Column, Movie Diary

The Movie Diary: Finding the right footing

Parents and children, if they’re lucky, will find a multitude of ways to bond. My son and I have been fortunate in this respect because we’ve always found common activities that have brought us closer together. 

Early on, we bonded over Legos. I grew up enthralled with the plastic building blocks and subsequently passed this love onto my son once he was old enough not to eat them. Later, it was the Nerf Hoop. I grew up obsessed with the small plastic basketball hoop and puff ball and spent countless hours finding unique ways to make shots in various rooms in my house. When my son was finally old enough to understand the concept of putting a ball through a goal, I bought him one. After that, he was off to the races. 

Then came the real sports like Little League baseball and rec basketball. I coached both from the time my son started playing as a 7-year-old all the way through middle school. I valued those seasons immensely as it allowed us to spend quality time together while he learned the love of competition.

But the one activity that bonded us the tightest was our mutual love of playing music. 

I selfishly sent my son to drum lessons when he was only 12 years old just so I could have someone to jam with. He picked the instrument up quickly and then, without warning, learned how to play the guitar and bass as well. Before I knew it, we were playing songs together.

Our sessions are frequently fraught with arguments because we often disagree on what songs to play, but the magic of making music together connects us in a way that nothing else does. 

Not surprisingly, we also love going to music stores together to test out instruments. When we travel, we often search out big-box suppliers like Sam Ash or Guitar Center and then spend an hour or two playing with all the demo products they leave out to sample. 

Recently, my wife, son and I were in Colorado for a vacation. When there was some downtime, I suggested to my son that we visit the local Guitar Center to blow off some steam. An hour later we were in a musical paradise.

Anyone who’s ever visited one of these big-box music stores knows that they are a musician’s dream come true. The walls are lined with guitars and basses while the floors are stacked with amplifiers. There are special rooms dedicated to acoustic instruments and other rooms reserved for percussions. No matter what your interest or ability, these places invite you to explore and have fun.

My son and I usually wander off and do our own thing for the first hour and then spend the next hour comparing notes. That was the case during our latest visit; however, when we reconnected half way through, my son insisted on talking about something totally unrelated to music. 

He grabbed my arm and led me to the keyboard area to point out a middle-aged man happily tickling the keys of an electric piano.

“You see those sneakers he has on?” my son boasted. “They are worth $200,000.”

I laughed at his statement and insisted he was wrong, but my son persisted. I finally asked him to prove it. A moment later, he held his phone in front of my face with a picture of the exact shoes up for auction with an asking price of $200,000. 

I still found it preposterous, so I told my son I’d give him $50 to go over and talk to the guy, which he promptly did. The gentleman was kind and answered all his questions and confirmed that the sneakers he was wearing were indeed extremely rare and valuable. 

This average looking guy in a tracksuit with long greasy hair had apparently been given the famed Nike Air Force 1 Low Louis Vuitton Monogram Brown Damier Azur sneakers by a Saudi businessman who thought his piano performance at a local hotel was worthy of special praise.

My only question to him was, why are you wearing them? He responded, “Why not?”

(Google the sneaker name and check it out yourself; you’ll be shocked too.)

This week’s feature, “Asphalt City,” starring Sean Penn as a grizzled New York City EMT worker looked like it would be deserving of special praise, but the end result left me feeling punished by the content.  

It’s hard to connect with an audience when the subject matter is so brutal that you constantly feel like you’re being violated. While this film was well acted, the violent and cruel nature of the story alienated me to the point that I didn’t enjoy the film as much as I wanted to.

Give this one a shot if you love to be exposed to the underbelly of humanity, just be prepared to suffer along the way. 

A searing “C” for Asphalt City,” now playing in theaters everywhere.  

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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