News, Views, Happiness Pursued

The Society Page

by | Jun 2, 2019

I pride myself on sustaining a life of simplicity, like flipping the bird and writing these words.

On May 4thI went to Portland House of Musicto continue my lifetime subscription to The Awesome, my favorite ’80s cover band. The show was billed as a Star Wars party — “May the Fourth Be with You” — and everyone in the group dressed as a different character. Mike Taylor(Yoda) performed on his knees the entire time, with a shawl over his head and a heat-trapping mask that caused rivulets of sweat to run down poor Mike’s neck. Jennywren Walker was a super sexy stormtrooper. Pete Dugas was dressed as a young Luke Skywalker, and the naturally hairy Tyler Quist was, of course, Chewbacca. Drummer D.J. Moore had his long black hair done up in Princess Leia cinnamon buns, and an unrecognizable Joel Amsden was a guitar-playing Han Solo.

Though the first movie came out in 1977, the original Star Wars trilogy was a quintessentially ’80s-flavored phenomena, so the theme fit the music. As usual, the audience was a total babe-fest. Friends on hand included Sarah BeliveauMary Allen LindemannNichole Tracyand Sara #2. I call her Sara #2 because I met her all the way back in 2009, at the second Awesome show I ever attended, and anchored by our mutual adoration of the band we have maintained friendly relations since that day. Sara told me she’s now married, with a child, and that the only reason she was able to attend the show was that her husband agreed to stay home and watch the kid. Marriage and children: two paths I’m glad I’ve never been tempted to wander down.

I’ve got a triple-bill of movie reviews for you this month. Like a nerdy fan-boy, I saw Avengers: Endgame the day after it opened, and though the theater was packed there were still plenty of wheelchair spots open. SPOILERS: On the whole, I’ve been pretty satisfied with the Marvel movies and have found them well worth the time and devotion. Perhaps due to my brain injury, I am one of the least emotional people you will ever meet. Much of the buzz I heard about Endgame before I saw it was that the ending left everybody in tears. Tony Stark dies at the end, and Captain America goes back in time to return the Infinity Stones, then decides to stay in the past, so we see him returning to the Avengers as an old man. There were some silly details that made it into the final cut due to what I can only assume is a lack of editorial integrity, but overall it was a fun turning of the page into the next chapter of the Marvel Comic Universe. And no, I didn’t shed a single tear.

Growing up, I was fed a steady diet of super-violent ’80s action flicks, so I developed an early immunity to seeing people getting beaten up and shot to smithereens on the big screen. In this sense, John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum felt nostalgic, its hyper-violence turned up to 10. All that was fun and fine, but I think by far the most endearing and enduring aspect of the film was the rich mythos it invented. The movie has the fun premise that there is a hit-man underworld that loosely mirrors the Sicilian mafia, with its own heroes, myths, and rules of engagement. Through a richly detailed explication of this alternative culture, the film took the viewer on a journey navigating the tangled infrastructure of alliances broken, stitched back together with the flimsiest of fibers, and abandoned for a new understanding of the world and one’s place in it. The hit-man culture is divided into a class system of “High Table” moneyed power-brokers and “Low Table” hit men (and women) who do all the grunt work and get business done. The end of the movie finds our hero, Mr. Wick (Keanu Reeves), and his FalstaffThe Bowery King(Laurence Fishburne), planting the seeds of an uprising that makes my crusty old anarchist’s mouth water in anticipation of Chapter 4.

As I’m fond of saying, we all have a lot to be thankful for, and my friend Reggie Groff‘s latest film, Brothers, really shows just how true this sentiment is. Brothers follows the Norton family as they navigate the struggles and victories of Mike, a son who has severe muscular dystrophy, and of his late brother, J.T. Mike was diagnosed at a young age, but he and J.T. together defied Mike’s condition and led life at 110-percent capacity. J.T. was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late teens, and after struggling with the demons for five years, he committed suicide in 2016. Mike and his parents, Terry and Suzan, find that it pays to be stubborn when life throws bricks at you, and that with the right attitude, odds can be defied and acceptance can be found. None of us can get through life alone, so it’s important to have a foundation of people whom you love and are loved by.

Make inquiry your source and happiness your strength. #GIVEANDTAKE

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