Miserable Douchebag, Part 19

Another day in beautiful downtown Beirut. The jets roar overhead every 3½ minutes. All day. If I’m sorta sane but I want to blow them out of the sky with a heat-seeking missile, I wonder how anyone, let's say, "less sane" is coping with it.

My guess? More fistfights that usual this weekend, more than the ordinary number of wives being beaten, and cops making especially brutal arrests. You can’t antagonize millions of people like this and not know that some of them are going to lose it.

I printed the September issue, with the roar of jets a mile high drowning out the roar of the typewriter a foot from my face.

Walked around Union Square for a while, with my overnight earplugs still in, of course, but I was feeling extra anti-social thanks to the Blue Angels, so I cut the walk short. Came back and ate a fat man’s lunch, four Spam sandwiches, and if four Spam sandwiches couldn’t cheer me up you know I was cranky today.

Tossed some stale bread at birds out my window, which I imagine pisses off the people downstairs, but to hell with ‘em. As the military monsters flew in precision formation through my forehead again, I gave up on getting any letters written, anything accomplished, or having two consecutive rational thoughts. Instead I’m (this'll surprise you) going to the movies.

Problem: There’s nothing much playing that I’m interested in, first run, second, last run, or rep. I settled on Fresh and Mi Vida Loco at Cinema 21, which, by the way, is a terrible name for a theater. Sounds like a porno place, doesn’t it? You'd expect the double feature to be Deep Throat and Deeper, but no, it’s an ordinary theater in the 2100 block of Chestnut Street in the Marina. Get it? 2100 = Cinema 21. A stupid name if you ask me, but so's the Blue Angels. Vrrrrrroooom!

♦ ♦ ♦

Sigh. I should’ve known. Frisco has the the most frequent but least reliable transit, and you can’t get to the Marina on Muni. Not today, anyway. Three #30 buses went past, on schedule but without taking passengers, because the buses were so tightly packed with people, there was no room for more. The driver didn’t even pull over. Me and two strangers waited under Bush on Stockton, stranded. I was the first to give up, because the first show is the only discount matinee, and I’m not intrigued enough by either Fresh and Mi Vida Loco to pay the full-price seven bucks admission. Screw that.

Several years back, some executive in the mayor’s office — maybe the same moron who invited the Blue Angels to ruin the weekend — must’ve commissioned a study to determine which bus routes had an occasional empty seat, and of course, those routes were cut back. Now if it's daylight hours on any of the busy routes, “riding Muni” means standing on Muni, and only if there’s room to squeeze aboard.

I returned to the hotel to seek cover from the bombers, wrote what I just wrote, and checked the movie listings for a second choice. Here we go: A double feature of Harvey Keitel movies brings me back to the Roxie for the third day in a row. And I can take BART instead of Muni, so there'll be a seat.

♦ ♦ ♦

Harvey Keitel is a great American. I don’t know if he’s a good actor, because he always plays the same crusty, tired, miserable douchebag, but speaking as a crusty, tired, miserable douchebag, I like the character he always plays.

Cop Killer (1983) has Keitel as a corrupt police lieutenant (badder than Bad). By day he’s on the NYPD vice squad, and at night he listens to the same song over and over again on his record-player, in a stark, unfurnished flat he shares with another corrupt cop. So he's a crusty, tired, miserable douchebag, and then Johnny Rotten knocks on the door to confess that he’s the serial cop-killer who’s been terrorizing the city. After that, the only question is who’s a more miserable douchebag, Rotten or Keitel?

Fingers (1978) has Keitel playing the piano, when he’s not beating up deadbeats who owe money to his father, a small-time loan shark. He has some painful personal and pecker problems, and carries a cheap boombox everywhere he goes, playing 1950s girl group songs way too loud. 

Two solid, early performances from Keitel, and nobody plays Keitel better than Keitel. I'm convinced that all his movies are sequels to each other. Coming soon: Miserable Douchebag, Part 19.

♦ ♦ ♦

By the time the movies let out, the Blue Angels had landed for the day. With a few hours of peace at last, I wrote a letter and went to bed early. I’ve got appointments with the dentist and an eye doctor tomorrow, so I’ll go to work a few hours early to make eight hours.

♦ ♦ ♦

Before I turn in, though — here's a thought that's been percolating since I typed “vice squad” several paragraphs ago:

The concept of a vice squad is bullshit and it shouldn’t exist. They’re the cops who come after you for gambling, prostitution, drug use, or pornography, which in a free society ought to be not a crime, not a crime, not a crime, and not a crime. Vice laws don’t do anything except make people miserable, all for no purpose except the joy of making people miserable. Sorta like the Blue Angels.

From Pathetic Life #5
Sunday, October 9, 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.


Pathetic Life 

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  1. Captain HampocketsAugust 8, 2021 at 8:02 AM

    Did you ever see *Fresh*? It was really, really good.

  2. I think I saw Fresh, and definitely saw Mi Vida Loco.


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