“Forget the Alamo,” “Eliot Ness Noir” and “Major Case”

In Issue 61 by Robert Eugene Rubino

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Photo by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash

Forget the Alamo

At the aptly named Jackson Theater

when you were twelve

you saw John Wayne’s visually ambitious

gloriously fictitious

version of The Alamo

— yet another story already told to you through TV

— and so of course yet another lie.

The movie’s coonskin-cap propaganda

about stoic heroic white male pioneers

and faceless soulless unworthy Mexicans

of course it all felt comfortably if vaguely familiar

thanks to having seen

along with millions of other Baby Boomers

the Fess Parker-as-Davy-Crockett Disney TV miniseries

just a year or two or three earlier ...

but still ...

It’s the small screen’s

gently grinning Fess Parker

who lives in memory

as a much more amiable

self-mythologizing

pro-slavery grifter-drifter

than the solid stolid wooden Wayne

— Hollywood’s big-screen Duke

... of deception.

Eliot Ness Noir

The melted butter-scented Boulevard Theater

is where at age 11

you saw Rod Steiger in the title role of Al Capone.

This was when you were among millions

watching The Untouchables on TV every week

and so the Al Capone movie confused you

because in it there was no Prohibition Era

brewery-busting G-man named Eliot Ness.

This was long before you learned The Untouchables

was largely a producer’s and writer’s wet-dream fiction

although there was a real-life crime-fighting Eliot Ness

— he just wasn’t the great Capone catcher

nor did he catch any other mega-mobster

... and he was an alcoholic

— facts that would’ve made The Untouchables touchingly ironic

and with its already constant creeping

black & white shadowy sense

of threat and dread ...

far more noir.

Major Case

He’s no Dirty Harry

gunplay or muscle almost absent from this cop’s repertoire.

He’s Brainy Bobby — TV Detective Robert Goren

of Law and Order Criminal Intent’s Major Case Squad

(whose mother — get this! — had an affair with a serial killer

— when? — oh, about nine months before giving birth to Bobby).

Law and Order Criminal Intent?

How about Law and Order Oedipal Intent?

I confess

to the narcotizing pleasure

of staring at soaking up spongelike

the next cable station binge-able Brainy Bobby marathon.

I confess

to a major man-crush

on this Detective Goren this acutely observant obsessive know-it-all

of all things esoteric and arcane

this Sherlockian avatar

as performed by deep-dive Method actor Vincent D’Onofrio.

I confess

fan-boy admiration to the point of envy

for Goren/D’Onofrio’s patient superior insightful empathic intelligence

admiration/envy for his chess grandmaster-type powers of concentration

admiration/envy for his going eye-to-eye face-to-face in-your-face

when confronting — as the show’s intro intones — “the worst criminal offenders.”

I confess

to lapsed-Catholic catharsis

remembering confession’s conscience-cleansing

soul-saving salve

as those high I.Q. homicidal hypocrites

all those mortal sinners

finally confess their guilt

all their dirt-stained & stinking shame

no longer blaming

yielding finally

to what Goren/D’Onofrio has painstakingly elicited

over the previous commercials-interruptus hour

— the unspeakable truth ... spoken at last.

About the Author

Robert Eugene Rubino

Robert Eugene Rubino is he author of three collections: "Aficionado" (Humming Word Press); "Vanity Unfair" (Cathexis Northwest Press); and "Douglas Knocks Out Tyson" (UnCollected Press). He's old enough to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis and smart enough to solve the New York Times crossword puzzle on Mondays (other days not so much). He lives in Northern California.