Jar Jar Binks, New Wave Donuts and a French Maniac
My best pal + Destroy All Movies!!! co-editor Bryan Connolly and I loaded up our sleek, black, rented stepmom van at 8:45 AM. The seats were removed to pack the cargo hold with a stomach-defying assortment of powdered doughnuts (12 packs), cookies (36 packs), chips (58 bags), Pop Tarts and root beer. We bade a heartfelt goodbye to our superhumanly supportive ladyfriends and hit the Austin freeway.
The trip through Texas to Albuquerque is a dazer; about 13 hours of primarily featureless terrain punctuated by beef jerky stands and trucker-friendly XXX shops. Sadly, our highlight during this stretch was the sudden roadside appearance of a Grimace-shaped middle-aged lady peddling a busted bicycle loaded down with grocery bags. Slow day. But Albuquerque would prove to be rabid with adventure, kind of.
We entered New Mexico’s megalopolis earlier than anticipated, checked into the least tragic motel in sight and headed across the parking lot to see what the withered neighborhood had to offer. A grinning older man passed us, his arms swinging wide in a mighty arc that’d shame even Jar Jar Binks. This massive human cartoon gave us a neighborly glazed stare, turned on his heel and headed to the motel’s adjoining Waffle House. He threw open the double doors and yelled, “HEY DUDES!!!!” at the top of his lungs. The smoothest of coolest men!!
Across the road was a strip mall bookended by a failing movie theater and a supermarket. Between them was an incredibly roguish Asian massage parlor. Our spines were feeling well-aligned, so we didn’t enter. Instead, we stopped in the market where the cashiers were wearing surgical gloves. On our way back to the Econolodge, we saw another wild man with high-swinging arms. Apparently this walking style is all the rage in Albuquerque. Take note.
In the morning, we ate at the legendary Frontier Restaurant with our friend/show coordinator Brennan and went out on our mandatory VHS hunt. I scored a big box anorexia TV-drama, its cover featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh chomping on Charles Durning’s finger while he tries to force-feed her a taco. Maybe it’s a cannoli. Ask me later.
In preparation for the screening, Brennan drove us to the outskirts to pick up some incredible new wave doughnuts he’d commissioned. They were garishly striped, with delicious breakfast cereal baked across the top. The options included Chocolate Lucky Charms, Trix and – the absolute greatest – Fruity Pebbles. Treats in hand, we rolled to the city’s finest independent movie theater, the Guild Cinema.
The night’s punk movie double feature was VALLEY GIRL and TIMES SQUARE, stylistically conflicting masterpieces of ‘80s teen frustration. Despite 40 degree temperatures, high winds and Tuesday laziness, there was a good turnout, including likeable local delinquents called the Voodoo Scooter Gang. Even a dog and a child were on hand, as well as a couple zany grandmas who were immensely entertained by punk fashion and insisted on talking to me and Bryan about TANK GIRL. Glaaaaagh. Brennan commemorated the evening by presenting us with a tremendous cupcake made out of Cupcake Pebbles. Zam.
TIMES SQUARE hit the screen. While Bryan and I talked in the theater lobby, a French and/or drugged man stuck his shaking hand through the box office window, pawing at the ticket roll while mumbling a little gargled ditty in an intergalactic dialect. He entered the Guild, babbled some incomprehensible doodoo and stumbled into the auditorium.
Just as the film’s closing credits began to scroll, the wild frog stood up in his seat, announced his love of the movie, belted out some obscenities and threw his shoe at the screen. He then leapt up on the small stage and attempted to beat the screen with his remaining shoe. Two heroic punk attendees (one a Voodoo Scooter Club member) jumped from their seats, disabled the madcap dipshit and dragged him into the lobby. The maniac struggled fiercely, knocking eyeglasses and popcorn containers away from members of the audience. His punk captors put him in a sleeper hold, at which point he looked up at us with wet eyes and – in a moment that resembled clarity – whimpered, “Please help me. They are going to beat me.” Unfortunately, they didn’t, and instead just threw him to the freezing sidewalk outside.
At this point, most spazzed out goofbags would shirk shamefully into the darkness. But not our buddy. Instead, he whipped out a ballpoint pen and held it menacingly toward one of the theater vigilantes, who calmly responded with, “I have a knife and I’ll stab you.” This didn’t go over well and the Parisian re-exploded in another round of subhuman antics before finally vanishing down the street. A perfect end to the tour’s first show.