Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Return to San Francisco and more...

Even though I may already know the subject I'll write about in my next post, by the time I write it I have thought about so much more, that I usually go on a tangent and end up with an "eclectic" and longer post - this is another one.  I'll start then with the "more" from my title.  Let me hasten to say that the day after I published my last post, on the rain in Georgia, it stopped raining.  It has been sunny every day since with mild temperatures and low humidity.  This morning it was 65 degrees F (18 C) and now, in the afternoon, it is only 78 degrees F (25 C.)  It is not warm enough for my figs to ripen on our tree but our potted plants are flowering more than usual.  (Click on any collage twice to enlarge.)

Since I am not sure if there will be enough figs to make jam this year I went ahead and made peach jam - but with a difference.  I used a large mango, ripe Georgia peaches and finished with two tablespoons of "Safari" liquor.

I bought this liquor in Amsterdam a couple of years ago because the label said "Safari - Exotic liqueur spirit with tantalizing flavor of exotic fruits - maracuya, mango, papaya, lemon and lime."  It is produced in the Netherlands.  I thought an "exotic" touch would do well in my peach jam.  I was not sure what "maracuya" was and saw on Google that it was "Fruta de la Pasión o Maracuyá" and is also called Passionfruit, Pasionaria or Grandilla (Passiflora Edilus.)  The fruit is either yellow or purple at maturity.  It is a climbing plant originally from Central America but produced in many countries.  Photos below courtesy Wikimedia.

The Sunday before I wrote my last post, Sunday 18th August to be exact, it was raining so we decided to go to the movies.  We had not been since last November and there was a film I wished to see called "Blue Jasmine."  It was playing in Atlanta.  Early in the afternoon we drove there and saw that another film I had seen advertized on TV, called "Lee Daniel's The Butler" was also playing.  We purchased our tickets for Blue Jasmine but saw that the film The Butler was sold out until the evening show.  We were early for Blue Jasmine so we peeked in the theatre where The Butler had started.  I did not know that the 5 minutes or so we stayed there would create more time spent on the computer for research.  I'll explain below.

First - Spoiler Alert! for The Butler film.  As we started watching the movie I thought that it was telling the story of the butler's ancestor - it was a scene in a cotton field.  A boy was there with his parents - I thought it must be the butler's great grandfather on a plantation.  The mother is taken in a shack by the overseer and I guess, raped, as we hear her screams.  The boy asks the father if he will say anything about that, the overseer comes out, the father gives him a bad look, and the overseer shoots the father in the head point blank and kills him.  That's it, that's all we saw - we left to see our movie.  But I wanted to find out later what time period this scene was.  I did find that this scene was supposed to be in 1926 when the Butler was a boy and this tragedy happened to his family, on a cotton plantation in Macon, Georgia.  There are many fields of cotton in Georgia now but I rarely see any people working in them as production has been mechanized.  Below is a field of cotton I photographed last autumn, about 15 miles from my home.

Since I like history and research I read more on the movie and The Butler himself.  I found out that the original Butler was named Eugene Allen, that he was not born in Georgia on a plantation, but on a farm in Virginia.  His parents were farm workers but his mother was not raped and his father was not murdered.  Seeing on the poster (at the very top) that it says "Inspired by a True Story" I wondered what was authentic.  I found out that in the movie the Butler, re-named Cecil Gaines (I guess to avoid
slander) has 2 sons and one of them died in Vietnam.  In truth Eugene Allen only had one son and he came back from Vietnam alive.  In the movie Cecil's wife is an alcoholic and has an affair with a neighbor.  In truth Allen's wife of many decades was a lovely woman.  I wondered what else is not true and I guess about 95% of the movie is fiction.  In the movie the other fictional son is an activist, joins the Black Panther, is roughed up several times and spends some time with Martin Luther King, Jr.  He also pushed his father to quit his butler job - none of it true.  Actually I found out that the real Butler was a Republican (!)  Below are more photos of cotton fields but in vintage postcards from 1905.

All this research has brought many conversations with my husband.  He feels that if a film says based on or inspired by a true story or true events then only 2% needs to be true.  I disagree and feel that if the studios advertize the film this way, at least 60% should be true.  I understand that there is poetic license and that to make a film more dramatic some liberty can be taken with the story.  To me it shows not much respect to invent a promiscuous drunken wife to this real butler.  It cheapens the story and hurts the reputation of the true butler.  I think the audience is owed more "truth" if the studios market the movie as such - I saw TV interviews saying that most of this film was true.  I am also afraid that young people in this country, and other countries where this film will be shown, may not take the time to research the story as I have and believe the plot to be a true rendering of what happened to this American butler and his family (with all the African-American stereotypes) - then will see the word "true" in there and will believe it is.

When I go and see a movie founded or based on a true story I don't expect to watch, for more than two hours, mostly fiction and lies freely added to manipulate and rile up my emotions whether the actors are good or not.  Forest Whitaker is one of my favorite actors - I am sure he gives a strong and moving performance in this movie but I would enjoy it more knowing that it is a fictional tale showing the history of race in America, even if the idea for this film came at first from a butler's life in Washington, DC.  Any thought on that?  (Picture below of Forest Whitaker courtesy Entertainment Weekly.)

I really liked the film we went to see - "Blue Jasmine."  The main character, Jasmine, is played by Cate Blanchett.  She shines in this Woody Allen movie.  Her performance as a fragile emotional socialite is flawless.  The rest of the crew were well chosen and give great performances too.

As you can see from the poster above Blue Jasmine takes place mostly in San Francisco.  This brings me back to the subject of this post.  When I finished my 3rd post of San Francisco in the 1960s (click here to read it) we had left on the last day of 1969 thinking we would be back.  We never went back until this last June, and 43 1/2 years had passed.  The main reason I did not go back is because I had to go to Paris at first once a year then twice to three times a year to visit my mother as she became ill.  San Francisco was not on the way - it is in the opposite direction.  My mother passed away in 2002.  Last February I saw flight sales to San Francisco from Atlanta.  Tickets were bought - a hotel was found, and we went.  By air the distance from Atlanta to San Francisco is 2,138 miles or 3,440 kms (driving distance is 2,472 miles and 3,977 kms.)

To give some perspective I tried to see which town is about 2,138 miles from Paris.  I was surprised to find out that the flying distance between the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, and Paris, France is exactly 2,134 miles.  During that flight one does not fly over several states like in the US, but over separate countries, such as Austria, Hungary, Turkey and others.

It was raining as we left the Atlanta airport on May 30th, 2013, but sunny when we landed in the San Francisco airport.  I took many pictures from the aircraft along the way,

When landing into San Francisco airport you feel that you will land in the bay as it is close to the water, but everything went fine.  The airport did not look like it did in the 1960s.  It has been much improved.  We had never been on the BART rapid transit either.  We used it to get to downtown San Francisco.  Below at the top of the collage is a vintage postcard of the airport in the 1950s or early 60s, and the way it is now.

The five hour flight had gone by quickly.  It was only about 2:30 pm when we arrived downtown so there was still time to walk around the city after we checked into the hotel.  That will be in a future post.



27 comments:

Nadege said...

I love your eclectic posts as I always learn so much. I agree with you about movies. I was surprised when I read "the devil wears Prada" and "My life in France" by Julia Child, how much "poetic license" writers and producers chose. They should write "based on an idea" from this and that book... Books are, most of the time, better than movies anyway.
Here in Los Angeles, the weather has been so pleasant on the coast. We only had few days of humidity in July and August has been just lovely. Not so much in the valleys where it has been warm, but not as hot as usual. If we could only have more rain, it would be wonderful.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

My Dear Vagabonde...I must speak to your 'review' or comments about Lee Daniels The Butler....
You said..."but I would enjoy it more knowing that it is a fictional tale showing the history of race in America, even if the idea for this film came at first from a butler's life in Washington, DC. Any thought on that?"
Yes, my dear....THAT is exactly what you saw. They have never advertised this film as being the TRUE story of the actual Butler who served 7 Presidents. They have ALWAYS said..."Inspired By"....and this film does show a lot of the History of RACE in this country. That is what is important about this film. And they have written a fictional story based on actual things that have happened in this country---at no time do they say this is the TRUE Story of Eugene Allen....The incidents you mention on the Plantation are based on things that actually happened...Rape and murder.,etc.,etc. i think the filmakers felt that in order to make this a more realistic story of Race in America, they had to write a fictionalized story, yet incorporate FACTS of the time periods covered....Using Eugene Allen's long history of working in the White House for all those decades was a perfect jumping off place to tell the story about Race in this country, starting in the 1920's.
So, I guess, I would have to agree with your Husband---I don't know about 2% or if it should be 5%, or any percent, for that matter, but in this particular case, they did not use Eugene Allen's real name or the real names of any of those related to him, because this film was NOT about him....but the film was INSpIRED by his story...

Where I have a problem with Biographical films is when they actually USE the real person's name--C.S. Lewis...Fanny Brice, Cole Porter, etc., etc...and take glaring liberties with these peoples lives....this was not the case with "Lee Daniel's THE BUTLER". Just my opinion, my dear....

DJan said...

I will see Blue Jasmine because I really like Cate Blanchette and heard from others that this is a good movie. And I'll probably see The Butler, but I'm glad to learn it's fiction, not fact. I always love your posts, and this one is no exception, dear VB. :-)

Vagabonde said...

Dear OldLady of the Hills – thank you for your opinion, which I value. I did see a couple of interviews on TV that mentioned that this was mostly a true story, but as you say, they may have not said it was that Butler’s true story. However I took it at that. But I still feel that the word “inspired, or based on a true story” is used too much for marketing purposes when in fact there are few true facts in those films. I’ll tell my husband that you agree with him, but I still disagree on this point. I am pleased that you gave your opinion, thank you.

Jeanie said...

Sounds like you have had quite a time! I'm eager to see the Butler too and hope it is up north when I'm there. Your jam and peaches have me salivating and of course I love the travel photos. How you will cherish these all your life!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I did see The Butler this weekend and enjoyed it. I had read that it was loosely based on a butler who served eight presidents in the White House. The fact that the main character's name was not the same as the actual butler led me to believe that this would not be a true account of one particular man, but more about the times. As I was a witness to that period of history, I can say that they definitely got that right.

Ann said...

nothing is as sweet as a Georgia peach!!!
i have to agree with you.".inspired by" and "based on" should keep the "true story people" in mind.
cities and airports do change quickly..don't they!!
i do love the old postcards so much!!!
i went to San Francisco as a child..haven't been there since...I'm in So. California so it's not like i have to go across the US to get there!! maybe someday soon!!!
there are lots of places i'd like to go to,again or "new"..thats why i enjoy your posts so much!! i really feel as though i am right there,seeing the sights along side of you!!!
hugs~

Nadezda said...

Thanks for show the cotton field, never seen it before. Interestingly to read about movies, the actress is pretty. The butler is not yet shown here. Would like to see it.

David said...

Vagabonde, The Butler is just one of many examples of misinformation and/or fiction from those in Hollywood who are pushing their specific agendas or who are just adding drama to a movie so it will sell! Thanks for the heads up...I'll definitely skip it now. We love San Francisco...to visit! Great food, love Chinatown, the piers and the Bay. Lots of atmosphere, definitely one the few cities in the USA that isn't the same old thing! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Down by the sea said...

I agree with you that it something is based on a true story I would imagine it to be 60% true too. I remember your field of cotton from last year. I had never seen anything like it before!
I couldn't believe the miles from Atlanta to Paris were similar to San Francisco. The scajavascript:void(0)le of things is so much bigger in America.
Sarah x

Elephant's Child said...

I am a bit torn. Based on a true story I expect to be true about the protagonists in the movie, not a reflection of other people's truth. Just the same, I don't want stories buried either. A tricky question. Thank you for getting me thinking about the issue.

Magic Love Crow said...

I love peaches! Too bad I didn't live closer ;o) I agree with everything you stated about movies saying they are "based" on a true story! Thank you for showing the cotton fields and writing about all your research!

Pat said...

I have to say that I agree
with Naomi.
The important thing is that the younger people who can't remember what life was like over 50 years ago should know about the history of race in America and if poetic license is used to get the message across so be it.
My grand daughter has just spent a year in the US and she found that race was far more important over there and was shocked by the attitude of some people she met in the south.

BTW I think your peach jam sounds yummy.

cquek said...

thanks for the information.

.•♫•. Nancy .•♫•. said...

Bonjour chère Vagabonde ! :o)

Merci à toi pour ce beau voyage ! Pour les paysages, les confitures, les fleurs, le coton naturel, ... j'aime beaucoup !!!!

Je t'embrasse et je te souhaite
une bonne continuation !!! :o)

Carola Bartz said...

Thank you for all the research you did on "the butler" - they really gave the truth scope in that movie! So sad, as it is on my movie list. I am quite excited to read your future post of your visit to San Francisco since I live so close to it (just an hour by car to the north). When we moved here, BART still wouldn't connect to the airport!

Linda said...

Great post!!! I love those vintage postcards!!!

ruma said...



Hello, Vagabonde.

 Your work is embraced in your gentleness.
  Thank you World-wide LOVE, and your Support.

  The prayer for all peace.
  I wish You all the best.

Have a good weekend. From Japan, ruma❃

Sandi McBride said...

I saw where you had visited me and that you are a neighbor, so knew that I would be visiting you as well. I am so glad that I did... passion fruit was a passion with my mother, I also grow a vine or two of it and it makes a wonderful juice for cake flavoring...we have already declined the thought of going to see the Butler because Jane Fonda is in it and we boycott her for behavior in Vietnam...both of us have losses of family there. I find that most times when it says based on a true story, the only fact may be in the title...such as the butler has a butler in it...thanks for stopping by and I will be following you here...Sandi

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, I agree with you that when I see the words "a film based on a true happening" I think that the film will have a foundation of truth and that the house built on that foundation will also be true.

Literary license is okay, but to continue my analogy, that would apply to the brick-a-brac, the windows, the porch, etc. all those things that make the house more presentable--more accessible to the viewer or reader--but not those things that give us the real truth of the situation. What I'm saying is that the film need not be totally accurate, but it needs to be authentic.

I think this is especially important when the film is a biography of someone. As you say, the lies in this movie can hurt the butler (I don't know if he's still alive) or his family. Peace.

Jojo said...

Don't most books or stories get "glamorized" for Hollywood production? A disclaimer seems appropriate though, especially when one is claiming the film is "based on a true" story.

San Francisco is such a perfectly beautiful place. I'm very lucky that every other year or so I get to visit the area for work and next trip I'm hoping to extend my stay and take some vacation time to head up to Mendocino.

Mandy Southgate said...

I have a couple of friends in San Francisco and San Diego too so hopefully will be visiting sooner rather than later. So I love this post and all the pop cultures references too!

Perpetua said...

Glad to hear it has finally stopped raining, Vagabonde. Your jam looks delicious.

I agree with you that if a film or play is advertised as being based on or inspired by a true story, it should have a good proportion of truth in it, even if characters are disguised to protect privacy. Otherwise why not just invent the whole thing?

I'm glad to hear that you've finally revisited San Francisco and look forward to reading about your experiences.

Jocelyn said...

I, too, learn a great deal from your eclectic posts!

Your discussion about how much of a "based on a true story" movie needs to be accurate is very interesting to me. I'd say most often such films ARE about 2% true but that they SHOULD BE at least 60% true, indeed. I also always wonder why real life (such as the number of children a character had) isn't acceptable as it happened; I'd like to hear those discussions about why the protagonist should have one child and not two. I suppose it's cheaper...

Kay said...

Good grief! It hardly seems "based on" at all. My husband had the same problem when a book was written and made into a movie about his home town. His friend's mother was a central character and they changed her so much it was really upsetting. I'd still like to see The Butler, but I'll go in knowing it's fiction.

Thérèse said...

You craked me up with your story about the movie "Lee Daniels' the butler"... I'll be sure not to watch it anytime :-)
On the other hand I know these same stories are true concerning other real people who were deprived of their liberty for life and women subject for rape and abuse all the time.
San Francisco is still changing year after year and became mostly touristic which is sad.
It is always so interesting to read your posts...

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

We went to see The Butler thinking that it was based on a true story about life in the White House, especially from the advertisements on television showing Mrs. Reagan inviting the butler & his wife to a State Dinner. Now it is evident that is it was based on a true story, only it was the story of many other people, not just his. I have to say we felt deceived, at least I know my husband did.

I agree with Perpetua when she said, "if a film or play is advertised as being based on or inspired by a true story, it should have a good proportion of truth in it, even if characters are disguised to protect privacy. Otherwise why not just invent the whole thing?"
Sam

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