Get Off My Lawn You Goddamn Kids!

The following is a rebuttal to my last post “Hollywood, the bunk movie dealers.” These are not my words and have not been edited in anyway (except for this intro). if you would like to join the discussion comment below. –Matt
By Stephen Wolthuis

Matt and I have spent hours, and I mean HOURS, discussing every imaginable topic, mostly while drinking of course. What I love most is that we don’t argue, nor do we just agree with each other for the sake of it, we discuss; it’s quite nice to be honest. So, when he sent me a link to his newest article, I happily set about reading it, expecting to agree with most and disagree with parts, but generally enjoying it. However, this was different. While I still enjoyed reading it, I found myself wholeheartedly disagreeing. I messaged him requesting the opportunity for a rebuttal to which he more than enthusiastically agreed to post. So here it is. Let the discussion commence!
Matt and I are close in age, about a year apart, so we grew up with the same cultural touchstones; Star Wars, Transformers, Goonies, Saturday morning cartoons, Reaganomics, etc. I am an unabashed nostalgia junky; I wear it on my sleeve and make no apologies. But nostalgia can be dangerous, it can cut you off from truly great things right in front of you and, even worse, it can create a belief that there existed this great time when all was perfect (MAGA anyone?). So, when Matt stated that 1999 was the last year movies were good, I shook my head and thought “nostalgia just took another one”.
I love the movies I grew up with! I make my daughter watch Goonies. I still think fondly of spending an entire summer in my high school years watching every classic I could get my hands on. Spielberg, Zemeckis, and Lucas defined my childhood and Kubrick, Scorsese, and Coppola brought me into adulthood. Most importantly, I remember the great year of movies from 1999. I also remember, as Matt pointed out, how it also featured the steaming pile of garbage that was the Phantom Menace (I saw it 9 times, convinced it would magically become great….it didn’t). But where Matt and I diverge is in the twenty years since.
Let go back to 2010. Christopher Nolan had come become a big name through his clever work on Memento and his fantastic take on comic book movies with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. But in 2010 he headed back to original works with Inception. I still remember seeing it for the first time. I was absolutely blown away with the concept of the movie. Visually dazzling, a story that grabs you, and writing that pops (“you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling”). I hadn’t left a theater that thrilled since I was a preteen staring at the screen while velociraptors chased children around a kitchen in Jurassic Park. And the soundtrack, I encourage everyone to listen to Hans Zimmer’s “Time”. I agree with Matt on the power of the music of movies; John Williams is always my number one played artist on Spotify. Inception became a huge financial and critical success; and it holds up great nearly ten years on.
I want to talk about another film, dramatically different but no less incredible. Richard Linklater spend twelve years making Boyhood. He systematically filmed briefly each year to capture the coming of age story of Mason. This movie left me a bit breathless when I finished. As my wife likes to say, “it gave me all the feels”. It’s easy enough to try a new “trick” in filmmaking, but Linklater created a movie that would not have been the same without the use of the same actor. I left looking back on so many moments from growing up that I was almost afraid to watch it again. The soundtrack too should be mentioned, featuring great tracks from Wilco, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys.
I bring these two movies up for a reason, they are originals works that are distinctly modern and I believe both will stand the test of time. There are countless others I could mention, from Lord of the Rings or the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to The Departed or John Wick. In the same hand I could mention that every E.T. has a Mac and Me, or every The Deerhunter has Heaven’s Gate. When we dismiss an entire two decades outright and anything going forward, we miss the opportunity to truly see the great work out there or allow ourselves to simply enjoy what’s in front of us. Is the market overly diluted? Absolutely! Is there an emphasis on rehashing the same old crap? Yep! But greatness is sitting write in front of us, and it isn’t hard to find. I refuse to be the guy screaming at kids to get off my lawn, and instead give the new stuff a try……. but do actually stay off my goddamn lawn!


Cops Live!

As a kid I could not figure out why people liked to watch the show Cops. This was the 1980s and the crack epidemic was in full swing with police kicking in doors and raiding homes left and right. I remember riding my big wheel down the sidewalk and watching a squad car pull up to a house a few doors down. The officer stepped out of the car and casually walked up to the house. It was a white house with black trim, the back yard was completely fenced in and there was a large ditch where there was once a swimming pool. A few seconds later there was the sound of broken glass and the cop was running back to his car with blood running down his forearm. I continued sitting there and watching.
The officer radioed for back up and more cars pulled up, the boxy sedans with the lights sailing above the roof on a rack. Two officers raced toward the house and kicked the door in while the injured officer wrapped his arm to stop the bleeding. A few minutes later the two police officers emerged from the house with a man in handcuffs. EMS pulled up and checked out the injured man’s arm.
The police officer had a warrant and was trying to bring the man in, who slammed the door in the cop’s face. A window broke and glass sliced into the officer’s arm as he tried to force himself into the house. Everything went downhill from there for both of them.
This was far from the first or the last time I would watch the police running around the neighborhood in the live version of Cops. Seeing them work was fine until you ended up being the man on the other side of the camera.
In the mid-90s, when the internet went online and people were trying to figure out what the heck this thing was, the FBI joined the ranks of those who patrolled the streets in the Vine neighborhood. Two streets down from where I grew up on McCourtie Street the biggest live event took place on Axtell Street. This was not long after Ruby Ridge and the Waco Compound went up in flames.
The BMX style bike was my main transportation at the time and a small group of us would ride through the neighborhood trying to find something to do with little success. When I watch shows like Stranger Things and they try to make the 80s look like some sort of exciting time to be a child, let’s be real it was boring as hell. But wait, down the street something exciting was happening. A squad car pulled up and the officer took a roll of yellow caution tape out blocking off the entire end of the street. We rode down, kept our distance and on the opposite end of the block there was the SWAT van, painted in black and it looked like an old delivery truck for a bakery. This was long before police departments would be handed armored Humvees and Mraps to patrol the streets to protect us from zombie deer and rabid crackheads.
The local news channel showed up with the hot girl from TV stepping out of the car with our full attention. Her dress suit was one pastel color that passed as attractive for the 90s and her hair was stiff like a Miss Universe beauty contestant. The camera man set up and they waited for some kind of news, we all did.
People think that police stand offs and hostage situations are exciting stuff. When Hollywood crams everything into a 90-minute, high budget low quality film it looks like a thrill ride. We were bored again except we had company. That night on the news we learned that the FBI had gone to a house on Axtell street investigating some pictures that were found on the internet. With this new toy called the World Wide Web there was a handful of people who would use this tool in the worst ways possible. The man at the house was divorced and had joint custody of his daughter who was 3-4 years old. Her mother had been informed by friends that pictures of the daughter had shown up online that were “inappropriate” to say the least. The FBI had to prove that the pictures were of the daughter and that the father had taken them. Knocking on the door and identifying themselves the man quickly closed the door and barracked himself in the house with his daughter. The standoff went on for three days and during that time we watched the SWAT team members sneaking around the house trying to get a view inside. They wore old Vietnam ear camouflage and crappy flack vest that couldn’t stop a paintball. Covered in dark green, brown and black they blended in with the bright red and yellow houses they were surrounded by. They could have been covered in glitter and dress like Elton John and be more inconspicuous than that uniform. They might have taken the term ‘urban jungle’ too seriously.
On the third day the man surrendered and police took him into custody. The daughter was sent to live with her mother and the man was later released on bond. I know, I was surprised too, and to this day I think there was more to it. A few weeks after the standoff the man went to the Knight’s Inn, a shady hotel that rented rooms by the hour for prostitutes and crack heads. In the room he put a shotgun in his mouth and redecorated the ceiling with brain and skull matter. For a few minutes people wondered how he was able to get his hands on a gun but nobody cared enough to look into it. No trial, people saved money and time on court cost, the world was a safer place after that.
My parents used to own rental property in the Vine neighborhood, a thankless job where people didn’t give a shit and would do whatever the hell they wanted only to move out later after they trashed the place. There was no point in suing because these people didn’t have money anyway. One of these tenants was a single mom with a daughter who went to the same school I did. St Monica’s, also referred to as St Monkey’s Penetentery to it’s inmates, was an expensive Catholic Prep school. The woman’s brother was also in the national guard in the same unit as my step-dad. She worked for a deli and had a nice car, she seemed to be doing well for herself.
A few weeks after she moved in to the apartment next door to our house the police pulled up in that famous fashion, lights blaring, yelling and screaming as they climbed the back stairs kicking the door in. The mom had sold crack cocaine to an undercover officer and she was going to jail. At the time, if a landlord had three arrest on a property for drug distribution their house would be confiscated by the city. Her eviction notice was sent the next day.
A few days later, after learning everything from the police, my mom received a phone call. A man was on the other end telling her they should not have fucked with the woman next door and that her son, me, would disappear. She screamed back “don’t you threaten my son!” and the phone hung up. Of course, the police could do nothing. It was obvious it was the brother of the woman but they could do nothing about it. My mom started taking me to school and picking me up. The school was told what had happened and since they never cared about anything but their perfect image the school did nothing different during that time.
A week after the phone call I was in the lobby of the school waiting for my mom to show up. There was the long row of cars out back, the front of the school was reserved for the school buses and rich kids. In the back, through the crowd of kids flooding out, I saw her car. The black Lexus with gold trim and tinted windows. I tried to tell the office staff but they had no interest in what I was saying. The car disappeared and a few minutes later my mom’s car appeared. I rushed into it and told my mom what I had seen.
“Did you tell the office?”
“Yes, they wouldn’t listen.”
The next day my mom called the school and asked if the woman’s daughter still went to the school. The daughter had been pulled out the day after the arrest and she had no business on the school property. They also didn’t believe I had seen the car. That was the last time I had seen the car. There were no more phone calls. I don’t know what happened to the woman or her daughter. I can tell you it was super weird to be the desired target for a kidnapping, the fat white trash kid at a prep school. I wasn’t the one who sold crack to a cop.
Dear Drug dealers,
In the future, please leave my ass out of your bullshit.
Poor fat ass white mofo from the hood