Bobcat Goldthwait, Kerry Wood and the Glory of Quitting
We learned a lot about quitting this month, and from the unlikeliest of duos: Kerry Wood, the beloved 11-year veteran relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, and Bobcat Goldthwait, the beloved live-action Muppet from the Police Academy septology and a smattering of 1980s Cusack indies.
Like Velcro and thermal-papered fax machines, Goldthwait served his purpose and then had no purpose. So he quit. “I have been a game-show host, a talking puppet, and a Happy Meal toy,” he writes. “Being the man’s dancing monkey is fucking horrible.” Now, 30 years later, he has written and directed perhaps the best farce since The Naked Gun.
And it’s all because he knew when to quit…
God Bless America, Goldthwait’s latest in a series of no-budget indie films, follows a guy named Frank (Joel Murray) who was recently divorced, fired and sympathetically informed by his doctor that test results didn’t look very good at all. So he buys a gun. But instead of turning it on himself, Frank sets off, Columbinianly, to assassinate as many reality television stars, birthers and Green Peace fanatics as possible.
It is the most watchable 90 minutes of on-screen entertainment we’ve seen since 50 million Chinese men simultaneously banged on 50 million drums to open the Games of the XXIX Olympiad.
You can watch the film On Demand through the summer and, come September, on a loop in just about any freshman dorm room in America. Like Network, Office Space, Falling Down and Lebowski before it, the film’s protagonist realizes and acts upon a simple, irrefutable notion: he simply does not give a fuck. Mad as hell, not going to take it anymore, and so on.
Goldthwait says he’d never have written a movie like God Bless America if he hadn’t quit the movie business in the first place decades earlier, and we believe him. “If you want to be happy in showbiz, or any creative field,” he says, “listen to that voice inside you. … Work with your friends. Avoid chasing fame or money. Just do what you want to do, when and how you want to do it. And if it’s not making you happy, quit. Quit hard, and quit often.”
Last Friday, shortly after reading this, we stumbled upon the tail end of an afternoon Cubs game at Wrigley. The commentators explained that earlier in the day, veteran reliever Kerry Wood announced he’d be retiring after the game. “It’s just time,” Wood admitted. “Just the grind of getting ready every day. To go through it, hours and hours every day, to get ready for 15 pitches and… to go out there and not be successful…” It was time to quit.
When his number was called in the eighth inning, Wood took the mound one last time—and struck out his final batter with three straight pitches. Then he walked off the field to a standing Wrigley Field ovation, tipped his cap and hugged his 5-year-old son.
Everybody likes a quitter.
- — C. Brian Smith