25 July 2007
Did you like the cake? Aw, some of it was nice. I've made a cake like that one in my home once or twice.
I think there's a bit of a loose theme running through today's post--the blank eyes of dr. t.j. eckleburg, god of commerce and materialism, peering out over the "valley of ashes." I didn't really intend a theme--the shots were taken at different times/places, but they almost work together. Almost.
The last shot is of a photo I found pasted to a window at the vacant, mostly boarded up, Lake Terrace Motel in Blacksburg. It was stuck to the window along with an American flag sticker and a 104.5 Country PSK sticker. I'm posting it because I imagine it laughing in the face of the heavy-handedness of the rest of the post, squinting at it while mumbling a few words in Spanish, then patting it on the back and offering it a drink.
I suppose the photo projects the drunken Mexican stereotype, but I find it interesting because it's what seems to be an actual photo that someone pasted on the window of an abandoned motel, and it's fun to imagine how/why it was placed there. I'd like to write a short story that incorporates the photo in some way, but I'm not sure I'm clever enough for that. Writing fiction is not on the list of things I'm good at. It's a short list. It includes an extensive knowledge of Southwest Virginia back roads, and not much else--possibly daydreaming about being a Nascar driver.
The photo also brings to mind one of my favorite movies, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia. It's a classic Sam Peckinpah road movie that explores the relationship between a desperate man, a beautiful woman, and a severed head. Kentuckian Warren Oates (one of my favorite actors) plays Benny, a small-time crook and barroom piano player living in Mexico. In the opening scene of the movie, two gangsters twist the arm of a young Mexican girl until she tells her wealthy father who got her pregnant. As her arm snaps, she yells Alfredo Garcia. The wealthy father offers a million dollars to the first person to bring him Alfredo's head, and the two gangsters and several others rush out to find Alfredo and claim the reward. They go into a bar where Benny is playing and end up offering him a smaller sum if he can bring them Alfredo's head. Benny's prostitute girlfriend Elita tells him that Alfredo is already dead, and she and Benny set out to find his grave.
Benny thinks that all he needs to do to solve his own problems is find Alfredo's grave, dig up his body, severe the head and claim the reward. I'll try not to spoil the rest of the movie for you, but I will say it involves copious amounts of tequila, violent gunfights, a Kris Kristofferson appearance, and (best of all) rambling monologues wherein the increasingly maniacal Benny builds a friendship with "Al," the bloody head in a burlap sack riding in his passenger seat. Trust me, those monologues rank up there with the best moments of cinema--they're very Shakespearean, think Hamlet. Not only is Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia a cool title; it's also, to me, Peckinpah's best film and one of the best "buddy" films of all time.