Days and Nights and Nights (and Watchmen)

“Where’s the fucking watchmen post”

This is the text message I received today, circa about 3 o’clock from one Chadd Harbold and it gave me a good laugh as I looked up from my pizza and cafe con leche.

My pops and I had been wandering a while before settling on the place we wanted to sit down and eat at. I had been working on a night shoot and he had kindly agreed to go out and grab something decent with me upon my awakening at around 2.

I don’t fully remember the exchange agreeing upon him with this, but as I took the 7 train home at 7 this morning from a Fast Food-laden corner of Queens Boulevard, I think I texted him something along the lines of:

“dad food when awaken. best be you not eating. Better!!”

I can only assume he interpreted this as “Want to get lunch?” because he came over at around 2 to wake me up and off we went.

Our exchanges then were the average meal-seeking ones between us.

“What do you want?” I’d ask.

“What do you want?” He’d reply.

“I dunno. Something good.”

“Well, anything you want is fine.”

“Well, what do you want?”

“I don’t know, what do you want.”

“I dunno. Something not American.”

“Well how about there?”

“They’re American.”

and so on.

And as we would talk, we’d meander, this time our journey taking us past the Vegan Dosa Cart that was inexplicably on the side of Washington Square Park on a Saturday of all days, but it still was doing a brisk business.

The Dosa Cart is, I can say unquestionably, the best food I’ve ever eaten that’s been marketed to me as “vegan”. For 6 bucks you can get enough food and flavor to satisfy any gourmet and, and this astonishing to me, not even really care that you’re not eating meat.

The Special Pondicherry Masala Dosa, their specialty and the 2007 Vendy Award winner, is a thin but crunchy lentil-flour crepe filled with lightly-spiced fluffy potato, peppers, lettuce and chili-garlic sauce. It’s best for a light lunch but it beats the hell out of any deli sandwich or Shade’s crepes down the block.

However, if you’re really hungry, the “meaty” meal there is the formerly “secret” item, the Roti Curry. This dish is a delcious mash-up of bread, potato, soy protein, masala spice and vegetables, none of which do justice to how delicious and ridiculously filling this actually is. The cart is usually around from 12-4. Routinely by 1 or 2. this dish is sold out. Get with a surfeit of chili-garlic sauce (whose name does do it justice) for best results.

Also, all lunches there come with coconut chutney and Sambal, a delicious lentil-eggplant soup that is light and salty and a little spicy and is addictive as all hell.

To get back to it though, my father and I weren’t trying to eat lunch there; we were just trying to get sustenance for our pre-lunch wanderings. We got a pair of Samosas and the super-nice fellow who runs the cart and knows me gave my pops and I some Sambal on the house which we chugged out of small styrofoam cups as we continued walking.

Eventually my indecision got the best of me and my pops ended up picking the place, somewhere he’d been before. But when we got there the place was barricaded with children, the site of some multi-cultural West Village fourth birthday party involving balloons and soused-up moms. “10 Minutes,” Steve the Maitre-D told us and a diet coke and walk-aroud-the-block later we were in.

The place was Pasita,  a name I found out later from the menu, referred to a type of fermented banana wine that the owner’s French-Jewish father started making in Venezuela upon fleeing Vichy France in World War II. I didn’t drink, but my pops and I ended up getting some good pizzas. I got the “La Reina”, a pizza with avocada, Venezuelan crema, shredded checkien and lemon zest, while my pops got the “Verdo Y Blanca”, a simple pesto-pizza with pesto, fresh tomato and a couple different kinds of cheeses. The lunch special made them three dollars cheaper and slightly smaller, which was good as they were already big to begin with.

About three or so slices in, I got the text message from Chadd and laughed to my dad.

“Anything amuse you?” He asked wryly.

I explained that my friend was impatient for a review of Watchmen from me, as I sometimes wrote about movies “online”, deciding at the last moment that if my father was going to find out about my blog he could do it on his own.

“I guess he’s either an addict or just wants to hear about himself.” I told Pops.

As Steve the Maitre-D–who kept calling me “sir” much to my discomfort the whole meal, as I’m 21 and he couldn’t have been older than 30–came over with the check he commented:

“Excuse me, did I hear you say something about Watchmen?”

And the conversation began.

Normally, I might wax rhapsodic about a film, my likes and dislikes, but I guess to me, Watchmen didn’t merit that.

“I think the impression I get is that Zack Snyder, for the director that he is, did the best he could with the material.” I told Steve the Maitre-D.

And that’s pretty much how I feel. I think Snyder is a limited director working with an exceedingly difficult source material to adapt, playing against marketing and expectation, since Watchmen is a very reflective book and people expect non-stop action from a comic-book movie.

That said, I hated the music, the pop-exploitationof classics seemingly wasted, but Steve the Maitre-D, being superior in his nerdly knowledge to me, recalled that those songs were vaguely referenced in the book, something I’d believe. It didn’t mean that it worked, but I believed it.

And I also believed and still believe that Jackie Earle Haley was perfect for the part of Rorsarch and excuted his part of the film beautifully. In fact I thought almost all the performances, with the distinctively bad exceptions of Matthew Goode (Ozymandius) and Malin Akerman (Silk Spectre II), were excellent. Billy Cruddup and Patrick Wilson really had studied the source material and tried their best to work with it.

As for Malin Akerman, it was agreed between Steve the Maitre-D and I, she had probably just fucked Zack Snyder.

Can’t really blame the guy, she’s pretty hot.

But in talking to Steve the Maitre-D, next to my two slices of remaining pizza, it finally occurred to me what I felt what the problem with Watchmen was.

“Well,” I expostulated. “you know even with a movie like Iron Man, which is not the best movie, or The Dark Knight, it has a drive in it. You’re going so fast that even when something stupid happens, the next minute it’s gone. See: Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. Those comic-book films have a force to them, a briskness that mirrors the page-turning quality of a serial. Watchmen didn’t have that. And it’s hard because, it is a ponderous, self-reflexive book. But the point of that book, one of the massive underpinnings, is the ideas that we’re running out of time. Snyder tries this with the “Doomsday clock” and everything, but it’s not really pushed. In fact it’s sort of dropped. There’s no pressure in the film, no urgency. Only violence, which while part of the book, is supposed to underscore the rising tension of the times. What’s lost in Watchmen is that we’re not ticking down to anything. The world is so fake and stylized, we have no investment in it and are unthreatend by it’s demise.”

And looking back, that’s what I think. That’s Zack Snyder’s big failure and why the movie fails at redemption.

After all that, my pops, who had been holding his credit card out this whole time, was more than ready to pay the check though and we headed out.

I thanked Steve-the-Maitre-D and gave him my blog address, telling him my review would be up later that night.

We stopped in Gray’s Papaya on the way home, another place that knows who I am. I told my pops, who made a face as we went in, that I felt tired and crusty and that a Papaya Drink was the right thing to pep one up.

This whole day had been precipitated in its easy-going-pace by the very idea of a “night shoot”; resting in the day so you can film out the darkness at a location. I actually prefer it on a weekend, since night shoots are generally shorter and makes for a kind of change in your rhythm that can be interesting to entertain.

After all, it’s nice to have some time for some food wanderings, movie conversations and the occasional blog post, without feeling like a bump on a log.

Or, as my friend Dan Pleck might put it, a chode.

***

DOSA MAN (NY DOSAS)

Lunches (Pondicherry Dosa, Roti Curry) from 5 dollars and up. Appetizers from $1.50.

NW Corner of Sullivan St and Washington Square Park South

ACEBDFV to West 4th

PASITA

Pizzas 12-16 dollars, 3 dollars off at lunch.

47 8th Avenue near 13th St.

ACE to 14th St.

GRAY’S PAPAYA

Small Papaya Drink (The Nick Feitel Special)- $1.25

NE Corner of 8th St and 6th Ave.

ACE to West 4th.

***

EDIT: For an alternate opinion on Watchmen, check out Beardo-Malone’s Who Poops the Poopmen? over at his dilly, replete with further JFK-analysis and clips of old John Wayne movies.

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3 Responses to Days and Nights and Nights (and Watchmen)

  1. Chadd says:

    I wrote that because I was hoping for a thorough flogging, which neither you nor Malone gave. You only scratched the surface of how bad this fucking “movie” was.

  2. Lord Malic says:

    Madarchod.

  3. Graham R. says:

    I really enjoyed this post Nick! I felt the same about Watchmen, especially regarding Jackie Earle Haley. I think you should have given a direct shoutout to Jeffrey Dean Morgan though, who was my favorite actor of the film and did an excellent job portraying the comedian. I also liked patrick wilson but the sex scene ruined his character’s personality for me. i know that’s how it is in the book and it wasn’t his as an actor’s fault but snyder plays up the sexual awkwardness of night owl then ruins it with that cheesy “hallelujah” scene. finally, yeah malin akerman was a total kung fu hotty, thats all though…

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