gentry13

My All-Time, Top-Five High Fidelity Quotes

In Uncategorized on May 28, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

I was watching Justified – one of the best extended meditations on anger and father issues that I’ve ever seen – the other night and I realized that I knew the actress that played Ava from somewhere. One of the favorite tv games in my family was “where have you seen that actor/ress before” so I couldn’t stop thinking about it and, for some odd reason, not imbding it, for the rest of the episode. Finally, in the midst of a sermon the next morning, it hit me.

“You know I didn’t have sex again until I got out of college. That’s when you’re supposed to have sex Rob. In college!” She was none other than Penny Harwick from High Fidelity. The girl that was, “in Rob’s charming expression, tight.”

No wonder I recognized her. Although I’ve seen scores of finer films since I first saw High Fidelity with a then ex-girlfriend in 1998, few films have more clearly captured my journey from long-delayed adolescence to halting adulthood. Judging by the shared fandom of a few of my closest friends, I think it hit the mark for many of us.

So, since you asked, I’m going to share my all time, top-five High Fidelity quotes and quick reflections.

1. Rob: “Yes. I am a fucking asshole.”

Rob’s L train confession about his tone-deaf response to Laura’s schmasmortion and the role his own infidelity played in the advent of Ian, rings true to about, oh, 7% of my daily thoughts. Eight ago my friend Rick, who was roughly the same age then that I am now, talked about how often he realized he had the wrong take on biblical texts in the past or how much he regretted now regretted doing or saying something in the past. At the time, I thought, “I don’t think my exegesis is that far off, that often and it’s rare that I spend time lamenting the past.”

Shit I was stupid. Now, barely a day goes by that I don’t audibly grunt about, to take only one example, spewing a cancer joke in the presence of a young cancer survivor’s husband. My fourth grade friend Kari was right, my foot usually resides in my mouth. That awkward alignment is mirrored by the fit between the good intentions of my heart and my oddly shaped, ill-considered actions. Those intermittent, painful “ughs” inspire questions from the Pix and, on my better days, make me more dependent upon grace.”

2. Rob: “Some days I am tempted to throw the Country A-K rack out in the middle of the street and go work for a Virgin Megastore.”

I cannot count how many times I’ve muttered this sentiment to friends and, on a couple of occasions, even typed it in this space, as I’ve struggled with my failures as a bi-vocational leader in small, relational churches and thought longingly – and yes, occasionally enviously – of friends who are free and fairly well compensated to minister in the big box shops that I am sometimes grateful for and always critical of. Like Rob, I bitch about being on the margins even though, if given free access to and ability to navigate within the mainstream, I would quickly return from whence I came.

3. Rob: “Hey, I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I’m certainly not the dumbest. I mean, I’ve read books like “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “Love in the Time of Cholera”, and I think I’ve understood them. They’re about girls, right? Just kidding. But I have to say my all-time favorite book is Johnny Cash’s autobiography “Cash” by Johnny Cash.

I wholeheartedly resonate with the initial self-assessment, though I must add that I could also stand to spend far less time calculating how dumb or smart that I am. Although I’ve never delved into Latin American fiction, I also think “Cash” is an almost perfect memoir.

4. Rob, In reference to Charlie’s annoyingly arty friends: “Sure I want their money and clothes and jobs and opinions. And I’d like to have advice on jet lag, but that’s not it. I mean they’re not bad people and I’m not a class warrior, it’s something else.”

Sorry, Rob, have to part company here. Working and living beside people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations for the last four years has made me a bit of a class warrior. Other people have power and resources that – my community, the community I serve, the underserved, can’t find the right term and not sure how to identify without disempowering – desperately needs and I am out to help them secure.

5. Rob: “I’ve started to make a tape… in my head… for Laura. Full of stuff she likes. Full of stuff that make her happy. For the first time I can sort of see how that is done.”

It’s taken me more than three decades, but I’m finally learning that serving others is, in the best sense, self-serving, since it often makes life more beautiful, meaningful, and true for both parties. I don’t make mix-tapes, since my musical tastes are woefully pedestrian. But over the past month I’ve been trying to do a little cleaning on a daily basis, something that the Pixie likes, and it seems to be bearing, at worst, slightly blighted fruit.

I hope in the years to come that I can find the grace to invest in more of the things that my family and friends like as well (except for cards, games, american idle and apple picking) so that we can be surprised by the joy found in fellowship.

5a. Laura: “You’re making something. You – the critic, the professional appreciator – put something new into the world. And the second one of those things gets sold, you’re officially a part of it.”

After spending adolescence and most of college feasting on roast preacher and deconstructing faith communities, I finally led a church, albeit of the boutique, home church variety, of my own and had the privilege of helping lead another beautifully quirky community. Those experiences were profoundly humbling. I’ve never been able to get quite as lathered up about a sketchy sermon again (excluding sermons focused on the prayer of jabez, why Jesus the poverello wants to bless us with piles of money, or while implicitly critiquing the roman empire of the first century asserted or assumed that our fake empire is grrrrrreat!).

This movement from cultural critic to culture maker is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, due in no small part to andy crouch’s great book on this practice. I’m learning that there is a definite holiness that can be discovered by moving beyond constant critique and walking beside him who “makes all things new.”

So, that’s my slightly extended all-time top-five. I suspect that High Fidelity also has the added benefit of helping more than one of ex process through the relational rubble left behind by a neurotic, even if Jesus bent, narcissist. But, of course, I can’t speak for them.

If you have an all-time, high fidelity top five, I’d love to hear it.

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  1. First off, Gentry, not to be mr. fact-checker, but High Fidelity was 2000…only because the two greatest music-related films came out in the same year (the other, of course, Almost Famous).

    Now, my Top Five:

    1. “The night Laura’s daddy died. Sha-na-na-na-na-na. Brother what a night it really was, mother what night it really -Angina’s tough…glory be!”

    2. “CHARLIE! YOU F***** B****! Let’s work it out!” no better pairing of antithetical statements in cinema.

    3. “Did I listen to pop music because i was miserable…or am i miserable because I listened to pop music?”

    4. “Rob, top five musical crimes perpetuated by Stevie Wonder in the 80s and 90s? SUB-QUESTION: is it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day sins, is it better to BURN OUT or FADE AWAY?”

    5. “John Dillinger was killed behind that theater in a hale of FBI gunfire. And do you know who tipped them off? His f****** girlfriend. All he wanted to do was go to the movies.”

    This was too tough, Jeff. Next thing i know, you’ll be asking for my top five Clerks or Fight Club quotes.

    • damn it! that charlie quote is so good it shoulda been mine.

      thanks for calling my cards on 1998. i needed a new positive memory for that year.

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