Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Not as Smart as I Used to Be

Rusty James. What a great name. But no matter how pleasing a ring it has to it, Rusty James will never be as popular as his brother. They are not equals. Rusty is no Motorcycle Boy.

I turned to Francis Ford Coppola's second S.E. Hinton adaptation this evening in desperate search for a scene that would encapsulate three criteria:

1) That reminds people that everything is not alright.

2) That time is running out.

3) But that there is hope. 

The closest I found in the pre-battle weary Micky Rourke flick Rumble Fish was a short, segregated monologue played by a milkshake saloon owner played by Tom Waits. He says:

Benny: Time is a funny thing. Time is a very peculiar item. You see when you're young, you're a kid, you got time, you got nothing but time. Throw away a couple of years, a couple of years there... it doesn't matter. You know. The older you get you say, "Jesus, how much I got? I got thirty-five summers left." Think about it. Thirty-five summers.

Coppola directs the film, I believe, as effectively as one could. He accomplishes this task by taking a story that seems defined by its culture and specific environment, and somehow making it universal. We all become Rusty James. We can't quite figure out the world. We are just not quite smart enough. If only we had the mind of our brother -- and knew all that shit-talk about the Greeks. And then, in the same breath, we are all The Motorcycle Boy. We can see the stains of the world. In some regard we can even conquer the nation amongst us, in that we can derive whatever pleasure we momentarily yearn for from it. And still we feel locked in somehow.
The Motorcycle Boy: California's like a beautiful, wild... beautiful, wild girl on heroin... who's high as a kite, thinkin' she's on top of the world, not knowing she's dying even if you show her the marks.
Look at Rourke's young, handsome face in this film -- a little less than thirty five summers ago...

Remember how it used to be? 
(The film begs)

It seemed good and pleasant for me, upon seeing my unity with the realm of Rumble Fish, that I too add my own soliloquy.

Whilst rummaging through old documents on my hard-drive, I stumbled therein on an old manuscript entitled simply, "Dear". This piqued my interest enough to breeze through it. It's dated September 2nd, 2002. Mrs. Kriedeman was my 11th grade English teacher.

I don't remember writing this specific letter precisely, however I do remember my temperament at the time. I was beginning to realize the freedom in writing. I could create a sense of things that was not simply a direct descendant of a fact. I was awed at the creation of subjectivity in the written word. And oh! -- How I believed I was on the forefront of such arrays of knowledge. I believed I was freeing myself from the shackles of dogmatic essayism. I was above my peers, for I was aware of the game.

Dear Mrs. Kriedeman,
        I find it difficult that any one letter about myself will help you gain any sort of rational sense of who I am. On the contrary, I believe that the majority of the time that a person will try to explain themselves and who they are, they skew the results rather bluntly. I am confident that if I were to do so I would do exactly the same. You told me in your letter that this should be one of the easiest tasks of the year. Now, taking in to mind that I don’t know the difficulty level of the coming assignments, I find this assignment less than easy. I found the American essay much easier; in that I had a methodology I could grow off of during the course of my writing that. Where’s that now? I’m sitting here, starring at my computer screen, not knowing what to write, and the only thing that I can think of, is wondering whether starring (like having a starring-eye contest) is spelled with one “r”, or with two. This is due in part, because I know if I spelled it wrong, spell- check won’t pick it up because it’ll think it’s like the staring that would be said when, “John Travolta’s staring in a movie. Fortunately, I think I got it right.
        Alright, let’s recap. So far, you probably think I’m over analytical, super-sensitive to misspellings, over-confident, (because any under-confident person wouldn’t write about his doubts about being able to write correctly) and one of those people who are really good at writing a whole lot of nothing. Yeah, well, reading that over to myself, I have no idea whether or not that is a good representation of who I am.
        Anyway, this is about the time where I get down to business and regurgitate all the boring stuff I enjoy and what sports I play. I’m not very good at that stuff, well, at least I’m not good at that anymore. Back in the days when I was a small lad, I’d be happy that I got to tell you all the cool stuff I did. I guess life changes things. So, what can I tell you about? Oh, I could tell you about how I’m sure I failed the Huckleberry Finn test; because I got an incredible urge to be lazy over the summer and didn’t read it!!! But, I don’t think it would be logical or just plain rational to tell you about that. However, I can tell that I read, “Death of a Salesman”.
        Okay, I’m going to wrap this up. Boy, this letter has just gone down the drain, hasn’t it? Wow, uh, please don’t take any offense in this letter, I was just simply letting my mind flow. Hopefully, you will think this letter comical and not have a private chat with me about it, as I cross my fingers.
                                                 I can tell you this though; I have taken up the philosophy of speaking my mind and preaching what I believe to be right. In this, I conclude my letter. As a lasting comment I would like you not to create an image of who I am from this letter, (although I see that that is probably impossible) and instead obtain a recollection of who I am from our various encounters in the classroom throughout the year.

                                                                             For your approval.


 Oh what gods 
we are at sixteen.

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