The Over-the-Top Solutions Cure: Because Going to the Mat Isn’t Always a Bad Idea
Pop culture recommendations for those of us who may have big dreams, but who lack the ability to climb up the face of a glass-fronted skyscraper in order to pursue them.
FLOOD’s weekly Pop Culture Cure offers an antidote—or six—to the most upsetting developments of the past week. (Because therapy’s expensive, and entertainment’s not.)
Stephen Rogata made a lot of news this past week by traveling from his home in Great Falls, Virginia, to the Island of Manhattan in order to climb the face of Trump Tower and meet face-to-face with his candidate of choice, Donald Trump. That was the plan anyway, but Rogata—who recently changed his name from Michael Ryan—was apprehended by the NYPD at around the twenty-first floor. He’s safe now, thankfully, and although the ambition of his attempt is to be lauded, we thought we’d take a look at some equally outsized attempts that resulted in more positive outcomes.
The Problem: You’ve been dumped.
The Solution: You punk your ex with a Phil Collins wake-up song.
Let’s just get this out of the way immediately: if you ever think that the solution to your problem is the right outfit, the right song, and a boom box held mightily aloft, then you are probably thinking about this thing all wrong. And yet, friends. And yet….
The Problem: You’re facing real jail time for a marijuana conviction.
The Solution: Fake your own death, move to Mexico.
Faking one’s own death is a pretty serious endeavor, but I guess if you’re a merry prankster, maybe this is just another one of the merry pranks you pull? Ken Kesey seemed to think so anyway. And for a short while, it worked. Would that death were always so transitory, man.
City of Thieves by David Benioff
The Problem: You gotta survive in Leningrad under siege.
The Solution: Find a dozen eggs. (Duh.)
Under most circumstances, “two young men go hunting for a dozen eggs” would not be a promising book idea. But under most circumstances, a dozen eggs don’t make the difference between life and death. And a besieged Leningrad at the end of World War II is not a place where normal circumstances much apply. Lev (an awkward Jewish teenager) and Kolya (a smooth-talking, good-looking soldier) have both found themselves in jail, and their only hope of escape is to find the eggs that a Soviet colonel needs for his daughter’s wedding cake. Death is around every corner, but Benioff never overdoes the terror or the melodrama. The book is just as funny and just as sad as it needs to be. Like a great wedding cake, everything is in proportion—except, of course, the enjoyment it provides. It is a real human drama written by a real human author. But if there are flaws, it’s hard to spot them.
The Problem: You’re an artist but you gotta make a living.
The Solution: You just keep drawing weird horses.
Lisa Hanawalt, like Allen Iverson, is The Answer. That much is known (via her comics, and via her BoJack). The only trouble is, you have to know what the question is first, lest you wind up with a buncha breasty snakes when you’re tryna to seal the deal on a mortgage. But if you’re Tegan and Sara, and you know that the question is, like, more about a certain kinda vibe(?), then you’re all set, because a certain kinda vibe is Lisa Hanawalt’s stock in trade. Lisa’s own personal vibe is, as she has said many times—and I paraphrase here—horsey as fuck. But when I say horsey, I also mean genius. In summary, she has made an entire funky career out of drawing funky horses, and that career is necessary and good. And I can’t think of a better outcome for a weirder proposition.
The Problem: You’re in an arms race with your geopolitical super-rival, the USSR.
The Solution: Send human beings to the moon.
So yeah, TV’s pretty weird. It used to be the case that if humanity couldn’t see something with its own eyes, it pretty much didn’t exist. Then, around the nineteenth century, humanity started taking pictures and stopping time in its tracks. And then, in the twentieth century, the pictures started moving and talking, and Lucy loved Ricky, and Ricky loved Lucy, and you could watch sports at home, and then man was on the moon, and then we were there with him, and then… WHAT?! That is where we went too far.
But no, it’s true: When Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and the Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon, we were there with them. We were on the moon. We also, of course, remained on Planet Earth. That is a strange thing. For All Mankind tries to make a kind of sense of that strange thing, showing how these people got there, what they thought there, and what we saw when they stepped off a spaceship (a ship that flies through space!) there. On the moon. Where that weird man lives. (PS: How did he feel when humans stepped on his moon-face? Will we ever know?)
The Problem: You banged your prospective mother-in-law.
The Solution: More bangin’?
So first things first: screaming and hammering on things during your beloved’s wedding is generally not gonna do the trick, BUT: this clip, though perhaps not a guide to life in the twenty-first century, still has it all. Here is what it’s got: a hilariously rattled gas-station attendant; a Simon and Garfunkel jam running out of steam along with Dustin Hoffman’s fuel tank; Dustin Hoffman performing the first-ever Tom Cruise sprint, Dustin Hoffman perfecting the rom-com Hail Mary before it was even a trope, and the greatest man vs. church scene of all time. (Not pictured here: Dustin Hoffman bangin’. Go watch the whole movie if you need the whole catharsis, sheesh.) FL