Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lex’s influential summer movies

1969 “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” I am dating myself here – as I would do numerous times later in puberty imagining the “keep goin' teacher lady” scene.

1972. As I had just come back from canoe trips at a summer camp in Michigan, I demanded that my parents take me to see “Deliverance” despite their apprehension and worried looks. To this day I cannot hear a pig squeal without tearing the scar tissue of my damaged psyche.

1973 in “Live and Let Die” my first Bond-without-Connery adequately prepares me for a life filled with things that are not as good as they used to be. But who cares? The waitress from my best friend’s Wisconsin lake club dining hall let me get to second.

1975. “Jaws.” Why was a high school boy traveling on his own in California for a Junior National Decathlon meet legally allowed to see this movie by himself? Especially when it was my first time at the Ocean in Santa Barbara. I managed to talk myself into the ocean by convincing myself it was just a movie and there was no real threat. When I got back home to Chicago a story broke about the Santa Barbara surfer who barely survived being half-swallowed by a great white shark. I couldn’t go in Lake Michigan for a year.

1980 “The Shining.” Back in Santa Barbara for college. What is it about movies in Santa Barbara that scare the crap out of me? My buddy wanted to leave the theater he was so scared. Redrum, redrum. Do you know what that spells in a mirror? What evil genius thought that one through?

1983 “Terms of Endearment” This was in the Fall in New York City. My first experience with the new, uh, herb. Zowow. It took me three city blocks to figure out how to put my jacket on. Somehow we ended up at a Upper Westside party and I left with a pretty redhead - no, not Hondo's sister - and spent the night at her Soho loft. All in all a good night.

1984 "Ghostbusters." Saw this in New York first with my buddies, Woody and Hondo then again with my then girlfriend. As was our custom, we snuck two sandwiches and two oil can Fosters for my cheapskate version of dinner and a movie. I was shocked and annoyed to discover that she ordered tuna fish. It stunk up the whole place. It made us feel cool that this was filmed in New York. The Central Park scenes were a couple blocks from Hondo's apartment.

1986 "Top Gun" Happy to be back in California starting over as a stock broker in La Jolla. As I was new in town, the only people I knew well enough to go with me were busy, so I went by myself. No big deal, I did that a lot in New York. Of course the owner of the coolest restaurant - it still is - in La Jolla, "George's at the Cove" one of the few people I had met, George, was there and so were half the women from my new office. Oh well. Who cares? I was so glad to be out of New York and back in California. And this was filmed right here in San Diego. Later we all went to the Kansas City Barbeque place where the "Great balls of fire" scene was filmed.

1987 "Lethal Weapon" Went with my only married friends and my then girlfriend, and I remember starting to think that these married friends might be a little on the shallow and cheap side as they, once again, conveniently forgot their money when it was time to pay for the tickets. It turns out I was wrong, they weren't a little on the cheap and shallow side, they were wildly selfish and deviously greedy. This con would be repeated at bars and restaurants all over San Diego until everyone got sick of it and they had to find new people to constantly screw-over. They are since divorced, of course.

1990 "Dances with Wolves" Ah, what a great popcorn movie. Who knew then it was self-indulgent and way, way too long?

1992 "Last of the Mohicans." It may as well have been titled "Last Time Lex Really Enjoys Going to the Movies." What doesn't this movie have? Great drama, great love scene, great battles, great soundtrack, great fort - I am goofy about forts since my Daniel Boone days. Plus it was my first movie as an about to be married dude. Shout out to Scoots.

1997 "Titanic." This was memorable not because of the movie, but because it was my lovely and then pregnant wife and my last movie together before we had Miss Wonderful, Ann Caroline, aka, Stinkerbell, aka, Miss Thing, aka, A.C., aka, Stompy the wonder Chimp. Hard to believe.

A few years before this, going to the movies started to truly suck as theaters got smaller and they started playing far too many commericials. Then, as your all know, came cell phones and the proliferation of loud,rude and selfish a-holes and suddenly going to a movie held all the charm of attending an insurance seminar hungover.

Ah, but, to this day, the power chords to Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" bring back sweet memories of the hot dewey Wisconsin air, the feint wiff of the Newport she smoked before the movie, strawberry lip balm and a bra that snapped in front.

But that is the beauty of a great summer blockbuster. It can get you sixteen in your head again.

Without all the homework. Not that I did any anyway.

(polite applause)