Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Blue in the Face


The small film Smoke appeared in the same year as this, a sort of sequel in that it takes place in and around the small tobacco store run by Auggie, played wonderfully by Harvey Keitel. Only it’s not, really, because very few of the characters carry over from the first film. What happened is that the director, Wayne Wang, watched some improvisational material from the first film and thought it was pretty damn good. So he took a page from Roger Corman’s book and held the crew over for five more days and gathered more of his friends and let them loose. And what a crew of friends! Lou Reed and the director Jim Jarmusch have major parts, and both of them really nail it. In small parts you will probably spot Roseanne, Madonna, and RuPaul (all single names, oddly enough). Ones we did not spot were Mira Sorvino, Michael J. Fox, and Lily Tomlin. You got to be kidding! we both cried, when we realized who she had played. If you spot her, you’re really good.

This is even more of a patchwork than the original film, and maybe not quite as successful. But still good. What it really is, is an ode to Brooklyn. Myself, when I think of New York City, Brooklyn is not what comes to mind. I think you need to have grown up there to love it. There are interviews with Brooklynites, and sorrowful reminiscences about moving the goddam Dodgers to Los Angeles and knocking down Ebbets Field. There is also a lot of talk about Belgian waffles, which apparently are a big deal there. I remember them fondly. When a friend and I went to the New York World’s Fair in 1964 (in Flushing Meadows, Queens, not Brooklyn) we subsisted on Belgian waffles, which were a new thing back then. They were only $1, and they were heaped high with strawberries and real whipped cream. Cheapest meal at the Fair. And it seems that Belgian waffles are not really Belgian. Over there, they eat them plain, and cold, like cookies, which the British call “biscuits.” Who knew?