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Unanswered questions

Rewrote the Twisted Times column again, but I’m still not happy with it.

Then I strolled down Market in the mist, enjoying all the beggars, drunkards, hookers, perverts, preachers, punks, dopers, dealers, narcs, slackers, losers, psychotics, and misplaced tourists who make San Francisco whatever the hell it is.

BARTed to nowhere and back, treasure hunting all the way (which means, picking my nose). 

This was the second of eight straight Saturdays — a week's vacation. Ever so briefly my life is my own, not my boss’s, and it feels strange to be smiling so much. On the train I was softly singing the theme from The Partridge Family, a show I never really liked. “Danny got Reuben to sell our song, and it really came together when Mom sang along.” Join me for the chorus now, “C’mon, get happy!” …

DeBARTed at 16th & Mission, had a glorious Number 1 at the Sincere Cafe, and left a glorious number 1 at the Sincere Cafe. Then I walked to the Roxie for a somewhat disappointing triple feature of ancient movies.

West of Zanzibar (1928) is silent, with its original pre-recorded musical soundtrack. Lon Chaney’s wife leaves him, and her lover pushes him over a balcony, leaving him crippled. That’s in the first two minutes, and it's a pretty good two minutes, but after that comes an unpleasant melodrama about crazy Chaney taking vengeance. It’s dull, and rude on many levels — racist, sexist, and sadistic, not to mention ecologically unsustainable.

The Devil Doll (1936) was more fun. It’s Tod Browning’s tale of an escaped convict (Lionel Barrymore), whose hobby is shrinking people to 1/6th of their normal size. That would make me one foot tall, with a one-inch penis. Barrymore is deliciously malicious, and the sets for shrunken actors to walk through are convincing. There’s also trick photography involved, though, and it’s poorly done, even for its era, and then badly faded by time.

The Black Bird (1926) brought Bob Vaughn back from yesterday to play the organ, and he was smashing, but the film is a yawn. It’s a ludicrous love triangle with a lurid ending, but not lurid enough to bother sitting through the length of the film.

The organist, Mr Vaughn, was in the lobby and seemed available, so we had a brief but baffling conversation. I asked if he’d written yesterday's score for Phantom of the Opera, and he explained about the color process that was used in making that movie. Which was interesting, and it’s nice that he’s knowledgeable about more than just music, but his answer had nothing to do with my question.

Then I asked if he had, as it seemed yesterday, played the same piece that Lon Chaney had played on the organ in Phantom. His response was something about the organ he has at home.

Bob Vaughn plays the organ splendidly and that’s what matters, but he looks about 80 years old, and seemed disoriented. Or maybe he’s mostly deaf, and faking a conversation he couldn’t hear — we were in the lobby, which was crowded. And he must be tired of answering the same questions probably every time he performs, so maybe he switches up the answers just to screw with people. I'd do that, and love it.

Me, I won’t have to worry about getting old. Fat men usually die young.

♦ ♦ ♦

I’m re-evaluating my plans to attend every show at the Roxie this week. It’s a different double- or triple feature every day, but today’s shows barely held my attention. Browning directed all three, but only The Devil Doll was worth seeing. Chaney wasn’t in that one, but he starred in the other two, which both sucked. Browning and Chaney were each at their best doing strange stuff, but not everything they did was strange, and sometimes strange isn’t necessarily good. 

I’ll skip tomorrow’s shows — some police movie, and a war movie, says the Roxie’s program — because neither sounds interesting to me. I’ll be back at the Roxie on Wednesday, when the calendar’s descriptions seem crazy again. Until then, c’mon get happy, y’all.

From Pathetic Life #6
Sunday, November 27, 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.

Addendum, 2021: I thought I'd somehow screwed up the days in my original printing of this issue — this entry says, "Saturday, November 27, 1994," but the previous entry was "Saturday, November 26," and the next day's entry is "Saturday, November 28." All the way to the end of the month and into December, every day was Saturday.

It's a joke so droll even I didn't get it, until the editing step, an hour later, when I caught a line in the fourth paragraph, referring to "eight straight Saturdays — a week's vacation." OK, Doug, very funny, but it's also confusing, so for these online reprints the days of the week will be restored.

Pathetic Life   

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