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Our Tribute to Gar

posted by Those crazy Jersey kids... Jen and Dave. on 11/09/01

Since Jen went to Georgetown and I went to Villanova… we’re “supposed” to be on opposite sides because our alma maters are bitter Big East rivals. One thing we can agree on however, is our appreciation for the character of Gar. Oh yeah, we can also agree on the fact that Nova beat G-Town in the ’85 National Championship game. Nooge.


I tried to wash this smirk… but it won’t seem to come off.

One of the major reasons I enjoy the movie Mask so much is because the character of Gar is simply one of the coolest to ever grace the silver screen. From the moment he arrives on his bike, this guy just commands respect. Perfectly played by one of my personal favorite actors, Sam Elliott…. Gar is the most unassuming out of all of the bikers in the movie… yet at the same time everyone of them wants to be around him. There’s a lot to be said for “quiet cool”…

As he approaches on his bike, Rocky looks up with a twinkle in his eye, and excitedly announces, “Look, it’s Gar!”. Yep.. Gar. Not Gar Johnson. Not Gar Cusato. Just plain old Gar. This guy is so cool he doesn’t even need a last name. The most telling part of this scene, is that with a park full of people excited to see him, the first person he searches out is Rocky. Right there and then… the unspoken nature of how he feels about the boy is told. He pulls Rocky aside and gives him a present… a brand new butterfly knife. “Don’t cut yourself.”, he tells him. Now to a teenage boy, nothing spells affection like being presented with a weapon from an adult. As Rocky and Gar make some small talk catching up on things… they look in the direction of Rusty, who’s with her new boyfriend for the day.. and when Rocky says, “She talks about you ..” he smoothly replies, “Yeah.. I bet she does.”. As Gar tells Rocky to go back and talk to Ben… he gives him two gentle punches on the chin… which for a manly man like Gar, is the equivalent of a big swinging hug that lifts the other person’s feet off the ground.

I’m not looking at you until you take that bandana off..

We finally get to see the dynamic between Gar and Rusty a few nights later at a party at Rusty’s house… At the end of the night, as Gar’s retrieving his jacket out of Rusty’s bedroom… she comes up to him and says, “That jacket of yours is the only thing that’s ever gonna be on my bed again.”.. to which he smugly replies, “That’s okay with me, baby”.. From there on, the verbal and mental foreplay begins. Rusty wants Gar. Gar wants Rusty. They both know it… yet they almost get off on playing the cat and mouse game with each other. It’s just not the time or place for them to get together.

At the carnival, when the ride operator tells Rocky that he can’t ride the bumper cars because he can’t take the blame if something happens to the “retard”.. Gar jumps in and says, “I can’t take the blame for what happens to you, can I?! Take the ticket!”. That’s the only time we ever see Gar even raise his voice throughout the movie. As he goes to get on the bumper car, Gar looks back, wipes his mouth, and gives the ride operator a classic look. He didn’t want to cause a scene.. All he wanted was for Rocky to have a good time.

As Rusty watched that whole scene, we can see what’s evident… Out of all of the “boyfriends” in Rusty’s life.. Gar is the only one who looks at Rocky being her son as an asset.. and not a drawback.

The amazing thing is… Gar even manages to look cool as he’s riding bumper cars. That’s a nearly impossible feat; almost equivalent to trying to look cool while wearing a Whatever-Dude t-shirt out in public. Both… very tough to do.

I think I would actually apologize if I bumped into him..

I think the most poignant series of events involving Gar are his disgusted reaction towards Rusty for buying Rocky the hooker.. and his subsequent conversation with Rocky about his mother meaning well. It was during this conversation that Gar tells him the story of the first time he met his Mom.. and how they had taken him to go get his picture taken when he was little. Evidently, they went to the photo place.. well, I’ll let Gar explain it in his own words..

“When it was your turn… she put you up on the big red block and the guy taking the pictures nearly shits.”.

That says it all.. Gar doesn’t pussyfoot around the subject like Rusty does. Rocky’s not a normal looking person.. and Gar is honest with Rocky.. and in turn, I think Rocky respects that more than anything… because all of the other people in his life treat him like a freak.. or treat him with kid gloves. Gar’s just honest with him. He likes Rocky.. Thinks he’s a great kid.. but the fact is he doesn’t look like everybody else. To Gar, it’s no big deal.

When the time comes for Rocky’s graduation from junior high, we have the infamous hiding the suit in the refrigerator scene. C’mon, Rocky should have known something was up when Gar ordered him to go in the fridge and get him another beer, after giving a speech about how Rocky’s not all fancy like his friends from school.. and he should just go to graduation in his jeans. When Rocky sees the suit in the fridge, the whole gang creeps into the kitchen and Rusty says that the whole gang chipped in.. and Gar went to pick it out. When I got the DVD version of this movie.. I was really hoping that an added bonus would have been a deleted scene of Gar physically going into the store to buy the suit. I just think that would have been fun to watch. Then again, I’m clinically insane.. so don’t mind me.

Is that freezer burn on your suit?

When the gang goes to pick up Rocky from summer camp.. and Rocky says, “I met a girl.. we’re going out.”… Gar howls like a wolf. That’s what he is. He’s a big bad wolf… and the rest of the world is his Little Red Riding Hood. I mean, what other man could pull off wearing this??

I hope I have enough tickets… Did I just type that or think it?

Since there’s only so much Gar to go around.. I’m gonna end my half of the piece and turn it over to Jen… Shake that moneymaker, girl.

Dave – We’re like a big bear, man.


Gar: The man, the machismo, the moustache rides

In the 50’s and 60’s, the entertainment industry enjoyed no shortage of macho actors, the men every normal guy emulated and every girl wished she could have on her arm. We had John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Marlon Brando, Cary Grant, and Henry Fonda, to name a few. These guys were so cool, in fact, that we’re still talking about them today, watching their movies, imitating the lines they rehearsed almost half a century ago. In the 70’s, something went slightly awry. For the first four years of the decade, a man dubbed “Tricky Dick.” was in power. Fresh off the sixties, with old heroes in their prime and peoples’ senses of logic tripping all over the sky, they clung to false idols. John Travolta became the new demigod, replete with tight pants and a boyish figure. We were in desperate need of a real man to take over in the 80’s, someone to whom we could count on for inspiration and guidance. The country needed someone to take the reins from Carter, a non-entity on the political landscape. The country got Reagan, a man with a fire in his belly and an actionable plan. The media needed some more charismatic entertainers, some heroes for the “baby buster” generation. The media got Judd Nelson and Bruce Springstein, who in my opinion, were not a bad deal.

But as much as politics and entertainment shape our lives, it’s the familial role models that are often the defining factor in our upbringing. Everyone needs a “cool” adult in his or her life, be it a parent, relative, what have you. For Rocky Dennis, I’m not so sure it was his mother. This was a woman who indeed cared more about getting loaded…and laid than anything else. This was a woman who, after Rocky had a breathing fit that almost killed him prematurely, took about 2 minutes to calm him down then went right back to her room to bang a guy she had never met before. So for Rocky, the only consistent male figure he had in his life was Rusty’s sometime lover Gar. And like Paul said…it would almost be worth suffering through life with a lion face just to have this guy on your side…

From the look on my face, you should just know to get me more hash browns.

From the moment Gar rides onto the scene, we don’t even have to see the people running over to him shouting, “Gar!” We don’t even have to hear him breathe a word; we just KNOW he’s the man. He doesn’t need to rev his engine ten times or brag about his conquests, the man just commands respect. The man never speaks more than 2 sentences at a time…his facial expressions say everything. From that first moment he gets off the bike, he shoots Rocky a look that’s a mixture of “Hey, how you been? It’s been too long since I’ve seen you, we gotta catch up.” After Rocky asks where he’s been, Gar just says, “Been on the road.” Now, from that statement coupled with the faraway look in his eyes, we know the man has been doing far more than hanging out on the side of a road eating Milk Duds. This man has traveled all over, seen the world, maybe broken a few rules, and a few hearts…but not once does he brag about it. Instead, he withdraws a beautiful silver fold-away scissors for Rocky, a scissors that had to cost a lot more than any of Rocky’s possessions, save the Rube Walker baseball card. Gar doesn’t say, “Look what I got you! It was so expensive! Do you like it?” Instead he says, “Don’t cut yourself” in the most badass Charlie Daniels Band accent. Then Rocky motions to his mother and says, “She talks about ya.” Instead of feeling all self-satisfied and giddy or even asking Rocky for the deets, Gar just says, “I’ll bet she does.”

Is that a Steve Garvey in your pocket or are ya just happy to see me?

As Gar looks over at Rusty, he sees her kissing some other guy, even though there’s a long, involved romantic history between the two of them. Most guys would either run over and fight the other guy or immediately find some other girl to make the woman jealous. The opportunity arises as one of Gar’s biker friends introduces him to a girl named Angel. “Angel, this is Gar, give him a kiss.” With Rusty looking from where she is standing, it would make perfect sense for Gar to plant a nice, big wet one on Angel…but instead he grunts, “A handshake’ll do.” This gentlemanly behavior is repeated yet again, when he attends Rusty’s Halloween party, clad in the unforgettable Moustache Rides shirt.

There’s something about the word “moustache” that intrigues me by the way…because it’s also correct to spell the word “mustache” (without an ‘o’), so whenever people spell it with the extra ‘o’ it looks like moose-stash to me. Relevance to this article? None.

The pic so nice, we used it twice.

As I was saying, Moustache Rides enters the house, this time accompanied by young Angel. He sees Rusty making out with yet another guy, and calmly leaves the party with Angel, refusing to play the game with Rusty. The man is a class act.

Still another scene where Gar displays tremendous leadership is on line for the bumper cars. Rocky and Ben are about to get in the cars, when the ride operator says to Ben, “You can ride kid…but I can’t take the blame for what happens to the retard here.” Without hesitation, Gar grabs the man by the throat and menacingly says, “I can’t take the blame for what happens to you, can I? Take the ticket!” He’s definitely not bigger than the ride operator, but the look in his eyes is just about as scary as the look that Teen Wolf had in his eyes when he went to get beer from the grocery store. Freaky, freaky shit. Now, what I wondered when I was watching was, does this ride operator think he’s running the Lightning Loops for Christsakes? It’s the Bumper Cars. Even if Rocky WAS retarded…was there a danger of crashing one of the cars?

Come again, bitch?

When the gang enters the funhouse…things really start to heat up. Rusty is walking around a corner and Gar grabs her from behind. He says jokingly, “Got any dope for me?” He doesn’t even want the dope for himself…he’s actually trying to hint that Rusty shouldn’t be picking up drugs right in front of her son. Then, just as Rusty is about to start yelling at him, Gar does this masculine move with his arm and passionately kisses her. It may have been the most unromantic setting. And yes, Rusty’s son was standing only a few feet away. But honestly guys, if you want to impress a girl, this is how it’s done…Nobody can resist a take-charge kind of guy who knows how to put the move on his woman. Nobody.

The only guy who could put a woman in a headlock...and look damn sexy

As Dave already mentioned though, Gar’s shining moment comes on Rocky’s graduation day, when Rocky is complaining about not having a suit to wear. Gar doesn’t hide the suit in Rocky’s closet or even in another room. Instead, Gar tells Rocky to get him a beer, and Rocky sees it hanging over the ketchup and eggs. Rocky puts on the suit, and Rusty’s whole gang, including Gar, come ups behind him and starts clapping for him. This is why I loved this movie, not even because Gar was so generous to spend the money like that. But because hiding a suit in a refrigerator is about as original as it gets.

Get your own f**king beer you stupid piece of...oh, a suit for me?

Sure Rocky wins a few awards and proves to everyone that even with a disfiguring disease, you can accomplish almost anything. But it’s Gar who’s the unsung hero of the story. Gar is a champion for a troubled teen without a male to guide him. His style, his charm, his many expressions…the man exudes bravura. He may not have the eloquence of Cary Grant or the pretty boy looks of Jimmy Dean…but he’s got enough passion for a decade of men.

Ultimate Badass


Rocky Dennis Week Continues...

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Second Stringers 2

The Beginning




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