For the longest time, I simply didn’t realize that functions thrown by the elite of society are completely awash with all types alcoholic concoctions looking to impair my faculties. Chalk it up to my humble childhood, working the coriander fields in rural Peru. Such as it were, once I became a serious journalist, I would show up to most every film premiere already pissed out of my gourd, only to be promptly tossed into the streets before the screening began. This would leave me with many bloodied openings about my body and completely lacking anything resembling reportable coverage.
Luckily I learned my lesson in time for the premiere of Alexia Anastasio’s magnificent documentary Adventures in Plymptoons!, a film which chronicles the life of decorated Vietnam-era pontoon boat operator Bill Plympton. Thus, I got sloshed at the premiere as opposed to before it, and was a much more tolerable person for it, depending on who you ask.*
At the VIP prescreening party, wine certainly stole the show. Glamorous personalities glided through the Brasserie Cognac de Monsieur Ballon amidst the truncated dialogue of foreign diplomats and domestic intellectuals. The posh crowd clucked along to one another, lauding Mr. Plympton’s outstanding pontooning achievements. I made sure to keep my fingernails clean with the toothpick that had skewered together a shrimp and cheese hors d’oeuvre sometime earlier.
Despite what the rest of the Haddock News staff predicted, I did not throw up on the film’s lovely director Ms. Anastasio, who visibly cringed at the suggestion of being photographed with me. Without said vomit I didn’t recognize my own cringe-worthiness until someone mentioned to me that, in the suit I was wearing, I resembled a Slavic magician on tour in Canada. Shame bathed me momentarily, followed by the bitterness of understanding. Gulp goes the Chardonnay.We shuffled ourselves down to the Museum of Modern Art, right smack in the gullet of New York City. By now my date’s heels were the bloody ones; I never was much good at walking. Additionally, my large and sloppy steps made me look as if I were a ginned up fascist butchering the goose step. I slunk myself into a chair in the theater, hoping desperately that I’d emptied myself sufficiently (as tripping away to the bathroom during prolonged periods of seatedness is an ever-present nuisance for the small-bladdered drunkard). The picture kicked off to a thunderous round of applause. I kept my flask-swigging discreet, and made absolutely sure not to touch the fireworks I had come across in my inner coat pocket.† Behind me, the recording artist Moby struggled to gain a clear vantage to the screen from around my wondrous bolt-upright locks of hair. Ever a gentleman, he opted to crane his neck rather than chance a conversation with me.
Footage of Mr. Plympton’s life as a Vietnam war hero danced across the screen. Bang! Randomized mortar fire tears through the Hop Lai province. Bang! Plympton draws tits on the side of an air-boat. His artistry is astounding.
Just as it had began, the film concluded in another wave of grand and genuine admiration. The cast, crew, and Moby were all kind enough to field questions from the eager viewership. Like a good journalist, I didn’t ask any. I did make sure to keep a keen eye out for women without wedding bands as I snaked my way past the Portuguese representative to the United Nations José Filipe Moraes Cabral (who was possibly the only man in the theater drunker than myself). His coat was potently tinged with the scent of an unheard voice, but he still seemed to be having a good time.In all, the film is a fantastic portrayal of Bill Plympton’s life. His brilliance and determined perseverance are apparent, and his impact is undoubtedly broad. How I kept myself unejected from such a high-profile event is anyone’s guess, but I’m glad the cards fell as such; I would have been sorely disappointed to miss any of this very fun documentary.
Hats off to everyone involved in its creation – most especially to Alexia, who will never be forced to share a photo with me again, I promise.§
For more on Adventures in Plymptoons!, click here.
* – Don’t ask my date. In fact, don’t ask anybody.
† – The suit was brand new, mind you. Damn Taiwanese tailors.
§ – …and a promise from Thinker is as good as gold (if you’re John Travolta, and it’s the end of Battlefield Earth).