Arnold Schwarzenegger: Return of the Machine

"If I am not me, who da hell am I? I mean, who da hell am I NOW?"

“If I am not me, who da hell am I? I mean, who da hell am I NOW?”

I am delighted to tell you that I am making my Village Voice debut this week with an essay about one Arnold Schwarzenegger, screen icon of my youth, governor of California for part of the time I lived there (I didn’t vote for him) and celebrity host of my narrowly acclaimed 2012 Christmas album.

It was a happy, potentially self-improving experience, being edited by the noted crapologist Alan Scherstuhl, whose cover story in last week’s Voice about current Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott is well worth your time, if you care at all about Spider-Man or comic books.

There were some outtakes from this one. Writing about subjects that have interested me since childhood is often more time consuming than writing about more recent interests (like, say, theater) because there’s so much more “onboard” material — memories, opinions — to sift through. There was a whole bit about John Wayne in my first draft that I may resurrect for a different piece someday. And it was hard to lose the factoid that Arnold’s sole credit as a film director was a 1992 remake of the Barbara Stanwyck comedy Christmas in Connecticut. Because he and Stanwyck had the same jawline, maybe?

“I think we both realize this will not be your truly epic all-encompassing Schwarzenegger piece, which you should be pitching right now to The Believer,” Alan wrote during one of our e-mail exchanges.

Perhaps I shall, Alan, perhaps I shall. In the meantime, thanks for helping me with this one.

Movies I Watched or Rewatched in Their Entirety While Writing This Piece (chronological by year of release): The Searchers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Last Action Hero, The 6th Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, I Saw the Devil.

Arnold’s new one, The Last Stand, did not screen in DC before my deadline. And his good films are all indelibly lightscribed onto my brain, for better or for worse, so I didn’t have to revisit them.

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