Have you ever been involved in a three-month-long feud with a pro-wrestling champion? And no matter how many chair shots you administer, or tables you put him through, you still can’t seem to get the pin? What about when after losing match after match, you are finally forced into a Loser Leaves Town match for the belt?
Well, I lost that match, so about six weeks ago I got in my car and headed out on a road trip. Apparently, over a year ago, Paul tricked me into signing some contract while I was drunk, so I’m forced to keep writing reviews. Here’s one of them.
About a year ago, most of us living in our dens of privilege heard something about a Hurricane Katrina and the havoc it wreaked on Louisiana and Mississippi. We watched news correspondents like Anderson Cooper flip out on live television when they came face to face with the savage destruction. For many of us, the destruction meant little more than the carnage we’ve already witnessed in piece of shit movies like Twister, Deep Impact and Carnosaur 1, 2 and 3. Much like with those flicks, we paid attention for about an hour and a half before looking for something else to occupy our time.
They haven’t done that in Gulfport, Mississippi. Gulfport is just 15 miles west of Biloxi on the southern coast of the state. It’s only a few hours away from New Orleans, so it received a significant amount of damage at the hands of Mother Nature. This is a fact that can only be properly experienced by driving along Highway 90, which closely parallels the coastline. The highway is labeled as a “scenic” detour from Intestate 10. It remains so, but only in a more sobering sense of the word.
The side of the road is lined with the carcasses of trees, permanently bent away from the coast, and empty lots filled with debris and signs that promise the return of those establishments that used to reside in the area. The luckier spots have the bottom half of the building still in place.
After driving for hours, we finally found the biggest Super Wal-Mart I’ve ever seen. We were almost tempted to try camping out within the enormous structure, figuring that there was bound be plenty of spots for two people to get away with hiding within long enough to get some sleep. Instead we found a secluded path between a field behind the Wal-Mart and a run-down neighborhood. There was just enough space to set up two tents, leaving us with plenty of daylight to scam some dinner and hang out in the giant Wal-Mart.
Walking around the place, I couldn’t help but notice how many families were raiding the grocery side of the store. The shelves were less full than one would be used to, having spent a lot of time in Wal-Marts. Instead of people spending more money than they should on shitty knock-off brand DVD players and heavily-censored music CDs, they were spending as much money as they could on the cheapest food they could find.
In a store full of working class families in a bad situation, doing whatever they had to get by, I saw very little mindless consumerism. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I didn’t hate Wal-Mart. Don’t get me wrong—as a company, Wal-Mart is an insidiously evil archetype for the some of the worst that modern capitalism has to offer in the industrialized world. But any business that can provide a whole town with loads of really inexpensive food for people with very little money, who need it, can get a pass every now and then. Besides, it still didn’t keep Crust and I from scamming some free soy dogs.
I was on my way to check out the soda machines when something glorious caught my eye. In 1992, there was an arcade game released called Time Killers. This game is a 2D fighter that features very little innovation other than gratuitous gore. The graphics are very cartoony, and the moves are limited. What made this game great was the ability to not only cut your opponents open, but to also sever entire limbs from your opponent’s body. Even better, if your timing was right, you could chop off your enemy’s head in the middle of the round, instantly ending it with a kill.
It didn’t matter that it came out around the same time as obviously better games, Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat; Time Killers broke all the rules. If you were good enough, no match would last longer than a few seconds. This was a game I remember hearing rumors about. Everyone knew about it, but no one seemed to know where any of the arcade games were located. And now, I had found one.
Luckily, the Wal-Mart was large enough for me to claim that three different Coke machines had stolen dollars from me. Time Killers only cost 25 cents to play, and I was determined to beat the game. Sadly, I didn’t. As it turns out, the computer is really good at chopping off my head. So for now I’ll have to hope for the chance to get back to Gulfport with a sack full of quarters. Until then, my travels will continue