Monday, November 28, 2005

Tales From a Great Indoorsman

In this installment, J.S. Bankston faces Capote, Patton, his 42nd birthday and a building that 'looks like a penis that's been in cold water awhile.'


Thursday 10/27
I made the long hike to the multiplex to see "Elizabethtown," but since getting to said theater is such a pain in the ass I usually try to make the trip worthwhile by catching at least two movies. So I saw something called "Kids in America," a low-budget picture that stayed in town only one week.

Feh. Not much to it. Truly forgetable. Normally I research the hell out of any movie before I see it, and when I don't I pay the price for my sloth. Still, I probably got more out of this one than I did from "Mean Girls." All I remember about that was the black spot on Lindsay Lohan's lip.

As for "Elizabethtown," I wound up talking about this a week later with Triple J. We both agreed the music-fueled road trip in the last act was the best thing about the film. Triple J hated it otherwise. I did think the film captured the sprawling messiness of Southern family life, though. It seemed another installment in the recent trend of homages to the "weird-for-weirdness's-sake" films of the 1970s. Robert Altman and Hal Ashby were masters of this kind of thing, and these films usually had lots of quirky songs integrated into them. Wes Anderson is the leader of this school now.

Friday 10/28
I finally got to see "Capote," and dug the hell out of it. Some critics said it made Capote look like a monster in that he was shown doing less than his utmost to help killers Smith and Hickock in order that they'd be execut
ed and he'd have a great ending for his book. Yawn. The creation of a great work of art trumps any number of lapses in morality.

At the end of the film, they put up some text describing Capote's later life, saying that with the publication of "In Cold Blood" Capote became the most famous writer in America. That damn near gave me a stiffy.

I left the theater and headed home, but the night air was being desecrated by some shrill caterwauling of the "all-flash-and-no-ability" sort popularized by Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Michael Bolton, and "American Idol"--what I call "secretary music." It took me awhile to figure out where this noise was coming from—apparently the Baptist mega-church across the street was having a fundamentalist born-again Christian carnival, and although I knew I would gather many blog-worthy sights if I ventured across that street, O my brothers and sisters, I did not dare to do so.

Saturday 10/29 – Tuesday 11/1
I spent most of these days sleeping fairly constantly, night and day, though I did venture out briefly on the 1st for lunch with James and an unsuccessful hunt for a new printer.

I told him about an estate sale running in San Antonio from Wednesday through Saturday. He said he had a paying gig to do at home Wednesday, but might consider going later in the week.

The estate sale was at the former home of O'Neil Ford, probably the most famous Texas architect of the 20th century, who designed the Tower of the Americas and Trinity University in SA. Though Ford died in 1982, I gather his widow died fairly recently. According to reports, the Fords traveled the world, collected all sorts of things, and never threw anything away. They lived in a Spanish-style house near the San Jose Mission, and apparently had enough room that they could store all their stuff without ever having to really sort through it.

I was hoping to look at the antiques, but I mostly wanted a crack at the library, but I also knew from past dealings with book dealers, that if I didn't get to the sale bright and early on the first day, the dealers would grab all the good stuff.

Wednesday 11/2
My 42nd birthday. I woke in the wee hours of the morning and considered taking a bus to SA so I cou
ld go to that sale myself, but I knew if I bought books on the scale I wanted to I'd have to leave the estate in a cab, then box the books up and find a UPS store and mail the books to my home in Austin—I couldn't lug those books around SA all day or get them onto the bus. I finally just gave up on the idea and went back to bed, so depressed I could barely move.

I got up about 8pm, walked Fred, ordered some Chinese food, and watched my favorite movie, "Patton," which I try to see every year on my birthday.

My birthday used to be my big event of the year and the last holiday I still celebrated, but the last couple years it's gone downhill. I've traditionally gotten my politician buddy Matt to organize the thing. We'd start the night in a restaurant, then go to an Irish pub named Fado downtown for drinks. Fado was always the main event of the evening.

Matt always wants to have the dinner at some place cheap so as to accommodate my poorer friends, while I always want to eat at some place nice, my argument being that more people come to the pub than to the restaurant anyway, and it's also a special occasion, worthy of nicer foods.

Three things can be said about Matt: 1) He is the life of the party, 2) he's very good at influencing people, and 3) though he's unmarried and in his early 30s, he acts like he's 75. I joke that he likes to go to bed after "Matlock." He likes to play like he's a big swinger, but he hates staying up past 10pm, even on the weekend, and he's even been known to avoid certain friends, even friends visiting from out of town, that he thinks might keep him up late.

My last two birthdays have been poorly-attended and on both occasions we stayed long at the restaurant, Matt started acting tired around 10pm and decided he didn't want to go to the pub, then everybody else followed suit and pussed out. And it turned out that both times there were people waiting for me who had gone straight to the pub, and got pissed off at me I never showed. I explained to them that I was riding with these other people who didn't want to go, but the damage had been done.

So this year I decided not to even mess with it.

Anyway, after my movie I had to start getting ready for bed, as I had an early appointment the next day. I almost never use an alarm clock these days because I'm out of work and really never need to be anywhere at any specific time, so when I do set an alarm it throws me into a panic—I'm afraid I won't get to sleep in the narrow time allotted and will be tired all the next day. This has gotten so bad that pretty much any time I have to set an alarm I have to take a pill to calm me down enough to sleep.

Thursday 11/3
My early appointment was an 11:45am lunch with Triple J Himself, Incognato, and a variety of other Citysearch Austin veterans, most of whom I'd not seen in four years. From the reports I was the only person from that office that hasn't leapt from success to success since 2001. No one really seemed to have changed much---maybe I was fatter and less formally-dressed and I wasn't spitting obscenities into a computer right at that moment, but other than that we fell into our old patterns.

It was quite a jolly time, and about the only fun I had on my birthday week. The only downside was that it was over too quickly. (I still do not envy Triple J all the work-related meetings he has to go to. I'd rather have my nails ripped off one by one than go to another one of those.)

After lunch I cabbed it over to 6th and Lamar and had a little apres-birthday spending spree at Waterloo Video and Book People.

My cabbie was a Middle Easterner, and most Middle Easterners I've dealt with have been polite to the point of courtliness, but this guy had clearly been over here long enough to absorb the American frat boy, "Girls Gone Wild," sexist pig mentality. He kept commenting on the girls walking by on the sidewalk, "Hey, did you see the ass on that one? The one walking the dog? What was she doing homeless? I tell you, a girl with an ass like that—there's no reason for her to be homeless. With that kind of ass she should have no trouble finding a man to keep her. Any woman with a great ass, a great body, she can find a man to keep her, to put her up someplace, she doesn't have to worry about anything—not work, not anything—she always has a place." I guess he felt all attractive women exist only to serve as mistresses, laying around their swanky rent-free apartments all day, waiting for their rich sugar daddies to come home and fuck them.

Before I went to bed I talked to James. His wife, Nyssa, was home sick with a cold and he was afraid he'd get it, but he still wanted to try and go to that estate sale the next day. By this point, I figured I'd missed the best of the sale, but I said I'd see where things stood in the morning.

I hope Triple J and company had enough free time to explore the city and see all the new buildings that have gone up, such as the Whole Foods flagship store and the tallest building in town—the Frost Bank Building.

There's been a lot of discussion over what the top of the building looks like—I think it resembles an oil well drilling bit. My problem with the structure, though, is that for all its ornamental base and old-fashioned structural set-backs of the sort you see on skyscrapers from the 1930s, the tower itself is out of proportion—it should be at least 50% to 75% taller. As it is, it looks like a penis that's been in cold water awhile.

Friday 11/4
I woke really early, in the wee hours of the morning in fact. By the time I got ahold of James, I was ready to go back to bed. And he sounded like he was getting sick. He was willing to go still, but warned me I would indeed get Nyssa's cold if I was in close quarters with him in his little truck. So I decided it would be best for all concerned to say to hell with it and go back to bed.


At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy belated 42nd! Too bad you didn't get to do a little celebrating, but then again, getting some extra sleep can be a celebration of sorts. At least for me.

At 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup -- happy belated birthday. Speaking of Hal Ashby, I just caught the beginning of "Coming Home" on tv the other night and i must say that 4 minutes reaffirmed that movie's place in my top ten favorites of all time.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Satisfied '75 said...

another winner, here. loved it.

At 3:17 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

For some reason, I've only seen bits and pieces of "Coming Home," including the ending. For some one who is crazy about films there is a big gap in my viewing of films from the late 60s and 70s. Don't know why.

As far as weird Hal Ashby movies go, I was especially thinking of "Harold and Maude." I think I'm the only one I know who likes it. My mom, to my great surpise, saw it recently and said I reminded her of the morbid Harold.

But a Bud Cort movie I just don't get is Robert Altman's "Brewster McCloud," which I watched chiefly to see theHouston of my childhood, but found a self-indulgent mess. When it was over I said, "What the hell was that?"

At 4:19 PM, Blogger tj1972 said...

Harold and Maude is my absolute favorite movie. Perfectly dark, funny and uplifting. The only other time I have seen Bud Cort in a movie (and known it was him) was in Pollock a few years ago.

Happy belated birthday!

At 5:02 PM, Blogger jsbankston said...

I didn't recognize him in "Pollock," but was hepped in advance that he was in "The Life Aquatic." I've read some interesting articles about him. Apparently after "H&M" Groucho Marx invited him to be a long-term house guest.

I forget the details, but either Groucho or his girlfriend gave Cort a tooth of Groucho's that had fallen out, and Cort thought it his lucky charm. For some reason he swallowed it, and was so upset he monitored his, er, output for a few days until he'd passed it and could return it to safe-keeping.

And wasn't there a play of "H&M" done recently--maybe even a musical?

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Harold and Maude" is a great flick. But in terms of soundtrack and acting and directing and all that good stuff, "Coming Home" is really a must see. It was the first movie i saw that i recall having a great collection of tunes (as opposed to something like a Bernard Hermann score) that didn't come from a single band or person (a la The Graduate or Hard Days Night or something).

The opening titles roll over the Stones "Out of Time" and it's also got "Ruby Tuesday" and "For What It's Worth" and "Strawberry Fields" and "Sympathy for the Devil"...all good stuff. This is all about 2 decades before Cameron Crowe made the compilation of songs one of teh signatures of his movies.

anyway, good stuff (in my opinion)...if you get a chance, it's a good rental it....

At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!


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