Yesterday had its…

…frustrations, but these melted away at dinner with a friend, Erin, at a Mt. Vernon pub called Daugherty’s. I was first introduced to this pub a week or two after moving to Baltimore and I was a regular customer while I still lived in that neighborhood. I still like to get back there once or twice a year, and last night it seemed like the perfect calming destination: dim lights, deep booths with tall dividers, dark brown wood everywhere. It only took a few minutes until I could feel the bad energy melting out of me. Over the first round of drinks, I remarked to Erin that the bartender, a thin woman with curly hair and a perpetually spacey air, had been working there as long I’d been a customer, almost eight years. Just as I was saying this, I overheard the bartender say to another customer that she’d been working there for 16 years. It’s probably a pleasant gig, as these things go. The place does a lot of business but with a very mixed crowd, in terms of age, race, occupation, and so on. It’s low key, a refuge from louder, more hectic bars; it’s probably the rare night when anyone needs escorting out the door.

At home I finished watching Road Warrior. It occurred to me that I’ve never been clear on the precise chronology of these movies. Perhaps the scriptwriters weren’t either. Does Road Warrior take place soon after Mad Max? At the end of Mad Max, Max is last seen turning onto a road into something called a “Forbidden Zone,” which appellation suggests that this is an area that the government, already clearly crumbling, assumes no responsibility for. Presumably, this is where Max still is when, at the beginning of Road Warrior, he finds the fortified oil refinery, led by a Mick Jagger lookalike and menaced by a flamboyant gang, similar to the Toecutter Gang that killed Max’s family — and which was, in turn, wiped out by Max — in the first movie. The embattled fortress residents hope to make it to some far-off alleged paradise (I believe a distance of 2,000 miles is mentioned); if they do, will they be in the relatively civilized place where Max is living and working as a cop in the first film? Maybe, except there is much in the first film to suggest that said “civilization” is on its way out: marauding motorcycle gangs terrify the general populace pretty much at will, no witnesses show up to testify at the trial of one of these gangsters (suggesting that the general populace has no faith that the police offer any substantial protection), and the police comport themselves — and dress, for that matter — only a step above these gangs, anyway. And by the time we get to the third movie, Beyond Thunderdome (which there is no particular reason to watch), it’s clear that there isn’t supposed to be much in the way of recognizable civilization to be found anymore, at least not on the Australian continent. I’d be curious to see a map of the terrain in which these movies take place, just to get a better grasp of what’s happening.

My brother walked in while I was halfway through and shared his observation that the characters in the movie, particularly the gang members, seem to have all been attending some sort of bondage-themed costume party when the inciting apocalyptic world event took place, and to have decided to just commit to this aesthetic indefinitely. There’s something to be said for the intimidation factor of this look — all that leather and straps — but some of the effect is undercut when, for example, the gang’s mohawked second-in-command starts running as Max appears on the horizon in the truck, and we see that he’s not wearing any pants under his chaps. In addition to looking silly, the question immediately arises as to how practical this really is, especially given the gang’s heavy reliance on motorcycles.