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Fear and Loathing in North Chicago

Sun, Apr 01, 2001 11:42PM -0600

I feel as if lifetimes have lapsed. My body has perhaps adapted to its new caffeine free state, a condition which I will probably rectify in due time. I am starting to fret about the condition of my finances again and am unsure as to how I should handle it. A few hundred dollars will make but a scant difference on my quarter of a million educational debt, and yet my superego has been well programmed to sound the alarms at this kind of piddling expense. This is the kind of thing that drives people to drinking.

But my brother and my sister are back in their respective abodes safe and sound (as well as anybody can be in our mad and unpredictable world, where death lurks in every corner thanks to the Second Amendment) and it's kind of funny how I worry about them--I wonder if there will ever be a time when I won't. But it's interesting the instincts that having them over have awakened in me. It's hard to start thinking about just myself again, hard to just concentrate on me, me, me, as these times and our generation demands.

I have just gone through film #4 in my Benicio del Toro marathon. On Wednesday, I watched "Traffic" for the second time (and if you think "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was robbed of an Oscar--which seems a mildly ridiculous idea to me--then you have obviously not watched "Traffic" ) and it's pretty awesome the little things you catch, and I felt like an idiot when I finally realized that Salma Hayek was in the movie.

On Friday, I bought "The Way of the Gun" on VHS because it was only a dollar more than renting it. If you are looking for a film comparable to "The Usual Suspects" , then you will be sorely disappointed, but then again, this is a very different kind of movie. See, the crux of the problem is that Ryan Philippe in Way has the role that Kevin Spacey had in Usual (i.e., the narrator) and that mismatch basically dooms the film if you have untoward expectations.

But Benicio del Toro is his usual bad-ass self (He'll flip you. He'll flip you for real.) and I thought it was pretty cool to contrast him with James Caan (especially since I have just watched "The Godfather" ) The beginning was excellent with regards to the lines, at least. (Do you like to f-ck baby heads? I've never had sex with a dead person.) I especially like the part where they made Juliette Lewis cry with an explanation of how to play Hearts (The only thing of value are hearts. If you have one, throw it away.) Maybe it's just me and my siblings though. We were laughing at the gory parts that we're pretty sure normal people wouldn't laugh at.

Yesterday, my sister bought "The Usual Suspects" --there's not much more that needs to be said--this is an excellent movie if you didn't know that already.

And finally, today, I rented "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and perhaps because of the thoughts that have been floating through my head, it clicked really well. All the weird acid trips aside, it was a pretty interesting post mortem of the American Dream. I'm thirty years too late to resuscitate it, and it's been rotting away all this time, leaving quite a foul stench. No wonder I always feel so nauseated. But that's that. What do we have to replace it with? Because of the recent press coverage of Subcommandante Marcos' march to Mexico City, I also read a little bit of the Zapatista's manifesto against neoliberalism, which is a term that, on many levels, seems interchangeable with the American Dream. A few insights into the educational system by various insiders from elementary level to university level juxtaposed by the recent spate of school shootings have led me to suspect the extent of the grave corruption flowing through our society, that all they're interested in is churning out more cogs for the wheels of capitalism and that freedom of choice is becoming increasingly limited to mere consumer choice (and we don't even really have that--think Microsoft or the disastrous deregulation of the power grid). But I feel completely paralyzed as this wave of raw sewage comes forth to wash me away. This is the sort of thing that gets people started on drugs. As my friend Bram used to say: It's all fucked up.

I've found that insight is always depressing. The problem is that I can't convince myself that it's better not to know. So I'm always caught in this existential limbo. For me, ignorance has never been bliss, but I usually find out about things way to late for me to change the course of events. Oh well.

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