Monday, March 8, 2010

Cease and Desist

When I opened the left front door of the garbage shed, I saw it. Stuffed into one of the cans languished a large wheeled suitcase, electric blue, apparently in good condition.

To think, someone had actually discarded a perfectly usable item. Why?

Just a few months ago, a young white hetero couple purchased one of the top-floor units. (The apartments on the top floor come with roof rights, so their monthly maintenance is slightly higher than mine.) Then they left for a honeymoon in Colombia.

Perhaps they have returned. But why would they have abandoned this suitcase? Did it contain evidence of illicit substances? Could it be that I have watched Maria Full of Grace once too often?

Joshua van Praag was the electrician on Maria Full of Grace. Van Praag directed, produced, and wrote The Dig, an omnibus film in which Kim appears as a grandfather.

Kim did The Dig for free. He was happy to do it. Van Praag and his team were absolute pros. Kim’s scene was shot in a real kitchen in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Sunday, April 4th, 2004.

There were plenty of times when Kim donated his services to student projects. Volunteering allowed him to continue honing his craft, and the kids found him “awesome.”

Whether or not he was being paid, Kim took every production seriously. “I’m going to work.”

After a day of strutting his stuff, Kim would generally pour himself a vodka martini. Such libation sent him to what he called “the twilight zone,” but at least he was still alive. One of his phony cronies joked that the alcohol acted as a preservative, that it kept The Old One going.

Kim’s older sister Kay was murdered in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Her body was found in a car. I am not sure what year that happened, but the case was never solved. Kim suspected her of somehow being involved in drug trafficking. “She would do practically anything to make a little money,” he related.

She would never let him do without.

She called him by his middle name, Shung, which means “bright.”

Kay was probably employed at one of the family laundries. I believe she had more formal education than Kim, but she spoke English with an accent that most likely was not considered marketable, or even charming.

Kim attended junior high school in Providence. He was selected to lead fellow pupils in a parade celebrating the New Deal. (Several years before, in the old country, he was the one chosen to beat a gong that would rid the village of demons.)

In August 2004, the two of us took a train there to attend the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

Kim, shaved clean, duded up in black-on-black stripes, accepted its Lifetime Achievement Award at the Columbus Theatre. We were informed that the venue found its proper name after the auditorium seats were counted: 1,492.

When asked about performers whose work he admired, Kim spoke movingly of Marlon Brando, who died the month before. He graciously neglected to mention that Brando had pursued his wife.

We were delighted to find Annie Bradley at the festival. She had worked with Kim in Toronto; for some episodes of Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Bradley was second assistant director.

Her short Tongue Bully, shot in Havana, won the Grand Prize for Best Cinematography at the 2004 RIIFF.

Before leaving Providence, Kim and I walked along Knight Street in search of a laundry where he had once lived and worked. It was gone.

The rehabilitation project involving the common areas of XYZ Umpteenth Street has been interrupted. Some of the shareholders complained that the red paint caused the interior of our building to resemble a crime scene.

Our superintendent has left the electric blue suitcase on the sidewalk with the items to be recycled. A scavenger will surely roll it away.

I know of three songs with the title “Wheels.” One was written by Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman; one by Amanda McBroom; one by Jamie Cullum. The soundtrack of my life is eclectic.

Several months ago, a hookah bar opened in the South Slope.

When Kim was a child, he cooked opium. It took his older brother to a twilight zone of zero pain before he crossed the ultimate border. For tuberculosis patients, no more could be done.

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