By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Not that Irja has ever been inclined to let go. Speaking through a ventilator in the intensive care unit while U.S. troops march into Baghdad, Irja’s first words to a visitor are, “How’s the war?”
It’s a quiet dusk on a day off between peace rallies and vigils. Genevieve Barnes, one of Sunset Hall’s two African-American residents, sits in a wheelchair in the garden, puffing on a cigarette. Somebody chides her that if she keeps smoking, she’s not going to live to a ripe old age.
“I’m 95 years old,” Genevieve answers. “What do you want from me?”
Eli creeps along a balcony, occasionally looking down at the view.
Meanwhile, inside, Phil finishes his own concert of folk songs with an old Arlo Guthrie ditty. The sounds of his voice and guitar drift out into the courtyard:
Last night I had the strangest dream I ever had before, I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war. I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and the room was filled with men, And the people in that room agreed they’d never fight again.
On the courtyard’s far side, Betty, Pauline and Luba sit under the jacaranda tree, enjoying the fleeting warmth of the setting sun. With her arms carving the air, Luba whistles an old Yiddish folk song. Betty sits smiling, while Pauline clutches her scalp with both hands, shaking her head with frustration at Luba’s whistling.
A dove circles the jacaranda before soaring up and away — not exactly a white dove of peace, more of a mottled brown-and-gray job, but it’ll do.
For more on Sunset Hall, check out Laura Gabbert and Caroline Libresco’s documentary film,Sunset Story, premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in May, at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June, and slated to air on PBS later this year.
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