My deepest, darkest secret

From Pathetic Life #1
Friday, June 3, 1994

Do I have to write something every damned day? Is that the way a diary works?

OK, well, have I mentioned that I'm mad about movies? Especially old movies, not because the old movies were necessarily better (I'm sure they made as many stinkers as today), but because if they're showing an old movie in a theater, that means it's got to be something special. That's why I prefer old movies at the Roxie, over the latest Baldwin Brothers schlock at the multiplex.

Tonight at the Roxie, they began a series of pre-Code movies, a concept that needs to be explained, so come with me now for a walk through cinema history. I'll walk fast, I promise.

Until about 1934, the studios made movies to sell tickets. Movies sometimes referenced 'adult' things like sex and crime. Certainly nothing sexually explicit was shown, but a you might see a man and a woman not his wife stepping into a bedroom together. Bad guys might commit crimes, and get away with it. A character might even say something like, "I'm not really religious."

Such shocking and libertine elements in film annoyed many old biddies and Catholic priests, and there was great political pressure demanding that movies be more 'moral' (not unlike today's Janet Reno too-much-violence crusade) The Motion Picture Production Code (a/k/a Hays Code) was Hollywood's response. The first draft of it was actually written by a Catholic priest and one of his parishioners.

Adopted voluntarily by the studios (but under threat of regulation otherwise, also like today), the Code required that the bad guys must be punished by the end of the film, and female characters must show 'virtue' or pay the price in the plot, etc. Essentially it mandated what's now called "traditional family values," and studio pictures were made under these rules for the next several decades.

That's the end of our walk through history, and I'm exhausted. Let's sit down.

I was intrigued by a week of pre-Code talkies from the early '30s at the Roxie, but I shouldn't have gone tonight. Weary from a week of drudge work and not sleeping well the past few nights, even James Cagney had a hard time holding my attention in Lady Killer (1933). Then drowsiness defeated me, and I came home instead of seeing the second feature, Fog Over Frisco. That's a disappointment, because Fog is supposed to be a classic.

I'll try again tomorrow, but it'll be different pre-Code movies. The Roxie rarely shows the same movies two nights in a row.

♦ ♦ ♦

A note to you, dear reader of this zine: Are you disappointed that I'm writing about movies instead of "Dear diary, here's my deepest, darkest secret"? Well, be disappointed all you like — I already have your three dollars, bwa ha ha!

Seriously, though, my deepest, darkest secret is that aren't many deep, dark secrets in my life. In this diary, you'll find no heists, no trysts, no heavy drama, no meaning, and no trips to Paris or Vienna. Tonight I'm having some Vienna sausages, though.

It's my life, in the process of wasting it. Nothing interesting happens. It's pathetic — get it?

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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  1. Parental guidance for me means disinterring the corpse of either my long deceased father or mother. That would be easy, the hard part would be getting them into the theater, even with a ticket!

    1. My parents took us to the movies several times a year, but they were usually junky kiddie movies. I remember they were aghast to find out, after I'd spent the night with friends, that *their* parents had taken us to see an R-rated movie.


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