Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What's So Funny...

... about Buster Keaton? We had a great laugh last night at the Savannah Music Festival, watching a couple of his old silent movies to the accompaniment of a wonderfully accomplished pianist. I mentioned a while ago, I think, the idea that farce is the true manifestation of tragedy in a world without the gods--and its hero is the clown, whose every move is absurd since it lacks the meaning guaranteed by some higher authority. Slapstick merely reflects our own deepest fears about the essential senselessness of out own actions. Above all, though, it's funny. As I say, we enjoyed some great belly laughs.

But that was the evening. We made a late start, lingering over breakfast and blog at our inn, and made our first stop for the day at the synagogue around the corner, the oldest in the United States--and still a thriving congregation to this day.

Unusually, it is built in the tradition of church architecture, with transept and nave and a kind of chancel for the ark where the torahs are kept. Neo-Gothic, in the Victorian manner, a beautifully proportioned space, with an organ loft at the west end.

At the opposite end of the same square is the Mercer Williams house,

scene of the book-and-movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"--a film that missed, we thought, on watching it the night before we left Los Angeles, but caught something of the charming decadence of this seductive city. We missed the tour by a couple of minutes and decided to return later, heading south into the lovely Forsyth Park. Here it is:

And here's your blogger, enjoying a cool, sunny day in the park:

These magnificent, centuries old live oak trees are everywhere, this one so big it was impossible to fit into a single frame. But you get the idea.

Here's another of them, and behind one of the graceful mansions for which Savannah is famed.

Almost as common as the trees are the antique shops. We poked into this one--a huge mansion itself, and every one of its four floors stacked higgledy-piggledy with decaying treasures:

The mansion itself, as we discovered on the upper floors, was crying out for a restoration job. How's this for faded grandeur?

But there's plenty of work that has been done, and continues to be done.

The houses we have visited prohibit interior photography, so you just have to imagine what these places look like inside. Quite gracious living, for the most part--and many of them, these days, converted into lawyers' offices! Or offices for the growing empire of the Savannah College of Art and Design, an art school that has grown from a tiny institute only a couple of decades ago to one that seems to occupy every corner of the city today, and organizes the concerts we have been attending.

Which brings us back to Buster Keaton and a wonderful evening of laughs, followed by a long walk through darkened streets and dinner at The Six Pence, an English pub, where I enjoyed bangers and mash (don't ask,) Ellie had a good Shepard's pie, and we shared a glass of excellent Newcastle Ale.


Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Buster Keaton has always be a personal favorite of mine. Perhaps his sad expressions add to the humor?

Thanks for the continued tour.

August said...

Beautiful architecture. And the live oaks are grand.

Who knew one could order bangers & mash in Savannah.