Daniel Nester


Rescuing Bobby Brady from a Disaster Movie

The Towering Inferno (1974)


Before the skyscraper erupts,
  his mother wipes his front choppers
     clean, consoles him in the smoky den -
     a paper napkin, a private moment
  drying off his signature striped shirt.
Leo Buscaglia wants to hug him tonight.
San Francisco's emergency brakes
  lean in salute.  Celluloid second-stringers
     feed him sushi on shiny caterer plates.
     They simply adore him. Machine fetishist
  and architect Paul Newman, a towering inferno
of love, makes his speech -
"We got a fire here!"  He guilt-trips
  everyone into adolescence.  Even the mayor
     remembers dry outfield grass
     scalded in August by a brush fire,
  his hands dowsed with gasoline.
"Don't look down! Trust me!"
Bobby's suckling parched mouth is speechless.
  "You're the man now, you take care
    of these ladies."  Paul's prime mover
    monologue helps emergency
  reunions along.  Drown the building
from top to bottom with water, the fire
will go away, he says. We'll all get wet,
  the world finally sexy. We'll explode
    among phallic obelisks. Only fireman
    Steve McQueen protests:  "We tell ya don't,
  but you keep buildin' 'em higher."
"Trust me, hold on!" Paul says. "Fly
solo, away from your brothers. Be
  a single point of action. Extinguish
    your fear. Don't look down! Take my hand!"
    On the 86th floor, a charred child star
  screeches, drops into a rescue net,
rushes to relatives, crying, embracing.
Hold on. I'm almost there.