A Midnight Movie Memory By Scott Wallace Brown. I tend to think of my five years in Fayetteville, North Carolina as having been spent in a complete cultural cesspool...
I tend to think of my five years in Fayetteville, North Carolina as having been spent in a complete cultural cesspool. But upon reflection, just because I couldn’t buy the Sex Pistols LP at my local mall record store at age 16 (there were no indie record stores that I knew of in that town) doesn’t mean that all was lost. It was the late 1970s, after all. And I should consider myself lucky to have lived close enough to a drive-in that I could hear the soundtracks from the films as I was going to sleep at night. (I saw Star Wars with the family on its first re-release at the same drive-in.) Occasionally I would sneak out of the house to look over the hill, see the film, and hear the sound from one hundred tiny tinny speakers. Seeing a brief segment of Rock ‘N’ Roll High School in this manner warped me forever.
My first marijuana experience was also right down the street from my house. My friends Mark A and Mark B dropped by the house one night in 1979. My parents weren’t savvy enough to know that both Marks were already stoned.
Mark A loudly said, "Yeah, we wanted to know if Scott could come see Acropolis Now with us?"
Mark B said in a quiet stoned giggle, "No, man, it’s Apolcalyps Now "!
For some reason my parents let me go with them.
Mark B had one of those late ’60s cars that had a push-button transmission on the dashboard. And the transmission kept fucking up. Well, the fact that the driver was bombed out of his mind could have been a mitigating factor as well.
We parked not far from my house, and the Marks "turned me on", as they say. Then we drove (barely) to the nearby King Theater and saw a midnight screening of Apolcalyps Now. To this day I’m not sure how much of the experience was colored by the pot, and how much was just the weirdness of the film. And after seeing it again at a midnight show in the early ’90s in Raleigh (not to mention seeing Redux at the Senator in Baltimore in 2001), I’m still unable to determine which was which.
A couple of Fayetteville theaters showed rock ‘n’ roll movies at midnight on weekends in the late ’70s. I was lucky enough to see things like Magical Mystery Tour, Let It Be, The Kids Are AlRight, and Quadrophenia on the big screen at midnight in the late 1970s, while telling my parents that I was spending the night at Mark A’s house on Fort Bragg (Mark B lived only two blocks away from me, so the lie was easier to perpetrate if we were allegedly twenty minutes away at Fort Bragg). We were usually impaired by pot and/or beer, of course. Miraculously, we got home safely each night, although the theaters were not far from Mark B’s house.
Watching Let It Be, the eternal Ringo debate took place:
"Man, he’s a shitty drummer!"
"What do ya mean? You couldn’t play drums that good!"
"Well, no, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a shitty drummer!"
(Sounds like the birth process of most of yer rock critics.)
I passed on going to see The Song Remains The Same, although Mark A & Mark B went to see it without me.
Mark B’s sister was a late ’70s-style slut, and just after I had broken up with Donna (my first official girlfriend), she told me about a pink cashmere sweater she had just purchased. The next day she came over to the house (on the pretense of visiting my sister) wearing that sweater. "I wore this just for you," she said. "Feel it!"
I felt it. But I was so lovelorn, and consequently so dense, that I didn’t pick up on the hint. Mark B’s sister hung around all afternoon, on the pretense of visiting my sister, while I sat in the garage crying over Donna. Eventually she left.
When Donna and I ended up reuniting that fall, she said, "I wouldn’t have minded if you’d gone out with Mark B’s sister in the meantime." She informed me that she’d told his sister that I was "really good" at, um, certain activities. Which explains a lot.
Ah, youth. Ah, 1970s. Ah, midnight movies...
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