I had a chance to finally see The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on a big screen this week so I took it. College audience, pretty good turnout. Writ large, everything great about the movie (Eli Wallach’s magnificent, best-ever Falstaff, Eastwood and Van Cleef’s eyes, Morricone’s music, the more than occasionally striking visuals) got even greater and everything less-than-great about the movie (the leaps in logic–some people call them plot holes but that might be a tad ungenerous–the cruelty for the sake of a joke, or just for the sake of making the audience feel superior to anyone with whom an average person might identify) got even lesser.
Fun night, then. But nothing matched walking out and hearing a group of college-dorm males (do they ever change?) warmly discussing something one of them had read to the effect that Blonde on Blonde was Bob Dylan’s first attempt to either imitate himself or imitate all the other people who were already imitating him.
“So,” one of them said. “Does that mean it’s the greatest Dylan album, or the just the greatest album by a Dylan imitator?”
I walked on by. It took all my willpower not to start singing this…
…just to see if they would laugh.
But, just as I was about to take the leap, one of them started whistling this…
And I laughed instead.
I’ve walked through that space many times. It’s part of the normal time-space continuum, so I know I wasn’t being transported back to the late sixties. It was just another reminder of how little of what has happened in between matters. Twenty year old kids are still taking about 1966 as though it were yesterday….or today.
Because what would they talk about if they talked about what happened since they were born into the Frozen Silence?
Not anything they could be sure the rest of the group would be on board with….or even know about.
They’re left with the only present any of us have, absent a culture.
It’s what used to be called the past.
We’ll know we’ve moved on when it can be called that once more.
Meantime, we still have our memories, even if we have to borrow them from a time before we were born.