Barry: Top five songs about death. A Laura’s Dad tribute list, okay? Okay. Leader of the Pack. The guy fuckin’ beefs it on his motorcycle and dies, right? Dead Man’s Curve. Jan & Dean.
Dick: Do you know that right after they recorded that song Jan himself crashed his car …
Barry: It was Dean you fuckin’ idiot. …
Rob: It was Jan. It was a long time after the song.
Barry: Okay, whatever. Tell Laura I Love Her. That would bring the house down — Laura’s Mom could sing it. You know what I’d want? One Step Beyond by Madness. And, uh, You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
Dick: No. Immediate disqualification because of its involvement with The Big Chill.
Barry: Oh God. You’re right!
Dick: Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald — Gordon Lightfoot.
Barry: You bastard! That’s so good — that should have been mine. … The night Laura’s daddy died. Sha na na na na na na na na! Brother what a night it really was. Mother what a night it really … angina’s tough! Glory be!
It still surprises me when I stop and think about this: High Fidelity is one of my favorite movies. Not in my Top 5 perhaps, but seriously dug it. This is surprising on a number of levels, not the least of which is that it was a popular mainstream film – a romantic comedy, no less. Usually if either one of those labels can be applied to a film, it also usually means that I will think it absolute dreck, with no saving graces whatsoever.
My name is Jeff Chappell, and I am a cultural elitist.
But High Fidelity is an exception that proves the rule, I suppose. In fact, it is one of two movies that I’ve ever seen that I like better than the book — it’s amazing how well the movie’s writers and director Americanized the Nick Hornby novel, and yet remained true to the source. Hornby himself found it a pretty faithful adaptation. I don’t necessarily agree with either version’s conclusions about being single vs. being coupled, but I see enough of myself in Rob, played by John Cusack, to identify with the character. As Cusack himself says (in the afore-linked New York Times article):
“Rob, like a lot of Nick’s characters, is a guy who ought to know better than to be the way he is,” Mr. Cusack continues. ”And in fact he does know better. He’s a lazy, delusional slacker, but he’s brutally honest with himself, and has these terrifically incisive insights, and that’s what makes him redeemable.”
I wouldn’t say that I know better than to be the way I am — necessarily — although I’m sure there are people past and present that would argue that. Nevertheless, Rob and his friends hit pretty close to home. Lazy? When it comes to doing unpleasant things — like a job I don’t want to do? Check. Brutally honest? Check. Incisive insights? Perhaps — I’m vain enough to think so, at least. So, in the vein of High Fidelity, without further ado:
Top Five All-Time Blog Posts
Endless navel gazing, brutal self honesty, caustic wit, love and death — it’s all here in one special box set, in chronological order:
Ghosts will have their due, whether you sleep or not.
So you write it all down because words are the only way you know how to exorcise them, the images and the ghosts — the only way you know how to drive them away, however fleetingly.
What is it about the open road at night — nothing but moon and starlight, the hum of tires on lonely asphalt, and the occasional snippet of summer insect song through an open window as I drive along — that soothes my restless soul?
She was saddened most by the fact that Michael never struck it big as a DJ, in spite of having the chops and the respect of many people in the radio and music business. That is a sad aspect of Michael Riley’s life, and yet I can’t help but contrast his death with that of Michael Jackson. The only tears shed for Michael Riley will be genuine, and while he may never have got the fame and recognition he deserved, my Michael seems to have largely lived life on his own terms, which seems more than we can say for Jackson. Furthermore, while the music of Michael Jackson, whose fans are legion, touched millions (musical pablum that is; sorry, just have to be honest); I’ll wager that Michael Riley touched more people’s lives in a meaningful way, in ways that someone who lived in the rarefied air of pop superstardom never could.
You can’t have my life force. You will not and cannot take my chi. You can’t fill your neediness with my energy; I’m wise to your Jedi mind tricks, and your attempts to rob me of my essence will fail, breaking upon the rock that is my soul; your emotional kung fu is weak, and cannot pierce the veil created by my mental lei of garlic.
It’s gone beyond mystifying and transcended to the realm of the absurd … the insanely absurd. The Absurd with a capital A. I feel like my brain broke and that instead of witnessing and participating in reality, I’m in a French existential comedy – the world has transcended, or rather descended, into a work by Sartre or Camus.
There are other posts I’m fond of, of course. But after much pondering and remembrance (er, that sounds like a bad TV miniseries), this is my top five. I’ll conclude with one of my favorite quotes from High Fidelity, as spoken by Cusack’s Rob:
Should I bolt every time I get that feeling in my gut when I meet someone new? Well, I’ve been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.
Now I almost always trust my gut, shit brains and all. Guess I’ll always be an arrested, teenage misanthrope. But that’s okay.
Honorable Mention: Oh Noes! The Foreigner! Dun Dun Duh!
He leans over so far, desperate to get a glimpse at my groceries, that he actually falls over. As he falls, he instinctively thrusts out a hand for balance or to grab something, and inadvertently cold cocks an old woman behind me right across the jaw. She pinwheels around, the groceries in her hand flying everywhere as she falls. Fortunately, perhaps – at least for her – she fell on two small children, ostensibly her grandchildren.
So, four people on the ground, one of whom is an old woman, the other two, small defenseless children – all because of the presence of me, “The Foreigner!”
Epilogue, August 26, 2016. Yes, I think these are still among my favorites. Mom, Dad, Michael Riley — I miss you guys still.
However the anger that I felt toward the elections and politics of recent years — that’s all gone. Since I suffered that hemorrhagic stroke and subsequently lived to tell about it, I find I just don’t care about those things. At all.
Actually, I find that most of what I used to care about is just meaningless bullshit. That sounds like it has a really negative tone, but I don’t mean it that way. In fact I’m happier now than I’ve been in years. But yeah, most of what drove this blog in the past — most of what is still concerned with the media today — is meaningless bullshit.
I read posts from 2008 like I <3 Sartre and think to myself “Why was I so angry? Why did I even care?” There’s a larger topic there, but I’ll save it for some other time.