20 August 2006

Snakes Over Astoria

Would I have rushed out to see Snakes On A Plane the first weekend - or at all - if it hadn't been the focal point of Oliver's birthday celebration? Probably not, but I'm glad I did. Even still, I wasn't expecting to see it twice, especially not in the same day, but that too was part of the program, which I will crudely attempt to summarize as: go to afternoon showing of SoaP and memorize all the dumb/smart bits, figure out when to throw plastic snakes and planes into the air and when to shout and cheer, then go to the Astoria Beer Garden to get drunk, then return to the cinema for the late night showing during which we would make obnoxious asses of ourselves as apparently is being done all over the country in what is either a stunning, grass-roots phenomenon or one of the most clever and insidious bits of media manipulation in our times. Probably both, come to think of it.

Since I don't drink, I wasn't expecting to enjoy the Beer Garden all that much, and had no intention at all of going along for the late night repeat visit to the cinema. I figured I hang out for an hour or two, then make a graceful (well, that part's unlikely, knowing me) exit and head into the city or back home. And since it started raining shortly after we got to the Beer Garden, things looked even less promising, even though we (my half of the table, anyway) was safely sequestered under a tarp which dripped water onto the luckless other side. Rain or not, the place was packed with enthusiastic revelers, including one braying and shrieking female just behind us who could barely contain her enthusiasm, especially when the cover band launched into "I Want You To Want Me," prompting a Footloose-style frenzy on the dance floor, something which apparently almost never happens at the Beer Garden.

The quality of both the music and the dancing diminished as the evening went on, prompting an increasingly sozzled Chris A to grumble, "White people can't dance." "Quit being racist," I demanded, to which he responded, "How is that racist?" he said, "Just look at those people."

True, there were some egregious examples of the terpsichorean arts being exhibited by the 99% white crowd, but I still maintained he was being racist, no matter how white he himself is. "Okay, what if I say, 'Black people can't go to college'?" There were several sharp intakes of breath in the vicinity, and a bit of head-swiveling to see if I'd inadvertently offended anyone, but Chris, sporting fellow that he is, was willing to concede that I had a point.

Chris, like myself, was not planning on going to the late-night showing of SoaP, but as the evening wore on, there seemed less and less reason not to (apart from the $10.50 ticket price, of course). I don't know what finally persuaded him, but in my own case, I didn't want to miss the excitement when a wildly enthusiastic Chadd Derkins let loose with the bagful of plastic snakes he (okay, a number of us) had been playing with all afternoon to the delight and/or consternation of the crowd around us.

It turned out to be pretty low-key after all; the theater wasn't as crowded as we'd anticipated, and our nearest neighbors didn't look all that into the burlesque or Rocky Horror elements we'd planned. I was especially bemused by the Hispanic family next to me, who'd brought not only their two year-old daughter, but a nursing infant with them. One of the afternoon's arguments had been over whether the filmmakers had wussed out by not having the on-screen baby bitten or eaten by the giant anaconda, but considering the six or nine month old child at my elbow - who actually sat up, watched, and seemed to enjoy much of the film - it didn't seem like a good argument to revisit.

Anyway, to summarize: 10 hours, $21 on two theater admissions, $0 spent at the Beer Garden, and six separate train rides (G, 7, N x2 each) to get from Brooklyn to Queens and back again, all add up to a successful outing and suitable celebration of Oliver's birthday, even if I did just find out by reading his blog that the birthday was almost a month ago instead of the day before yesterday as I'd thought. Now I don't feel nearly so bad about not bringing his ass a present.


Chris A. said...

I'd like to think that there was some facetiousness in my insistence that white people can't dance. (That is, poking fun at the stereotype, but also acknowledging its partial truth.) That's not something I would say sober.

Larry Livermore said...

Still, facetious or not, drunk or sober, you wouldn't like people going around saying things like, "Black people can't stay out of jail," even if they were "poking fun at the stereotype, but also acknowledging its partial truth." Would you?

Pat said...

"That's not something I would say sober."

Good excuse, Mel!