, some of the mesa-dwellers display the same psychological tendencies seen in the homeless, so they probably shouldn’t be a model for all of society (any more than Burning Man should be, as I suggested halfway through this entry). There’s always something a little crazy — though not necessarily bad — about leaving civilization behind and heading out into the wilderness. Or, as I believe my friend Deborah Colloton once said, “If men aren’t married by the time they’re forty, they start getting weird and go into the woods and make bombs [like Ted Kaczynski].” There’s probably some simple but profound truth to that. I have two years.

1 comment:

Koli said...

I was actually surprised to learn of the producers’ surprise. Don’t they remember Ruby Ridge? Or the rise of the militia movements of the 1990s?

It’s always been pretty clear to me that for every wicca practicing, tarot reading, herbal-self-medicating hippie, there’s a gun-toting, Jewish-conspiracy-believing, UFO-sighting freak. And they all hate the “man” who apparently is forever plotting to come for them and take away their guns and their reefers!

By the way, it’s worth noting that several of the gun-toting patriots had strongly and bitterly hostile words for the Bush administration and that the one who said he would serve in the military again was also highly critical of the war in which he fought and several of the others were critical of wars generally.