From the Archive: What Woody Allen Meant, and What He Means Now
In the wake of “Allen vs. Farrow,” an essay from April 2019
I’ve been writing all day, every day, for about 25 years now, so it turns out that a lot of topics that come up in the news, I’ve written about before. So we commence an occasional series — to be prescribed solely as directed — called From the Archives, which republishes old Will Leitch columns when they are relevant to the news of the day. In the wake of the HBO series “Allen vs. Farrow,” we republish this April 2019 column, from my free weekly newsletter, about growing up a Woody Allen devotee, and reckoning with that today.
The summer after high school graduation is one of the more memorable periods in anyone’s life, the final stretch where you are a child before you head out to the world to discover who you really are. (Or at least whom will you pretend to be for four years.) Some kids travel; some have one final high school fling; some just sit at home and stare at the wall until September comes and they get to leave.
For me, it was the summer of 1993. My best friend Tim Grierson had learned in April that he had been accepted to the film school at the University of Southern California; I was going to the University of Illinois 45 miles up I-57. I’d be an entirely different, much worse person today had Tim not been my best friend in high school. In high school, in many ways, you are your friends; there were a ton of shitheads at Mattoon High School I could have been best friends with, and it was just my good fortune that I found the thoughtful kid who was as obsessed with movies and Kurt Cobain and the Cardinals as I was. (These people aren’t easy to come across in rural IIllinois.) I’d hung out with Grierson every day for four years. That he would be moving 2,000 miles away in two months made me sadder than a 17-year-old could possibly articulate.
So we decided to have one last blowout. To send us off, to transition into the next phase of our lives, to best commemorate our friendship, to have an experience that we talked about forever … we…