August 4th, 2007

The Right Time

We went to see Bullitt tonight at the Fox Theater. I'd never seen it on the big screen before. And the VHS copy I'd watched years ago was pan and scan, so I had only perceived a glimmer of its grandeur. Wow. Even though the air conditioning was broken and, worse still, the screening was preceded by an Iraq War-themed Ford commercial and a speech by Republican car dealer magnate Jim Click, I left feeling elated. The famous chase scene was even better than I remembered. And the long and medium shots of institutional spaces, particularly San Francisco General used the margins of the frame to superb effect.

I'm actually glad that I had to sit through Jim Click. Because the theater has free wireless, I'd had my laptop out to pass the time before the film. Then I remembered that I'd forgotten to set up the VCR to tape the Giants-Padres game. So I loaded up the ESPN Gamecast and followed along while tuning out Click's smarmy donor voice. Barry was due up right before the film's 7:30pm start time. I kept reloading the page as Click neared the end of his speech. 1-1 count. 2-1 count. Then I felt it. If I could only load the page one more time before I had to put the laptop away, Bonds would hit 755. I decided I could give it one more go as I began to move it into my bag. So I clicked on the circle arrow. And this is what I saw:

It was strange that I'd been so certain that he'd send that pitch into the seats. The more I thought about it, though, the more it made sense. To me, that is. I'm writing this from within the sun-dappled paranoia that defines my relation to what I care about.

Let me rehearse the connections that went through my head. Bullitt came out in 1968, the year I was born. Most of the film is shot on location in The City, in places that I've visited many times. 1968 also happens to be the year that Barry's father Bobby Bonds made the majors, joining the Giants right after his son Barry's fourth birthday. Presumably, that was the first year in which Barry got to see the Giants play at Candlestick, which is located quite near where the famous car chase in Bullitt concludes in a ball of fire.

Wait, there's more. Bullitt also happens to be the first grown-up movie that made an impression on me. I saw it when it first aired on television as a toddler and was transfixed by the chase scene. You may recall that my first word was "car," months before I said "mom" or "dad." Well, Bullitt was the perfect picture for a child with my psychological make-up. So you see, Bonds almost had to hit the long-awaited home run at the precise moment when my devotion to his cause was leading me to delay immersion in a film experience inextricably bound up with my entry into language and culture. That's what I mean about my brand of paranoia. It discerns meaningful connections where they are objectively lacking, but interprets them as a blessing rather than a curse.