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The lunch, the movie, and Josh

In the small print every month, it says I'll trade any issue of this zine for a meal or a movie. This afternoon and evening, someone took me up on that. I went to lunch and a movie with a gent named Josh Lentil, which earns him the the next issue and this one, in which I'm about to review the lunch, the movie, and Josh.

The meal was at Long Life Vegi House, a meat-free Chinese restaurant on University Avenue in Berkeley. The sauteed nuts and veggies were wonderful. I'd never had (or even imagined) vegetarian pot stickers before, and they were great, too. Doug says, even if you usually want meat, you want to do without at Long Life Vegi House.

After our fine dining experience, we walked to the UC Theater for a double feature, starting with Medium Cool (1969), which follows a local TV news crew in Chicago, in the days leading up to the famously tumultuous Democratic Party convention of 1968.

It's a drama, not a documentary, but the climax was filmed on location during the subsequent police riots, as cops beat down anyone within billy-club range. The violence served no purpose except batting practice, of course, and the cops got way with it, of course.

The reality of filming amidst such true chaos certainly gives the movie an extra jolt of urgency. Watching the TV cameras roll away as the tanks rolled in made me proud to be unAmerican.

Shall I ramble on, complimenting the director and cinematographer? Shall I laugh at Verna Bloom? She's supposed to be playing the single mother of a teenage boy, but in a perfect Hollywood wardrobe and makeup, she's the most glamorously gorgeous mom I've ever seen. Hubba hubba, mother.

The nightcap was Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation (1974). It's a film everyone has seen (and like Medium Cool, if you haven't, you should) so I'll keep my comments brief. It's about a private spy (Gene Hackman) who's obsessed with his own privacy, and trying to figure out the meaning of a brief snippet of conversion he's surreptitiously recorded. I have quibbles about The Conversation, but they're tiny, and the film is quite good.

Surprisingly, despite being the UC Theater, both films were in focus,  the projector didn't break down, the soundtrack didn't click in and out, and nothing else went wrong, either.

As for Josh, he's a friendly, smart guy. He reads my zine, so he's a man of high class and excellent taste. I was fairly comfortable with him by the time we'd ordered dinner. He's kinda talky, but it's a good talky — talky that knows to shut the hell up when the lights dim at the theater.

Talky is a requirement for Josh, cuz he hosts a show on the local pirate station, Radio Free Berkeley. No dead air on his show, probably, but I haven't heard it, because he's on in the middle of the night, and I'm asleep. He wants me to be a guest on his show a week from Thursday night, so I guess I'll be yawning a lot the day after.

Being the quiet guy I am, I wonder what I'll have to say on the radio, but Josh says he'll just ask a few questions about me and the zine. Those are my areas of expertise — me and the zine — so it might be fun.

And anyway, it's pirate radio, in the middle of the night. There might be a dozen people listening, not a big enough unseen crowd to trigger any stage fright. And Josh seems medium cool, so why not?

♦ ♦ ♦

My toothache comes and goes, and tonight it's keeping me awake. It's been gnawing at my face for weeks, but until tonight, it's been mostly a dull, forgettable pain, like President Clinton.

Tonight it's more like Newt Gingrich or Strom Thurmond — an agony that shouldn't be ignored. I may need a dentist soon, or better drugs.

If my tooth hurts like this tomorrow morning, I'd call in sick if I had a job.

From Pathetic Life #16
Tuesday, September 12, 1995

Addendum, 2022: After that night, 'Josh Lentil' and I became fairly good friends, but I'm utterly unable to remember his real name. I believe in privacy, and not merely for me, so almost everyone's names were changed for the zine. I checked to be certain, and Google can find no human on Earth named Josh Lentil.

Wish I could check up on 'Josh', at least through the internet. He was a few years older than me, plump like me, and I vaguely remember that he had some health issues.

Hope you're alive and well, 'Josh', and wherever you are, whoever you are, thanks again for lunch and a flick, and the friendship that followed. If you read this, please drop me a note. 

And true to its name, the web says Long Life Vegi House is still there on University Avenue. But unlike 1,408 weeks ago when I was there, it's now closed on Tuesdays.

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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