Keep On L-I-V-I-N!
“The older you get, man, the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N!” It’s probably been a while since you’ve seen Richard Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused.” And already, it’s been ten years since the big end-of-school party at the Moon Tower. On May 31, 2003, that’s where about 2,300 Austinites, in addition to the cast and crew, all gathered to watch the film, drink beer and party. It had been a while since my own last viewing, and oh what a treasure trove of goodness awaited. And really, underneath all the great moments (Ben Affleck jumping out of his hooptie with a paddle yelling, “Y’all ready to kick some a*s?!”, Renee Zellweger (don’t blink) pouring ketchup over a freshman at Parker Posey’s command), is still a damn cool story. It’s often called Richard Linklater’s love letter to teenage life in the ’70s, but it also makes a good point about the few memorable moments in life—most importantly, when you aren’t having one of those, you should make sure you’re—as Matthew McConaughey’s Wooderson puts it—“L-I-V-I-N!”
Partygoers at Walter E. Long Park started staking out spots around 5pm, with everyone setting up chairs and blankets on a downward-sloping valley. It was proper outdoor Texas fun—lots of hot sun and almost no shade. At the base of the valley, just before the lake, were numerous speakers and one very large (20’ x 40’) screen (courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse Theatre’s Rolling Roadshow). To get the mood rolling, staple songs from the ’70s played out and a mix of Austin musicians banded together to play the film’s soundtrack. The Alamo Drafthouse Theatre sold beer and food—well, I’m pretty sure I saw food booths, anyway—though anyone with a red or yellow badge could slip into the VIP tent for a little free munching—not to mention shade. However, the stars themselves only began showing up after 7:00pm, about an hour before showtime, when they were led to the designated paparazzi area, marked with red ropes for both media and fans.
Joey Lauren Adams was the first to saunter up, seemingly out of nowhere, smiling and more than happy to chat with everyone. Adams played the lead’s girlfriend, Simone Kerr—though these days she will always be Alyssa Jones from Chasing Amy—another collaboration with fellow “Dazed” co-star Ben Affleck. (By the way, I should take a moment to mention how much I savored watching The Afflecktion’s character be the absolute butt of the film, it was thoroughly enjoyable and I highly recommend it). Adams held the media’s attention easily as she gushed with obvious appreciation for the movie and what working on it meant for her. After Ms. Adams disappeared into the VIP tent, a group of four men snuck, as discreetly as possible, behind us into the back entrance. Richard Linklater was among them, and as it later turned out, so were Jason London (Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd) and Nicky Katt (Clint Bruno). Linklater emerged moments later (presumably with a bit of prodding) to answer questions and allow photographs. He mentioned plans for a busy summer, notably the post-production of “The School of Rock” (starring Jack Black). Despite his dislike of being on display for photographers, Linklater was an excellent sport, signing and chatting away. (Jason London was later successfully accosted and brought up near the entrance of the VIP tent, much to the satisfaction of gaggles of girls bearing cameras).
A few younger cast members emerged, though they were noticeably harder to recognize (having been much younger ten years ago!). Esteban Powell (Carl Burnett) sat around signing autographs while a few others and I tried to decide who he might be. Wiley Wiggins (Mitch Kramer) was a bit easier to spot if you’ve seen Waking Life (starring animated Wiley), and despite appearing to be fairly shy, was more than accommodating. They were mostly overshadowed by the big names, but that isn’t to say they didn’t have a good number of fans with posters and pens.
Eventually, a limousine pulled up and the masses began mobbing to see Matthew McConaughey (David Wooderson) make his way towards the “red carpet.” The crowd suddenly lost its Austin-cool and became less controlled at the sight of the local boy. Generally, women screaming wildly and lustily without a second thought at a celebrity fills me with shame for my gender, not to mention an overwhelming desire to be as far from the group as possible. However, it is pretty remarkable to see this man consistently operate on the same level as if he’d just smoked the most colossal fattie. In the film, his character Wooderson is the charming sort (though he’s kinda creepy, too—it can be a little disturbing). However, McConaughey himself appears to embody the better aspects of Wooderson: no apparent tension or worries, and even the shirt he wore bore the phrase “J.K. Livin’” on one side, opposite “Matthew.” McConaughey did more than his fair share of keeping everyone happy—squeals of females who’d successfully had their picture taken with him could be heard all over (embarrassed sigh). He signed whatever was tossed his way and spoke with people successful enough to squeeze up near him.
Joining him was Indie Queen Parker Posey, (Darla Marks, the “Party Girl” some of us had been waiting for). Momentarily jolted by the crowd and the barrage of flashes and questions (okay, she appeared to be pretty soused), Ms. Posey quickly regained her composure and spoke with both media and fans. It was evident that she possesses just as much character in person (she absolutely oozes it, actually) as she manages in even her smallest on-screen roles. Who cares if she’s been in Scream 3 and Josie and the Pussycats (I don’t own it, I don’t—okay…I own it). Since 1993, Parker Posey has done enough cult faves among indie enthusiasts to merit the sort of crazed fans you might find lurking outside Crispin Glover’s hotel. (Though presumably less disturbed.) However, it was harder to spot us since everyone was still trying to glom onto Matthew McConaughey.
The party continues in part two of STILL “DAZED AND CONFUSED” AFTER ALL THESE YEARS>>>