' ' Cinema Romantico: A Proustian Moment at Potbelly

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Proustian Moment at Potbelly

A Friday afternoon. Lunch at Potbelly Sandwich Shop. For once, they don’t have the acoustic strummer set up along the wall for musical accompaniment and are just piping in music. You’re eating your sandwich and reading your book. “I’ve Seen All Good People” by Yes comes over the speakers.

Your book vanishes. Your sandwich disappears. You’re no longer in Potbelly. You’ve been transported to the moment in “Almost Famous” when William Miller is granted entrance backstage to the Stillwater concert, the metaphorical curtain drawn as he whisked into the magical kingdom of which he has only dreamt, probably in class with his head buried in his desk when he’s pretended to be asleep so he doesn’t have to sit there silently, not interacting with people he doesn’t like. His own world was in color but this is Kodachrome, motherfucker. It’s the Land of Oz, except instead of munchkins there are roadies and instead of witches there are groupies and instead of The Great and Powerful Oz there’s Russell Hammond. “Don't surround yourself with yourself.” And William’s emitting this unbelieving beam because when a dream comes true you somehow never have time to stop and process that it’s come true. It just moves in one unyielding wave of exultation and it’s like you’re trying to learn how to surf on the fly but you don’t wipe out because some unspoken power of the universe is keeping you upright even as you feel yourself, physically and emotionally, tossing and turning with a joy that’s so forceful you feel nauseous without feeling ill.

And then the businessman yapping loudly on his smartphone about market development strategy and operating leverage awakens you from this involuntary memory and drags you back through the uninviting gates of the real world. You take a bite of your sandwich.


Derek Armstrong said...

This is such a lovely, poetic piece that I almost hesitate to rain on the parade by talking about how it fills me sorrow -- the sorrow of learning, over the past few days, that Aloha is, alas, quite probably not This Cameron Crowe, the Cameron Crowe some of us have been missing since this movie.

(And though it would be nicer to leave off there, I owe it to Vanilla Sky to say that I love you, VS, but you are not THIS Cameron Crowe, you are a different Cameron Crowe.)

(And I know that this comment is actually sort of unwelcome on a blog that loves Elizabethtown as much as this one does.)


Nick Prigge said...

It's not unwelcome. I thank you for leaving it. We Bought A Zoo shattered my Crowe Idealism despite my well-known adoration of Elizabethtown, so I get it. And yet...I fully plan on walking into Aloha this weekend with all the hope I can muster in my heart.