(My fingers smell like lamb and I am contemplating the credibility of Michael Cera as a serious actor.)
My Mom used to take me and my brother to the Colony Theater to see all the Elvis movies when I was four. I was totally enthralled, unlike my younger brother, who used to crawl around the aisles, and we could always see where he was, ‘cuz of the silhouettes of people who would jerk up when there was a kid under their seat. Movies have always served as a major escape for me, wherein I would allow the big silver screen to suck me in and allow me to be a part of the action. It’s all about the heroes, no?
Elvis and John Wayne – how fucked up is that?
When I was in my 20s, I was making an income from playing in bar bands. That took up my Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, I would drag the lucky woman whom I was dating at the time to the neighborhood cinema. I had acquired a certain cinema snobbery, looking down my nose at whatever films I deemed to be unworthy of my attention. I walked out on two films because of what I saw as their reliance on fart jokes: “Caveman” with Ringo Starr, and Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles.” To thisday I will defend my decision.
It was on a Sunday in winter when I talked my girlfriend (a beautiful Lebanese girl, who was at least five years my junior) into going out to the Southwyck Cinemas in south Toledo to see Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life.” I had just recently become a fan of the group, much later than when their TV show made its debut stateside. I believe it was when MTV started running their shows that I finally got hooked – hooked vehemently. True British humor seems to be an animal unto itself, and it takes some acclimating, in my opinion. But once the Python door opened, I also became a fan of Peter Sellers (and his Goon show), Vivian Stanshell and The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, but not so much Benny Hill(again, too many T&A jokes and fart humor). I also appreciated the wit of John Lennon much more than previous.
The film had just opened that Friday before, and it was a typical Sunday night crowd at the Southwyck complex, with no more than 30 or 40 people taking up seats in the theatre. I remember sitting next to the wall (which for some reason was my fave place to occupy in those days), and we had arrived after the lights went down, during previews.
After the movie started in earnest (after the “Crimson Permanent Assurance” and the fish in the tank bits) I started really getting into it. Now see, that’s what I’m talking about, when a movie – be it comedy, drama or horror (had a bad experience with Andy Warhol’s “Frankenstein,” by the way) – picks you up and totally blocks out the problems and the world around you, so you are there and there only. Kinda Zen-ish, I think, as in “be here now” and “when you walk, just walk.” Anyway, by the time we got to the “machine that goes ‘Ping!’” I was totally hooked, I knew I was in the presence of pure genius.
But I suppose one can’t get totally sucked in by the silver screen (as much as one would want to at times), for in a moment of respite from my total-laugh-out-loud-spasmodic immersion, I took note of my Lebanese beauty. She, as opposed to wiping the tears from her eyes, was staring at me. It wasn’t a look of “I’m so glad my man is enjoying himself after a weekend of singing songs, drinking liquor and flirting his ass off with ev’ry girl in the bar,” but rather a “what the fuck is he laughing at?” look. Now if it’s one thing I really don’t like, it’s going to a movie and having your date not enjoy herself – maybe that’s just the entertainer in me.
But then I noticed (as much as I hated to tear myself away from the film) that my fellow movie goers were also not getting it. For a moment I was set back, wondering if indeed my girlfriend was right, there is something wrong with me. Maybe she was wondering how I could walk out of “Blazing Saddles” and its fart humor, but could be totally smitten with a woman dropping a baby out of her vagina while doing the dishes, or the accompanying “Every Sperm is Sacred” song. What was the matter with me??
But, y’know what? At the spry age of twenty-something, you don’t really give a shit. So by the time John Cleese was offering the hippopotamus of a man a “wafer thin mint,” I was back at it, laughing my ass off.
And as far as the rest of the theatre (and my girlfriend)? Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.
(I have washed my hands with a cocoa butter wheatgrass combo soap from Kroger’s. I still haven’t made a call on Cera.)