Escape To New York

Continued from TC6

Sander Lamme / CC BY (

On the Sunday, after more unhealthy American TV, it was check-out time. Managed to leave all the bags behind, which was a good thing, given the junk I’d accumulated, and headed towards the World Trade Centre. Took my life in my hands and went by subway – not so much because of muggers or anything like that (I kept an eye out for a dishevelled man with a wicker basket), just because the Underground is a lot better signposted internally. Went up top of the WTC and wandered round two sides admiring the view, taking pictures as I went. Then, bang, the weather closed in and it started to snow – at least it was snowing at the top, but at the bottom it was raining. It chucked it down – I don’t think I’ve seen such aggressive rain before – which killed the plan to take the Staten Island Ferry and get a better view of the Statue of Liberty (although you could see it from the WTC, it was further away than I expected). Took shelter in a pizza parlour instead and gained a new appreciation of the word ‘pizza’. Totally unlike the tasteless, bland, tiny items sold in the UK, I ordered 3 slices, but could only manage 1 1/2 – at a rough guess, each slice (an eighth of a full one) must have weighed about the same as a Pizza Hut 9″ one.

Took a taxi to JFK airport, with the first really voluble NY cabbie I’d seen – all the others communicated in grunts, but this one expounded his view of life, the universe and everything in the 50 minute drive. Checked in, and discovered that JFK airport is even duller than Gatwick – got on with ‘Silence of the Lambs’. On the plane back, my seat was next to an emergency exit, which meant more leg-room and also that I was sitting opposite a couple of the stewardesses but I was too busy worrying about why they get full harnesses while the passengers have to make do with wimpy lap belts. The film on the way back was ‘Family Business’, with Dustin Hoffman, so I had no trouble drifting off to sleep.

Back here, the luck that supported me through five Inter-rails ran out. I was stopped by Customs. The limit on all goods from the US is only 35 quid, and let’s say I was pushing the limit in books alone. After being reminded of the limits and asked if I’d packed the bags myself, the customs officer rooted through my bags and dragged out the Kinski autobiography. “Do you need this for your studies?”, he asked. I embarked on a nervous lecture about KK, without going into details about my lust for his daughter. He flicked through the book, presumably looking for naughty pictures and returned it – fortunately, he didn’t read any or I’d still be in custody‚Ķ Now, despite feeling like I’d spent the weekend in a 50-storey glass-steel washing machine, I did enjoy it, bag men, Robo-cops, subways, mutant English and all. Some ways it wasn’t as expected, in others it was; in any case it was one hell of an experience!

20 Films Set in New York City

SplashCrocodile Dundee
Angel of VengeanceDo the Right Thing
King KongWall Street
Q – the Winged SerpentThe Seven Year Itch
Gremlins 2After Hours
InfernoFort Apache, the Bronx
Escape From New YorkEvery damn Woody Allen film
Rosemary’s BabyCruisin’
Taxi DriverMiracle on 34th Street

Joe Bob Goes Back to the Drive-In – Joe Bob Briggs (No British Publisher)

JB2 had this to say about sequels: “If you know what you’re doing, the sequel can be exactly the same movie as the first one”. Unfortunately, what he said about films is also true for books and this sequel (surprisingly not titled “Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In II”) is exactly the same as the original. Only less so. While the first book was a film column with odd bits about JB2, this one is little more than an ego trip for the author, with the reviews themselves being shortened or entirely missing in any given column, because someone took the rest of the space bragging about how he appeared in TCM 2, or whining about how said scene was removed from the final print.

Even the reviews themselves seem strangely subdued – although he does review ‘Reform School Girls’ & ‘Gwendoline’, he also does ‘Rambo’ & ‘A Chorus Line’ and the worrying thing is that they all gave exactly the same impression to this reader. There are still occasional flashes of the old Joe Bob, but as a rule of thumb these come when he is working with a well-known and loved film – I always feel that a critic should be able to convey enthusiasm for a film to an audience who know nothing about it and JB2 just doesn’t do this.

The book gives the impression that this critic is now more important than the works he’s reviewing, which is in its own way just as hypocritical as the stars JB2 attacks, who put down their earlier movies in the exploitation field. Just about gone are the characters of red-neck Texas from the first book – in it place is some not particularly subtle ‘satire’ on world i.e. American events and mores. Overall, this book has to be regarded as a disappointment, with Joe Bob beginning to look distinctly like a one-hit wonder. One star, wait till it hits the bargain bookshops.