Mudlark No. 58 (2015)

Saturday Afternoon at The Midland Theatre in Newark, Ohio

Slouched in a theater seat and watching Bullitt for the third time, a look I get from an usher might best be described as granting a general amnesty and full pardon for my having shelled out only the one admission price. There’s the balcony with its blue and red curved seat backs. By a door to the upstairs men’s room a framed likeness of the Civil War drummer boy, Johnny Clem, whose baby-faced looks and sudden-dark hair remind me of a young Italian, then Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause. There’s that angels-in-the- architecture grand gesture of a ceiling, the wall of drapes of eloquently pleated purple. And there’s the screen framed in its filigree of gold and silver. The usher is accommodating me by simply not noticing—I’m on my third popcorn, third enormous Coca-Cola, second box of Milk Duds, when I realize I’m happy. Elated. In Ohio at fourteen you’re disappointed most of the time. So I want to tell Frank Bullitt just how it feels to be from Dayton and new here, a fat-kid eighth grader at Fulton Middle School. But then, Steve McQueen is French-kissing Jacqueline Bisset good-morning. Strapping on a shoulder holster and .38 pistol. Now he’s stopped at the corner of Clay and Taylor, searching the pockets of his trench coat/suit coat for change. I’ve loved that look all afternoon. The usher reacts as if that says it, that fuck-the-world expression of Frank Bullitt as he gives up and bangs the cover and steals a newspaper. Turns out, 1968 isn’t for the faint of heart. You need a Mustang GT 390. Ice water for a blood type. A tolerance for the visages of the dead you made dead, slaughtering out of that old American purity of motive that dissolves into a communion of terrific car chases wherein thunderous algorithms of horsepower rule.

Roy Bentley | “Robert Plant Holding a Dove that Flew into His Hands, Circa 1973”
Contents | Mudlark No. 58 (2015)