I hazily remember that back when I used to work full-time, I used to do things like go into other peoples’ offices or classrooms to jabber when I needed a break. I even remember a Catchy Jingles War with my boss Elizabeth, in which we’d wait until the other one stepped away from her desk, call each other up, and sing or whistle an annoyingly catchy tune–”I’d rather buy at PC [that’s PC Richards!” or “Can-can, Shop-Rite has the can cans!” There was also the time that Angie and I plotted a hella bad April Fool’s Day prank that I couldn’t laugh about for a long time. But it’s a good thing I have these memories, because when I do things like watch clips from the Fame movie during writing breaks, I don’t feel like such a lout.
I had a really good reason for watching Fame. I needed a good poem quote about swimming for the big moment when Luke takes the plunge, and I found one from Walt Whitman–
Swim with the swimmers, wrestle with wrestlers, march in line with the firemen, and pause, listen, count.
This is so apropos you don’t even know it. But then I thought, “Oh, ‘I sing the body electric’–just like that song from Fame! I need to watch that. And do you:
For those of you tragically not in the know, Fame was a masterpiece of 80s cinema. It followed the lives of several students at the High School for the Performing Arts in NYC and starred such luminaries as Irene Cara, the guy who played Rocket Romano on ‘er,’ a really cute cellist, and Debbie Allen. (“You’re going to work! You’re going to sweat!”) It got turned into a TV show that was on too late for me to watch (actually, the movie was too racy for me when it came out, too; it was only in later years that I rented it)–but everybody knew the songs (I think we sang them at day camp), and
everybody wanted to go to The Fame School. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t get to watch the movie when I was little, or there’d have been much I was freaked out about, but the singing and dancing were great!
And “I sing the body electric” is such a great number, too. I hope that one day WordPress will allow inset commentary a la Mystery Science Theatre, because there’s so much I need to say about this one. F’rinstance:
-did someone tell everybody except the black kids who get the falsetto duet not to have any expression when they sing, a la 90% of high school students? These guys look totally divorced from the awesome emotional content of their song. It’s hilariously realistic.
-Mr. Shorofsky! The coolest non-crusty teacher ever! I wonder what happened to him?
-The dancing during the rocking-out portion–is that considered ballet? It’s kind of just people picking each other up, albeit in really cool combos. I eagerly await a balletomane’s opinion.
-Look at that thin, wide camera! I’d totally forgotten about those!
-The guy they focus on during the line, “I toast to my own reunion–my own reunion” looks like the one who plays Big Love on Season 4 of House! I’m sure he was in diapers when this came out, so maybe it was his Papa?
Oh, and. I just found the TV theme song so I could share that with you, too, and I think some serious Fame watching is going to need to commence. (I wonder if Wild and Woolly Video carries it?) I haven’t seen it in years, but I have no doubt that it beats the dance-belt off of Glee, which, I’m sorry, is the most heartbreaking misuse of story ever. And hello, Janet Jackson and Michael Cerveris are in this? Why didn’t anybody tell me?
One final note: watching the credits of multi-racial kids, all struggling to rock out and fit in actually reminds me of my work in progress! I’m sure that in some episode, there’s some Fame equivalent to the aforementioned Luke, doing something similar to swimming with his shirt off. Yes! This was not a totally loutish digression after all.
Remember my name–Fame!