Friday, April 18, 2008

'I'm a big fan of Radio Control'

One Valentine's Day, Hugger and I watched that movie with Paul Giamatti about the guy who lived in Cleveland, was really sad, and drew a series of comics about how sad his life was. American Splendor, about Harvey Pekar. I remember we went to the video store and every movie about anything remotely related to love was checked out, even "Assassination Tango" and Maggie Gyllenhaal's S&M-romantic comedy.

Not that we were looking for a romantic movie, but the shelves were wiped and the desperation of that was sort of stark.

So we got this really really sad movie about a really really sad man, who seemed a lot like my friends, and a lot like me.

Case in point: Hugger didn't watch the movie, because he was drinking peach schnapps and had been drinking peach schnapps since he woke up that morning. He will claim that this has nothing to do with the fact he was spending Valentine's Day with me, but he's full of shit.

The movie really depressed me. Not because Pekar was pathetic or lonely or sad, but because he didn't have any fight left in him. I wanted to have some way to fight back, even if I was pathetic, some way to hope things could be better, even if that made me pathetic. This is why I thought American Splendor was sad, but thought Love Liza, with Philip Seymore Hoffman, was beautiful. Dave Frank used to try to push that movie on people.

I really like it, he would say. I just really like it.

Dave and I didn't watch that movie together, so every time he told me he really liked it, I would say I did too.

Did you see it? he would say, and he would point at me. Dave always pointed at me, his hand like a pretend gun, like I wouldn't know he was talking to me unless he pointed.

Yes, I would say. I did.

I really like it, Dave would say. I mean, I really like it. A lot of people didn't like it. They were like, 'this is sad,' but I just really thought it was good. It was a good sad.

Hoffman's character in the movie, Wilson, thinks that Radio Control planes could save him. He tries to get over his wife's suicide and his addiction to huffing gas by becoming a fan of Radio Control. He was really really sad and lonely and pathetic, and seemed a lot like my friends and a lot like me, but maybe more than Pekar, because he had some kind of hope. He could get excited about things and in one scene he goes crashing into a lake, just so he can tell people that he has an identity.

Do you know who I am? he says. I am a big fan of Radio Control.

I thought he was going to say he lived at the Beat.

I was thinking about this when I read Dave's last column. I really like Dave's columns. He makes himself sound sad, like what my mom would have said was sadsack, though I don't know exactly what that is. But like that. Except he also has that kid-like consternation, and he sounds really sweet, which was always Dave's big secret.

In every one of his columns, I keep wondering if Dave's going to suddenly get excited and start yelling that he loves Radio Control. If he ever does, I hope someone's there to tell him they do too.

1 comment:

luke said...

You are now the fifth person (me, dave, dr. and mrs. jackson) I know who liked that movie. I picked it out once at the rental place with a bunch of people (including hugger, mary, and naomi) and because they were all so mad at me for picking it when it was over I wanted to dislike it too, but I couldn't. It's redemptive.