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"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

I usually have trouble getting to sleep and then wake up intermittently, and last night was worse than usual.

Sometimes my body seems to operate on a 28-hour clock, and won’t let me sleep until I’ve been awake for 20 hours. Then on the weekend, like today when I wanted to sleep in, the brain wakes up and starts fidgeting at 6 or 7, as if the alarm had gone off on a weekday morning.

It's like my body is not on my side. Like, take this uncooperative penis — it's hot when I’m not, but not when I’m hot. It perks up at the oddest times, when I’m taking out the trash or typing something utterly unsexy. This morning it demanded attention when I didn’t particularly want to shake hand, but if there was an actual opportunity to put it to good use, I'm not so sure it would stand up straight.

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For a man who loves movies so much, I’ve always had an odd aversion to gangster dramas. It’s not the prude’s complaint that they’re too violent, because I have nothing against violence so long as I’m not the victim. I just don’t like bad guys.

People who kill without cause ought to be locked away until they die, given only bread and water and maybe mail and TV privileges if they’re well-behaved in prison. But gangster movies expect me to care about these creeps?

So, as much as I’ve admired the movies of Joel and Ethan Coen, I’ve never wanted to see Miller’s Crossing. But I liked Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, and those are gangster movies. If Quentin Tarantino can get through to me, maybe Francis Ford Coppola can?

Coppola makes great movies, but I’d intentionally missed his famous gangster movies until tonight, a double feature of The Godfather and The Godfather Part II at the Castro. 

Had a big Italian dinner (a can of Spaghettios and a can of olives) and snuck some dried fruit and water into the theater to save money, and went to the show with some skepticism.

The Godfather (1972) introduces Vito Corlione — the Don, the Godfather — as a near-ultimate bad guy. Someone’s beaten the hell out of a young girl, and the girl’s father is pleading with the Don for vengeance. Corlione negotiates, gets what he wants from the man — respect, and a promise of future service if needed — and grants the man his vengeance. And the movie won me over in the first scene.

Vito is all about violence and money and crime, sure, but he’s also about honor, loyalty, respect. Gotta respect that. If I ever found anything in life to believe in, I could be loyal to someone that deserved that loyalty. Not saying I’m looking for a job with the mob, but I can understand it.

The movie’s story, tracing Vito’s evolution from an innocent civilian to becoming the ruthless Don, held me spellbound. In fact, for the whole 6½ double feature (these are both long movies!) I only glanced at my watch once, and that was at intermission to see if there was time enough to pee.

Is it sacrilege, though, to say I wasn’t all that impressed with Nino Rota’s Oscar-winning score? Whenever The Godfather's famous riff recurred, it sounded to me like the theme from Perry Mason. It’s adequate mood music, very compelling, underscores the drama like movie music should, but it’s not music I’d listen to without the movie, like the soundtrack to Star Trek IV that I often pop into the cassette player.

I have two books of film reviews on my shelf at home, and curiously, both give Part II higher praise than the original, but that wasn’t my reaction. The sequel held my interest all the way, and when the end credits began it didn’t feel as though another three hours had gone by, but it lacks the honor, loyalty, and dramatic impact that made me join the applause for the first film.

Part II pursues two story lines, both engrossing, one about Vito’s troubles with gangland disloyalty, the other about how his father began the business years before. But these two central characters merely react to their circumstances, making the decisions and taking the actions necessary to get what they want; neither character feels transformed, as Vito was in the first film.

That isn’t really a complaint — Part II is very good, and betrayal from all sides can be thrilling — but the original Godfather is a better film.

Despite being a bit sleep-deprived, I was wide awake all through both movies, and had a lovely night at the Castro. The moral of the story is, fuck morals — bad guys can the protagonist in a good movie, and I guess I'll open myself up the the gangster genre.

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In a better world, Heather would’ve grown a mustache in the Castro, but her beautiful face has been replaced with other ads all around town.

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Waiting for the late-night Muni home, a gray-haired gentleman struck up a conversation, and it soon became clear that he was flirting with me. It’s not too common that anyone finds my flabby self attractive, so I was flattered and flirted back.

 

From Pathetic Life #4
Saturday, September 24, 1994

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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2 comments:

🌌 Don't be a jackass, unless you're also funny while being a jackass. 🌌