I liked “Prometheus” better, which it seemed hip to disregard at the time. Now, the conventional wisdom weathervane has swung the other way, towards “humor it!” but I thought this one suffered from the modern-era screenwriter’s plague, Constant Exposition, when they don’t trust the audience, and have to explain every bit of character detail and storyline with every single utterance of dialogue. Examples:
“Just go in there—you’ll do fine! It’ll be like when you had to give that speech in 6th grade.”
“But you KNOW it’s because I’m a BELIEVER and they think a person of FAITH can’t LEAD …” (blah-blah-blah)
– and the captain/husband dies, so she goes to the video of him climbing a rock (absurdly, it’s James Franco, so we’re stuck, for some reason, with the staring-us-in-the-face 127 Hours reference — why?), and guess what, she’s crying. She misses him. We get it. [“Why am I watching this?”]
– and the two robots [yes, I’m calling them “robots” — fuck it!] start debating philosophy by throwing one cryptic non-sequitur after another at each other: “Well, you know, one sour note can ruin the whole symphony … “ [“Yes, could be completely true or not, why bother bringing that up? How ’bout a stitch in time saves nine, another day another dollar, an apple a day keeps the doctor away”?]
The FUCK is this? I am, quite frankly, pissed off: in the early ’90s, it was already the case that the contemporary rock shows got shoehorned into the midnight-to-noon ghetto — something just reeking of Boomer entitlement and not “ceding the stage to the next generation” [John Hughes quote from interview], although we’re the ones whose tuition and student loans, for the four years we were there, were paying for the station to stay open — so losers who don’t leave the U of C campus can just hang around and never leave with their mopey agendas and avoiding-life itineraries and … now THERE’S (almost) NO ROCK SHOWS AT ALL?
There’s dead air all night?
What on Earth’s supposed to be the venue for broadcasting the latest contemporary radical shit, using the “proletariat instrument,” as Stephen Malkmus once pointed out: the guitar?
Fucking wait for years, and years, and let more stasis set in, and wonder why Millennials aren’t primed to find “California Über Alles” interesting.
A lot of stuff’s caught up with us, and few are prepared.
The Albany, NY, area is paradoxically something you’ve never heard of: no traffic; no crime problems [unless you mean speeding tickets or vandalism — I’m hard-pressed to remember anyone, of all the kids & adults I knew up ’til age 18 ,who even had their car radio stolen; apart from stuff, yes, that you’d read about in the local paper, I can’t remember A SINGLE TIME it affected someone’s lives, or the threat thereof]; there’s no local culture [Pizza Hut, Price Chopper, Taft Furniture; no Fenway Park or Newbury Comics or *anything* not national in origin and distribution]; NYC, at a 2-and-a-half-hour drive south of Albany, is still culturally and conceivably a light-year away, nobody goes there or thinks much about it; between ’72-’90 nobody I knew of read Joan Didion or Pauline Kael; there were no hippies-cum-yuppies ’cause, apart from Mr. Reed, our high school art teacher, there were no hippies to begin with; people I like & respect my age might (not inaccurately) type it as “homey,” but, ironically, it’s a zone nobody’s heard of being possible: since, unless it was the Capital of the State of New York and had gone back for centuries, there’s no way someone would have gotten this residential—not “suburban,” that implies a city/suburbs cutoff; there’s maybe 5 blocks of a downtown, and I’m almost not exaggerating literally—experience that is much ballyhooed & coveted. (Ironically, I always understood why my 2nd Gen.’s parents moved there: come from anyplace overseas, people basically have their own stuff here and leave each other alone. It was a backhanded compliment back then, and I still think it’s true enough for ’70s-’80s.)
THERE’S A FORK IN THE ROAD ALBANY MISSED: I was 2, at the time, obviously, but I was there for the next 16 years … nobody showed any signs of having been *the people who couldn’t tear themselves away from the Watergate hearings on TV*. NOBODY!
Sorry, Albany: certain National forks in the road are not optional. You people took the worst option: NOT opting to choose, and therefore becoming teflon, and *the most* seamless, living-in-a-bubble, “you can’t complain so we’re in a constant state of proactive defensiveness” group of individuals anyone could even *imagine* being *possible*.
I go off to college at the University of Chicago—people at the time read Cliff’s Notes, or they plow through King Lear and break 90s-average grades and feel like they can sleep at night; if kids don’t go to Cornell, they really don’t care—and my younger sibling goes to Saint Lawrence and thinks she’s going to come with me (sends them a $60 application out of charity, instead of Georgetown or Duke) because THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS and SHE DOESN’T WISE THEM UP. (Good thing there’s a place with a gentile minority/transfer acceptance rate, which struck me, at the time, as creepily opportunistic … but, I digress.)
There’s no “old” movies, since Chaplin might as well be Laurel and Hardy might as well be everything in b&w.
There’s Gone with The Wind, maybe, and The Wizard of Oz, and Casablanca, sure, and some of Hitchcock’s films like Psycho, but anything pre-Bonnie and Clyde doesn’t exist. Howard Hawks? Fritz Lang? John Ford? Don’t kid yourself. There *are, however, Bing Crosby records at Christmas, Honeymooners and Jeffersons reruns on TV, The Joker’s Wild and Gilligan’s Island and I Love Lucy … YOU NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A “SUCCESSFULLY” SUBURBAN, YOU-WANTED-IT-YOU-GOT-IT ISOLATED ZONE.
Welcome to Scotia (just outside of Schenectady, of the Schenectady/Albany/Troy capital district). This is the place where Light Can’t Escape, where people connect dots anyway—like anyone must, like anyone can’t not; ask a semiotician or a psychologist or *yourself*, right?—and now they’re becoming unusually contextless in how irate they are.
Fuck ’em. There’s no social contract if you go to an Ivy League-caliber school and THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW IT AT THE TIME. (You’d have to live in Austin to meet people who screen Maya Deren, or read Roland Barthes; there’s some who are into “alternative” stuff, but we might as well be taking about the Dadaists as Eraserhead, and I ended up meeting most of those people personally. Otherwise, people are inert, and start becoming active about it, without any gas in the tank, without any roadmaps, and without having turned their requisite corners in life.)
Look at this shit:
“He had been seeking backing for his attack and, at this small establishment in Scotia, was meeting with a man who had agreed to take part in his scheme to build a radiation device, a weapon of mass destruction that would slowly and painfully kill anyone who walked near it.”