Extraordinary how potent cheap music is.
Patrick Swayze’s seen it all before.
That’s why he’s the best. It’s true, a bouncer
isn’t typically your hero type,
but once he’s oiled and practicing Tai Chi
across the lake from Ben Gazzara’s house
his pietas shines forth like young Aeneas’s.
Another town, another beery dive,
the same drunks making asses of themselves
in front of women who just want to drink
a beer with friends and whisper to each other
about the new “cooler.” He goes by Dalton.
A guy’s ejected through the candy glass,
a rack of tumblers shatters on the bar.
One brawler takes a chair across the back
then crashes through a pasteboard tabletop.
And the blind guitarist plays his Squire Strat
with no mind paid to bursting bottles of beer
as they rain down on him. Hey, it’s a gig.
As for Jeff Healey, who died far too young,
it’s the gig of a lifetime, his guitar
laid flat across his lap, played from above.
He’s singing “Long Tall Sally” with his band,
behind a chain-link fence. This place is tough.
But Jeff knows Dalton’s here to change all that.
He and Dalton go way back. They’ve been
in spots before, but none as tight as this one.
And Kelly Lynch is there, all blonde and tan.
She plays a doctor who appreciates
a guy who’s had his share of puncture wounds.
Her stubble-bearded uncle Red’s in trouble.
Enter Sam Eliot, who won’t survive the film.
He holds his grey hair back with rubber bands
and flirts with Kelly charmingly. He’s old
and knows this girl has plans for Dalton. Mijo,
he calls him—son, my bouncer son. They find
Sam on the bar dead drunk. No, no—just dead.
Well, Ben Gazzara’s gotta pay for this.
His goons stabbed Sam and burned Red’s auto parts
store to the ground. So, Dalton drives the sleek
Diamond Blue Mercedes he’s been babying
for the whole movie up to Ben Gazzara’s.
He hates himself for tearing a man’s throat out,
and now, god help him, he’s done it again.
The Merc comes hurtling up Gazzara’s lawn,
but it’s a decoy. Dalton’s in the house.
Then, following his lead, the cowering townsfolk
find their courage and a store of rifles
and blast Gazzara till his white shirt’s red.
Glorious Gazzara. He’s pure evil
and chews the scenery and smirks and dies
in a blaze of former-Cassavetes glory.
Swayze dies of cancer at 57.
The year that Road House came out (’89),
the Razzies nominated him worst actor.
Screw the Razzies, heartless wannabes.
I’d like to see them stand up for a neighbor
at great personal cost. They sip their
lattes in a strip mall in Van Nuys
and thumb their phones. Which one of them is going
to fight the man who’s laid siege to their town?
after George Green
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