Doors Open and Doors Close


Richard Linklater's film Everybody Wants Some!! is the story of a college baseball player learning to navigate around a new campus, a new town and-- most importantly-- a new group of dudes; while there is a main character (Jake, a freshman pitcher) the story is less about him and more of an allegory, it's the early '80's, it's Texas, it's a group of college athletes, and class has not yet begun-- so they're not learning anything academic, but they are learning how to get around (as Russell Ziskey says in Stripes, "We're not homosexuals, but we're willing to learn") and all doors are open for these young men: they visit a local bar, a disco, a honky-tonk, a punk show, they host a baseball party-- which is very fratty-- and then, the climax, they really stretch themselves socially and go to a drama party . . . they change superficially for each event by literally changing their clothes-- and Linklater captures the fashion melting pot disaster that was the early '80's, and they also change mentally, and learn to understand the hierarchy of competitive dudes and thrive in it-- as they move through the layers of the campus and the town, the scenes are superfast and various, just as you might remember the first weeks of college, old school college, before honors programs and tiger moms and high school AP classes and incredible tuition costs, back when college was a time to experiment not only with learning, but with your personality . . . you could be anyone you wanted, and move through a frenzy of settings, barely connected by any through plot; the movie almost has a detached documentary feel, there is a time stamp in the corner counting down to when class begins . . . though I wasn't heavily emotionally invested in the characters or the plot, I loved the movie, and I highly recommend going on this optimistic cinematic adventure . . . but if you're in a more dour mood, and want think about doors closing, because of age, situation, and personality-- and you want to laugh like hell about all this existential misery-- then watch Season 5 of Louie . . . Louie also navigates a complex and variegated world, but it's a darker universe than the bright Texas sun in Everybody Wants Some!!-- Louie gets beat up by a trashy girl, spends some painful and enlightening times with a hack comic in Oklahoma, visits a chanting cult by accident, awkwardly attends a school potluck, tries (unsuccessfully) to NOT interact with his driver while he's on the road, bores the hell out of his psychoanalyst, has an intimate encounter with a pregnant surrogate, spends an awful evening with a childhood friend who is now an incompetent and depressed cop, takes an old time picture with some nice ladies, and travels through all the odd, weird, and often inscrutable layers of New York and beyond, and he's barely able to comprehend any of it, he can't seem to fit in or get comfortable, he can't find a bathroom, disappoints himself, his daughters, and his lover, and then takes this misery and processes it into stand-up comedy . . . now that I've sat down and written this reflection in contrast, I'm a bit sad and nostalgic: I miss the opportunity and flexibility that youth and college offers-- or once offered, those days might be gone . . . they are certainly gone for me, and they might be gone for everyone except the ultra-rich-- and I can see my future and it's not bright: the world will get more and more confusing, more and more closed off to me, as I grow older and my neurons stiffen and my ability to tolerate new situations gets worse and worse . . . I don't even know how to write myself out of this corner.

9 comments:

rob said...

the last sentence of this (or as dave will call it, the last phrase) is excellently meta. bravo, young (old) man.

zman said...

I agree on the Louie season 5 rec, especially the one that opens with the bathroom fiasco. Sometimes I dial that up on Netflix just to watch the opening and it makes me laugh until I cry every time. I agree less on Everybody Wants Some!! for the reasons expressed here:

http://gheorghe77.blogspot.com/2016/08/ztravelogue-media-reviews.html

Clarence said...

Dave, SoD got some press at GTB today. Sorry it got posted there instead of SoD.

Whitney said...

Dave,
If you’re lucky and you take care of yourself, your true heyday has yet to come. I struggled for years to figure out your mental age. You are weird and funny and ridiculous and nothing really fazes you. For a while, I thought maybe you were like me (mental age: 19), but I’m a new soul and somewhat wide-eyed and na├»ve about the world, you aren’t. Then it came to me, a show-topping epiphany I shared with you some time ago. You’re 91. You are the goofy old man, cackling at the world who sees you as an oddball from another era if not planet, but you don’t get too rankled about much.

When we were in college, this is why we could be good friends. 91 year olds and 19 year olds aren’t just numerically anagrammatical. They share many of the same idiosyncrasies and idiocies, and while at times we were each other’s diametric foils and made each other insane with how we operated, most times we were right in line, the old timer and the dopey kid drinking beer and being silly.

Now we are in the years that fit neither of us like a glove. We make do okay; it’s like OJ putting on that glove that doesn’t really fit (sorta kinda). When we want to, we can make it fit just fine, but at certain times, the glove don’t fit and we must acquit. We are toughing it out because we care about people and they need us to man our station. And there’s plenty of fun and happiness along the way. But boy, do we quietly long for the days that suited our ages better.

So, if you can actually make it to 91, you will bask in the moment in which you were born to dwell; that was me sophomore year in college. Meanwhile, if I make it that far (not bloody likely), I will be by your side, cackling away at an age that suits my 19-year-old mental age quite well, and I’ll be even more pleased that you finally made it to the vintage at which DAVE SEEMS NORMAL. It will be heaven.

Your friend,
Whitney

Lecky said...

Lovely sentiments Mr. Lester - you are the best, despite your non-aligned age. So only 45 years until Dave is tolerable? That sounds about right. Like Doc Holiday circa Tombstone, I always think I am "in my prime", but don't ask around, I don't want my illusions shattered.

Whitney said...

You're still aces, LeckDog. "I like you. Always have. Always will."

Lecky said...

I always assumed the Clarence moniker was from "Shake Your Rump", now you're throwing a "True Romance" reference around - Christian Slater - aka "Clarence" in the film. Spill the beans, I am now curious on this super slow Friday at work

Whitney said...

All of the above plus the E Street band and airplane! Pretty much everything except Justice Thomas.

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