Monday, January 18, 2010


When Diner came out in 1982, it immediately jumped towards the top of my favorite movie list. Watching it for the first time in decades last week, a few things came to mind.

First, I was struck by how the opening of Reservoir Dogs, is a ripoff (or homage) of the Diner repartee of the Baltimore six. While the dissection of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" in Dogs
seemed shocking upon first viewing, it's just a filthier version of the friends of '59 discussing the relatives merits of Sinatra v. Mathis.

Second, there is a large percentage of the cast that went to SUNY. Steve Guttenberg (Eddie) went to Albany; Paul Reiser (Modell) is a fellow alum of Binghamton. Not bad. Granted, Guttenberg's career went down the shitter, and Reiser has long been forgotten post - Mad About the Jew (wait, that's Mad About You). Still, I felt great local pride.

Third, there's The Scene, the one part of the movie that hit me down to my soul then, and now. Can you guess? It's when Daniel Stern's character "Shrevie" is reclassifying his albums. You know that's my bailiwick. Exasperated, he yells for wife Beth to come in, then berates her for putting his James Brown LPs in rock and roll and for not knowing who Charlie Parker is. Then, he forces her to quiz him on the B-sides of his 45's. She is lost, not grasping how anyone could care about such trivialities. He, in turn, is disgusted that she doesn't get how important all that minutiae is to him.

When everyone I knew saw that, and I mean everyone, they came back to me gleeful. "Did you see Diner? That was you!" And I relished it, I did. It all made sense to me and having someone close not share my obsessions seemed like a character flaw - of them, not me. It was a scene I was proud to be associated with.

Now, not so much. Sure, I still adhere to strict rules of categorization and, like "Shrevie," alphabetical and chronological are the only ways to go. But with age comes the knowledge that the person closest to you doesn't have to be a part of every single aspect of your life. For years I wanted K. to look through all my albums. She said when we met, and still repeats it now, that my copy of Black Market Clash sealed the deal for her. I was so proud of my record collection. It was an integral part of who I was, my children.

Then I had real kids, human, not vinyl, and the records, though still a looming presence in my life, became less crucial to the "who" of me. And when I watch "Shrevie" yell at Beth, it makes me really sad, because, I know I shared that bit of meanness. Watching some old home movies yesterday only confirmed the impatience and curtness of the old me. Now I look back at the person who connected closely to Diner and I'm not pleased.

But my records are in order.

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