Breaking M*A*S*H*

I lost interest in Breaking Bad almost immediately – the second episode focused gruesomely on how to dissolve a body – and so missed the finale which, as one friend told me, was “completely awesome”.breakbadToday’s Breaking Bad cult reminds me of the M*A*S*H* hype in 1983. Mash-Goodbye_lMy film class that night – unwisely scheduled opposite the series-ending finale – was reduced from 400 to 50 students, who watched Veritigo instead. kim-novak-vertigoThis is not to say that I’m above it all. I did witness the finale of the first Survivor series and have seen The Bachelor’s After the Final Rose more than once. jake-and-viennaAlthough, as the drama tends towards tedium, I do tend to watch these on DVR.

Brendan Behan

Brendan at the Chelsea, a play written by Behan’s niece Janet Behan, recalls Brendan Behan’s tumultuous days in New York during the early 1960’s.behanWhile Behan referred to himself as “A drinker with a writing problem,” he had the lyrical gift like few others. behan2The days passed, and I was fitted and refitted, and every old one in the house came up to look at the suit, and took a pinch of snuff, and a sup out of the jug, and wished me long life and the health to wear and tear it and they spent that much time viewing it round, back, belly and sides, that Miss McCann hadn’t time to make the overcoat, and like an answer to a prayer, I was brought down to Talbot Street, and dressed out in a dinging overcoat, belted like a grown-up man’s. (From The Confirmation Suit)

Oh Joy! Rapture! Wizard of Oz in 3D

The Wizard of Oz is not so much a spectacle as it is a wonder. scarecrow1It is the details of the enterprise – recently re-released in 3D – the dialogue and characters as much as the make-up and set design. WitchesCastle2

When Dorothy plummets with her house into Oz, after the whirling symphonic chaos of the twister, the sequence ends in dead silence broken by Dorothy blurting, “Oh!”Screenshot (24)These small and wonderful things punctuate the film. A lonely peacock wanders around the Tinman’s house. The Cowardly Lion sings of genuflecting chipmunks. A flying monkey’s face is immersed in poisonous smoke. And Toto, energetically wagging his tail, is in almost every shot, following the troupe on their quest.

Toto watches over all

Toto watching over all

Yes, the songs and dance numbers are something to behold, but in the end, it’s really all in the fluffy green gloves.

Oz Guard's Fluffy Green Gloves

Oz Guard’s Fluffy Green Gloves

Newark Pastoral

The train has stopped. NJpastoral (1)There are no announcements. The signs inform us that the 18% who drop out need 100% of our help and that you will go to jail if you resell your guns. NJpastoral (2)A wide-eyed woman searches her phone for another song while a bearded fat devil licks cheesy-fry grease from his fingers and a gaunt man, new accounting textbooks on his knees, speaks too loudly into his phone, declaring his price and promising to be there soon. NJpastoral (3)

The train has stopped.

My Mother – “Ark” Dream

My mother was leaving me notes, slipping them under the door. Phone 128I waited in bed and then was back at the door and found them there. They were threats. I tried to wait in the hall, but they only came when I was back in bed, in the dark. It wasn’t only her, but they were in her hand-writing, even and clear, a long list of things against me, what I had done wrong, what was wrong with me.IMAG3342It was awful thinking of her out there, by my door, waiting for me to lie in my bed, thinking of what to write and sliding the next note, the next bit of torture, along the wood, leaving it there for me to endure.

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. pirate__1221836287_8352It is a day that Uncle Ralph (from my bad side) would have loved.

Uncle Ralph’s had seats eight rows behind the Pirates dugout. “Herre we go!”

“Are you still doing that?”

“What arre you talking about therre?”7982284709_c13088c7a4_z

“Arr to you.” The sun had set behind the outfield, the light cold and yellow. The Pirates were ahead.

“You want a beerrr, picaroon?”

“Thanks.”

The cup bent in my hand, spilling in cool stickiness.pordb5orkg1azzo

“She got an ID?” The vendor demanded.

“She’s my niece, Willie. Back from college.”

“I need an ID.”

“She’s going to Desert Storm in a week. Is that enough for you?”

He trudged back up the stairs.

“Desert Storm?” I said. “Summer school is more like it.”

“You’re tough. Nobody messes with you.” He raised his beer. “Ray would have killed you.”

“What about mother?”

“I don’t  know. She would have been upset, but I think she would have taken your side. She was always family first.” He jumped out of his seat, yelling. “Come on, run it out! Arriba! Arriba! You’re a hell of a hitter, Van Slyke! But you’re lazy as a dog! Flojo! You’ll be in the nine spot if you don’t wake up! Come on, Andy!” andy-van-slykeWe watched Van Slyke jog back toward us, take his batting helmet off and lob it into the dugout. Uncle Ralph nodded at the next batter. “You know this guy? Parrish. He’s a Marooner from the Tigers. Probably his last season. He’s supposed to be helping out Van Slyke and Merced. Good luck on that.”

“What do you mean family first?”

“And he swings at the first pitch. Take the money and run, Lance. Take the money and run.”

Systematic Rape: Extract from “The Ark”

I remember my second year at university. All of my friends wanted to go down to the field and initiate the freshmen, cover them with whipped cream and blue dye, make them do stupid things, just humiliate them and get them horribly drunk. I looked at these people – my friends, good friends – and they were practically foaming at the mouth, intimidating these kids.I don’t know. It was like rape.

Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993)

Dazed and Confused (Linklater, 1993)

These kids were only a year younger than us, just a year, but we had had it done to us, and so it was our turn. It was our turn to be bullies. That’s what we were trained to do. We called it a rite of passage or some bullshit about growing up, but it was just rape. And it doesn’t stop there. It’s in everything we do, in school, at work, buying groceries, getting on a plane, walking in the street.

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street

We learn to accept it. We learn to give it back. Worse than that, we learn to derive pleasure from giving it back. We feel justified in giving it back.That’s why I don’t have faith in us. We’re more infantile than when we were kids.