Saturday, May 15, 2010


Just as Peter Lorre did in M, I whistled In the Hall of the Mountain Kings as I strode down 52nd Street. Of course Hans Beckert wasn't in New York. But that was no matter. I learned all about the background of that musical piece from the Criterion Collection DVD of the previously mentioned Fritz Lang classic. What you can learn when you listen to Criterion commentaries!

As I continued on my journey, I had to step around a lot of glass removed from store windows, but hey, this was the Big Apple and there was always change and progress afoot. The geometry of the city impressed me beyond words. Despite its diversity, there was a rigidity of the pattern of the landscape that was as predictable as the rising and setting of the sun.

I almost tripped over the front step of the building when I at long last had reached my destination. I pumped my fist as I ran triumphantly inside on my way to the offices of The Criterion Collection. Was I really here?

There wasn’t a soul in the lobby, so I quickly slipped into an empty elevator and took a trip to the floor where Criterion lived. The greatest distributor of the greatest movies ever made. Did I forget to say WOW? As I reached the third floor and began moving down the hall, I still didn’t see anyone. Was this a holiday? I would have hated to come all the way from Chickasaw, Alabama for nothing. It was then that I almost ran smack dab into the big glass door that offered the one word that said it all: Criterion. Did it even need to say anymore?

I was relieved to see the door was open, but an empty reception desk stood before me. Strange, yes. But what an opportunity! I could sneak into the back! I could actually go into the inner sanctum. The bowels of Criterion. This was movie dork heaven! I could always say I was just looking for someone if security caught me. It was worth the risk. Without hesitation, I went through a surprisingly unlocked door and I was in a back hallway. I heard the sound of a film projector; at least I thought that was what it was. I noticed a stack of VHS tapes outside the room. I guessed these were the next to be converted to DVD and readied for distribution. I shouldn’t mess with them, should I? Are you kidding? Curiosity got the best of me as I looked at the titles, The Fountainhead, Red Dawn, Bedtime for Bonzo. These weren’t very Criterion-like titles, but before I could think on it further I heard a voice from a room a couple of doors down.

I really should go now. But when would I ever get the chance to be where I was now? I snuck up next to the door and listened.

“This is Henri DeGaulle, Jacques Tati scholar and I will be providing commentary for Tati’s 1967 film Play Time.”

“Now that’s a Criterion-like title,” I whispered.

I listened in on DeGaulles’s commentary.
“What Tati is trying to say is that when you look past the depersonalization of the city, what you get is a bloated and oppressive government that tries to run your life and cripples you with high taxes designed to hinder the achievers in society. These personal achievers get punished by having to cough up their hard earned income to provide healthcare for illegal immigrants and fund abortion clinics.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. What was he talking about? Play Time was about the dehumanization of modern society as seen thorough geometric shapes and the like. How we acclimate ourselves to the straight lines of society before eventually breaking into an individualistic curve. Maybe I didn’t have the interpretation exactly right, but Henri’s interpretation was utterly absurd!

Something told me I should get out of there as fast as I could, but pulled myself into the room as I heard Henri DeGaulle saying something about how Tati’s film advocated prayer in the public schools. Had this learned scholar really gone this far off the deep end? I noticed De Gaulle’s accent seemed a little off. Beside him was a half-drunken glass of red wine, a chunk of Roquefort cheese and a cigarette smoldering within a cigarette holder. It was perfect. A little too perfect.
I noticed his tiny black moustache as I approached him. He was also wearing a beret set slightly askew on his head. I drew closer and it was then I noticed the truth.

Once again I should have ran, but instinctively I pulled off his beret.

“You’re not Henri DeGaulle. You’re Fox commentator Glenn Beck!”

Beck spun around as he ripped off his fake moustache. He lunged for me, but luckily he tripped over his chalkboard before he could capture me. As I ran out of the room, he did manage to cut my left leg with one of his talons, which was painful, but didn’t cause me to slow down. He didn’t follow me, but pointed and let out a piercing squeal as I ran away. My leg hurt, but I had to continue.

Before I could reach the emergency exit, Two figures stood down from me. They too were recognizable. It was Fox demagogue Sean Hannity and Cable TV agitator Ann Coulter. They pointed in my direction and let out squeals of their own as they came at me. They both flashed an impressive set of vampire teeth, but I had no time to debate whether or not they were members of the undead. I spotted an open window and went out on the railing. It was three stories down, but realized this might be my only means of escape.

I shouted “Sic Semper Tyrannis” as I jumped out of the building. I realized it might not have been the appropriate thing to yell out, but I was improvising. I plummeted onto an awning, before rolling onto some garbage cans. My fall busted my elbow up pretty severely. Hannity and Coulter were looking down on me as I managed to get myself up. I felt a sharp sting on the back of my neck which I at first thought might be from a BB gun. But it wasn’t BB’s. It was tea bags. They were actually pelting me with tea bags! Damn. And these fanatics sure had great aim. And they really stung!

As I limped back down 52nd street, it was then that I noticed there wasn’t anyone else on the street. I didn’t pay attention as to what was going on around me on my way to Criterion because I was too excited. What I saw now were pods. Or were they spores? All lined up and ready to attack at any moment. Or maybe replication? I turned away from them and headed for what I thought was an open door, which led to a hotel. Every ounce of my flesh felt like it was burning as I crashed through the glass. Oops. Not an open door after all. Man, I wish I had noticed the glass was there before. I shook off the shards as I picked myself up and went to look for a place to hide, but all the cubicles…they all looked the same. I was disoriented. I made a run for a hiding place, but felt something trip me. I toppled hard and landed squarely and painfully on my hip. I looked up to see the culprit and noticed the shapely leg that tripped me belonged to none other than former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. She too began to squeal as she started to pelt me with teabags at point blank range. What is it with these people and their damn tea bags? I guess they were teabags anyway. The blood flowing over my eyes made it too difficult to tell.

I managed to back out of the building and hobbled to a side alley where I collapsed next to a dumpster. I couldn’t go on any longer. It was just a matter of time now. It was then that I heard the whir of a small hovering spacecraft of some kind approaching. Was this for real? Was this the end? After I wiped my eyes, I could make out that it was in the shape of a doughnut. No, it looked like the letter O. As the door to the craft opened, I saw a shining light behind the figure as he emerged from it. He was a tall, thin, brownish male with an engaging smile. Realization sunk in as he put his hand out to me.

“You’re the pres…the pres.” I was unable to get the words out.

“Come with me if you want to live,” he said as he reached out his hand to me.

I took it.



  1. There was a 50's anti-communism short in the which featured Maverick's Jack Kelly in a museum after a takeover of society by Communists. He goes to a museum and is shown the telephone which is said to have been invented by a Soviet. He looks at the curator angrily and says something to the effect of "That's a lie! The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell!"
    This story sprung largely from that indignation.