“Can’t Stop the Music” (1980)

I admit that I only know about this film because Rob Kozlowski included the movie poster in his “Movie Poster of the Week” series. And a film starring the Village People and Steve Guttenberg is going to pique your interest someway.

Can’t Stop the Music is the pseudo-biography of the formation of the Village People. Jack Morell (Steve Guttenberg) is a songwriter that decides at the beginning of the film to quit his day job as a record store clerk and roller skate his way to freedom. His roommate, Samantha (Valarie Perrine), has an ex-boyfriend that’s a record executive at Marrekesh Records (Paul Sand). Samantha decides that Jack’s vocals won’t work on his songs and recruits a friend, Felipe Rose (the Indian), a construction worker named David Hodo, and Randy Jones (the cowboy), whom she finds while walking through Greenwich Village. Meanwhile, Ron White (Bruce Jenner), a lawyer from St. Louis, shows up after being mugged by an old woman to a party to hear the trio together. The group later has auditions at White’s law firm, where they find tollbooth worker Glenn Hughes (the leatherman) and Alex Briley, the G.I.. The group then rehearses in the YMCA, which causes the film to turn into a music video that is one of the most homoerotic things I’ve ever seen, but I’ve seen more homoerotic things. They then go through some struggles, like in all films about bands, before finding success.

The key problem with Can’t Stop the Music is that it tries to tell a semi-fictitious story while being barely believable. With this film, we’re made to believe that Felipe Rose spends all day in formal Native American ceremonial clothing and that a lawyer from St. Louis would be as naïve as White. Perhaps things like this, as well as how Jack, a songwriter, ended up sharing a palatial place with Samantha, an ex-model, were easier explained back in the 1980s. Maybe not.

But one of the film’s stumbling blocks is Samantha and her relationships with men. The music executive is her ex, but she’s still flirting with him. And her and Ron are in a relationship, which is started after some lasagna is spilled on his pants, which results in his pants being taken off by her and Jack, and eventually Sam and Ron have sex. Throughout the film, her relationship with Ron and the music executive becomes a B-plot that starts to feel placed there to create some dramatic tension.

The unfortunate part about this film is that it’s like a musical where you keep eagerly awaiting the musical numbers because they’re so much better than what’s in between. (This is also how I feel about the typical episode of Glee. But the musical numbers in this “musical comedy” are uninteresting most of the time, although the music is very catchy.

That being said, I still have no desire to watch Xanadu.

Food and Memories

Behold: a grilled cheese sandwich.

A few years ago, I was visiting my grandparents in Southern California with my sister. One day, my grandfather had decided that him, my sister and I would visit Chinatown in Los Angeles. However, he needed to do something before we took the Metrolink into Los Angeles and my sister and I spent time in Downtown Upland.

After looking at the various shops, we became hungry and decided to walk into a place called Deli Zone. We decided to order a root beer float and a grilled cheese sandwich, which was swiss cheese on sourdough bread.

Sitting outside, we took sips from the float and consumed the delectable sandwich. After this trip, I then tried to find a grilled cheese on sourdough bread that came close to the taste of the one I had at Deli Zone. So far, the closest I can get is one that I make in my own kitchen using sourdough bread from Trader Joe’s and swiss cheese from anywhere.
I identify as a native Californian and adoptive Chicagoan. I always felt out of place in Iowa and spent at least 11-12 of the years I lived there wishing I was back in California. For me, any time I eat a grilled cheese sandwich, it brings a nostalgic bliss from being reminded of Southern California, which I would move back to if I didn’t have to drive. The same thing goes with eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made with Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry preserves. The latter has resulted in me searching every grocery store in Chicago that I even stand outside of waiting for the bus to see if they carry Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry preserves because my local grocery store doesn’t. (I eventually did find it, unfortunately it costs as much as a box of the tea I buy. But it’s worth it.)

Because of what those foods remind me of, I find preparing and consuming those dishes to be very comforting. After I’ve had a tiring day of research, lectures and homework, sometimes I just need a grilled cheese sandwich, even if it’s 90 degrees outside and the air conditioner in my apartment is on full blast.

And because of my mother’s cooking, various foods remind me of my mother or of home, such as marzipan candies or apfelstrudel or latkes. (I’m not Jewish, but when teaching my sister and I about Jewish holidays and traditions, my mother made latkes, complete with applesauce.) I would assume that if I ate homemade tortillas or hamantaschen, I would be reminded of cooking in the kitchen with my mother.

Similarly, when I eat out, certain foods remind me of good times. Crème brûlée at Lockwood makes me think of the lighting design for Spring Awakening, which I gushed over while consuming a crème brûlée at that restaurant. I associate food at Ann Sather, particularly the cinnamon rolls, with good times because anytime I’ve ever been to Ann Sather since my preliminary visit has been with friends or family and I’ve always enjoyed being with those people. When I eat at Mexican restaurants in Chicago, I tend to see if they have fish tacos because I also associate that with happy memories in my mind.

There are certain things that trigger memories of events. They can be as simple as someone mentioning a word or phrase or an action a person does. But the scents and tastes of food and their triggers are currently something that’s fascinating me.

What are some foods that you associate with memories?