If you’re walking through the city and there’s noise and honking and you get nervous, walk into a field or look through the window at the grass or the flowers—it makes you happy. –Mekas
Grandfather of Soho? Godfather of the Artists Colony? Father of American Avant Guard Cinema. In no uncertain way the ancestor of the vlog, this Lithuanian-American New York entrenched documentarian has had many things to say in his many years.
One of his stories concerns a set of trees.
You can read Mekas’ description of a 1967 autumn night of criminal urban guerilla gardening. But you can also hear the director, who never lost his strongly accented english, talk about it in an interview. Then imagine it should you get the chance to walk down Wooster street where he and George Macunias illegally planted the Ailanthus.
If you are entirely unfamilar with this important monumental director’s work please have a look at this clip, an excerpt from Mekas’ film Walden (a hardly disguised homage to american nature philosopher Thoreau). A written transcript of the video diary can be also accessed here.
Mekas, a Lithuanian with origins in the farming country, returns regularly to interrogate the landscape in film. His Guns of the Trees, titled after a poem by the nearly forgotten beat writer Stuart Perkoff, is another film worth taking the time to rediscover. An early work, pre-dating the vlog or diary film for which Mekas is now know, Guns of the Trees is considered an important example of the american New Wave cinema of the 1960s.