Friday, October 12, 2018

Live Fast, Steal Cars, Die Young And You Figure The Rest Of It-Nick Cage’s "Gone In Sixty Seconds" (2000)-A Film Review

Live Fast, Steal Cars, Die Young And You Figure The Rest Of It-Nick Cage’s "Gone In Sixty Seconds" (2000)-A Film Review  

DVD Review

By Josh Breslin

Gone in Sixty Seconds, starring Nick Cage, 2000

It will do no disservice to his memory that the late Peter Paul Markin, forever known in his old neighborhood as Scribe after one Frankie Riley knighted him with that title after he wrote about ten thousand words describing his, Frankie’s, exploits as leader of the corner boys in the Acre section of humble pie working-class North Adamsville that he, Scribe was the greatest “hot wire” guy I ever met. And that includes Johnny Blade, not his real name, but the name everybody knew him by up in Olde Saco in Maine where I grew up and where I hung out with him as he made his legend. I refuse to give his real name because I still owe him fifty bucks for fifty years for spilling coffee all over his 1957 two-toned, red and white, Chevy to die for passenger seat. He might still be looking for me, he was that kind of guy but the last I heard he was doing a nickel at Saw Ridge for grand theft auto when he got caught stealing a Mercedes for a guy who left him in the lurch. Something that definitely would not have happened in his prime, in the days when he could steal five cars in a row and not work up a sweat.

But enough of Johnny B. because this is about Scribe, actually it is not about him either but a strictly from nowhere film review of Nick Cage’s epic boost film Gone in Sixty Seconds where he plays the legendary Memphis Raines a guy that even I had heard of working some devilish magic out in West Coast high end luxury car heaven. I had admired his work and work ethic from afar once he retired unscathed and unrepentant. The Scribe part is important though because the film doesn’t make sense, or rather why I grabbed this assignment doesn’t make sense since while I have nothing but respect for the real Memphis Raines, the role Nick Cage made his own, I was never that car mad that I would want to write about freaking cars, or guys who loved them more than girls maybe. Although I did do a short piece on Lonesome Slim who was the greatest “chicken run” guy in the back roads of Maine who grabbed all the chicks when he went toe to toe with some reckless farm boy who lost his girl even before he put his pedal to the floor.

Here is the Scribe conundrum though, maybe two. To look at Scribe, to know him as I did when we met out in San Francisco in the Summer of Love, 1967 no way would you think this guy could open his front door without drama much less boost any car he wanted to, if he wanted to, in the days when hot-wiring cars was a lot easier than today with all the computer wrap around before you can even jimmy the door.  I didn’t know this until many years later but when I met Scribe on Russian Hill in Frisco town he was sitting in a Camaro which I though was odd for a guy who looked like your mother’s worst son nightmare “hippie.” Especially true after I asked him if he had a joint and he gave me a huge blunt telling me not to Bogart the thing which naïve as I was I didn’t know meant basically not to throw the damn thing away when I was done. That car thing was pure Scribe, who was running under the moniker Be-Bop Benny out there just then. He had hot-wired the Camaro against all probabilities in broad daylight right at the summit of the Golden Gate Bridge (I laughed when Sam, the guy who told me about this Scribe exploit, the guy was probably then still looking for it in that parking lot, maybe thinking the cops had grabbed it). The other part of the Scribe mystery was that he couldn’t drive worth a damn, got more dings in more cars than you would believe possible. Thankfully when we were on Captain Crunch’s transformed yellow school bus he had his own bus driver, a guy who was a cousin of another legendary auto guy Neal Cassady.  

But like Seth Garth, who told me once he was afraid of automobiles, afraid to be in them, likes to say enough of cutting up old touches even if it about mad monk Scribe who we all seriously still miss after he fell down young, too young. Just figure in your head that this is in honor of hot-wire Scribe, who could have been in the crew Memphis put together to grab 50, count them, fifty cars in one holy goof of a night. Probably would have had the whole thing figured in about an hour-see that was the contradiction-you wouldn’t want the guy to drive anything except maybe a tricycle, but you would give your whole share for him to plan the capers. Right up there with Memphis who like most boosters who don’t do serious time had to retire when the adrenaline rushes didn’t do it any more and the hands got a little shaky, maybe he started missing a step or two.

Car-stealing let’s call it boosting like they do in the profession, like bank-robbing, hell, like jack-rolling and like stealing kids’ milk money abhors a vacuum. Somebody will step up to be the next legend, the guy young guys talk about. That is what happened when Memphis put away his tools, went straight. Problem though was his half-ass younger brother, Kip, was the guy who wanted to be the next legend. But boosting stuff is not in the genes, DNA or whatever you call it. It is all about cool nerves and taking care of business-first. Kip fell down just like Scribe in his time did. Fucked up a boost for a hard-ass gangster named Raymond or Ralph something, a guy out of England who was looking to run the rackets stateside and was going to be pressed as thin as a pancake if Memphis didn’t come out of retirement to grab that 50- car run-and not 48, 49 either 50 or Kip was dust. Memphis might not have loved his younger brother, but blood is blood and that Raymond or Ralph whatever knew it.

Retired or active though to do a job as big as this you need a crew and need some serious inside connections to find out where the luxury cars are being held in a big city like LA. They are there in such a rich car-necessary and loved town but you have to dig them out. Memphis reassembled his old crew together and along with the remnants of Kip’s cowboys they had a team. They also had an idea that the whole thing had to be done in one night and fast because once the stolen vehicles started being reported the booster cops would be on the scent, would be dogging the whole operation. Not good.          

Game on. The night time is the right time and Memphis and his savvy crew including an ex-lover gal who got off on boosting cars and not just sitting in boss cars with some bozo showed some real skills in grabbing that first easy twenty-five just waiting to be picked off. The next twenty-five though required plenty of work-and nerves since the booster cops were hot on the trail. Finally they grabbed 49, not fifty and that Raymond or Ralph whatever said no go-short meant one dead Kip. Of course that would never happen when brother Memphis was on the case. The bad bad guy took a fall-literally and because bad guy Memphis saved a booster cop’s life he and the crew walked. Scribe showed me many of the techniques of the trade, of the art of the boost I am sure if he had been around to see the film in 2000 he would have had a max daddy critique. Pound for pound though Scribe was the greatest hot-wire guy I ever saw-no doubt.    

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