Random Shots: Stranger Than Cinema

Against the Current, No. 87, July/August 2000

R.F. Kampfer

LOOKING AT THE Elión Gonzalez case, how many people remember “Popi,” a 1969 movie starring Alan Arkin as a poor Puerto Rican janitor who tries to put his kids on Easy Street by passing them off as Cuban flotsam?

If “Battlefield Earth” loses a bundle, the Scientologists will probably call it an attack on religion. That didn’t help the Moonies when “MacArthur” bombed.

How many times have we seen an action movie where the hero belts on a whole arsenal of weapons in preparation for that final shootout? Don’t you wish, just once, that Stallone or Schwarzenegger would topple over backwards from the weight?

Probing Questions

THE NATIONAL RIFLE Association is planning to open up a theme restaurant in Times Square. The Bernie Goetz Grille?

Does sun-block contribute to global warming by reflecting all that ultra-violet into the atmosphere?

As critical as Junior Hoffa is of the regime in China, does anybody doubt that he’d enjoy imposing something similar on the Teamsters Union?

A new drug test can allegedly detect THC residue in the hair several weeks after marijuana has been smoked. Might this account for the popularity of shaved heads on young people these days?

Eccentric Behavior

IF YOU WANT to understand the WTO, think of a pack of sharks ganging up on a whale. Even though they are always ready to take a bite out of each other, that doesn’t do the whale any good.

Since 1939, the official flower of the Bronx has been the Sumatran Corpse Flower, or Devil’s Tongue. One of the world’s largest flowers, it only blooms once every thirty years, and smells like rotting flesh. There must be a story behind that. The borough president wants to switch over to the day lily. How ordinary.

One good thing about arthritis is you don’t have to worry about doing any Cossack dances if you drink too much at a wedding.

Strangely enough, the Van Gogh exhibit in Detroit never mentioned the theory that heavy-metal poisoning, from the toxic pigments he used, may have been responsible for his eccentric behavior. The ear-shaped refrigerator magnets were nice, though.

Kampfer’s fellow workers reacted in two gender-based ways to pictures of his new grand-daughter: The women all said “Ooo! What a cute baby! I want one!” The men all said “Getting old, aren’t ya?”

Those Were the Days

TAIWAN COULD HAVE had its independence back in the 1950s, if Chiang Kai-Shek had been willing to give up his fantasy about being the rightful ruler of all China.

Never mind child safety seats in cars, some of us remember when it was a special treat to be allowed to ride standing on the running-board.

One suspects that toddlers got housebroken at a younger age back when it was standard practice to share the bed with siblings, who would beat you up if you had an accident.

All my life, no matter what went wrong, some well-meaning comforter was sure to say: “It’s not so bad as long as you got your health.” It was annoying back then, and now it’s even more annoying to find out they were right.

Just when the country is on gridlock over the title to Elión, we get a major TV mini-series about King Solomon. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Then again, there’s always cloning.

ATC 87, July-August 2000