Okay, kids… here’s the truth. There is no heaven, there is no hell. There is only here and only now and… that…. makes me… want to sing a song from Rent.
This is the best version I can find, but it has Spanish subtitles. Que no? Viva la raza!
Damn it. Now I want to watch all of Les Misérables, in every possible version but mostly the musicals. And then La Bohème in Italian and then Carmen in French. And then Phantom of the Opera and then probably Kiss Me Kate and The Greatest Showman.
Then maybe, only maybe, Oklahoma.
Apparently, I have no plans to sleep tonight.
There are books, and musicals, and all other forms of artistic expression that are watersheds for the soul. Les Misérables is such a dividing point for me.
I went off to college in the mid-to-late ’80s and early ’90s and, back then, there was no Team Edward and Team Jacob or even Team Captain America and Team Iron Man. There was only the two great musicals of the era: Les Misérables and Phantom of the Opera.
I was utterly Team Les Mis. I’ve seen the musical on stage four times (once in the front row!) and everytime there is a remake or expansion of the story, I jump on it.
For example, BBC via PBS is offering a version without songs BUT with the back story of the characters Jean Valjean and Fantine.
This is so very very exciting for a fangirl like me, because there is so much in the books that doesn’t make it into the musical.
For example: Valjean’s transformation vis-a-vis blessed mercy from a Catholic priest. He’s French, so obviously, you have to take your holy wherever you can. I don’t blame him.
But you really should read the book.
The “priest” who is actually a monsingor? (I don’t know Catholic hierarchy). Anyway, there is a great part where he is given donations from the town so that he isn’t so raggedy and worn, such an embarrassment to the town, but then he just adjusts how much he gives to the poor from his own pocket and so he is no better off than before.
They do send him a donkey, almost as an afterthought, and since Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem on Good Friday, and his Holy Mother Mary rode a donkey into Bethlehem before that, the Monsingor agrees to not sell the beast only to donate the money.
Besides, he decides that he would be a better master to the donkey than whomever might buy the poor creature just to beat him.
He chooses to spare one of God’s dutiful servants like himself, and later, Jean Valjean.
At our bottoms, we are all asses. This is also a theme in Shakespeare. But I digress.
There is another great part of the book where Valjean is running away from Javert after revealing that he is prisoner 24601 and therefore the man who is accused of being him, a criminal on the lam, is innocent… well, Valjean hides in a nun’s cell.
She sees him; he holds up a finger to say “Please, don’t say I’m here.” The gendarme (i.e. police) knock on her door and ask her if she has seen any criminals about.
She does an impossible bit of rationalization in her head and then decides that since we are all saved by the sacrifice and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, then there are actually no criminals, and therefore she hasn’t seen any about.
So she looks right into the eye of the unethical and immoral lawkeeper and says, “No.”
The narrator, Victor Hugo himself, then steps into the story and says (more or less): “And with that lie, Sister XXXXX did more good than all of her prayers and charities and, with her sin, earned her way into heaven.”
It gives me chills even just thinking about it now. Back then, it reduced me to sobs.
I am well aware that this plays into my Chaotic Good alignment from D&D.
So I’m righteous, but I refute the system that labels me as either good or bad.
Yep, let’s go with that. I will be good because it is good to be good. Fuck you.
I just think that we need to look around and see when others are hurting, and fucking give a damn. All the damns. More damns than you’ve ever given before. For God! For the Devil! For Buddha! I don’t care, just stand up and shout. Stand up and make it right.
Because if I have to be damned for giving a damn, then the entire system is rigged. And I want no part of that system. And I have the power to make my own heaven. We all do. Right here on Earth.
And… yes… all of this is a strange sort of segue into the poem I am posting.
But why does it have to be so different? If there is a God (big if) then He/She wants us to be happy. And sex makes most of us happy, most of the time, if it’s done right.
I’m just honest enough to acknowledge this fact. With an enhanced vocabulary.
I think this poem is best set as a contrast to Las Vegas.
the thing I love about this town:
each person wears a mask.
virtue and vice, art, food and crime:
it waits for you to ask.
we could stroll down 5th Avenue,
or catch some Broadway glitz;
but I hope that you’ll join me in
my penthouse at The Ritz.
despite the views such wealth affords
you’ll see but just the dark.
a blindfold, music, your necktie,
a whip to leave a mark.
you have the choice: get up and leave,
or stay and burn the night.
I need your safe word, and consent,
before we’re sinning right.
it takes a strong and mighty man
to let himself be bound.
I am not far, reach out your hand,
I’ll show you where I’m found.
there’s breathy rapture in the strange,
what you haven’t done before.
as you come, call me what you will,
but do not call me “whore”.