22 (Thu) October 2015
Pepperoni + Bell Pepper Pizza
from Sbarro (Robinsons Place) [takeout]
in my apartment
Even before I saw it, Back to the Future had become my all-time favorite movie. It remains the most personally touching, even while I’ve since come to appreciate other movies for different reasons (see generally comments at 6.243 Ggongchi-Kimchi Jjigae).
BTTF opened in July 1985.
But in June, right after I’d completed elementary school, having spent my entire childhood in the States, the family had moved back to Korea — the second* biggest traumatic event of my life to that point. Three years removed from the 1988 Olympics, three years removed from McDonald’s (see generally 4.178 1988 Burger), the country lagged in the uptake of global/western pop culture. Which is probably a good thing, but the absence of cultural touchstones made the transition painfully difficult for a Korean-American kid. Then again, it did compel me to embrace local culture that much quicker.
At the time, perhaps to this day, science fiction was/is my favorite genre.
For a final treat before the move, my mother had taken me to a science fiction convention. A preview of BTTF was shown to thunderous applause. Granted, BTTF isn’t that “heavy” on the science — close enough. From the 30-second spot, I knew that I would love it. I begged to delay the move, just 2 weeks, so that I could watch the movie as a going away present — “It’ll be shown in Korea, don’t worry,” she said.
In fact, BTTF wouldn’t be shown in Korea two years later — delayed due to concerns by the censorship board over the incest issue, the same reason why the movie had been rejected for production by various studios in Hollywood.
To my eternal regret, I missed out on watching BTTF during its initial theatrical release.
When I returned to the States for a visit in the summer of 1986, we stopped by the video store on the way in from the airport. My mother, who’d suffered a year of complaints, was eager to comply.
At my aunt’s house, I watched BTTF three times in a row. After the first, I can recall thinking that the tape wasn’t rewinding fast enough. Countless subsequent viewings through repeated rentals.
Well before BTTF, Huey Lewis & The News had long been my favorite band in those days. Marty, too, apparently, as suggested by the poster of the SPORTS album hanging on his bedroom wall. “The Power of Love,” arguably their greatest hit ever, coming out at the peak of the band’s creative and commercial success, written and performed as the movie’s theme song, within minutes of the opening scene, I was totally blown away — like Marty from the speaker. Huey is in the movie as well.
And the skateboard. I bought one myself that summer and took it back with me to Seoul, where I’d ride around listening to “The Power of Love” on my Walkman. Never could manage the guts to grab onto a passing car, though my mother did indulge me an occasional tow in the parking lot — again, her guilt over depriving me of BTTF for a year.
Nike, though not featured/referenced overtly in the first instalment of the series, left a lasting impression on me, which may explain why I wear the brand exclusively to this day.
At the end of the summer, I wanted to purchase a brand new copy of BTTF on VHS. On sale for $99***. My mother’s guilt not quite so deep, she refused.
We tried to make a pirate copy. Perpetrated in those days by hooking up two VCRs, playing the original from one and recording it onto a blank tape on the other. But the BTTF tape was protected by some newfangled anti-piracy technology that distorted the picture and sound upon transfer. Nevertheless, it was better than nothing. Returning to Korea, I watched it over and over again, distortion notwithstanding — as anyone who’s watched scrambled porn on a cable box will attest to, perception of content is all that really matters.
As I made the transition to adolescence in Korea, the nostalgia for 1955-era** Americana in BTTF reflected/reminded me of the life, culture, innocence that I had been forced to leave behind in the States.
So busy these days, so out of touch with pop culture, never one to randomly surf the internet, the significance of yesterday’s date completely escaped my attention until this afternoon, when a colleague happened to mention it in passing.
Though a day too late — if only I had a time machine — I went to the mall after work, bought the trilogy DVD set — just 300 pesos (about $6.50 = $92.50 cheaper than the VHS tape of the first movie would’ve cost me in 1985) — got a pizza, and binged, on both the movies and the food.
Famously, the future segment of BTTF II features a “rehydrated” pie from Pizza Hut.
However, I decided to get my pizza from a different restaurant. First, in light of my work these days to restrict the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, I didn’t want to reward a company for product placement (incidentally, the director’s commentary claims that no money was taken for any of the brands shown) — not going to bother looking it up, but certainly Pizza Hut sales spiked yesterday. Second, I detest Pizza Hut (see generally 5.061 Sausage & Mushroom Pizza). And third, going with Pizza Hut would’ve required getting Pepsi, which I drank through college — probably because of the marketing influence of BTTF — but now I can’t stand. So, I went with Sbarro (see generally 5.183 Sausage + Mushroom Pizza), and Coke.
In the spirit of the movie, I ordered a custom pie with pepperoni on one side and bell peppers on the other. Too late, I realized that Sbarro’s bell peppers are chopped, not julienned, and comprised of both red and green peppers — close enough.
Unfortunately, the pizza turned out kinda crappy. Slightly undercooked, with no charred flavor in the crust, instead leaving a slightly doughy/pasty aftertaste. And something about the cheese, it didn’t adhere properly to the pie. I did finish most of it, but with little satisfaction.
Of late, I’ve been growing disillusioned with this place (see most recently 6.169 A Square Meal…).
*The first was moving to the States from Korea when I was three, but that’s another story.
**By coincidence, McDonald’s also came up with a “1955” burger (see generally 4.171 1955 Burger) .
***To put $99 into perspective, which seems an even more outrageous price 30 years later, VCRs were relatively new in the mid-80s, not yet entirely affordable to the mainstream consumer. Even rentals being something of an occasional luxury, the notion of a personal movie library was inconceivable to most. Studios weren’t yet mass-producing tapes for retail, selling them at a premium. Buyers rationalized that the high price would eventually pay off after multiple viewings. Smaller stores often offered a single copy of a new release for rental, just in case a lack of demand would result in a loss.