RODNEY GILES SHARES HIS LOVE AFFAIR WITH BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
By Jeanne Lieberman
Long time Grove resident, organist/church musician/concert artist, Rodney Giles is more recognizable to us in his avocation, a side career of singing/acting that has graced our stages in several recent productions. Also noticeable is the cowboy hat Giles has taken to wearing constantly, a symbol of the evening's presentation "Brokeback Mountain & Me", his widely traveled and recorded one man show which he performed at the appropriately intimate room at the Tides Playhouse.
Giles is unabashedly in love with, and sentimental, possibly obsessive, about this "greatest love story ever told" film, which he saw over sixty-five times. Part of its hold on him was that he grew up in that area of the country in the '50's, male bonding as a kid with Howdy Doody & Buffalo Bob, the Cisco Kid, wanting to be a cowboy himself. Having experienced that homophobic emotional climate the film packs a special emotional wallop for him because "the closet is a horrible place in which to live". He goes on to state that he considers the film a "true sociological phenomenon" with a universal effect on our culture, "an emotional gut punch".
Beginning his "chat" Rodney revealed the depth of his attachment to the story in his lovingly collected memorabilia connected with the movie. a replica of the trailer postcard which adorned the small stage - and showed us the fishing net, the creel box (in which that secret life was revealed, trapped by a card inside never read for fish never caught), a replica of the trailer postcard, and, in a poignant moment towards the end of the film, the two shirts one hiding inside the other in mute testament to that special love affair.
GIles tells of the movie trail that he followed including a Barbeque fest in Colorado with other "Brokies" culminating in a special "roundup" of "Brokeback Mountain" fans in Alberta Canada as you read this where the film was shot.
However what is really special to the rest of us is the reading of the short story by Annie Proulx, a love story between two young loners living hard lives of emotional and physical deprivation, of scant, actually brief explosive moments of undeniable need followed by long terms of separation as each man ties to pursue his version of "normalcy" by marrying and creating families.
Rodney's reading, which has been taped, is delivered with such loving dedication to the story that it cannot fail to resonate with those in the room. It is hypnotic, compelling, his devotion to the material palpable. While recalling poignant memories of the film, the essentials are all there in that short work, the hardship and simplicity of the tale, the penalties each endure of that life with its "good/bad code" are simply, devastatingly driven home.
I left, wanting to read the book. Perhaps another "Brokie" myself..