In Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, Travis Bickle, the epomymous cabbie and war veteran, lurches through life in a dangerously detached state, crushed by the heaving pressure of his various prejudices and an oppressive ennui. Travis is a fragmented individual, riven by the multitude of "bad ideas" that constantly fill his mind. A lost soul, he proclaims himself to be "God's lonely man" and it is only this vulnerability that allows us to identify in any way with the iconic character brought to life so unnervingly by Robert De Niro.
Thoroughly disconnected and adrift in the morass of violent and often racist thoughts that afflict him, he turns to the most unlikely of sources for a little guidance, when he seeks the good counsel of a middle-aged colleague known as The Wizard. In a halting and almost endearingly inarticulate way, he tells the older man that he is plagued by unsettling notions. He really wants to "do something," you see, and we can tell that it is a destructive and vengeful impulse that he cannot control.
Wizard is an amiable sort, played with a curmudgeonly likability by Peter Boyle. Sporting a spectacular bald dome flanked by two shocks of unkempt hair, he gives the appearance of being far older than he is. In the world of 70s New York cab drivers, his appearance and veteran status clearly bestow upon him a certain gravitas. However, when he begins his attempt at a reassuring summation of how we all have our place in the world, we begin to suspect his grand moniker may be a tad inappropriate. He tries, bless him, to ease the perturbation of the younger man, but his cod-philosophy fails to console Travis, who thinks it's "about the dumbest thing [he] ever heard."
Last night, as your scribbler sat staring at the television screen after the latest in a series of dispiriting results, I felt like Travis -- my mind full of existential angst and nebulous ideas of violent action against unspecified quarries. It was a peculiar sensation, a numbness with an underlying current of HULK WILL SMASH. When Brendan Rodgers came on the screen, he was my Wizard, although to be fair, he's barely a year older than me. "Help me out here, Brendan," I thought. In retrospect, it was a foolish impulse, given the Antrim man's propensity for somewhat infuriating guff in the immediate aftermath of matches. Again, the parallels with the film resonated violently in my brain pan.
Rodgers, an articulate and unfailingly polite man, was more circumspect than usual as he attempted to frame the events at the KC Stadium. The Brendan Bingo terminology was at a minimum and he was wise enough to know that a downbeat tone was appropriate, given the abject nature of the most recent capitulation. Braver souls than I will analyse the match. That is a special kind of self-torture, this Irishman lacks the masochism for. Last night, on our LFC Daytrippers podcast, the usual in-depth analysis was eschewed for an amorphous rant, equal parts rage, despondency and manic laughter. This, I imagine, was not an uncommon reaction.
As Rodgers spoke earnestly about the team's toothlessness and well-intentioned industry, many will have drifted into numb apathy. Others will have used every syllable as vital ammunition in their #RodgersOut campaign. To be fair, it's a thankless task for the manager, but even those of us who have been largely supportive of the Liverpool boss really don't want to hear excuses, justifications and gentle nudges of certain players under the on-rushing bus. It's a mess, really. We all know it. The only place it can be fixed is between Rodgers and his players. This is where a Kenny Dalglish-like stare-down of the television hack is a far superior option for everyone. Nobody is interested in any talk now that isn't entirely honest and frank.
Regular readers will know the drill, here. At this point in proceedings there usually appear a segue into some actual quotes from the manager and then some semi-coherent responses to them from this frazzled husk of a scribe. I'm afraid that won't be happening here today. I'm a little broken, you see. It's for the best. Trust Uncle Trev. Instead, for all you fellow lost souls, adrift on a sea of discomfiting uncertainty, here's the sage advice of Wizard. Travis should have taken it on board. It's not "dumb" at all, certainly not when compared with the drivel of a post-match managerial soft-soap. Or Bertrand Russell. In fact, the older I get, the wiser it becomes.
Wizard: Look at it this way. A man takes a job, you know? And that job - I mean, like that - That becomes what he is. You know, like - You do a thing and that's what you are. Like I've been a cabbie for thirteen years. Ten years at night. I still don't own my own cab. You know why? Because I don't want to. That must be what I want. To be on the night shift drivin' somebody else's cab. You understand? I mean, you become - You get a job, you become the job. One guy lives in Brooklyn. One guy lives in Sutton Place. You got a lawyer. Another guy's a doctor. Another guy dies. Another guy gets well. People are born, y'know? I envy you, your youth. Go on, get laid, get drunk. Do anything. You got no choice, anyway. I mean, we're all fucked. More or less, ya know.
Travis Bickle: I don't know. That's about the dumbest thing I ever heard.
Wizard: It's not Bertrand Russell. But what do you want? I'm a cabbie. What do I know? I don't even know what the fuck you're talking about.
Travis Bickle: Maybe I don't know either.
Who does, Travis. Who does?