So this Mason dude is a real John Waters fan. I basically know of Waters as a T.V. personality who makes smarmy comments about movie-stars and films. I was thinking, any movie with Divine in it; I saw LUST IN THE DUST, HAIRSPRAY, and CRYBABY, and found them rather silly. I think I went to CRYBABY because it had Traci Lords in it, but she kept her clothes on and Johnny Depp was sort of over the top funny.
“Naw, man, he didn’t he make “Lust in the Dust”,you need to see “Polyester!”
And he goes on about POLYESTER and I have to schedule a visit to Blockbuster, although sometimes Hollywood Video has harder to find films. That place is a drive all the way to Thousand Oaks.
“But ‘Pink Flamingoes’ is the movie!”
For the next twenty minutes we lean on the fertilizer stacks and he goes over the plot. The way he tells it is very funny and odd. When I finally watch the videos on my own I find them funny, odd, specifically looking for the scenes he was referring to, but also very low budget and sad. It was also kind of too gay for my comprehension, I guess I am not as liberal as I thought I was because I had to shut off FLAMINGOES half way through. Maybe because Mason lived in Dallas, Houston, and Austin, which he goes on and on about. He has been exposed to more degradation than myself; different degrees.
Apparently, Mason is a Libertarian. First time I have ever heard the term. He had an entire list of things they wanted to do; like abolish the income tax, which I was like: “How do you do that?”
“You ever read “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress?”
Thinking? Richard Burton? I think my brain has been partied out by the Eighties, I still feel a slight guilt about being a part of the generation that allowed Reagan to become President, but it is kind of hard to keep your eye on the ball when you are knee deep in suds and your twenties are the only time you can really drink like that. I think the Elders count on that, and by the time you wake up to who is screwing up the government, you are working at Greune Nursery and not exactly a political threat.
“You ever read Robert Heinlein?”
There always seems to be more going on in Science-Fiction than space ships. One minute you are imagining interplanetary travel and the next you are in a weirdo cult. I think I only read one Heinlein novel and it was about these twins. One goes up in space and does not age and the other gets old, there must have to been more to it than that, but it is all I remember. I really tried to love sci-fi but at some point I reached a literary puberty where it all seemed like kid stuff to imagine futuristic worlds when other writers were doing cool stuff with the language or how the story was told.
“A few.” I lied. I looked like a person who reads science fiction, or when people would first meet me, they would say stuff like: “I bet you like a good mystery.” I think for that reason alone I had discounted mysteries from my readings. Maybe when I am old I will enjoy mysteries.
Mason can also not shut up enough about Tobe Hooper, who I did not realize had directed THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. I knew of him from POLTERGEIST, which felt a lot more like a Speilberg movie to me, and since he produced it, it might as well have been. So he was mentioning one obscure, low-budget horror movies in the same vein as MASSACRE. He said one of the actors in it was a young Robert Englund, whose big line was: “I’m Buck and I like to fuck!” Interesting. I don’t get to discuss film with too many of the inmates of Gruene.
“Yeah, Kubrick is always good, man.”
Of course, he loves A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, which is one of those movies I always wanted to claim as my own. I would have to say I had built up an appreciation for BARRY LYNDON, but my heart will always belong to the dark, zany, slapstick of DR. STRANGELOVE, and especially loved the alternative title.
He is a weird looking guy,Mason. When he gets excitable his voice escalates into a nasal whine. Sort of looks like a skin-head who has let his hair grow out into an orange bush. Seems to have a story for every occasion and does not mind stretching the truth when necessary for the sake of a fable. I really have nothing better to do with my life, but listen. Waiting on sale, or for someone to declare war, forcing us to act. We both to old to draft.
He also reminds me of Dr. Zaius from PLANET OF THE APES, that dead orangutan stare in his eyes before he smiles.
“But one of his best movies is ‘Eaten Alive’!”
“Kubrick’s?” Sort of listening.
“Naw, man! Hooper! Tobe Hooper!”
“He made more movies, huh? When did that come out?”
“I don’t know? Mid-Seventies? Yeah, man, Neville Brand owns this motel in Louisiana. He feeds his guests to this giant crocodile.”
He laughs a juicy laugh.
“It’s fuckin’ great!”
“Aren’t there more alligators in Louisiana? Native species, like that?”
“They don’t get as giant as a croc, though. I think he brought it home from his travels.”
Now I have to rent a movie, that might suck, just to verify a storyline, and catch someone in a lie. It is a full time job to verify useless data or expose a lie, especially when you have nothing better to do.
All I know about Neville Brand is that he is a famous heavy from the cowboy movies, took John Wayne’s grandson hostage in BIG JAKE. Or was that Richard Boone? Anyway. Famous bad guy. Black hat. Aging, and looking to pay the rent, thus EATEN ALIVE.
Of course, he loves A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, which was one of those movies I wish could site as my own, but at it’s heart it is about bored, young guys getting together and breaking stuff, kinda like high school, you have to know when to walk out of theater.
“Like MOTEL HELL?” I ask, trying to correlate memory and movies.
“Yeah, kinda, but you know the stole that shit from Hooper.”
He’s a storyteller in search of an audience.
Later, on we search the nearer Blockbuster Videos for a copy and cannot find it. Lopez says there is a H.E.B. that sells videos on the side of their grocery store. We investigate. Sure enough, it is there in the horror section, the plastic case looks faded, ancient. Some kind of alligator/crocodile on the cover chewing on a blonde, busty women. We take it back to Lopez parent’s house where he lives with his brother Jimmy. The Jimmy who is never there Jimmy. Their parents left them the house and moved to a better house. All I could tell you about Jimmy is that he worked nights, seemed to have no life other than re-taping as many new releases of HBO and SHOWTIME movies onto VHS. He had several seasons of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, it does not get much sadder than that.
Ray and his wife live right across from him in yelling range, except now with air-conditioning all arguments are sound-proof.
We watch POLYESTER and FLAMINGOS and both movies are straight up dumb. I’m like, we could have rented something good. Ray comes over at some point and asks: What the shit we are we doing? Not much, watching some nasty, transvestite movie. It reminded me of how awkward I felt when I first saw ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. Watching Frankenfurter in garters was pretty weird, but the theater was full of all these crazy white girls from the Northside, tramping it up in lingerie, trying to be wild, imitating their favorite character from the movie. Girls have no problem with gay stuff.
“Why don’t you stop watching that shit and let’s go to the back yard and throw the ball around?”
Lopez clicks the remote.
We are outside and following Ray across the street and through the side gate to his back yard. He finds the football and we toss it around. His wife is cooking something that does not smell too bad. Some kind of extended hamburger-helper with greens. They invite us in and we take part in their little ritual.
Don’t ask me how it happened. I think it had something to do with Jake leaving to Iraq. Anyway, somehow we fell into friendship. The important part was not saying it out loud. At some point I wanted to question it, but I had to admit it was nice not having to drive all the way home to the west side and be alone with my aging parents as they watched MAGNUM P.I. and BARNABY JONES back to back. Don’t get me wrong, they are great, but at times I believe they are stuck in the past and they want me to tag along. I feel sorry for them and what is worst is that I get the feeling they feel sorry for me. They sense me all alone on the patio listening to R.E.M. or Tom Petty. Making my way through a six-pack of Miller Lite and a pack of Marlboro Lites. The two lites of my life. They can sense me howling at the moon along with Bono and U2. Trying to picture a way out of the pitiful desolation of my own situation.
Introspection was always my strong point, but I tend to dwell on it too much.
I can’t get Yolanda out of my mind. By the fifth beer and half way through the cigarettes, she’s all I see and it almost frees me to wallow in the melancholy tone of the music. And by the time WITH OR WITHOUT YOU begins it’s slow march to the eventual crescendo; I am done for. I can see her so clear, I can talk to her shadow in the moonlight.
By the sixth beer, as it comes to the last the guzzle, I realize just how far out of reach she is, and that I should let the idea of love go. Also, that a beer run would be a bad idea.
My parents would never forgive me for wrecking my car. But I am running out of time. Running out of miles. I am like, in my thirties, and have yet to publish a word. Not even close. Hemingway and Fitzgerald were my models of aspiration and at the same age, that ambition is also out of reach. Maybe people will discover me when I am an old dude like Faulkner. He was short and considered himself a failure; if I can only fail like him, then I could get some sleep. All that Holden Caulfield kind of crap.
And if I did succeed, would I hide away like Salinger on a private island? Would I ask Yolanda to share a lagoon with me? Would I want her after all that? After I had to throw an entire island into the bargain?