Summer of Sam

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

I was bored the other night. So for a change I took a break from this or that and actually made like a vegetable in front of the TV. Watched the recent movie "Summer of Sam." I've always thought John Leguizamo [sp] was pretty much a putz, but I watched it anyway. That's irrelevant to the course of this conversation, however.

So I'm listening to Rancid now (yeah, I know, weak modern punk but hell, I like it). And the final scene of the movie comes back to me. I rather like what they did with the movie. Hearing of it coming out I initially thought it was going to be yet another serial killer biography - which are pretty fun sometimes if you're in a psycho-analytical mood. But instead of concentrating all that much on dog-boy Berkowitz, they instead concentrated on the effect it had on the city dwellers. The paranoia that occurs when a series of unsolved crimes goes round the way.


A bit of background for those who haven't seen it. In the movie, the paranoia of the serial crimes gets to a group of people living in the area (Brooklynn was it? Bronx? Not relevant. Well, I guess it could be, but not relevant in this discussion.) They determine they can better tell who the killer is than the police could and took it upon themselves to monitor people that they deemed were strange or in some way fucked up to them - mostly idiosyncrasies they didn't like and much generated by appearances. One of the characters was a guy named Ritchie. A punk rocker that they spent a good amount of time developing and with whom I feel rather fondly. (This was done through a rather awesome music scene - I think it was Rush but admittedly I'm not sure being inundated with indies these days.)

Ritchie was pretty hardcore - great fucking style. Awesome fucking style. A style that I oft-times tried in my past, was able to do somewhat, but still couldn't pull it off as cool and kick-ass as Ritchie. Ritchie, due to his rather power-punk looks, was at the top of the Italians' list as the killer. Matter of fact, by the end of the movie, they were pretty sure it was him. Enough so that in the final scene they lured him out of his home and beat the bloody shit out of him. Based on his looks. Combined with paranoia. These two things - hatred for difference and paranoia from rampant killings they pegged him as the definite candidate and went ahead and beat the bloody shit out of him.


Berkowitz did his thing when I was only a year or two old, so I wasn't part of the openings of the punk scene here in NYC as Ritchie was. But I took a few beat-downs based only on appearance myself. These days, going on three decades of age, two kids, married - I have toned down a bit which is something that happens with age. Ideals have not changed much - neither has my nihilism - but other than the nailpolish, bald head and few diddies hanging from various parts of me I'm not AS, I guess you'd say weird looking, as I used to be. The late 80s and 90s - I was then. And the hatred for us was still there. Today I'm not sure, as I'm not the blatant weirdo I used to be on the outside.

Is it as bad as it used to be? Haven't they got fucking used to us yet?

Originally posted in alt.gothic - 2/25/00.

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