What you call a crime, I call great entrepreneurial spirit. The story goes like this. A local bar closes and a homeless man gets hired to help clean out the place. One night he breaks into the bar and instead of doing any burgling, he throws an “OPEN” sign up in the window and starts selling alcohol. First, he runs across the street and buys a six pack of beer and immediately sells that. Then he starts using the profits to buy more alcohol and then sell it. He starts to gain more patrons, upwards of 30 a day, and it all comes crashing down when he gets busted. Why? Word got out that the bar reopened. He was even interviewed and everything. The kicker… he was a former bronco rider who was estranged from his family.
Think of this, recently, there was a story about a teen who turned an old cell phone into a Porsche and it wasn’t an alien being come to Earth to protect the All Spark. He traded up from the cell phone on Craigslist.
When I heard this story, I was immediately reminded about the One Red Paper Clip story where a guy turned a red paper clip into a home. I may have to try this but I wonder where I could go with it. I’m sure if I head over to Craigslist I’ll find thousands of items in the barter section. Each one probably posted by someone trying to duplicate the success of the "One Red Paper Clip" and "Cell Phone Turned Porsche".
What you call a weird story in the news, I call a great 80s movie plot.
The spirit of the entrepreneur is a staple of 80s movies, especially ones that were based on real events. Look at films like Night Shift and KidCo, a favorite in the rotation on HBO, growing up. Then you have the more familiar films like Secret Of My Succe$s and the more recent, Accepted, to play with the themes that are in line with this story. That got me to thinking. This entire news entry has the basis for a run of the mill 80s movie.
Look at all the elements it has in common. Down on his luck guy hired to do a menial task and then gets the idea to go into business for himself, albeit in an illegal manner. I can see it now. A local homeless man gets a temporary job cleaning up a closed down bar before the owner leaves town. Our hero is standing inside this empty bar, sweeping up. Realizing that the job is done and he will be back on the streets with no paycheck he decides to break into the bar and squat there as a resident. He invites two other friends to spend the night off the streets. One, is a “Hooker with a heart of gold” type who really wants to change her ways. The other is a Vietnam Vet who hasn’t been able to hold down a job because of his PTSD.
He turns on the lights as they all enter to make preparations for sleeping. Along with the interior lights coming on, the “OPEN” sign lights up attracting a patron. The unsuspecting or at least uninformed patron sits at the bar and our hero reaches into his own personal cooler to grab a beer and promptly sells it to the patron who pays him for the beer as well as tips him for the service. He leaves and our hero suddenly gets an idea. He then runs across the street to a six pack shop and uses his newly acquired profit to purchase more alcohol. Soon, he has his vet buddy working as a bar back and cook while the hooker works as a hostess and cocktail waitress. You can even include bits like the hooker counting her tips stating that this is the most money she’s made without taking off her clothes.
The second act picks up in the middle of their success as we see them make improvements to the décor, done in a inspirational musical montage, pantomimed with a host of clichéd sight gags involving power tools and paint. Our hero has also hired more homeless friends to work at his bar. He hires a cook who is used to working with road kill as a menu and promotes his vet buddy to Head Of Security. He hires another bartender in the form of an out of work juggler from a travelling circus. He even brings in the stereotypical, out of work and on the street blues guitarist to do play sets, revitalizing his career as a musician. He also starts to attract the suspicion of the local liquor control board. The fact that he’s made it this far is only helped if this actually happened in the 80s. As he continues to see success he starts to develop a relationship with the hooker. The last line of the news article states that the man was estranged from his family and this could be used as a subplot where the hooker finds out he has a wife and rebuffs his affection.
Then we get to the all too important and often seen conflict for the gang. A local orphanage, where our hero grew up, is in dire need of funds. Wanting to repay the sisters for their kindness, all those years ago, he enters the bar, and himself into a bartending competition which includes flair [juggler] and speed pouring events. Just before the competition is set to go, they get busted and he is promptly thrown in jail. Violating several laws, including breaking and entering, serving alcohol without a license and several others he appears before the judge on the morning of the competition. Without bar sponsorship, even the juggler cannot compete, so they are pretty much screwed. At his grand jury trial, his inept court ordered defense attorney fumbles his way through the entire proceedings which leaves a trial date set for the same day as the competition.
During the trial, everything looks bleak but the hooker ends up forgiving our hero and gathers all of the employees to act as character witnesses at his trial. The gag is that, at first, the flood of unseemly people into the court room, such as hookers, homeless people, and other members of the Untouchable-like crowd appear to be the proverbial nail in our hero’s coffin. However, each one gets on the stand and explains how their life was in ruins and our hero offered them a job, a place to stay, and a chance at a better life. Now, we could have the twist where the jury finds him guilty and the judge changes the ruling or some other breath holding moment, but in the end, somehow, he gets acquitted or is found guilty with time served, probation or some other form of commuted sentenced and he’s able to compete with some kind of bar sponsorship and they go on to win the contest allowing him to save the orphanage. Of course, success is short lived as he and all his employees are now homeless and jobless, again.
In the end, whether or not he is able to open the bar again is up in the air but, in my mind, I see him opening up another business, say a temporary employment agency that finds jobs for all his friends. He ends up with the hooker and even a home with a white picket fence.
Of course, being that I put this in the 80s, you’d have to have an 80s cast from the 80s.
Our Hero – Michael Keaton / Mark Harmon / Steve Guttenberg / John Ritter
Our Veteran – John Goodman / Gary Busey / Bruce McGill / Jim Belushi
Our Hooker – Karen Allen / Shelly Long / Fran Drescher / Carole Davis / Geena Davis
Our Cook – Vincent Schiavelli (only one choice there)
Our Bad Guy – Dabney Coleman / Charles Grodin
Our Juggler – Bill Irwin (Mr. Noodle from Sesame Street)
Our Blues Singer – Buddy Guy or John Lee Hooker
Your Honor – Harry Morgan / Wilford Brimley / Harold Gould
Ok, must get out my big old typewriter [clack clack clack], chomp on my big stinky cigar [puff puff wheeze], and write this masterpiece. Then I will have to get a DeLorean equipped with a Flux Capacitor in order to go back in time and make this film. Yet, if I were to be in Hollywood and make this film, now. I would not only set it in the 80s. I would write it and film it like an 80s movie. Think, Wet Hot American Summer style.
Oh, it could so work. Where's that extra plutonium I had lying around?