(This is actually from a year ago, which is why the math is a little hinky-punk for 2005)
I gave my dad the 25th anniversary DVD of “Pumping Iron” for father’s day, and he lent it to me to watch this weekend. That movie is a core component of the Hoke family experience, especially memorable misquotes like “this is for all the mowbles, Louie” and “I vomit in the chym many times.” I hadn’t seen it all the way through until now, because despite its prehistoric PG rating it has many things you shouldn’t be in the same room as your dad for.
Do you not see it? Dude, I`m pointing right at it.
So many things about this movie. I think we’ve established I like Lou Ferrigno. He’s so weird and baby-faced here, like any brooding Guido high school student, with those kinda Joaquin Phoenix low black eyebrows over light eyes. But instead of Joaquin’s scarred palate he’s got major hearing loss and an accompanying speech impairment. AND WAIT he’s also got a tic in his eye.
I think if you had to cast someone to portray Lou Ferrigno as he’s depicted in Pumping Iron, Joaquin Phoenix would be a good choice. Except you could NEVER cast anyone as Lou Ferrigno because he is a MONSTER. In the movie they cite him as 6`5″ and 270 (in some later commentary he’s suddenly 6`8″ and 280, but 6`5″ is consistent with his height relative to Big Arnie.) Now, I know in these days of WWE you can’t swing a belt without hitting some dude 6`8″ and 310 and 22″ neck and blah blah blah. But this was 1979. And Big Louie was 21. TWENTY-ONE.
Holy crap that’s a big dude.
It’s important to reiterate that a lot of Pumping Iron was fabricated. Ken Waller hiding Mike Katz’s shirt. Big Arnie not going to his dad’s funeral because it was too close to a competition (Not clear on whether he went, but he according to Big Arnie later he didn’t die in proximity to a contest. Even so, knowing a little about Big Arnie’s relationship with his father and brother [which is to say his dad preferred Manfred, the older, and put them in all kinds of physical contests that the younger, weaker Arnie inevitably lost], I was happy to assign all kinds of Oedipal Freudian shenanigans to his enthusiasm for this story.)
Time to talk about Big Arnie. First, in Pumping Iron he reminds me for all the world of my ex’s younger brother — from the eyes and eyebrows and diastema and the mole on the side of his face (now removed) to his mannerisms, physical and vocal. Hell, his whole aspect. It was very weird and consistent.
So my older brother was dating this chick…
I should mention that the subject of Big Arnie has become a sore one in our family. Arnold Schwarzenegger is, as you may have heard, a huge pervert. This was one thing when he was just a bodybuilder and a boob-grabbing movie star. But now he’s a politician and all the misogyny and Republican hypocrisy smells like circus peanuts. So from my mother’s quarter there’s the idea that the Hokes shouldn’t be in the business of supporting perverts and she can’t stand to watch him in anything. Fair enough.
But from my dad’s quarter there’s been Big Arnie in his blood and his culture for twenty-five years. My take is that, yeah, Big Arnie’s not someone you want to leave alone with your daughter. But it seems to me that you can be entertained and even fascinated by someone who disgusts you, and that’s not immoral. If the Sopranos are okay, then Schwarzenegger can’t be far behind.
Anyway. This DVD included a making-of featurette that reunited the players. Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu — looking good, kids.
It’s funny to me that I saw Lou Ferrigno and his dad, Matty — who had a couple of shots of making that deadeye Al Pacino/Joe Trippi face — and thought, well there’s a quintessential Italian-looking father and son. Then I watched Franco Columbu visit Sardinia and realized I don’t know nothing about Italians or Italy. Italian-Americans, maybe.
Who *didn’t* look so good was Arnie 2004. Owowowo. He’s got this Ronald Reagan bootblack hair color and eyebrows to match. His eyes are bizarre — they don’t look at all like the eyes he had in 1979, and in fact they have a wild, Parkinsonian dementia to them. The planes around his mouth are inert when he talks. Something about his jaw and forehead has been entirely remodeled.
(If you want to see my obsessive Big Arnie plastic surgery post, click here.)
But the worst development here — the biggest loss of his former self — is that he has become *self-conscious.* In his solo interview, he makes the same “I did inhale” reefer joke twice. Can’t be sure this interview was shot in 2004, but I do know Clinton’s reefer confession was in 1992. For perspective, this would be like someone in 1992 making reference to a faux pas from 1980. So, like, Color Me Badd referring to the formation of Husker Du.
Once was a walking photoshop experiment
A-a-a-nd I`m spent.