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Stephen Gyllenhaal

Stephen Gyllenhaal

Music of the Spheres

Posted: 09/25/10 11:25 AM ET

At 3am last night a stereo blasted out from one of the other neighbors' apartments in our little Spanish style courtyard here. It's a lovely little place here. Very faded and worn -- pretty cheap to get a place to rent in the middle of Hollywood. A fountain bubbles at its center.

Within three minutes of the music rattling everything, I was down in the courtyard. Angry. Bewildered. So was another neighbor, a wonderful, young composer confronting our un-sober music lover and his boyfriend in a shirt with the shimmering word lust across his chest. I can't remember the other words on his shirt, because there were words happening very quickly between all of us by then.

It's early morning now. The incident is pretty well resolved, but there will have to be more discussions this morning. Afterwards I went back to sleep, but woke suddenly, thinking I heard the music again, terrified that my composer friend might take a gun to our neighbor. He doesn't have a gun as far as I know, but these things do happen on our tumultuous planet and he was very, very angry at 3am. He has a lovely young daughter who plays in the courtyard all day. There are other children living in apartments that play in the courtyard too.

Children make a lot of noise. And they cry and so on. And fight. I'm a grandfather -- this kind of noise is music to my ears -- even when it's a child crying at 3am.

But what strikes me about all of this tumult here in our little Hollywood oasis is that for me it was actual life happening, actual community. Community isn't always a joy. It's often nasty. We see each other's dirty laundry in a courtyard like this. That didn't happen for me in the Hollywood Hills overlooking LA where I lived last or sequestered in the Pennsylvania hills where I grew up.

My little courtyard is un-sequestered. I ended up here because a few years back I was slammed financially and emotionally. I sold everything and ended up here. A real come-down in many ways, I suppose, and yes it was hard. Painful. Confusing.

Last night it was none of those things -- the angry voices, the bitterness. Last night the humanness of one guy's party is another guy's hell felt like a kind of music that rivaled Beethoven, Mozart, the Beatles, Arcade Fire. It was the live music of the spheres, because after all isn't that where we all come from somehow (evolution, creationism, aliens, whatever)? The spheres. A few of those universal melodies were playing last night, even as it seemed to me that the actual music blasting, the rock-disco-whatever music, which got turned down and then finally turned off (thank God) sucked.

But this next thought is harder.

I want to feel the same about this upcoming election. One guy's heaven is another guy's hell (also applies to women). Tea Party, Republican Party, Democratic Party, greedy bastards, kind-hearted volunteers -- we're all in it together no matter how loud we yell.

And no amount of money, lawns, mansions, limos, religion, drugs, music, guns exercise, votes, failure, success, brilliance or stupidity is going to change that.

We're all in it together, come heaven, hell or nothing.

 
 
 

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