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Lady Business: Through Being Cool

(For any newcomers, a quick word: My wife, Kris, writes a column here every Friday under the heading “Lady Business.” — Chris)

I’ve never been cool a day in my life. I’ve been known to have my very occasional moments of coolness, but they end in a heartbeat. One moment, I’m letting a witty rejoinder fly. The next, I’m typing the phrase “witty rejoinder”. It’s tragic, really.

There was a time in college (and slightly after) where I wanted to be cool so badly that I did the unthinkable. I dated a hipster…for seven long years. Imagine living for seven years talking about Einstürzende Neubauten, Beat Poets, Brian Eno, Peter Greenaway and David Lynch. We would watch Robocop or Predator, but only ironically. It was a dark time.

When I look back, I see that Peter Greenaway’s movies are insanely beautiful, and late 1980’s/early 1990’s Industrial music was pretty darned awesome. I just felt like I was living in a box. Don’t put Robocop in a corner!

The other night, as someone who shall remain nameless was playing video games, I decided to open up the cool box and give Twin Peaks a try as it’s available on Netflix instant streaming. Why not? Well, I got about 20 minutes into the thing before I became achingly depressed and fell asleep. Being cool is a lot of work. It’s long silences. It’s quirky oddities. It’s tiring. Apparently, there’s a lady in there with a log. There may or may not be a little person who talks backwards. (I could be confusing this with the movie.) Being cool takes way more effort than I’m willing to put in.

Then, I found Escape from New York was also on instant streaming and it wasn’t trying so hard. It has a simple idea: put a young, kinda hot Kurt Russell into tight pants, slap on an eye patch and make him say adorably over-the-top quippy things for a mere 99 minutes.

What I love about Escape from New York is that it’s just so damned implausible. The plot involves the idea that in 1988, the crime rate rises 400%. By 1997, Manhattan is a walled up maximum security prison. We’re meant to believe in a mere nine years, the people of Manhattan – some that have invested $750,000 in a one bedroom apartment – have just walked away without question. Then again, there’s not much explanation of anything in this movie. For instance: how they feed the prisoners, who would have voted for Donald Pleasence, or why everyone in the movie seems to know who Snake Plissken is. The movie just IS. Get on board, already!

The little moments make this movie. For instance, our hero talks in a strangely high-pitched voice (this may have something to do with his super tight cargo pants). A character named Romero has perhaps the most fantastic hair in all of filmdom. The accessories are fabulous. They shove the president into an improbably teensy escape pod. Adrienne Barbeau’s boobs defy logic for the entire movie. They drive around in a station wagon that looks like the Griswold’s Family Truckster. The prisoners somehow managed to invent a car that runs on steam! Prisoners are apparently issued guns and spray paint upon arriving. There’s the obligatory scene where two seconds are left on a bomb timer. The best part was when I got to have a sweet little remembrance of what a cassette tape looks like.

No more being cool for me. Now, I feel something starring Burt Reynolds needs a viewing to keep me grounded.


  1. I was just talking with a friend about what the definition of a hipster is. I like this one just because it sounds cool: “hipsterism fetishizes the authentic elements of all of the fringe movements of the postwar era—beat, hippie, punk, even grunge, and draws on the cultural stores of every unmelted ethnicity, and regurgitates it with a winking inauthenticity.

    I think a hopster could be a hipster who tends to like more hip-hop than the standard indie rock or a hipster who likes hoppy beers. Also, I would like to see a painting called “Hipster in Repose.”

    Anyway! I’ve been confused about the act of watching movies ironically for a while now. I never liked the phrase “so bad it’s good” to kind of protect oneself behind a shield of irony. So when I see a movie that I think is good, for whatever reason, I just say it’s good. Rebecca Black’s music video, “Friday,” is good.

    Since you skipped Twin Peaks, now as penance, I would humbly suggest you watch Blue Velvet or Dune. But then you’ve probably already seen those, hmm.

    I remember being really into the magic boobs in that movie when I was younger. It is a great movie and my favorite lines are any of the times Donald Pleasence talks/yells about the Duke being “A-Number One.” So weird!