Rob Lowe

rob lowe

If you were a guy in the 80s, you hated Rob Lowe at first sight. Because you had seen him. If you fancied yourself a good-looker, a real Don Juan of the rollerskating rink, so to speak, you were humbled. If you weren’t good-looking and knew it but had finally come to somehow accept it, laying eyes on Rob was still alarming. It was like God was “rubbing it in.” It was like our Creator saying, “See what I can create when I actually try? See how lazy I was the day I decided to fling you together out of spoiled cold cuts and a bunch of old wire hangers I had sitting around? See?”

Because the guy was downright perfect-looking. As Jim Belushi says to him in …About Last Night: “The best thing that could happen to you is an industrial accident.”

Well, that didn’t happen but a different kind of tragedy did. After impressing Francis Ford Coppola enough to cast him as Sodapop Curtis in The Outsiders–a movie that was basically the giving tree of 80s child actors–Rob, more so than any of them, and that includes Tom Cruise, seemed destined for major stardom. For a short while, he thrived, playing cocky, handsome rakes and smug assholes. Something happened in the late 80s, though, a certain pioneering incident involving a sex tape that sent his career off course for quite a while. Perhaps people really were outraged about his hotel room tape at the time, but now the footage looks as innocent as a Davey and Goliath cartoon compared to the clips that have followed. America seemed to realize this, and Rob slowly worked his way back into the public’s good graces, almost primarily working on television.

A lot of his comeback, I think, had to do with his own good nature. If he had come across like an off-screen dick the way, say, Judd Nelson always had, he may very well have been shunned forever. He hasn’t made any significant forays back onto the big screen yet, and perhaps he never will, but I don’t think he cares. He does television series (I think several at the same time at points, or maybe it just seems that way), made for TV movies (including a highly entertaining one about white trash hottie/murderess Casey Anthony) and even DirecTV ads. In these he plays himself opposite a bizarro world alter-ego, but this latter is one role he doesn’t quite pull off–even in full “super creep” make-up, you can see the sweet, grounded guy behind the mask.

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The Outsiders

outsiders

It’s as heavy-handed as someone trying to text with boxing gloves, the script could have been a lot better given the source material, and it really drags in parts, but nevertheless, if you are of a certain age, there is no way you cannot like this movie. Coppola was such a huge talent–it’s incredible, mind-blowing, even, to think that this is the last truly great film he ever directed.

The real story of this story, however, is the number of careers it launched. Francis and his casting director reeled in enough young talent to fill a “short bus.”

In the display case of Posterity, Ralph Macchio is pinned down forever in the elegant pose of The Crane, but he does a decent enough job playing a dirty-faced wastrel here. Still, let’s face it, he’s the Karate Kid now and forever, everything else he’s done is irrelevant.

Patrick Swayze prowls around the Curtis household like an agitated panther, and on rumble night gets to show off the physical skills he’d later use to great effect as Johnny Castle, executing a nice half turn handstand and dismount off the top of a chain link fence with the ease of someone tying their damn shoe.

I remember re-watching this not long ago and thinking C. Thomas Howell is fourteen? Could’ve fooled me, he looks like he should be hanging out with the college-aged crazies of Less Than Zero. Except that the joke was on me because he was fourteen when they filmed it. No wonder I never win a plush animal at the “Guess My Age” booth at the county fair!

Emilio Estavez brings such awe-inspiring levels of EKG-flatlining stupidity to his role you’d swear he was channeling his half-brother Charlie.

As a real life drug-addicted jerk-off playing a drunk preppy asshole, it’s not surprising that Leif Garret nails his role so well that when he gives his life for the Soc cause you want to not only cheer but stroll over and give his madras-draped carcass a kick or two.

“DO IT FOR JOHNNY, MAN!!!!” Matt Dillon and only Matt Dillon could get away with a line reading like that, punctuating things even further by stabbing a big hole in a perfectly good hospital bed for good measure. The truth is, he does well enough in this movie that when the Tulsa cops lay waste to him, you really do feel sad.

Rob Lowe looks just like Ash from Pokemon in this!

Last but not least, this movie provides a rare (and perhaps only) opportunity to see Tom Cruise bare his natural born choppers on the big screen. The effect is staggering–he looks like some Okie Nosferatu. No surprise that he took his check from this film and fixed that shit up real quick!

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot–my God, Diane Lane looks too beautiful in this film to even look at, let alone speak to. I mean, really, where did those greasers get the nerve!

The only thing missing is a James Spader cameo–can’t you just picture him playing the older brother of one of the Socs, arriving right before the rumble starts, having driven all the way up from SMU in his Lancia Fulvia for the sole purpose of making some sneering remarks at Darry and crew? He would never actually fight, of course, but observe the proceedings whilst slouching against the fender of his car puffing on a Dunhill.

Even without that, The Outsiders is a movie worth seeing!

Olympia

Oly

Like-minded people everywhere are free to take their cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon, raise them to their mouth and actually swallow as many ounces as they see fit. Please. Do so all you’d like. The joke’s on you. The stuff is rubbish.

Just a quick anecdote. I encounter literally dozens upon dozens of homeless people and SRO basket cases every day no matter what direction I’m walking in, and I never see any of these folks (all of whom like to drink) with a PBR in their shaking, begrimed paws. Steel Reserve 211, yes. Tecate, yes. Even Lagunitas IPA at times! But never Pabst.) Think about that for a moment. People who have systematically destroyed whatever varying amount of brains they were born with through alcohol and drug abuse and falling over and hitting their heads on the unforgiving hard plastic seat corners of municipal buses still have more sense than to take up their daily position against the wall of the San Francisco Public Library with a sixer of Pabst Blue Ribbon at their side. But some bearded, upper tax-bracket mollycoddle in $200 Scotch & Soda skim jeans and a Filson buffalo check lumberjack coat will elbow up to the bar and heartily guzzle it down and even pretend to enjoy it. Why? There must be a reason for it, but the modern American hipster is one head space I’d rather not poke around in. I value my sanity. So, as I said, “they” can have it.

Why this bellyaching about Pabst Blue Ribbon in an entry about Olympia Beer? Well, it’s because, in the 80s, they bought Olympia and wasted no time in irrevocably ruining it. They changed the recipe to one of their stock penny-pinching formulas, and cut the price of an already inexpensive beer to Meister Brau-like levels. That was it, the jig was up, my beloved Oly went from being a delight to undrinkable.

Before all this, it had magic, it really did. Yes, I know it was a middling grocery store lager and not Rochefort Blue Cap–no one’s trying to claim it was some world-beater brewed by an expat band of Trappist monks who immigrated to Thurston County, WA during the chaos of World War II. But damn, for $2.99 plus sales tax for six of ’em, you received a smooth, crisp drink that just plain tasted good. Refreshing, even. It’s hard to explain, but trust me, it was delicious. And when it changed, the difference was shocking.

It still exists today, brewed in California–a good thousand miles from the mythical Artesian wells. And hey, it’s even got a lot of the same sort of retro, working class fake cool that PBR makes a living on. But it hasn’t been the same for a long, long time.