Once upon a time in Austria

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The main square of Linz reminds of a trash bag inside a vacuum cleaner, where apart from the dense cloud of dust one can recognize also an old bread crust, a coin, a toy soldier, confetti from the two weeks ago party, small screw, piece of glass and some more surprising objects and beings – tables, chairs, umbrellas, sculpturs, bycicles, road signs, tourists dragging their suitcases and stopping to make a photograph, waiters with hands full of plates with hot pizzas and faces full of unhappiness, a homeless person trying on fancy snickers that someone left at a trash can, a poster of Quentin`s new movie and someone`s bachelor party in the very progress – eight drunk men unpleasantly shout encouraging the groom to empty the glass of burning absinth.

First time I tried absinth at the age 16. At that time “Pulp fiction” was shown on TV in Russia, and I guess I saw some excerpts in terrible one-voice translation – that was my first encounter with Quentin. I remember the scene about Le Big Mac, and the most famous one, where Samuel L. Jackson is quoting Bible before shooting out a couple of nerds. I found it funny and was sure, that is an entertaining movie, basically a criminal comedy. The russian translation of the title is also obscure and ambigous, if you translate it back into english it might sound as “Criminal reading”. Everything was wrong and weird with this movie, but I thought nevertheless, this Quentin is apparently a talented guy.

I was not so interested in cinema and art in general; it was highschool, and after the lessons we always went to the local bar called Atlantida, smoked cheap cigarettes, drank, discussed girls and how to avoid going to the military and how to pass the chemistry exam, which was really pain in ass. It was a very happy time. Absinth seemed to be a challenge, since it was pretty expensive for a teenager and it was 95 percent strong. Also we knew, you should drink it in a special way, burning it somehow with sugar. Nobody was aware of details. One girl said we are stupid thinking of trying absinth, which extremely warmed up our enthusiasm. So one day the very tired waitress, who was so exhausted by serving drunk highschool students, did for us four portions of green and smelly thing. It was very scary, but went surprisingly easy and left a pleasant aftertaste in the mouth and cozy cloudy feeling in the stomach. Four years later the bar disappeared just like the legendary Atlantida, there is a dentist clinic in that space, so no chance to touch the teenage years, which makes me sad sometimes.

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Next time I met absinth was a theatre academy. I did a small piece based on the painting “Absinth”, but not the one from Picasso, but that one from Degas, where there is dirty man sitting next to a sad lady. My directing teacher said “The don`t have anything to talk about anymore”, but I was sure, her man, with whom they really don`t have anything in common anymore, is not on the painting. He had just broke up with her and left, she ordered absinth to feel a bit warmer in this very cold moment, and that guy on the picture next to her is just a random homeless person, who is always sitting at this bar, so her loneliness reflects in his, they are actually the two faces of the same solitude. At that time I didn`t drink absinth – we had literally no money for fancy drinks, which was good for my artistic development: I watched a couple more movies instead and became a big fan of Quentin after “Kill Bill”. One thing that bought me were the toas of Uma Thurman. Quentin knew this thing: the most gorgeos parts of female body are the toas, and if you love a girl, you love her toas more than anything. I was also sure Nancy Sinatra wrote the song specially for this movie, and felt so jealous, when I found out, that he just stole the cloudy melody and magic lyrics from the universe so neatly, that you can`t imagine “Bang bang” separately from “Kill Bill” anymore.

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When I was 24, I was living with my girlfriend in a big bright room in shared flat close to the center of St.Petersburg. It was a community of lazy art academy students, and we always had a full kitchen of not familiar people. Long time I didn`t have a job, which was also very profitable for my artistic development – I watched “Inglourious basterds” and rewatched “Pulp fiction”. I was very touched. However, I came to the idea, Quentin knew nothing about love, and his intimate honesty about Uma`s feet was nothing more than erotic fascination. In fact, what happens to all his characters? Bootch Coolidge goes for a suicidal mission to return the watch of his father instead of escape safely with his girl-friend. Bill shoots his woman in the head, because she wanted to stop killing people, and Betrix Kiddo kills the father of her daughter, because she wants to be a simple normal person instead of being a genius killer. Shosanna Dreyfus burns Hittler together with her cinema and dies performing revenge for her family and her people. Quentin`s characters have principles, that have things to die for, and they become eventually psychopathic: no accidental empathy can overcome their passion. You easily fall in love with people of this kind, but then the terrible hangover arrives – they would never change anything in their lives for you. Inglourious basterds displayed clearly and literally what has already been apparent before: Quentin loves cinema. Probably even more, than women`s toas. Cinema is stronger than Hitler, cinema wins the battles with evil, and eventually art wins the battle with reality.

I found this idea very cold; I was in love with toas of my girl-friend and felt pretty good in our shared kitchen talking to weird visitors and waiting for fame and glory, that will knock on my door and ask me out. A that time I tried the red absinth (yes, such a thing exists!)- someone`s friend, who was a professional chess player, brought a bottle as a gift.

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I saw Django Unchained in Germany, and this movie suddenly changed my understanding of Quentin: at the end of the story Django takes his woman and they ride away to the horizon, which was in my perception not a Quentin`s final at all. I thought, something happened to him, and rewatched all his movies, from small excerpts of low-fidelity video of “My best friends wedding”, his episode of “Four rooms”, the “Reservoir dogs” with it`s amazing opening monologue about Madonna`s “Like a virgin” song, “Pulp fiction” with high and drunk Uma Thurman singing “Girl you`ll be a woman soon”, “Deathproof” with toas of Rosario Dowson and so on. And I suddenly understood, that the entire Quentin`s myhtology is indeed about love, but love between people of inner integrity, and love becomes a huge tragedy of their lives, something, that falls apart of their solid base. Stupid and primitive Vincent Vega and Mia Walles in Pulp Fiction or sophisticated Bill and Betrix in Kill Bill, falling in love means for them to change or to die, and for people of integrity there is only one choice. Love is not smaller that they, love is so big, that they can`t cope with it.

With this bright and bitter feeling I created in Germany a piece under the title “I love you, Quentin”, half an hour of choreography danced to the soundtracks of “Pulp fiction”, “Kill Bill” and “Deathproof”. For the program booklet I composed a text, that consists exclusively out of quotations from Quentin`s movies, and could be an encouraging speech, that I might perform in front of my dancers before the premiere.

I think, this just might be my masterpiece. That’s a pretty fucking good milkshake. I don’t know if it’s worth five dollars, but it’s pretty fucking good. Cheers, Butterfly. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. And I have promises to keep. Miles to go before I sleep. Did you hear me, Butterfly? You and I have unfinished business. Yes, I am serious as a heart attack. Are you gonna bark all day, little doggie? Or are you gonna bite? I dare you, I double dare you! Revenge is a dish best served cold. And the words “too fucking busy” shouldn`t be in waitresses vocabulary. That woman deserves her revenge. What she lacks for in age, she makes up for in madness. Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. It is better than safe. It is deathproof. I wanna dance and I wanna win that trophy, so dance good!

Afterwards we had an absinth party at my place, in a lovely shared flat close to the university. By the way, I had a great time at the dance university throwing thematic parties. Once it was a lambrusco party – I was in love with an italian girl and this red and slight sparkling wine reminded of her somehow. When I turned thirty I threw a cocktail party, but I don`t remember so much of that night. When I left Germany a year later I threw a mimosa party – it is a brunch cocktail, so you have to start to drink it around 2 p.m., in Russia people say – you drink in the morning and the day is free. But the absinth one was really cozy. It was some autumn evening, pretty cold, there were around fifteen people, and we didn`t even manage to drink the bottle till the end, and I felt really complete, preparing absinth for friends.

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Absinth is really nice, but you mustn`t drink too much at once, otherwise you`ll feel bad. This works with everything in life, which I find very sad. Quenitin`s characters never drink absinth and never talk about absinth, which makes me think, people of integrity don`t like this drink.

Maybe I didn`t reach my integrity yet, but I think I might like to try absinth in Linz. But for sure in winter and anyway not on the main square. It is too much of dirt and bustle there. A few ecological activists, put down the posters “Stop to lie!” “Protect the climat!” are waiting for a tram to go home after the demonstration, drunk students are passing by, singing Mamma Maria Mamma near the poster of Quentin`s new movie.

Have you seen “Once uponl a time in Holywood”, by the way?

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