We’re in Keene, NH. You’ve never been here.
It’s not because Keene is better or worse than wherever you are, it’s just one of those places that if you don’t have a real strong reason to go there you won’t just happen to go there. It’s much like my relationship to your linen closet. Or paraguay. Both places are perfectly fine, I’m sure, but I will never, ever know. The thing is, is that the festival here actually might make Keene a place you absolutely HAVE to go so I guess the comparison isn’t the same.
I’m trying to avoid a lot of the Guy From Big Town Visits Small Town Then Immediately Sounds Like Smug Asshole thing which is really easy to do. Even when trying not to do that, you end up doing it. They don’t have ANY stoplights. Just a big roundabout.
Keene is about two hours from Boston, so in order to get here you drive through first Boston, then rural Boston, then rural Massachusetts, then rural New Hampshire and then you’re there. The whole drive here I was reminded of both how old everything in LA -isn’t- and how little I knew about colonial United states. “Is that Paul Revere’s house? That’s totally Paul Revere’s house. Oh wait maybe THAT’s Paul Revere’s house? Oh weird Paul Revere must’ve lived right next door to himself because both of those houses belong to Paul Revere. Maybe that one belongs to John Hancock.”
Also, I can only hear the name Paul Revere so many times before I think of the Beastie Boys, so there’s that.
There’s just so much space. I kinda feel like I could ask someone for an acre of land and they’d give it to me if I threw in a “pretty please.” Really though the amount of space is staggering. There’s enough space in between houses that if your neighbor was brutally murdered, the screaming would be JUST faint enough for you ignore it. If someone got murdered in Apartment C31 in my complex, I’d have to turn up both the bass AND the treble on my stereo.
The drive from Keene was nice. They had a couple of student interns drive us from the airport to Keene. It was cool because they were good enough to pretend that we were Important and that they wouldn’t much rather be driving (say) Ang Lee, and I remember what it was like when I was the student driver and how annoyed that the Famous/Important person wasn’t asking me ANY questions about me, so I asked our driver a ton about him, I don’t think I earned any points though and mostly I came off like an interrogating nosy parker. (That’s a British phrase I think.)
The Bed and Breakfast we’re placed in is called “The Carriage Barn” but my mind always hears “Carnage Barn” because it’s cute, and the proprietor (Dave) is old, charming, and is absolutely going to kill us in our sleep. He gave us an old charming tour of the place and said “If you ever need anything from us, rap on this door as hard as you can” (West Coast? East Coast? What STYLE Dave, what STYLE?) and also added that the front door was “new” and that it was “VERY IMPORTANT” that we keep it closed. This building is older than our nation why did you suddenly need to replace JUST the door? Why is it important to keep it closed? What answer could it be other than ghosts?
My room ALSO has a door to the outside. He said “Don’t open this door.” When asked why, he said that “things come in.” Despite being old his hearing was impeccable because reacting either to my elevated pulse or my tightening sphincter he added “You know, bugs.” Because BUGS are that big of a deal that you would NEVER EVER EVER open a door. That’s the sort of vigilance I would normally reserve for, you know, demon spirits and psycho killers. I’ll risk the occasional mosquito (skeeter).
Anyway, I’m here with Phree, who has decided the best thing to do is google “Ghosts + Keene, NH” (Ed. Not the best thing to do), and we make our way to the film which is currently in progress. War Witch.
Here’s the world’s worst review of War Witch.
War Witch is a really good film that was nominated for best foreign picture. It’s about horrible stuff going on in Africa. The plot is absolutely more well developed than that, but the movie is so well made and emotionally moving that it basically triggers my flight-or-fight response so I instantly lose the ability to say things like “[War Witch] is a mesmerizing, cinematic hallucination”, which is what Stephen Holden of the NYT was (somehow) able to say. I mostly cringe.
My thought process starts whimpering and says “Wow, Africa blows. Someone should fix it. Am I a bad person because I’m not trying to fix Africa? Why do they all have guns? No one is weirded out by the number of guns? That’s an old station wagon. Do we ship all of our old guns and station wagons to Africa? That seems expensive. Why would we do that? UGH there’s not enough bactine or penicillin to make ANY of this okay.”
Then the movie ends and the director is wearing such a slick suit on that I’m like “Oh shit, you absolutely have to have a suit like that when there’s a chance that someone might say ‘And the academy award for best foreign picture goes to [you].’ because everyone will look at you strangely if you DON’T have a suit like that because really…did you not know you were going to the Oscars and that, oh by the way you’ve also been nominated?
You knew. You always knew.