Rose Buds

By Rosalie Tirella

Monkey-reaching-out-from-her-cage
He could have been Kane’s monkey …

We’ve all seen the movie 100 times; so I’m not giving anything away … For years, while in my 30s, CITIZEN KANE was my # 1 movie. I think that’s because I was embarking on a newspapering career in earnest, and CITIZEN KANE is, on one level, about a newspaper man: his love of politics and power; his early, crusading journalism; his defense of the hoi poloi/populism, his … hubris. How does a man – or woman – make his/her mark on society? I wondered as I watched this Orson Welles masterpiece. You’re in your prime! You feel unstoppable! Capable of toppling worlds! But Charles Foster Kane showed me you can fu*k up. Royally. You can trash your biz, betray your lovers … grow so full of yourself you end up alone, isolated in your personal castle with … a bunch of jigsaw puzzles. Sure, you call all the shots, but as Jededia (Joseph Cotten) Kane’s best friend and early biz partner and confidante once told Kane, “you’ll just lord it over the monkeys.” Xanadu, Kane’s “pleasure palace,” did, in fact, have a zoo filled with caged, constrained, sad monkeys and other exotic animals …

Older (I’ll be 60 next month), these days when I watch CITIZEN KANE, I focus on the snow globe Kane is clutching on his death bed, then releases when he expires. “ROSE BUD,” he whispers as he dies. In wicked close up, you watch his fingers release the globe, watch it roll away and smash up… This happens in the first few minutes of the movie – the rest of the film is Kane’s life. … you ask: What’s ROSE BUD? Where is ROSE BUD? You spend the rest of the film looking for it …

ROSE BUD was Kane’s childhood sled – the make, the rose bud decal, stained to the top of the sled where you sit. There’s a teeny sled in the snow globe Kane clutches then releases. If he shakes it the teeny plastic snow flakes coming down on the snow globe sled looks exactly like the day Kane’s mom give Kane away to a banker/caretaker. He’s a millionaire now: his mom wants him away from the poverty and his abusive father. His over seer lives in a big city, he’ll grow little Charlie’s fortune, send him away to boarding schools, try educating him at Harvard and Yale … The mine a poor boarder left Mrs. Kane was sitting on oil. Or coal? Doesn’t matter. Little Charlie Kane won – and lost – that day. He won elitism, ease, cosmopolitanism, sycophants… He lost nature, real love, his mom, real play…HOME. The snow globe is worth a penny but encapsulates everything Kane knew was TRUE. Old, alone, dying, Kane holds onto what really mattered to him. He carried it around with him in his castle long before he died. It’s all in that dime store snow globe.

We all have our ROSE BUDs.
Green Island/my late mom/Lafayette Street are my ROSE BUDs. I dream them, as do my sisters. One called me: she had dreamt of our old grey, back door on Lafayette Street, the small panes of glass held in place with grey modeling clay our Jaju had pushed in. And still we were cold in winter. My Jaju’s blocks of clay, our talismans. They bring such comfort today! They meant LOVE. I’ve been longing for them for years, would give anything to see them again …