Would you like to really return to the 1980s? Do you dream of living in the world of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Now you can! You can buy Cameron Frye’s house, complete with Ferrari showroom, and live in it. Your friends can say it’s very cold, and very beautiful, like a museum. You can lie there under your covers in the dark, insist that you’re dying, and sing “When Cameron was in Egypt’s land, let my Cameron go.” Naturally, you can also send your Ferrari flying through a plate glass window… but I recommend sticking to the less destructive aspects of recreation.
The Daily Herald reports that it went on the market last week for $2.3 million and not surprisingly, its ’80s status has already attracted a lot of interest as everyone longs to walk the halls of Cameron Frye. In real life, the house isn’t as cold as a museum, and really does keep a collection of cars in the glass pavilion. Alas, they’re not included in the sale price (you’ll have to buy your own Ferrari), but it sounds like they’re throwing in the pavilion’s mini Ferris Bueller museum. If you love this movie, $2.3 million is a bargain!
“It was just a catastrophe, we were just running around with thing, cos like cold water, it was just sort of everybody was spewing up and it was just, yeah.”—The Dominion Post making the story last for as long as they can.
On the show this week: annoying bike pants people straddle the Harbour Bridge; Marcus Chown blows me (away) with mere words; Tigi Ness and his big award; James Coe ruins both our future careers as journalists; Matthew Dentith ponders Angels & Demons and the bFM mailbag is rendered open.
There’s a great scene in Predator when Mac (Bill Duke) wrenches a gatling-gun (affectionately named Painless) off fallen comrade Blain (Jesse Ventura) and unloads 400 rounds per second into a patch of jungle. The rest of the squad, led by Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), join the exercise with appropriate gusto, firing off their weapons in a screeching arc of ballistic jungle clearing not seen outside the wet dreams of McDonald’s executives. A stampede of bullets cut through the jungle for a good five minutes, inter cut with close-ups of the happy commandos grimacing with a hint of requited pleasure escaping through their expressions. Eventually even the magazine capacities of the movie guns are spent and the squad is left standing over the remains of the jungle admiring their handiwork. The self-congratulatory posing is short lived as a scout reports back to inform them that they’ve hit nothing.
The scene is deliciously ridiculous for a number of reasons. What kind of military platoon on a covert jungle mission lugs around a gatling-gun as part of their armament? Obviously the same platoon who only moments before have annihilated a guerrilla compound in the old school A-Team style, despite Schwarzenegger’s assertion at the opening of the film that they’re “a rescoo team, not asassaans.”
The scene says a lot about the tastes of mainstream moviegoers in the mid eighties and ultimately a lot more about the mindset of America in that period. As the director John McTiernan (the director of the Die Hard Trilogy, the excellent remake of The Thomas Crown Affair and who is slowly morphing into Walter Matthau) notes in his audio commentary on the DVD, at the time there was an almost pornographic desire to see images of arms with biceps the size of sheep firing huge semi-automatic weapons into other people. Compromising, he decided that the squad’s blitzkrieg should hit nothing but air and foliage, denying the audience the ejaculatory release of seeing bodies mowed down, but still giving the punters what they wanted. In the commentary he uses that decision as justification for removing himself from the Columbine/media violence debate. Unfortunately for McTiernan he’s got no leg to stand on when one considers the various scenes of gore and violence that fill Predator and his subsequent films. He might have shown the balls to discuss the issue rather than deluding himself that he isn’t a part of it.
Ahhh, Predator. No one in the mainstream Hollywood system makes films of its ilk anymore and that’s equally disappointing and reassuring; reassuring because overt phallic displays of firepower have been dropped in favour of Kung Fu. Even films like the first Matrix which feature gunplay are acceptable because it’s goreless and the whole thing is set inside a video game. Assuming you’re not out of your mind on hallucinogenic fungus it’s unlikely you’ll see that kind of violence as a way to resolve disputes in the office. Anti-media violence pundits may disagree with me, but in Hollywood there’s been a improvement in how on-screen violence is portrayed. Saving Private Ryan is a good example. After witnessing the first twenty minutes of that film I promised myself that if I ever found myself riding the surf in a US Army transporter onto the beach at Normandy I’d jump over board (having secreted inflated arm rings on my person well before) and paddle to Portugal.
On the negative side there is the sobering fact that no one working in mainstream film today can direct action as well as McTiernan. Despite the inherently ludicrous nature of the subject matter the film is expertly crafted. The camera moves from actor to actor composing them as characters inside an environment rather than cut outs against a neutral background. Suspense is built up by breaking long tracking shots with quick, shorter cuts before flowing back into the longer, liquid shots. There are a few directors working in Hollywood who, like McTiernan, know what they’re doing.; names like Sodengurgh and Singer spring to mind, but the talented few are dwarfed by the hordes of the talentless pumping out weak muck like The League of Extraordinary Gentleman and A Man Apart. Ironically they’re films made mostly by the generation who grew up watching and idolising the work of directors like McTiernan.
Less seriously it’s also disappointing to note that the forces of political correctness have expanded themselves a little too far and made great manly films like Predator largely a thing of the past. Such scenes of masculine competition such as the arm wrestling tiff between Dutch and Dillon (Carl Weathers, who in the following year was to appear in the glorious Action Jackson) are nowadays greeted with sniggers from a well informed audience who see such things as obvious male insecurity. The world may have changed too much for a line like “bunch of slack jawed faggots! Chew this and you’ll become a sexual tyrannosaur just like me!” to be uttered without eliciting a pious letter of disapproval from groups such as The Concerned Housewives of Remuera, rather than being accepted as a funny line revealing much about the character who said it.
A final item of interest to file away under “Only in America”: It’s well known that both Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger have entered politics, becoming the governors of Minnesota and California. What’s less known is that Sonny Landham who played Billy the Native-American tracker (and who was assigned a bodyguard on the film set to deter him from starting fights with the local Mexican populace) ran a an unsuccessful campaign for governor of Kentucky in 2003. Who’s next for the corridors of power? Carl Weathers?
A proposal before the ARC outlines three possible lines for an Auckland Metro system. It’s something public transport advocates are salivating over, including Joshua Arbury, a consultant planner and the man behind the Auckland Transport Blog.
This pretty much has me hard at the thought. Yep, it would be massively expensive, but, as Joshua says, you don’t need to build all the lines at the same time (and not even all of one line) and, you know, howabout a bit of fucking vision for once?
I’m unsure how this would fare under the rejigged Mega Auckland. National’s not particularly into public transport as they made clear in last years election campaign and if Auckland becomes effectively ruled by central government as some are claiming, I can’t see it going much further.
I love to see the ARC throw the whole bath tub into the Transport Strategy before they get dissolved. Surely if there’s any time to show you have balls it’s during your dying breath.
On the show this week: Hendrik Hertzberg on proportional representation; a man who loves Doctor Who so much he made a one man show around it; Benji Jackson looks at Earache Records; the Feathers of Peace examine laundry and threesomes; Birdboy sings about the upside to swine flu and we hear your thoughts via the bFM mailbag.
Here’s an amazingly pretentious short story I wrote over ten years ago as a shambling university student taking part in a creative writing course.
I am born in a samurai slice of creation, a piston imprint in the twitch of an eye. I am born whole and complete with memory, identity. I am a new character. I am born with fresh memories; I am twenty five years old, I am four minutes old. I am a special kind of paradox, new and old all together. I remember prising a cobblestone souvenir from a Parisian street, but I have never been to Paris. I remember helping the moving guy, with his huffy puffy sweat, lug couches into my flat on a misty morning, but this is the first time I have seen my flat. This is my first home. I have had several. I believe a coffee may be in order. Of course I know how to make a coffee, my creator has done a fine job on my skills. Although at the moment this is the only skill I think I have. I mustn’t be greedy. This is a good skill to begin with. I fill the electric jug -I will refer to it as simply The Jug from now on. This is what real people say, I must appear real in the minds of those that will read about me.- I fill The Jug by depressing the lid and hold it so with my right thumb while gripping the handle between the fingers and palm of the said hand. I lift … and move it towards my right where there is a kitchen tap. It will not move any further. I try but it will not move further than halfway to the tap. Is my arm broken? How can I operate with a bung arm?! Am I to be a kind of suburban Quaisimodo?! Wait … no, The Jug is still plugged in. I unplug The Jug and position it under the tap. I don’t know exactly how far I should turn the bar. I opt to turn it all the way and it rewards me with a face full of ricocheted water. It is very hot water. I don’t really need a coffee.
I hope the creator will give some more skills. I will need to be a character that people will enjoy reading about. I will need background information, likes dislikes and a job. Maybe I am to be a big game hunter, an assassin or a formula one driver who is also a part time spy. Perhaps he hasn’t got to all that yet. Perhaps he is looking at the page waiting for inspiration. I guess I can wait as well.
It is two days later and my purpose has yet to reveal itself. I have since decided I don’t want to be the sort of story that involves tense scenes in a smoke filled interrogation room, or a last chapter dash to the train station to tell the girl I love that I’m sorry I slept around and I’m sorry I accidentally ran over her father. No, I don’t want to be that kind of story at all. I want to be a story that tells a certain kind of truth. The sort of story that even though it is fiction, still feels like it happened. Like it actually happened to someone. My story will be about everyone and how we are and why there are valleys between each of us even though we all come from the same mass of atoms. My story is one that will make cracks out of canyons.
It is twelve days since zero point when I was syringed from “baseless fabric” and knitted whole. Each morning I wake up with adult baby eyes and eat my breakfast in front of the window. Each day everything I need just turns up in the cupboards so I am never hungry. Usually I have porridge with milk and brown sugar. The milk sits around the steaming porridge like a ring. I pile up the brown sugar and watch it slowly absorbing into the gray tissue until it becomes a rich, deeper colour. Then I mix it all in and brown, white and gray divide and divide until they cleave into something more. I haven’t gone outside. There is no outside. Every morning it’s the same. Just gray nothing. A dense nothing that gets thicker when I try and discern form within. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, waiting for a morphic impulse to shock it to life. I’m scared to go out there. It might reabsorb me I might return to airy nothings. I might become something else I might pad the dreams of children as a panther or appear as fire to the dreams of madman. What has happened to the creator? Am I abandoned? Or is he on holiday? Where did he go? I’m scared to go outside. I don’t know what else I can do.
Day fourteen and I decide that I must somehow get the creators attention. It shouldn’t be too hard, I am still within him, somewhere. I try setting fire to my couch. It will not combust, the match flame held beneath the edge of a cushion simply leaks away leaving nothing. Nothing in the flat will burn. As a natural experiment I try to burn myself. I cannot feel a thing. In anger I rip the couch with a kitchen knife, shredding cheap foam until it looks like a miniature sponge migration diorama on the floor. I cover my eyes with my hands and all I see are the bars of light shining pink through my fingers. I take them away and the couch is intact. Nothing I do has any consequence. I understand it all. Nothing here can change in the slightest because the creator has left. Nothing can happen because there is no mind to build it on. I have remained. A creature forgotten as the owner leaves and locks the doors behind him. I am a thing of naught, a man caught alone who has hardly begun. There’s no point getting angry about it. The creator just obviously had better things to do. Possibly another, grander story presented itself. Maybe another version of me is living away with the trials of life: children, cats, dogs, wife, wives, husband, husbands, engine troubles and so on. How many have been lost in the tearing up of pages? in the hasty rewrite of early morning insight? Lives are discarded in the millions for something better every day. Homes and marriages broken by ratings poll. Who is made to be accountable? There is only one thing left for me. I could just live onwards in this little flat, my creator forgot about me I could just turn away and forget about him. Each party possibly the better off. It’s tempting but I can’t live like that. There has to be a point. I need causality and conclusion, otherwise why bother? This is what I have to do. I have to go outside.
The front door of my flat leads to an off white corridor. My door is the only one in this corridor and it is situated at one end. At the other is the gray mist of pre-creation. In the end it’s very simple isn’t it? A little stroll and either oblivion or rebirth. So I walk and before stepping into the mental stuff I close my eyes. I am entering the world of dreams after all, it seems appropriate to do so. For a time I am quite aware of myself floating in this mist, I seem to be able to sense every fictional atom that I am comprised of. I realise I am a collection of viewpoints soldered into something concrete. As I am coming to an awareness of my reality a shift deep inside me occurs. I am being taken apart. I know this and I try to stop it but it’s like screaming inside a dream, but I am inside a dream. Or am I a dream? I can feel it all going, me turning to wisp.
There is a cloister. There is a hall. There is a grand foyer. There is a library at the end of the world. I am aware, somehow, that the library is of unimaginable size and contains an unimaginable number of books. Not only does it hold countless writings, it’s very structure holds all architectures ever known: Greek Roman Iranian Gothic Post-modern New Urbanism. The library is all of these represented. The library itself makes no sound, any noise is created by me as I tread on the carpet linoleum kauri shingle floor. Alcoves shimmer in and out of reality as I pass and more than once I have to back track as the corridor I am following becomes a dead end before my eyes. Eventually (although I am aware of very little time passing) I come across a room the size of a sector of space sectioned razor sharp with writing desks. I am drawn inexplicably to one desk at which I take a seat. There is paper and tiny ink bottles in the drawers. Oblivion or rebirth? The final decision rests with me. The ink in the bottles is dense with expectation. I lay a leaf of paper on the desk and with the nib I make my first incision on the tundra of the real. 'I am born in a samurai slice of creation , a piston imprint in the twitch of an eye'.
On this week’s show: Egypt as archeology’s Disneyland; a local government expert’s view on the supercity; James Coe receives his first legal threat; Matthew Dentith gets H1N1 under his collar and more of your correspondence.