“Have you ever been sent to the Principal’s office?”

“Well you know we could run a drug test on all of you …” and we all instantly look at our shoes. Fortunately, we were with the headmaster’s son (even more fortunately, it was a prep school that didn’t want to make a lot of trouble for itself, reputation-wise, with families and we were those who showed “promise” — of the four of us who were sophomores, the three of us who weren’t kicked out later matriculated to Columbia, Pomona, and The University of Chicago, thanks Academy for sending us there!). “Dudes, we’re bummin we’re so blue,” Heath Cohen was saying, the senior who drove us (NOTE: Leaving school — for a period and a period only — was a SENIORS ONLY privilege, you couldn’t “sign out” if you were a junior, you wouldn’t dream of it) kept saying, as stoned as we were (one bowl turned into three turned into four … ) and using all the vernacular he was fond of and known for, some of which has endured in the culture at large, some hasn’t. “We’re nibbed in the bud!” Hands gesticulating. “Let’s face it!”
“Heath.” The Dean of Students had a relationship with him — Heath confided his home-life troubles to him, of all people, he was known to be a hard-ass, but it happened to be true — so he’d respond to him a certain way. (I could put a exclamation point there, but that wouldn’t convey it. Maybe better to put the single word, the name, in italics.)
This went on for a while.
ULTIMATELY, since we had to go to a “counselor” (our parents paid, for six weeks or so; we muttered noncomittally, then went back to our lives) and endure “Academic Probation” (a teacher had to sign after every class — EVERY DAY FOR THE *REST OF THE YEAR*). they got their “ringleader” and left the rest of us alone, see above. (“We’re just looking for the ringleaders,” the former-military seeming guy told me once in a special session after school, and all I could think is *That’s fucked-up*, we’re goddamn teenagers and all. Later, the “push the System” and “ringleaders” verbiage and accompanying worldview would come up rendered in “Gravity’s Rainbow” … I recognized it … the disciplinarian mind … the Nixon and Gordon Liddy era … ) But, he meant two people, one of which had gone with us and one of which hadn’t. The one who had ended up getting kicked out. The tension broke, and the ’80s started to wane and become something that turned into the early ’90s: “be excellent to each other” it said in Reed’s art room, painted there by somebody, Jeff Berman most like, a guy a year older than me who did o.k.; like Brock Vond’s snitch network program in “Vineland,” it was losing the interest of people in higher-up places, it was getting hard to fund and justify. Or so we thought, for a time.

Solo: A Chewie story, about a non-Star Trek kind of guy.

(responding to John Shirley on Facebook):

They show the old “Star Wars” or “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or whatever in 3-D too — how do they do that? They don’t, they limp across the finish line and figure it’s close enough. “Thanks for your $15 [matinee] or $19.50 [nighttime showtime]!” Great.

I went to see “Phantom Menace” at Lloyd Center (Mall), just to see if I’d hate it like I did (and, what the hell, 3-D’s 3-D — but I didn’t seem *that* 3-D to me.)  And, oh yes, the first of the three “footnotey, background” movies still felt like Lucas, for whatever reason, just had to rush through all this information because it was important we know. Uh-huh. Jar-Jar Binks didn’t stick out as much — I’m older, wiser, and more able to put things in their place, proportionately — but the stuff about the desert racing and the forager-people’s lives seemed more down-and-dirty and class-commentary related than I’d thought as a 28-year-old (or whatever), which pleased me. Still not *good*, but whatev.

“Rogue One,” “The Force Awakens” and (what I’ve seen) of “The Last Jedi” all were exemplary, surprising works, which is why I think they fucked up with this one — an article on the Internet about how we’re all supposed to like it (the actors certainly did) is offset by a Lego ad for a Han Solo and Chewie set. Huh. (Try NOT to do that so brazenly … maybe? Then, you won’t LOSE winning us over! Perhaps.)

“Rogue One” is its own story. “Solo” is like Marvel-ing the Star Wars world, like those commonplace novels that are everywhere (no, scratch that, they’re in a particular part of the bookstore — now, they’re starting to filter in) which look as cheap as dime-store novels that aren’t Jim Thompson or Philip K. Dick; the generations- and decades-later equivalent of “paper mill” pulp fiction nobody wants to *really* read. They’ve tried to shove it over and in, and they’ve failed. Never has the promotion machine seemed so obviously desultory, and with so little rewards and so little personal investment on the part of people at (say) Powell’s, where you have to act excited like it’s the “next thing.” (And I’m including “Jurassic Park” in this — dinosaurs, great. No characters, though … ?)

I think they’ve blown more than they think with this “Solo” crap. Just when they had a good thing going …

57 Channels and Nothin’ On.

Never ’till this week-end did I feel that sense of futility, of there being nothing to see at the movies but Hollywood crap that older critics had talked about when I was younger and still going to see everything. I want to see a movie, and everyone’s decided “Solo” and “Deadpool 2” are what’s worth talking about.
The Laurelhurst is closed as a second-run — excuse me, I forgot to mention “Avengers: Infinity War” — and, now that they’re re-opened as a first-run theater, who needs ’em?
I can’t go see that lone Paul Schrader movie playing at Fox Tower 10 with Ethan Hawke before Monday if I’m saving it for then, and if so, … *nothing*?
Never before have the reviews, the articles, the promotional pieces seemed so desultory. I can almost see the people’s jobs behind them, their desks, their clutter — what they need to put the article and magazine out. “Add exclamation points!” They seem so like an assembly line, or a logging farm. One of those things you’d make a video game out of, hopping from thing to thing.
What’s puzzling is why this took so long: as a kid, I was always *excited* about whatever-it-was that was coming out, and that lingered: I never felt the cold chill I’d read writers older than me writing about, as though you’d turn every corner and that’d be all that was there: the same thing, the *sameness*, the unfeignable enthusiasm because it. Just. Isn’t. There.
Am I whining? What with 82nd Street [a large theater with room for a couple more than usually play in Portland; I’ve seen Kevin Smith’s “Yoga Hosers” and a 2hr. 40min epic about Korean resistance against the Japanese during WWII there], the 5th Avenue Cinema run by PSU students [introduced me to Alex Ross Perry via “The Color Wheel” before “Listen Up, Philip!” even came out; saw “The American Astronaut,” Murnau’s “Sunrise,” Alex Cox’s career-wrecking “Walker” and not-countless-but-plenty others there], the NW Film Center [two lesser-known-but-restored Clouzots … ALL MONTH?], and the other second runs [Academy, which has decided until August to run though “Back to the Future,” “E.T.,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and etc., for those who don’t know that without the bookends of “Heathers” and “Pump Up the Volume” — titled changed, against director Allan Moyle’s objections, from “Talk Hard” — the ’80s don’t make much sense] normally, there’s a lot for the other art houses [Cinema 21, Hollywood Theater at times, Clinton St. Theater for more radical stuff, more documentaries but more sporadically, too …] to cover but — NOTHING? I haven’t felt so dispirited, such a sense of ennui closing in. Before. For all that, for all the culture in Portland, I *still* don’t hear 94.7 Alternative Portland played most *anywhere* … I don’t hear stuff they play on it most often, let alone stuff they *wouldn’t*, like Cat Power or Yo La Tengo … rents keep going up, places keep closing to be replaced by those more San-Fran. upscale, everyone hates Trump but — why? Why isn’t there a resorting to things we should’ve known, all along. Going back and reading Marge Piercy, for Christ’s sake. I feel like everyone doesn’t know what to do because the voyage’s begun, there’s been a drop-off a long time ago — akin to the ballast bags off a hot-air balloon — and, for all the “true believers” I might spot or cross paths with at Music Millennium, all the energies seem disorganized and too individual, too particular, too insular … why isn’t here more radical communings of thought? Because you’d *have to acknowledge an alternate canon*, is why. Because you’d have to read your Burroughs. Dave Eggers made it too enticing to not do your homework, it feels great, so you’re under- (or even contra-)prepared when it comes time to appraise heavy shit, make a decision, create something never seen before, acknowledge the next fork in the road, make a decision that might even … piss people off? Socially? Subtly?
So we’ll let the corporations — not the robots — take over?
I think not?
You *don’t*?
I, for one, am not so sanguine.

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