His and hers
I honestly am not sure if Star Wars is any good. Though I can say this: when I was a kid, my Dad would put on a VHS copy of Empire when I was sick. And before the 20th Century Fox logo faded, before the epic fanfare of the opening titles blared, I started to feel better.
I have seen the original trilogy easily 50 times. During my summer vacations, partially because of laziness, partially from love, I would rewind the tape as soon as it ended and start it over immediately. It was a primitive two hour Vine loop. I can recite the shooting script nearly verbatim and could name the planet of origin of most of the creatures in Mos Eisley. I saw every one of the Special Edition midnight showings and ROTJ opened the day after I was born. I like to think Lucas was waiting for me.
Yet, adults who didn’t grow up with the franchise hardly rave. From shrugging shoulders to a one-word “Meh” reviews, the discrepancy between youthful converts is palpable.
Some suggest the original series was propelled by special effects. The groundbreaking special effects don’t really concern me. Citizen Kane achieved a similar feat and bores me to tears. I don’t think they mattered when I was ten and they don’t seem to matter to me now. For a film to stand the test of time, effects aren’t enough. Technology catches up and it must persevere on other merits.
So, is the original trilogy any good?
I don’t care.
Nostalgia clouds artistic evaluation. For me, Star Wars is wrapped up in the best parts of childhood. Of wonder and awe. Of friendship and toys. My rose-colored glasses are a vivid and magnificent fuchsia.
I recuse myself from the debate. I’m not interested in arguing whether the acting is good, whether the story is original, or whether the Ewoks ruined ROTJ. I know that it brings a smile on my face from ear to ear and I don’t intend on explaining it away.
The magic of the world is sapped away by time and cynicism. We ought to protect the things that make us smile with force and vigor. And if films are measured by their power to make us feel, Star Wars might not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.
[Tetris Color Change Mug. Gift from Will Russo.]
My father is the greatest Tetris player I have ever known. He was also the first kid on my block to beat Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. I used to read Nintendo Power as a kid and they would publish the highest scores on a bunch of different games. Most of them were unfathomable to me. Not the Tetris scores. I routinely witnessed higher scores from my bunk bed.
I fell asleep most nights to the sound of Music B on Tetris. My Dad was a block juggernaught. His scores were routinely over 500K. He refused to clear any line that wasn’t a four-line Tetris. He lived and died by the long piece.
After a while, he realized you could warp ten levels ahead by holding A and pressing start. Maybe it was B. It was a long time ago. He never started on a
His journey to greatness was not without peril. He met his white whale in the form of a tiny spaceship next to the castle. The players of Tetris are rewarded with a victory screen after their games in the form of a series of ever increasing spaceships. They got bigger. And they would take off. That was the rule.
After getting the castle to take off and earning an extraordinary score, a lone alien spacecraft appears. It blew my mind as a kid. It drove my Dad crazy. He, rightly, assumed a high enough score would cause the spaceship to launch. He worked tirelessly for years to make the craft jettison. It was a Sisyphean task in both its absurdity and difficulty.That was my bedtime story. I was lulled to sleep by that Russian serenade everynight. I can’t hear the theme music without smiling. I always admired him for it. He banged his head against the wall of impossibility and came back for more. He blew a soap bubble and took it seriously. I am my father’s son and inherited his obsessiveness and diligence. And I hope someday that tiny spaceship lifts off and Ahab gets his fish. Maybe we all need to believe that someday our labors will pay dividends. I fear the world doesn’t care about our projects and we will stare into the abyss until our last breaths. But it still makes me smile.
I want your skull.
I owe my beliefs evenly to existential philosophers and punk DIY culture. And though my Chucks are dusty, few things are as close to my heart as the Danzig-era Misfits. The Fiend Skull is as recognizable as a Coke bottle. And handsome as shit.
If Elvis died, came back from the dead, and played a zombie prom, that would be the Misfits. Whether it’s the (literally) one-note solo of “138” or the tasteless brutality of “Last Caress,” the Misfits brought the lo-fi graveyard to my bedroom.
I saw Danzig with Doyle at Riot Fest in Chicago last year and it felt like I had kissed the girl I’d had a crush on for most of my life. Stop what you are doing and start a punk band.
I have done a bunch of shit in my life. I’ve been a performer, teacher, business owner… and I can say this with absolute certainty: nothing is better than being in a band. Playing music with your friends is unparalleled.
Pick up a guitar. Get some friends together and suck. Suck for a while. Then get pretty good. Then do that until you can’t pick up a guitar any longer.