Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Man of the Year

I was an extra in the Robin Williams film Man of the Year. Here are a couple of screen captures of my performance.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Lost in the Speedlation

It was a mean and dissolute time for me. I was in a depression that would last years and took me months to even realize what psychological succubus enveloped me. To awkwardly quote from The Pogues song "The Sickbed of Cuchulainn" -- "There's a glass of punch below your feet and an angel at your head / There's devils on each side of you..." There were self-made devils all around of me at this time, certainly, but the angel at my head was my good friend, Speed. Born of Bavarian parentage, psychologically assembled by James Bond novels, James Brown music and the best of 1970s television viewing, he was a man for all seasons. You know that scene in the John Belushi bio pic, Wired when Bob Woodward is at Belushi's deathbed and Belushi implores him, "Breathe for me, Woodward!"? Speed breathed for me on countless occasions.

There was one of numerous nights we were at the Grad House pub making the landlord rich. A peloton of beer bottles stood on several tables that we had been pulled close together. The labels had been ripped from the bottles and on the white of their reverse sides "Suck My Kiss" had been scrawled in ballpoint pen. Then the labels had been reaffixed to several of the beer bottles. The jukebox had a stack of coins in it to keep it playing for a week, nonstop. The night was bending toward its end -- its end at the Grad House, at least. I found a fly in one of my final rye-and-gingerales.

The night of merriment had done me no good. I was weeks away from graduation and my fear and uncertainty were ascending daily to a blinding zenith.

As we consumed the drinks we had horded following "last call", I stood near some girls I didn't know conspicuously eavesdropping on their conversation. I remember a Lou Reed song played on the jukebox; guys at the pool table finished their final game; people were clearing out of the place and heading into the chill night. The girls standing near me suddenly turned in my direction, looking over my shoulder. Suddenly they smiled and laughed, and even cheered. I wondered if Angel Gabriel stood at my shoulder gesturing toward me, giving the girls the sign they'd been waiting for all night -- "This guy's OK." I turned to see if Angel Gabriel was actually there. He was not. But out of the corner of my eye I caught movement; purposeful, soulful, rhythmic, James Brown movement.

My old friend, Speed, with whom I had begun that night around noon, stood in a small open space between tables, by the front windows of the bar. Although a slow Lou Reed song droned through the Grad House, Speed found a beat in the music I am sure Lou Reed did not even know was there -- and to this mysterious, invisible sub-beat, Speed "busted" and "threw down" a series of moves that ignited the room instantaneously into uproarous shouts, cries and gasps. At one point, as the song wound down, Speed went into a contortion I was sure would send him through the front window. Instead, he spiraled into a prodigious backspin in the most narrow and forbidding of areas, bringing it to an end with an MTV pose of cocky relaxation with a hand beneath his head, his elbow resting on the floor -- looking as though he lay upon a couch watching girl-on-girl porn. The noise in the room coalesced into applause all around.

Speed had once more cast out the evil spirits.