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[whitespace] You Gave Me Shiva

A hyperkinetic NYC tour guide and a frightening vérité look at the terrorist attacks make for a fascinating SCFF program about Sept. 11

By Sarah Phelan

Call the Walking Tour Hotline in New York and you're greeted thusly:

"In conversation we collaborate for the first time. Our storms impact another horizon with that first successful communication. When my love finds enunciation and fashions itself into words, manufacturing from you a reaction, this is my first collaboration every time."

Admittedly not your average tour guide greeting, but then again, this is not your average tour guide. The hotline is the work of Timothy "Speed" Levitch, a poet (obviously), philosopher (even more obviously) and NYC tour guide (duh) of prolific vocabulary and insights, all of which are delivered at a breathtaking speed that leaves you lusting for more.

Luckily more is available--and locally, since Levitch is the main attraction in Live from Shiva's Dance Floor, a 21-minute short that's playing at the Del Mar June 1 as part of the Santa Cruz Film Festival, in which Speed interprets the now empty Twin Towers Lot as the death-bringing and life-giving Shiva.

All of which is mind-blowing, unless of course you've already read Levitch's equally mind-blowing Speedology, which the Cookie Monster reportedly described as "yummy," Antonin Artaud called "theatrical shit" and inspired Nostradamus to say "I told you."


Santa Cruz Film Festival 2003

Culture Shock: Raw, clever documentary 'Culture Jam' champions the 'joyful revolution' of ad busting, sign-jacking and all-around culture hacking as part of the Santa Cruz Film Festival Friday program.

Roller Ballsy: Roller queen Ann Calvello is still hell on wheels in 'Demon of the Derby.'

You Gave Me Shiva: A hyperkinetic NYC tour guide and a frightening vérité look at the terrorist attacks make for a fascinating SCFF program about Sept. 11.

Green Enos and Ham: 'Story of the Space Chimps' reveals what two unsung American heroes went through for the glory of the U.S. space program.

Let Us Prey: Cheri Lovedog's 'Prey for Rock & Roll' gets a homecoming on the SCFF's opening night.

Bitter Fruit: 'Coloring the Silver Screen' program focuses on the history of African Americans in cinema and the strange-but-true history of Billie Holiday's haunting rendition of 'Strange Fruit.'


To prepare yourself for Live from Shiva's Dance Floor, not to mention life in Santa Cruz and anywhere else on this spinning rock in space, it helps to meditate on the following extract from Speedology:

"Les Radley, the oldest and most cynical man I've ever known, said to me once, 'I hate New York City, but it's my favorite place to get lost.' If you take out the words 'New York City' and replace them with the word 'consciousness,' Radley's statement makes perfect sense."

From that starting point, which occurs in the chapter aptly titled "Cruisade," Levitch goes on to propound the theory that we are all tourists all the time--and that his favorite landmarks have heartbeats.

All of which is useful background, since from the opening scenes of Live from Shiva's Dance Floor, you'll be hearing NYC's heart beating loud and strong, which is cool, since most of us think of it only in terms of death and destruction these days.

But now Levitch shows us--and hell, why didn't we see it before?--that this city, which he lovingly describes as a "tantrum," is also "a profound opportunity to understand ourselves."

America's Most Terrifying Home Videos

What's especially cool about the SCFF screening is that Shiva's Dance Floor immediately follows Seven Days in September, which looks at the terrorist attacks and the week that follows through the eyes and cameras of 27 New Yorkers.

The result? Fear-inspiring, adrenaline-pumping footage. The second plane slicing into the second tower, people holding hands as they jump, billowing clouds of smoke chasing New Yorkers down their city's infamous streets, and sooty clumps of what surely must be in part be human remains raining down on and ultimately clogging the camera lens. And then come the interviews on the street, the shots of people searching for loved ones, the candlelit peace vigils (yeah, remember those, back in the pre-Afghanistan/Iraq days?) mixed with personal and unique tales of hope and despair and bravery.

If you're still numb, or too angry or weary or wise to grieve, this is the simplest way to let the tears flow. And don't be surprised if after watching both films in this program, you go home, build an altar to life, death and everything in between--and of course start practicing Speedology. It could be the only way to get through a post-Sept. 11 world.

Live from Shiva's Dance Floor and Seven Days in September play Sunday, June 1 at 3pm at the Del Mar.

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From the May 28-June 4, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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