I’d like to believe that the most important thing to ever happen to the sleepy town of Astoria, Oregon, located two hours north of Portland on highway 30, was the event of my birth. I do, however, suffer from egocentric delusions that border on the megalomaniacal and are possibly a result of too much time spent Googling my own name during late night amphetamine binges. When the haze clears, I realize that my birth was only the second most important thing to happen in Astoria. The first was the filming of the Steven Spielberg adventure, the Goonies, in 1985.
The town of Astoria is home to a Coast Guard base, a large tower dedicated to Lewis and Clark and an immense amount of history. Unfortunately, it is not home to a stunning beach or a boardwalk, which means that the neighboring city of Seaside often draws more tourists and therefore more tourist dollars leaving the quirky and charming Astoria to make due with what it has. With this in mind, it is no surprise that the city has clung to its starring role in the Goonies for the last 20 years and is now celebrating the anniversary with vigor.
On September 1, an Austin, Texas based movie theater, the Original Alamo Draft House Cinema, decided to participate in the celebration by bringing the Goonies to Astoria with the help of some young, hip employees, a giant inflatable screen and one of the biggest Goonies around, Cory Feldman.
For those of you who have never seen the Goonies, the premise is as follows: A group of young misfits who call themselves “the Goonies” are about to be relocated from their homes after a group of rich, landowner types foreclose on their properties. In order to keep their neighborhood, lovingly called the Goondocks from becoming a golf course, the Goonies embark on a quest to find the missing gold of the famed pirate One Eyed Willy, a quest which takes them through a subterranean world filled with booby traps and waterslides all the while being chased by a ruthless Italian crime family.
Cory Feldman, the ’80s heartthrob fuck-up turned new millennia lowbrow, renaissance man, plays Clark “Mouth” Devereaux who delivers possibly one of the most stirring speeches in the film, “This is my wish and I’m taking it back! I’m taking them all back.” He plays beside the beloved hobbit, Sean Astin, who started his love affair with acting in caves in this film.
The Goonies has developed a strange cult following among the hip, young movers who possibly relate to the outcast status of Spielberg’s spelunking misfits.
As the sun sets on the football field where the screen had been erected, chosen because it had been a location where one of the opening scenes of the movie had been shot, crowds of local families and Portland hipsters patiently waited, bopping their heads to a stellar ’80s music mix blasting from the speakers.
Anticipation was running high, especially for me, as I had been told I would get the once in a lifetime chance to interview Corey Feldman. But what none of us knew was that we were about to be publicly humiliated.
Upon entering the gates of the football field we had been encouraged to do the “Truffle Shuffle” a bizarre dance performed in the film by the iconic “fat kid” character. Prompted to expose our bellies and shake in an epileptic fashion we were then given a Baby Ruth bar and ushered towards the field. Each of us were aware we were being filmed but did not know the purpose until the lights dimmed and we were projected on the screen, larger than life, shaking our midriffs for an audience of hundreds just for the promise of a candy bar. Luckily we were all good sports.
After the Truffle Shuffle montage, Corey Feldman was introduced. One could see that the years have treated him well as he sauntered to the microphone wearing his dark sunglasses. He thanked us for attending and made a few witty remarks before disappearing as the film rolled.
I must admit that seeing the Goonies again was a pleasant experience, I laughed and cheered and realized that I was still an incredible dork. But I was merely one in an audience of dorks freezing our asses off on a football field in Astoria. After the film ended, Corey returned to answer questions. I had assumed that audience questions would be cynical and include queries about his drug use or the state of his career throughout the ’90s, but to my surprise the audience was extremely generous and strangely awe-struck. Aside from a dirty joke and a question regarding the plausibility of the plot, he got off easy. I thought about my impending interview and vowed that I would ask hard questions like, “What was with your hair in the ’80s?”
Unfortunately, Corey declined the interview that night and the number I was given to reach him the next day connected to a voice mailbox that hadn’t been set-up. When I finally reached a real person, Corey had left Astoria and I had no way of reaching him.
Instead of doing the “interview of a lifetime,” my girlfriend and I traveled to the Astoria Chamber of Commerce, which was stocked with Goonies shirts, replica doubloons, gift bags and other paraphernalia. There, we split the cost on a Goonies hoodie.
While eating lunch at a fabulous pizza joint called Geno’s, just south of the main drag in Astoria, I realized that we are all Goonies, some of us more than others, and though I had come to interview Corey Feldman – but only got a lousy sweatshirt – I had also come to terms with my own Goonieness. And that’s priceless.