Sunday, March 7, 2010

Aimless Reading: The G's, Part 2.4 (Geoffrey Gatza)

Gatza, Geoffrey
Not So Fast Robespierre

Given to me by the author. Inscribed.

Last night I stayed up late watching Saturday NIght Fever for about the tenth time. I love that movie, partly because I love the feel of that kind of film from seventies, without much plot or story, but with tons feeling. I also like that It deals with an ethnic family without making them feel cute or cliched and that it deals with growing up and sex and violence and youthful dreams and fantasies and insecurities in ways that feel true to the characters and to the story and to life.

Plus, the music is, in a word, awesome!

I think I saw the SNF film in the PG version that was shown in theaters. I don't recall if I saw it around its release or in the years following -- I was only 8 when it came out, so it must have been later.

Part of my pleasure, I think, in watching it SNF is the memories it evokes. Having been born in 1968, I am a child of seventies, even if I was a teen of the eighties.

I remember I had two of the same posters as Tony -- the Farrah Fawcett poster and the Bruce Lee poster. My first album was "Showcase," by the Sylvers, and my second was "Destroyer," by Kiss. I went through I brief Kiss phase, but I think I liked them mostly because my friends did. Then the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever came along and for at least a year, that was it. I didn't care about anything else. I think I was in fourth grade when it was released. I was in Ms. McGuiness' fourth grade class at Flint Hill Elementary school in Vienna, VA.

I remember listening obsessively to Casey Kasem's Top 40 Countdown show on Saturday mornings. I was usually being driven to or from a soccer game when I got to listen to it. "Stayin' Alive," my favorite song from SNF, then and now, quickly went to number one and seemed to stay there forever. For whatever reason, it was really important to me that my favorite song was number one and that it stayed there and I remember feeling very sad when it got knocked out of the number one spot, most likely by another Bee Gees song from the soundtrack.

I remember going to White Castle when we visited my cousins in Bay Ridge Brooklyn and thinking how cool it was to eat what they ate in SNF, only to discover that WC burgers are about the most disgusting burgers ever made.

I remember going to Cannonball Park in Bay Ridge and seeing the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and remembering the scene where the kid falls off the bridge in SNF.

I remember pestering my father to buy me the recording, but he refused, saying it was too expensive. He was a cheap bastard! I became a radio addict at that point. I owned a small clock radio that I would take to bed with me at night. I would crawl under the covers and listen to music at a barely audible level. Months passed, I pleaded with my father to buy me the record. He would not.

Then I got sick. I couldn't go to school for a couple of weeks. This was a real bummer because in my class we had been learning all the dance steps from SNF, and I was the best dancer! My teacher used to put me up front to show everyone how to make the moves. I was VERY proud. And then I got sick -- I think I might even have had to miss the SNF dance contest or something. I gained one important thing from my illness, however -- sympathy. My father finally broke down and bought me the album. I was thrilled.

It was a foldout double album with lyrics and pictures and I can remember the RSO label on the disc with the little red cow or whatever it was. Oddly, owning the album marked the beginning of the end of my Bee Gees obsession. I listened to all four sides obsessively for a while, only to discover that there were some songs I liked and others that I didn't. I think I was developing tastes! Plus, it seemed that every song on the album, whether I liked it or not, was destined to become a number one hit, which meant it was also destined for infinite airplay. I remember growing tired of the Bee Gees and of the SNF craze that swept the country.

Inevitably, perhaps, I bought a "Death Before Disco" t-shirt, which I alternated wearing with my Star Wars t-shirt (I think they came out around the same time -- it was definitely the same year).

By fifth grade I began to discover other things like Pink Floyd and Lynyrd Skynyrd and Led Zeppelin and Bad Company and Aerosmith and suddenly disco was dead and it was the sixth grade dance and we were trying to figure out how to dance to Stairway to Heaven -- what were you supposed to do when they started playing fast?

from Not So Fast, Roberspierre

Talking Leaves

Holy fuck
You're still here


No comments: