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Harrelson, Brusstar, Luzinski

March 28, 2017

Bud Harrelson

Three cards fell to the floor the other day. My younger son was tearing open some protective plastic sheeting around them, and they’d fallen together into a group. The cards hadn’t been mine as a kid. I’d never owned any Hostess cards, for one thing, let alone the card featuring the player most likely to have enjoyed several Hostess products after a day of blasting homers and mangling fly balls, and I’d never put my cards into protective plastic sheets. My mother-in-law had found the sheets of cards at a second-hand store and gotten them for me. I looked at them in the sheets a bit, but they had to be freed from the sheets for me to really see them. The first thing I noticed was Bud Harrelson’s eyes. Really all of Bud Harrelson, his thin lips, slight frame, sparse mustache, choked-up grip, everything about him radiating the feeling that he’s just hanging on. But especially the eyes. And just beside him, Brusstar, a hardened character. And then Luzinski, young blank-eyed Hostess strongman incarnate. A scenario began to unfold in my mind, a late 1970s film about amoral desperation, one last gasp from the decade of movies about losing before the candy-colored John Hughes years began.

Excerpts from Run Down (1979)

Scene 1 (interior, motel room)

Bud
One more score and I’m out.

Woman
Baby, I don’t want you to get hurt, not now that I’ve finally got you back.

Bud
I’m telling you, this one can’t miss.

[Walks to window, stares out at traffic on the highway]

This one . . . there’s no way I can lose.

Scene 5 (exterior, downtown)

Warren walks along a sidewalk in a mostly deserted downtown. He picks up a brick and throws it through a window. He takes some records out of the window. One of them is Saturday Night Fever, which he tosses into the gutter and then spits on top of it. The rest he takes with him. A cat crosses his path and he tries to kick it but misses and stumbles, falling into a puddle, spilling the rest of the records. A sound comes out of him like that of an animal pinned in a bear trap.]

Warren Brusstar

Scene 12 (interior, Extra Innings Bar)

Warren
I suggest you shut the fuck up and get the fuck away from me, Bud.

Bud
This is a. Is that any way to? Look, I’m doing you a favor here.

Warren
You still owe me for the last fucking favor you did me.

[Both men drink, smoke. The rock song on the jukebox ends and a disco song begins.]

Warren
[roaring]
Who put on this shit?!?

Female bar patron
[reacting to music]
Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Yeah!

[Warren stares murderously into his drink as the disco plays. Bud stares at Warren for a long time, until Warren finally looks up.]

Warren
How do you do that?

Bud
What?

Warren
Not fucking blink.

Bud
[smiling now, but only with his mouth]
Life is short, Warren. I don’t want to miss anything.

Warren
[after a long beat]
Fuck it. The fuck I care.

Bud
You won’t be sorry, Warren.

Warren
I’m always sorry.

Bud
We’re gonna win this time, Warren.

Warren
We’re still a man short.

Bud
Opportunities will arise, Warren. Opportunities will arise.

Greg Luzinski

Scene 15 (exterior, motel)

As Bud watches, smoking, from the railing outside his second story motel room, a large man on the ground level, Greg, dressed only in a small white motel towel, holds the small towel around him with one hand while pushing the buttons on a vending machine with his other hand. He waits. The vending machine does not produce any product. Greg pushes the buttons again. Scratches his head. Taps on the glass. Pounds on the glass. He moves methodically—he is not getting angry but wants what he is not getting. Finally he brings his other hand free and the towel falls to the pavement. He grabs the large machine with both hands and begins to rock it. The rocking increases until it looks as if the machine will rock forward and crush the large naked man, but instead he hefts the machine onto his back, swivels, and hurls it to the ground, where the machine bursts with a clattering of glass and crumpling metal. Coins and candy and bags of chips spill out. Greg ignores the money and picks through the broken glass and other packages for one package of Hostess Chocolate Cup Cakes, which he removes from the packaging and shoves into his mouth, one after the other as he crosses the parking lot back to his room, still naked. Camera closes in on Bud, who is smoking and watching Greg without blinking.

8 comments

  1. A large departure from previous posts, style-wise. Pretty cool, but it might take me a little longer to digest and understand, but maybe I’ll understand it all.


  2. Off to google Run Down. But I think they are Hostess Cream Filled Cupcakes.


  3. I added some intro text to help contextualize this . . . unusual post.


  4. It’s hard to say what’s the saddest about that Harrelson card – the Phillies uniform, the little jewfro or that it says “2B” on it.

    There was no doubt the guy mentioned in the fourth sentence was Luzinski.


  5. Easier to understand now. Hard to relate it to an old episode of Bad News Bears II though. Please continue the screenplay. It may become another Two Lane Blacktop (1971)


  6. Loved this. My reaction to the Bud card: “Looks like that bat’s swingin’ you, son …”


  7. Luzinski led me to his wikipedia post to refresh my memory on that guy. Mentioned was his high strikeout totals. His highest strikeout total for a season was 151. And this was a guy nicknamed “Bull” with lots of pop and he seemed to fit the part of the beefy, big swinging slugger who strikes out a lot.

    For others who grew up in the 80s or prior, has anyone noticed the huge strikeout totals today’s stars ring up? Guys like Kris Bryant go for about 200 a year. Trout is not far below. My point is: 30 years ago, strikeouts were taboo and tolerated, at best, from the Cansecos and Schmidts as worth it for their pop. But it seems like 175 strikeouts doesn’t bat an eye. It seems like the trend upward sync’ed up nicely with the steroid era (I roughly think that was 1990-2010) but continues up even from there. Which doesn’t totally make sense in any way to me, but then again doesn’t not make sense either, equally, and for multiple reasons.

    Has the old taboo faded because of sabermetrics? All I know is “he strikes out too much” was almost a fatal flaw (think Rob Deer), but now a good handful of the superstars rack up well more than what used to be eye-opening totals. Any thoughts? Does anyone else notice this and is there any theory to explain it?


  8. In simple terms, I believe that sabremetrics initially promoted the notion that “an out is an out”. That may start to swing back the other way a bit as sabrescientists with TAv start taking into account situational hitting and productive/non-productive outs.



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