Wednesday, March 10, 2010

John Carpenter's Vampires Soundtrack - Cruel Highway - Looking Back

A song's ability to transport one back to a specific time and place can be be remarkable. Pictures can occasionally do the trick, but they can trigger different reactions as well. "Look at how thin she was back in the day," "wow, who knew you has such a thick head of hair," "those are the goofiest glasses," or "that's not you in the flannel shirt, is it?" Sometimes the right song unleashes a torrent of recall that transcends the imagery we occasionally get hung up on and recreates the atmosphere and emotions of a time. Bypassing nostalgic bullshit helps paint a more honest picture of from whence we came.

This most random song selection from John Carpenter's Vampires (a B-movie enjoyed by the werewolf) yanks the werewolf back to the winter of 2000 in New Hampshire. The maverick McCain had just captured the primary in that small state from GOP heir apparent George W. Bush. An inch or two of dirty snow on the ground defined the daily walk to class. The blistery winter wind had edge to it that the werewolf's inner-Californian never truly accepted. Uncertainty loomed. What college would he be bound for in a few months, was he really in love for the first time, what the hell was waiting ahead?

Specifically, this song brings him back to Christine Robinson's senior English seminar in a musty basement classroom in Phillips Hall. Exeter was famous for old buildings with worn down and scuffed stair cases and that constantly served as a reminder of the legions of students who had proceeded us. Exposed pipes, old bricks, no windows, and an ancient chalk board were all defined accents of that room. The crusty old lesbian ran a thoughtful classroom. Even if she didn't shave her armpits, she knew how to get you to think about what you read and tried her damnedest to make better writers of us all. No easy task when it came to the obstinate werewolf.

Specifically, he recalls an involved discussion about Quentin Compton's suicide in Faulkner's haunting novel The Sound and the Fury. It was one of the grimmest, darkest, and oddly thought-provoking classroom discussions the werewolf ever participated in. Later, a veteran and friend from the werewolf's time in Richard Morante's infamous Latin class, who was also an active participant in the aforementioned discussion, took his own life. The werewolf has been unable to pick up The Sound and The Fury since that dark day.

Being an open, liberated lesbian, Robinson would occasionally get a tad preachy and talk about famous gays to make her feel like some sort of important social change agent or whatever. Being a Los Angeleno, the werewolf recalls an odd conversation where she brought up gays in Hollywood. She asked the class to name famous gays and lesbians. Being a fan of older films and film history; Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowell, and Raymond Burr all came to the werewolf's mind and he blurted them out. She then added "did you know Errol Flynn was gay?" The werewolf said something to effect that he didn't care to know who was gay as long as John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Sean Connery, Cary Grant, and Charleton Heston continued to be Hollywood bad-asses and weren't going to be subjected to some-sort of revisionist rewrite of history that would diminish their respective legacies. Talk about a conversation killer.

Lastly, the werewolf recalls reading Othello in that classroom and actually snapping at a female classmate who kept referring to Othello as an African-American. It wasn't the first time he saw the pernicious impact of political correctness corrupt a talented mind's ability to judge history, but it was one of the more memorable instances.

1 comment:

  1. Othello as "African American." Wow. That should get some sort of award.