Sunday, May 5, 2013

Breakfast Bullitt

It was a day with some age on it.

When I got back from my walk, it was to an invitation to breakfast at Joe's Inn.

As in Joe's Inn, begun in 1952 Joe's Inn.

It had been a couple of years since I'd been in Joe's and while I know the citywide consensus is that it's the place for breakfast, it had probably been more like eight years since I'd started my day at Joe's.

The sidewalk was crowded with large groups of hungry people, meaning that our small group slid right in and got a booth at the back.

It's always easier to get in to Joe's if you don't bring nine of your closest friends or family members.

As in the past, the wait to get into Joe's is always longer than the wait to get food and in a twinkling, I had a pile of hotcakes and bacon in front of me.

Over conversation about the similarities of Portland and Richmond, the new classical/jazz series starting next week at Commercial Taphouse and the benefits of Relay Food, I worked that stack down.

When we left, people were still gathered in clumps on the sidewalk awaiting their shot at plentiful, cheap food.

Our city is nothing if not predictable.

Full of pancake and pig, my next stop was the Byrd Theater for a benefit for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

They were showing "Bullitt,"  a 1968 movie I've never seen, so naturally I was meeting up with someone who'd seen it many, many times, albeit never on the big screen.

Out in front of the Byrd, I was surprised to find several vintage Mustangs, the car star of the film, parked on Cary Street.

Apparently the Central Virginia Mustang Club was doing some showing off and helping lure film goers inside.

As I checked out the pristine cars, I heard the three guys sitting in chairs guarding them talking.

The big one with the Southern accent was telling the others, "Yea, I took her out 360 past Pole Green Road and you know where the road dips way down there? Well, I come over that hill at a right good clip and every one of them pine trees musta dropped its pollen that day, 'cause it was like being in a sandstorm. Now, I been in some fierce sandstorms in Saudi Arabia, but this pollen had them beat!"

The discussion devolved into the importance of keeping one's Mustang as clean as possible, no matter how often washing was required.

Luckily my companion arrived before I got sucked into that conversation.

When we went to get popcorn (yes, popcorn after breakfast), I found a favorite musician behind the counter.

She was amazed that I'd never seen "Bullitt," although she, too, had only seen it at home.

I told her I hoped she was coming inside to watch it then.

"Oh, yea, I'm gonna stick my head in," she grinned. "Steve McQueen is a dreamboat."

While a cop drama is not my usual cup of tea, I reveled in the period details of 1968.

Taxi drivers gave hand signals to make turns.

Nurses and stewardesses wore caps.

Every woman, old or young, fat or skinny, wore her skirts above the knees.

Men's sideburns were epic and everywhere.

People locked their car doors with a key and wore lap seat belts if they wore them at all (most didn't).

When people checked in at an airline, the attendant looked at a list to see the passengers' names. A list!

Despite never having seen the movie, even I knew of its seminal car chase scene through the hills of San Francisco.

It wasn't just the beauty of San Fran architecture whizzing by (although it was lovingly shot) or the ridiculously fast speeds they were doing that made it so compelling.

No, it was the way it had been filmed, with the camera angle replicating every up and down motion of the car until I felt my stomach go queasy like it does on a roller coaster.

It wasn't hard to see why the picture had won an Oscar for best editing.

The movie also had a jazz-influenced score that conveyed the tension of the four-day period encompassed in the story, giving it a very hep 1968 feel.

But the two most interesting things I noticed were the absence of bad language ("bullshit" was as risque as it got) and how it wasn't until the final scene that Bullitt fired his gun.

Not that there hadn't been tons of shooting by bad guys throughout, but not our man Bullitt.

And despite his stolid countenance, he even had a romantic moment with his girlfriend. Once.

What will happen to us time, she asks him after viewing a murder victim.

Time starts now, Bullitt says, although what that means, I have no idea.

I guess that's what makes him a dreamboat.

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