Heading to work the other night, approximately one in the morning. I stopped in the Circle K to pick up some supplies. There was one guy ahead of me, a youngish black guy, maybe 25. He made his purchase and headed out, and I stepped up to the register. The guy behind the counter was also black, but older, about 60.
"These black guys kill me," he said, laughing a little as he was ringing up my items.
"Whenever they come in here to get condoms, they always gotta get the biggest ones they make."
Where to go with this, I wondered.
"Ha, yeah. I guess, you know…just in case."
I wasn’t sure what I meant by that, but he thought it was pretty funny, and I thanked him and moved back out into the night.
A couple week—months?—back, when this single dropped, but before I’d heard it, I was at work, and happened to overhear this lady named Carol talking to another woman named Pam about Taylor Swift. Astute readers of this blog will know that I have mentioned Carol before, both on her own and, more recently, as part of a different conversation she was having with Pam.
"Taylor Swift has a new album out," Carol said to Pam, "and she’s gone Rock. [inaudible] told me that she saw the video for it, and it’s filthy.”
Carol’s moral core is pretty easily rocked, if you guys can’t tell. You should have heard the steely disapproval in her voice. Imagine my disappointment when I managed to actually see the video: rest easy, Carol. Taylor Swift continues her reign as America’s Sweet Granddaughter despite your worries.
If you happen to wander into a Big Lots—and why would you, unless you were in a drunken stupor, or were fleeing an attacker—take a look at the DVD rack, because they are basically giving them away there, and you can come away with a three dollar copy of Mean Streets or A Clockwork Orange or, as was the case in my last adventure there, Sydney Pollack’s Jeremiah Johnson. It’s not a bad movie, but I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s great. Some of it is a little corny—if you’re not paying attention the whole thing can feel like a two hour fantasy sequence from a Will Ferrell movie—and the acting is a bit uneven, and I don’t know how much I like its theme of Stoic Manhood (what do you expect from a script by John Milius) but overall it’s worth both three dollars and your time
This was/is one of my dad’s favorite movies. No doubt he responds to that Stoic Manhood theme I mentioned earlier. Maybe it’s not him specifically: all dads want to go up into the mountains and leave society behind and build a life for themselves out of nothing more than the honest labor of their own two hands.
As it was one of his favorite movies, I was very nearly named Jeremiah Johnson. I think we can all agree that this would have been a really bad thing. Thankfully, when they realized that giving me that name would mean I would be "JJ Evans," they changed their minds.
Really dodged a bullet on that one.
I did note, however, when I was watching it, that Robert Redford gives the mute boy he adopts the name “Caleb,” which as it turns out is my brother’s name. So maybe Dad sort of got his way on that one at least.
I lean my head up against the juke box in the mountains And think about the three Indian sisters tending bar The nighthawks come down to sleep On the knives in my shoulders As if I was Saint Francis barefooted and all They come down to cut their own Throats in the snow Which falls like the dandruff Of Jean Cocteau And I go on thinking of my white horse Waiting in the roses I can tell by the look In its eyes my baby is dead All my liquor is gone so is my land I got kicked out of school for sleeping And I spent what I had Going to the picture show Where I was arrested for putting my fist through a mirror When this song is finished I’m leaving this place but first I’m going Down to the Army Surplus Store And lay away all I got On nine guitars
There was a mini-movie making boom here in Shreveport after Hurricane Katrina; it lasted a good four, maybe five years, but after New Orleans got back up and running, the Gold Rush began to quickly die down, and nowadays there is precious little, if anything, in the pipeline. Alas.
I knew a few people who worked steadily for the film industry while it was blazing away here, and I myself was involved in maybe five movies—peripherally on a few, and more directly on a few others—and, apart from the daily crippling fear that I’d be fired when people realized that I basically had no idea what I was doing, the worst part of the job was listening to Assholes From California complain about being in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Look, I get it: this town is no cultural mecca. It’s not a big and bustling burg. There is genuinely not a whole lot going on: I mean, you can walk around at night and reasonably expect to not get murdered—hick city, right? What really bothered me is that they didn’t complain about anything important—not “man you guys don’t have any good museums or art galleries or places with good live music or effective public transport”, nothing genuinely important. It would be “You guys don’t have a Costco?” Dumb stuff like that. Maybe the only thing worse than their condescension was listening to my fellow locals try to get in on it when a round of Shreveport-bashing went on. It was pathetic. I understand that this isn’t the greatest place on earth, and I’m free to talk shit about it all the time—and I do—but that’s because I live here. It’s mine. If you’re a guest, be nice.
This is a very roundabout way of saying that Ryan Phillippe, in his directorial debut, has made a movie about what an awful town this is to be making a movie in. Phillippe plays an actor who comes to Louisiana to make a movie, then gets shanghaied by a couple of hicks, then chained up in the ol torture shed. The movie looks awful, sure, but it’s a little weird that it so specifically mentions Shreveport—even in the trailer. I guess Phillippe had such a bad time here filming Straight A’s, a movie that no one has ever seen, that he had to get his revenge.
And, based on the trailer, it’s a pretty petty-looking revenge—lol if you’re a star, fat chicks want to take their picture with you—and one that’s also really ill-informed; no one in this town, or this half of the state, even, has such an obnoxious Cajun accent (the one you hear about 30 seconds into the clip)—because the northern half of the state is not what you’d call Cajun Country. North Louisiana is a lot closer to East Texas than anything, but you’d only know that if you made any sort of effort to study or learn about the place you’re shitting on.
It doesn’t really matter, I know. No one will see this movie, and Ryan Phillippe will probably go on being sort of famous, but god damn I get so weirdly angry about this kind of lazy-ass Southern stereotyping, and the fact that it’s explicitly targeting the place I live is even more aggravating.