Friday, June 29, 2012

An afternoon

He emerged from a refrigerator into an oven.

"Now this," he said out loud, "is hot."

Looking at the weather app on his phone, the temperature read 102 in red. Funnily enough, he enjoyed the blistering heat nearly as much as the blissfully cold environs of the coffee house.

It had been a cleansing afternoon.

Words exchanged, steam released.

He provided a sounding board, his pal equally amenable ... he hoped.

"The scary thing is everything that was left out," he thought wearily as he got into his stifling car, reflecting on the biting tome that he had just written -- so heavy with angst. "To be continued, I guess."

He fired up the ol' reliable, the AC immediately kicking in. Wincing while alternating hands on the sizzling steering wheel and making a three-point turn -- with a wave of acknowledgment to the patient biker, who nodded amicably in courteous reciprocation -- he powered the car forward and steered toward home.

Buzzing from the pair of 20 oz. iced lattes now unobstructively coursing their way, he turned the volume up on the classic rock radio station as he weaved in, out and around the late-afternoon rush hour traffic.

Van Halen's "Jump."

Right song. Right time.

He turned the volume up, mouthing the lyrics under his breath while merging effortlessly onto the jam-packed interstate.

As he drove, he felt as if it might be getting darker. Removing his sunglasses, he saw that it was.

"Oh my God!" She had written earlier. "All of a sudden, like tornado force winds and rain! Breaking things off the trees and stuff. Yikes."

He was amusingly envious then. Now realizing the possibility of his own biggin' comin', he felt a little adrenaline take over. As if to oblige the darkening skies, "Jump" faded out.

Fade In: "Carry On Wayward Son."

As the skies darkened, his spirits lightened, with the piano doing its job unfailingly. It wasn't yet cold enough in the car for the goosebumps.

Having pulled to a stop at a light, a minivan pulled alongside. As he glanced over, he noticed her.

She in her 40's or so. 

He, not quite. 

As he mouthed the words to Kansas, he realized she was doing the same, with the force of her AC blowing her dark blonde hair back.

Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I'm dreaming
I can hear them say!

Laughing to himself as he watched her, they both continued:

Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done

She looked over, met his eyes and her own recognition set in. Smiling brilliantly and bobbing her head, she patted the steering wheel in rhythm, and they capped it off to each other:

Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more!

The light changed. They turned in opposite directions without a wave. 

Two paths that fleetingly crossed.

Two paths that will never cross again.

His path took him headlong into a sky that thrillingly began to reveal a deep, dark blue as he approached home. The wind kicked up several notches, the traffic signals blowing threateningly back and forth. A tornado of leaves and twigs circulating with force as heavy gray-black clouds coiled and recoiled with menace.

"I'll be damned," he thought as he turned into his parking lot. He dodged a number of flying branches and fought to keep his balance in the gusting wind as he rescued his mail and opened the door to his apartment.

He put his bag and mail down and went to the refrigerator. 

Grabbed a cold Summer Shandy.

Popped the top.

And made a beeline for his patio out back.

He sat outside, watching the dark clouds swirl and the canopy of trees over his head bow and sway, while the lights flickered inside as the power fought to stay on.

The weather app on his phone showed that he was on the fringe of a bloated, deep red mass that drifted east, large enough to connect him to those he knows up north.

Enough to be out of danger.

Enough to enjoy.

He sat and let his weary head rest, feeling the temperature drop refreshingly by the second, the scent of rain in the air.

And as a bolt of lightning flashed and the ominous rumble of approaching thunder followed, he closed his eyes and drifted with the wind.

"Don't you cry no more," he thought acquiescently, as he took a pull of his brew and the first ice-cold raindrops began to fall.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: Which Way Home


A while back, I saw a very good movie that documents the lives and plight of migrants who attempt to ride Mexican trains to aid in their cause to cross the border into the United States. The movie was called "Sin Nombre" and was a work of fiction based on real events.

Tonight, I saw the perfect companion piece to this movie. "Which Way Home" is a documentary -- nominated for an Academy Award in 2010 and directed by Rebecca Cammisa -- that follows a group of children ranging from 17 years old to as young as 9, if you can imagine, who face these unbelievable hardships and dangers of riding the trains to find a better life in America.

Whatever your politics are regarding immigration, they can and should be left at the door here, as there is no refuting the courageous and emotional journey these kids set out on -- nearly all of them either trying to reunite with their families already in the country, or to find jobs to help their families back home.

They leave notes for their mothers before they leave, and talk to them on borrowed cell phones on the tracks -- forced laughter keeping them from crying, as their mothers pray for them on the other end of the line. They light up when they are asked how they imagine the United States to be, and their answers are heartbreaking in their simpleness and naivete.

The most poignant of these comes from 9-year-olds Olga and Kenny, who come from Honduras. Olga, who hasn't seen her mother in three years, happily describes reuniting with her family in Minnesota and playing in the snow with her sisters -- before breaking into tears. They want to be doctors. We last see them walking away along the rails, dwarfed and enveloped as they merge with hundreds of their fellow travelers.

One aspect documented here that I was not aware of is the existence of Grupos Beta -- an organization formed by Mexican Immigration, which, rather than enforcing the law, provides water, medical aid and educates the migrants about the dangers they will face. In light of the illegalities and polarizing politics that frame this heinous underground world these people have chosen to travail, I found this example of genuine humanity to be impressive.

Young migrants ride 'The Beast.' (HBO)
Through all of this, I was -- and still am -- unable to comprehend that these are children, who are facing thirst and starvation, corrupt cops, being raped and left for dead by their own smugglers, some of whom are even hired by their parents ... and the train itself -- referred to as "The Beast" -- which regularly and viciously takes their lives.

"It tore him into three pieces," one kid says, remarking on a graphic newspaper photo showing the remains of a recent victim. "That's what happens when you fall on the rails."

Someone asks him, "So you're going back to Honduras then?"

"Nah, you're crazy man," he responds, laughing and without hesitation. "No, I'm not going back to Honduras."

Their parents are left to wonder where they are, if they're still alive, and to sign death certificates when they're not -- sometimes having to endure the wait of DNA releases because the bodies of their children are too decomposed to identify.

Earlier I mentioned the politics of immigration. This is a film that does not tread in that area but rather addresses the situations that may lead to the immigration problem in the first place. Are there things that can be done before illegal immigration becomes a last resort for these desperate people?

A director of a rest area, set up along the rails to allow traveling migrants a place to sleep, makes an empassioned speech, bordering on a plea, about the harsh realities that face every one of these travelers.

As he speaks, perhaps it is most important to reflect on how awful their lives must be back home that they are willing to risk all of these horrors -- to hear these words, and still have the unwavering determination to venture on ...

Mexico is the passage of death for you.
The freight train can be your best friend
because it will help you travel.
But it can also be your worst enemy.
It can kill you.
The United States is not the passage of death,
the United States is 'Death itself.'
At the border during the day, temperatures go from 120
up to 140 degrees.
And this jug (holding up a drum-sized container)
will not even last you for 3 days of traveling.
It is proven that at the border
out of every 100 migrants,
between 10 and 20, or more, will die.
Maybe many of you here will die.
Many of you will never see your families again.
Many of you here will never return to your countries.
Because you will die on the way.
Now brothers
who really wants to get to the United States?
Raise your hand.

Everyone ... (he acknowledges)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Review: The Sunset Limited


There's nothing quite like the feeling when a movie comes along at exactly the right time to knock you over the head with its magnitude. I've had this one queued in the DVR for nearly a month, but I just got around to watching it tonight -- and I find it very interesting that I may very well have not been as receptive to it then as I am now.

I don't know if there's anything I can write that would do it justice, because I don't know if the movie is that good or if I just had a personal connection to it. Is this a recommendation? A tired, old so-called review? Some clumsy way to communicate something, but uncertain as to what that something is? I don't know. Some things don't really fit into a category.

The movie is "The Sunset Limited" and is an HBO adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's two-character play. The characters, named only "Black" and "White," are played by Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones (who also directed) -- I'll assume you can figure out who is playing who.

The entire play/movie is a conversation between the two and takes place in Black's dingy apartment in the New York ghetto, near a train station where White has just attempted to jump in front of a train (The Sunset Limited line specifically), and Black happened to be there to save his life.

Was it by chance that Black happened to be there? Was it divine intervention? Like the movie in its entirety, this is not clear, but the two begin an extraordinary and powerful discussion about humanity, the meaning behind our existence, faith, God and the afterlife.

Black is an ex-convict, who apparently has quite the personal relationship with Jesus -- and some pretty intense "jailhouse" stories -- while White is a college professor, hopelessly lost despite -- or perhaps more likely, because of -- his extensive education and finds the majority of Black's life-affirming, Bible-thumping diatribes to be exasperatingly nonsensical. But to casually label him as depressed or an atheist is to callously rob this character of the extraordinary depths of the anguish, darkness and emptiness that have driven him to this point.

Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson (HBO)
Here we must discuss the acting. Both are terrific, but Jones really stands out for me in this. Countering Jackson's upbeat, kind-hearted and optimistic outlook as his character remains nobly determined to help his guest see the light, Jones brings a tangible heaviness to his portrayal, a quiet and exhausted approach to the conversation behind dark eyes that are sunk deep into their bags. You know he hasn't slept for days. You know he's carried the burden he's carrying for years.

What clinched this movie for me is the shocking and unmistakable shift in both tone and power. For most of the film, Black is the dominant character. He's determined to save his guest's life, he's making him coffee, he's making him soup, he's initiating the entire discussion and he never wavers in his belief that he is right, he has God on his side, he is doing God's will and White will see the light.

But very quietly, darkness begins to take over, and the complete and utter despair that is inside White begins to emerge as he spews a chilling monologue that reveals his perception of the world and the futility of humanity. The use of lighting here is perfection and the words are frightening, the weight of which carries us to the end of the conversation, where we feel a palpable sense of transference, and we're witness to a poignant plea from one character that is undeniably relatable.

I found this movie to be a perfect adaptation of a dialogue-driven play -- where the theological conversation is truly compelling  and the end is of the satisfyingly unsatisfying variety that I'm so fond of.

Most importantly, it's a movie where you need to hit the bar immediately after to discuss, because there are a myriad of questions, interpretations and feelings that can be derived from its content. Who is the one really being tested here? What if White is already dead? What does the apartment signify? Who's better off, the believer or the non-believer? Why is faith a good thing? Or perhaps most chilling, the thought that at first lurks in the background before slowly and deliberately enveloping you no matter how hard you try to suppress it:

How disconcerted are you that you relate most closely to White? ...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Dude abides!

Surfacing in my DVR queue last night was PBS' season premiere of their American Masters series -- "Jeff Bridges: The Dude Abides."

We'll get to Jeff in a second, but I first have to say that this series does an amazing job. With this specific film directed by Gail Levin, the use of photography, behind-the-scenes material, clips from past movies, interviews with family, friends and colleagues and the way it is all seamlessly woven together with Jeff's own words makes for a highly enthralling 90 minutes.

Now, to Mr. Bridges ...

If ever there was someone who embodies the word "eclectic," it's Bridges. We can obviously see this in his body of filmwork -- the fact that he played the President of the United States in "The Contender" two years after playing The Dude in "The Big Lebowski" is all that needs to be said about this. And on that topic, one of the "grooviest" parts of this film, for me, is when he makes a surprise visit to a Big Lebowski tribute shop in Greenwich Village.

But the film also showcases his considerable talents off-screen, as a musician, photographer and painter. A few examples:
  • Bridges thought he would take the music route as a kid -- not wanting to go into his father's business right away -- and even wrote a song for the soundtrack of one of his brother Beau's early movies. Lately, Jeff said his role in "Crazy Heart" whetted his musical appetite, so he got a band together, had his agent set up some gigs, and he played at Niagara Falls for a couple of nights, thoroughly enjoying it.
  • He takes behind-the-scenes photos of virtually every movie he works on with a vintage Widelux camera, and makes albums as gifts for the people he works with on the movie. I happened to watch "Seabiscuit" a few nights ago, and there's a very poignant DVD extra featuring Bridges' camera shots that artistically illustrate the collaborative aspect of movie-making.
  • Bridges' talents as a painter and potter are also examined, as he's filmed intensively going to work with paints -- at one point spontaneously representing his family rising from white on a glass background -- and clay -- making a variety of pots and quirky resemblances of heads and faces -- all yet another outlet for his all-encompassing creativity.
Jeff Bridges and his vintage Widelux camera (PBS)
The film also examines Bridges' tendency to be hesitant or reticent in accepting virtually every movie or project that comes his way. He's one "who has to be dragged to the party," and confesses to having a bit of The Dude in him, an admitted laziness at times -- but once he's in, he's all in. It also brushes on his individual relationships with his family, which I found to be quite compelling and moving.

For me, when faced with immensely gifted people like this, who seem to be able to cram so much positive and beneficial work in their lives, it's incredibly inspiring to see all these gifts being used to their maximum potential. It also serves as a pretty jarring wakeup call -- an example of the way we should all get off our asses and live, to get as much as we can out of life by giving as much as we can.

One other thing I realized is how shameful it is that so many of his older films have escaped me. Not "King Kong," though! That flop earns the distinction of likely being the first Jeff Bridges movie I ever saw (and saw again and again for that matter), and -- more importantly -- very well could have led to his ability to explore more offbeat roles as his star appeal was briefly tarnished. Perhaps it is precisely his unassuming nature and propensity for unconventional roles that took me so long to get into his stuff, even though he was nominated for an Academy Award four times before winning with "Crazy Heart."

Consider a line spoken in this film by director Taylor Hackford: "We grew up thinking 'The Actors Studio.' You've got DeNiro, Pacino, Dustin, Brando ... you have all the method people in New York, and they really have the tap on great acting. Here's this guy in California who's this surfer dude. He's absolutely as good as any one of them."

So, yes, while I've seen many of his films by this point, I still have several on the must-see list to right this wrong. And with "Starman," "Cutter's Way," "Against All Odds" and "American Heart" all currently streaming live on Netflix, I'm envisioning a Jeff Bridges winter-day marathon in my near future.

Note: If you missed the program on TV, you can watch it in its entirety online here. Also, for an even more in-depth and intriguing look at his on- and off-screen endeavors, check out Jeff Bridges' official website.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book review: Bloodroot

It certainly appears I'm about to write up my first so-called book review -- or more likely a glorified recommendation, since I plan to keep this one short.

I just finished "Bloodroot," by Amy Greene -- blowing through it in two sittings (admittedly during a couple of slow work shifts!) -- and I was very surprised at how good this is, considering it's apparently her debut novel. I heard some glowing things about it popping up here and there, but it's so unlike anything I ever read, it took me a while to get to it. But I'm glad I did.

I'm not going to waste a whole lot of time telling what the story's about, because you can find it in detail virtually anywhere, but it's an engaging family saga set in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains and centers around Myra Lamb, who has this mysterious effect on everyone around her. Growing in this mountain range is the bloodroot, a flower that produces a blood-red sap that has the power to both heal and destroy. Yes, there is much symbolism here, but some startling realism as well, amid the pain, poverty and primitive lives that are examined.

What I most like about this story is that it's one of those I've always been drawn to, where an intertwining group of characters progresses over decades -- and it is seamlessly woven through the years by the first-person accounts of these characters, which provides an authentic voice of an area and a people I know virtually nothing about. Although if you've seen "Winter's Bone," (which I really should have written up here at some point) even though that was set in the Ozarks, I found the two stories to have a similar tone.

One personal note: From my experience with this book, I'd recommend not reading ahead to see who helps tell this story, because I found it very cool to see who picks it up as I turn the pages -- this includes a perfectly written epilogue from a surprising character that emotionally and poignantly ties the story off with a, yes, satisfyingly unsatisfying bow ... if you will.

So maybe I'll add some book entries in the future, maybe not, but I felt this is worth a recommendation. It's really a mesmerizing story that tells of the power of home and the ability to rise above some of life's true horrors with love and strength of spirit -- while the lush, earthy descriptions and the haunting (or haunted?) fully developed characters give the story a tangible quality that is very much cinematic in scope and very much comes to life as you turn the pages.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Review: The King's Speech


"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?" -- George Eliot (via Monica E. Smith)

It's a terrible thing to live in fear. But it's an entirely different thing to not only be unable to keep it private, but to have to face it on the global stage at a critical time in human history -- at which you are being looked to for leadership ... or weakness by your enemies.

This is the unenviable position Prince Albert (or "Bertie" and ultimately King George VI of England) finds himself in at the spectacular climax of "The King's Speech," and while we await what we know is coming, the journey to that point is incredible to watch.

Portrayed to perfection by Colin Firth, Bertie has been afflicted with a seemingly unconquerable stammer virtually all his life -- and after the death of his father, George V (Michael Gambon) and the abdication of his older brother, Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), the agonizingly reluctant Bertie accepts the crown, and does so when England is on the verge of declaring war on Germany, marking the dawn of WWII.

Let me just stop here to recognize Firth's performance, and to say that I can't imagine him not winning the Oscar for this role. From the opening minutes, when Bertie makes his heart-wrenching first speech at Wembley Stadium, Firth conveys every bit the fear, the embarrassment and the horror of being a regal figure with such an impediment, only to hear the mocking reverberations of his own stammer echoing throughout the stadium. Throughout the film, he displays a fully developed character, rich with emotions that also include humor, wit and charm, and we, too, are aware of the hours of preparation that were needed to master the evident technique that succeeds in portraying a realistic and not a hokey or exaggerated stutter.

Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter
But no great movie relies solely on one great character, and we have two outstanding supporting actors to ensure that this is also the case here. Helena Bonham Carter plays Bertie's supporting wife, Elizabeth, who is delightfully peculiar while demonstrating unequivocal love and sympathy for her husband's plight. She has seeked out specialists of all kinds to help her husband, and when none have panned out, she finds another.

This man is Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian-born speech therapist who is also quite eccentric and offers his own unique brand of therapy to the short-tempered Bertie. What's critical here is that he's a "commoner," later we find him to be uncredentialed -- gasp! -- yet he's enlisted to help one who would be king. Lionel proves to Bertie early on that he may indeed be able to help, so the two proceed to have several very good scenes together, laying the foundation for what clearly is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. They work primarily, and colorfully, in Logue's drab home office, but proceed to a memorable sequence at Westminster Abbey as they rehearse for Bertie's coronation -- and Logue is with him to the end, when he delivers his speech that declares war and rallies his people behind him.

And what a flawless scene this is. I don't want to describe it fully, because the true experience lies in watching it play out, but with Elizabeth and Lionel by his side, Bertie's walk to the microphone is akin to one walking to his own execution; the microphone seemingly unveiled as an instrument of torture. And as he prepares to speak, and finally does, we're so emotionally invested in his journey to this point, the courage he's had to show, the myriad of agonizing challenges he's had to overcome -- combined with the support of his wife and the calming, silent coaching of Logue during this historic speech -- that I defy you to hold back your own emotion.

Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush
This qualifies as one of the most inspiring films I've seen, and what continues to astonish me, is that it's another in a countless number of stories based on real life in which some of us seem to be chosen to live lives fraught with hardship, turmoil and quiet desperation. And it never ceases to amaze me that these people rise above it, when others (me!) would have given up ages ago, even as problem after problem mounts and countless setbacks are endured. Here, as prime minister Stanley Baldwin informs Bertie upon his coronation that he's resigning because of the impending war and then stoically tells him that "your greatest test ... is yet to come ..." you wonder how much more the guy can take as he stares blankly ahead, breathing deeply as he contemplates what he's going to have to go through, and that there's no way out.

What I like about this story specifically, is that it acknowledges that we all feel utterly alone at times with our own crosses to bear, our own unique hand that is dealt and our specific role to play. Yet, we are all human beings, equal in that aspect, trying to make our way in this world -- and how often the solutions to our problems seem to be in each other.

Here, a commoner uses his gifts to help a king, so that he, in turn, can fulfill his role. It provides the unmistakable sense that we are all connected, no matter the class system of the day, and that we are meant to freely ask our fellow man for a hand in our lives even as much as we are meant to offer our own.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Review: The Indian Runner


Every new child born brings the message that God is not yet discouraged of man. ~Tagore

I'm not sure if I should be more baffled by missing this film from the standpoint of being a Bruce Springsteen fan or a fan of movies in general, but somehow, "The Indian Runner" -- which came out in 1991 -- completely escaped my radar until recently.

For one thing, it marks the directorial debut of Sean Penn, who also wrote the script, but perhaps more glaring, it is inspired by Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman," which is one of those tunes I can never skip in the iPod when it comes on.

One of the primary reasons I like Springsteen's music so much is because of the cinematic qualities that so many of them convey. And every time I listen to "Highway Patrolman," there are scenes so vivid I've actually thought that it would make a great movie someday.

And so it did ... or has! Like the song, "The Indian Runner" involves two brothers: Joe Roberts (David Morse), who is the deputy sheriff of a small town, and his brother Franky (Viggo Mortensen). The two are close, but have completely different personalities. Joe has the ability to enjoy the simple things in life: his wife, his child, his job, his garden. Franky has been a lost cause all his life, consistently in trouble with the law before fighting in Vietnam. Upon returning home he is still unable to shake his perplexing anger at the world that fuels his violent tendencies and troublesome nature.

The movie is identical to the song at the beginning and the end, but takes liberties with what the story may have been in the middle. For me, the plot isn't as important here as the characters, and this is what makes the movie work.

Morse and Mortensen are both excellent, inhabit their characters perfectly, and are -- very satisfyingly, I might add -- the epitome of the characters I picture when I hear the song. Surrounding them is their quietly suffering father, who is played to subtle perfection by Charles Bronson, and Franky's girlfriend Dorothy (Patrica Arquette), who is wide-eyed, innocent and possibly led astray by her own romantic perceptions while seeing something in Franky others do not. Joe's wife Maria (Valeria Golino) and a surprising, yet ultimately critical, cameo of sorts by Dennis Hopper also lend rich support to the story.

The movie bears similarities to two of my favorites. Like "The Deer Hunter," it is set in the gritty, blue collar, small town that only those who call it home can love, and it bears a strong resemblance to "A River Runs Through It," where the older brother, who appears to have his life together, battles his own insecurities while being forced to watch his younger brother destroy his life because he doesn't know how to help.

This is not a perfect movie, and is not quite up to par with these examples, primarily because of its pacing. At a run time of over two hours, it easily could have lost a half hour or so in the middle. It tends to meander a bit and, at points, uses a hammer to deliver its message instead of a nudge. And from a selfish standpoint, there is a line in the chorus of the song where the two brothers are out at a bar "taking turns dancing with Maria" that I really wish would have made it into the film!

But there are few perfect movies out there, and these are but a few minor issues I have with it. It's not an easy movie to watch -- it's bleak, it's sad, it's depressing, it's tragic -- but it perfectly captures the tone of this song that I like so much, sometimes with affecting poignancy, and that in itself makes it a worthy tribute and a commendable filmmaking effort.

Highway Patrolman
By Bruce Springsteen

My name is Joe Roberts I work for the state
I'm a sergeant out of Perrineville barracks number 8
I always done an honest job as honest as I could
I got a brother named Franky and Franky ain't no good

Now ever since we was young kids it's been the same come down
I get a call over the radio Franky's in trouble downtown
Well if it was any other man, I'd put him straight away
But when it's your brother sometimes you look the other way

Me and Franky laughin' and drinkin' nothin' feels better than blood on blood
Takin' turns dancin' with Maria as the band played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"

I catch him when he's strayin' like any brother would
Man turns his back on his family well he just ain't no good

Well Franky went in the army back in 1965 I got a farm deferment, settled down, took Maria for my wife
But them wheat prices kept on droppin' till it was like we were gettin' robbed
Franky came home in '68, and me, I took this job

Yea we're laughin' and drinkin' nothin' feels better than blood on blood
Takin' turns dancin' with Maria as the band played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"
I catch him when he's strayin', teach him how to walk that line
Man turns his back on his family he ain't no friend of mine

Well the night was like any other, I got a call 'bout quarter to nine
There was trouble in a roadhouse out on the Michigan line
There was a kid lyin' on the floor lookin' bad bleedin' hard from his head there was a girl cryin' at a table and it was Frank, they said
Well I went out and I jumped in my car and I hit the lights
Well I must of done one hundred and ten through Michigan county that night

It was out at the crossroads, down round Willow bank
Seen a Buick with Ohio plates behind the wheel was Frank
Well I chased him through them county roads till a sign said Canadian border five miles from here
I pulled over the side of the highway and watched his taillights disappear

Me and Franky laughin' and drinkin'
Nothin' feels better than blood on blood
Takin' turns dancin' with Maria as the band played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"
I catch him when he's strayin' like any brother would
Man turns his back on his family well he just ain't no good