A Miami based contemporary art newsletter / blog

The Sunday Video: JohN’s Birthday Party

Monday was my birthday, so I thought for this week’s Sunday Video I would focus on a song by The Residents, a longtime experimental art collective/ rock band that tops my list of faves. But the song, Birthday Boy doesn’t have a real video (besides the fan videos on YouTube) and it’s really hard for me to pick just one video to sum up The Residents.  However when I’m feeling lazy, probably next week, I’ll plop one down here for you to enjoy. In the meantime, in doing a search on YouTube for ‘residents’ and ‘birthday boy’, I came up with this gem of a slide show. After watching it and feeling a bit depressed about the first days of my adult years now that I’m thirty, this video reaffirmed my desire to die ‘with my boots on’.

Our Residents Birthday My good friend JohN!

The video is for John, a resident of an old folks home named Mimie’s House. It was his birthday and so the home celebrated. But an image at 0:15 (streaming time, not photo taken time) reveals the nurse responsible for picking up the cake didn’t even bother to have the grocery store bakery write “Happy Birthday John” in the space obviously left open for text on the cake. Maybe the nurse was in a hurry, because he/she totally forgot it was John’s birthday and only had a lunch break to pick up the cake, and the grocery store deli people were really busy cutting meat for other customers, and the nurse didn’t have time to grab a number and wait to be served. Once you get past the initial presentation of the cake to John much is revealed about being a resident in Mimie’s House. At 2:23 the lady on the front left seems to be thinking, “keep him away from my purse,” (a look repeated at 3:58) while the lady on the front right is hoping for a timely death. Thinking it may have just caught them at a bad angle, 2:35 shows that no in fact, she was praying for death in the previous photo. Some people try to put on a happy face in an otherwise miserable situation, but more often than not the images reveal the grim reality of these old folks’ lives. Most of them seem to say, “thanks a bunch for taking a picture of me at my worst,” particularly 3:46 where it is clear that for some time a smile has not graced the face being fed by the grinning nurse. And all of this is compounded by the ‘inspirational’ soundtrack which attempts to conceal the depressing truth. Man, this post took a really dark turn. Sorry about that. Happy Birthday to Me! and to John!

This post was contributed by Bob Snead.

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The Sunday Video: JohN’s Birthday Party