The newest issue of Garage Magazine is out with my column, Drive, She Said reveling in the wonders of mental breakdowns in, yes, automobiles (or as Two-Lane James Taylor would say, auto-MO-beels). Thanks to my photographer, the great Estevan Oriol for his especially bad-ass picture through the windshield of my Torino and of course, Brian Bounds, Dan Stoner and Jesse James. Make sure to buy a copy at your local newsstand or at any 7-11 or Borders.
Here's a sample...
Ever lost your mind in a car? Like really lost your head, a la The Bad and the Beautiful Lana Turner sobbing hysterically? Or a crazed, fashion-Diana Ross-death-obsessed Anthony Perkins in Mahogany? Or, love of my life, Warren Oates' bloody brilliant nervous breakdown in Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (in addition to, as I have discussed innumerable times, Two-Lane Blacktop)?
I have. Which turned me towards (of course) movies. Since driving can feel so cinematic in real life, it's no surprise that the invented world of movies often express, explicate and exalt motor-psycho moments so perfectly. Here's just one example, one of my favorite sports pictures, one of Burt Reynolds greatest and a perfect, gritty Robert Aldrich movie -- The Longest Yard.
Robert Aldrich’s The Longest Yard contains one of cinema’s greatest opening sequences of supreme speed demon self destruction. Here’s how it goes: Washed up pro football player Paul "Wrecking" Crewe (Burt Reynolds) who was banished from the sport for point shaving, staggers out of bed with a woman who's clearly (and very loudly) keeping him. As Crewe reaches for a drink, she storms out of the bedroom hollering at him for being a loser, how she paid for his new teeth -- essentially emasculating ol’ Burt (lady, don't do that). In a move that would never, ever happen in a film today, Crewe shoves her, and he shoves her hard, with the rage and bitterness of a man who's ego has been bruised one too many times. And then...he jumps into her fancy Citroen/Maserati SM.
Oh, this is so great. Speeding down the street, with drink in hand and Lynyrd Skynyrd tune blaring (no less -- anyone with a soul knows you can't drive slowly to Skynrd) and cops are in pursuit, Burt peels it. But does he care? Nope. So much so, that when he finally stops the madness, he doesn’t turn himself in; he simply kicks the car into a watery grave. But that's just the half of it. Waltzing into a bar for more drinks -- he then casually insults the dispatched officers (to the delight of both the bartender and the cop escaping his barbs) and finally, slugs the fuzz. A wonderfully hilarious, transgressive scene with Reynolds at the top of his dangerous cinematic charms, all this happens before the opening credits come to an end. God, the '70s could be so fucking great.
Please pick up the magazine to read my entire ode to auto-insanity. For now, here's Burt blazing.