July 2008


Author’s note: Click on the words in green throughout this article for links to related video  and audio clips and supporting articles.

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by Bob Langham

What the Fox is wrong with Bill O’Reilly?

If Joseph Goebbels  and Joseph McCarthy had a kid together, it would definitely be Bill O’Reilly. However, just being the offspringof these two historical pariahs, probably would not alone have made him the person he is today. (Notice i did not use the word “man”?  I have yet to see him act like one.) The Joes would have also had to have spoiled little Bill as a child and probably as a teen, giving in to every tantrum and catering to his every desire to have molded him into the Bill O’Reilly we all know.

The idea that O’Reilly even has an audience that consists of anyone other than Neanderthals, who still spout catchphrases like, “This is America, love it or leave it,” or “freedom isn’t free man” from the back of a confederate flag draped pickup truck is hard to believe.  Truthfully, I’d be surprised if Bill’s  real family were fans of his.  After some of the behavior he has pulled, and most of the crap he bloviates on the air, they might have requested some kind of arrangement from the infamous Fox Security, similar to the Witness Protection Program.  Because you know there must be a line of people wrapped around the block to have a few words with them about what went wrong when raising little Billy as a child.

Even the hard core handful of Bill’s fans that still hang on to what he spews night after night as the gospel according to Rupert (Murdoch), have to deep down know they are being lied to by nothing more than a cabel TV used car salesman trying to move the inventory.  Instead of sticking us with overpriced lemons that may leave us stranded on the side of the road, O’Reilly’s sales pitch for the right wing has helped the Bush administration stick us with two, almost three unjust wars based on lies, and a Constitution stripped of many of the amendments that we have always been told had a lifetime warranty.

Bill has to be the number one salesman at Rupert’s House of Used Cars, so he can win the set of steak knives at the end of the year when the top producer is rewarded -which is much better than that Peabody Award and easier to secure.  So Bill moves the inventory out the door to a small but loud and rabid clientele – all makes and all models-weapons of mass destruction lies, the right wing agenda, Iran is bad, the liberals want to eat your kids and destroy America, terrorists are behind every Bush (pun intended), the US does not particpate in torture, but if we did, it would work in fighting the alleged war on terror, domestic spying, the mythical war, (but real life distraction) on Christmas, and his delusion of secular progressives (whatever that is) whose motive he claims is to destroy everything good about America.

Somewhere along the line it became the standard in political debate to bring the noise if you can’t bring the facts, and Bill O’Reilly is an expert at bringing the noise, shouting over his guests and cutting off their microphones, unleashing character attacks when the facts don’t serve his argument, and throwing guests out of the studio if they have the audacity to speak the truth not according to Rupert.

As belligerent and hostile as he is to guests on his show, Bill claims he is looking out for you, the common man.  In fact, he cares about you so much the cost for you to have his protection is only 16 bucks and some change not including shipping and handling) and a few of your Constitutional rights.  You see, Bill believes in the sanctity of the Bill of Rights but only as they apply to him and his ability to move his inventory.  Constitutional guarantees like freedom of speech, press, and assembly don’t seem to be that important to Bill, unless they directly affect him.  I guess Bill reads the First 10 amendments and sees the “Bill O’reilly (of) RIghts.”

As a tribute to Bill O’Reilly being so geneous with our Bill of Rights being decimated by the Bush administration, I have compiled a list of just 10 things (there are so many it is hard to choose) Bill has done and said that are just plain wrong on a Constitutional, factual, human decency, and behavioral level. Be sure to click on each heading below to see and hear Bill’s rabid ignorance and get its full effect. 

10. Bill needs a !#$%&*%ing time out– If you ever wondered what becomes of the little brats who throw themselves on the floor of K-Mart and scream and kick and thrash around until their parent gives in and buys them what they want – here is the answer in all of its horrific glory. Does anyone remember how Herman Munster used to have temper tantrums when he really got mad.  Doesn’t Bill bring that to mind here?  Maybe with a little less stage makeup than Herman, but he’s got the moves down.

9. Bill Fights for his right to (Republican) party – Bill seems to hold the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of the press sacred, but only if he and his agenda are being left out in the cold.  Apparently, Bill is such a Constitutional expert, that he was able to find somewhere in the footnotes of the Bill of Rights that freedom of speech and freedom of the press include volume. The louder the better.

8. Book ’em Billo – Meet  Robo  and  Pass the luffa Snorkel Boy – Bill loves to grace his people with books that promote his agenda, but somehow Bill got the idea that he could write sex novels and was also able to convince someone in the publishing industry to release Those Who Trespass for public consumption.  What’s worse, is he didn’t only write this crap, he also reads it himself on the audio book version in his “manly” I’m on the verge of a belch, no nonsense, “I’m all about the facts” Factor voice.

The two excerpts linked above of his audio performance (“Meet Robo” and “Pass the luffa Snorkel Boy”) are from the Stephanie Miller Show and what used to be the Al Franken show so it includes their reaction and commentary.  Fortunately, it makes Bill’s foray or more accurately his trespass into writing porn fiction a little easier to stomach.  Imagine listening to Bill spin this yarn in the darkness of your bedroom. 

It is pretty sad if you can’t even write good porn. Like they said when playing the excerpt on the Stephanie Miller Show, this isn’t even good enough to be a letter to the Penthouse Forum Letters section, and most of those are probably written by guys not wearing pants.  But now that I think of it, no telling what state of dress Bill was in when he wrote this.

Here is one of the nicer Amazon reviews of his novel:

Wow. This was a real-load-in-the-pants. I’m surprised that anyone would actually publish this. I guess that[‘s] a perk when you’re on TV.  The writing was at about 12th grade level, which is surprising, considering that O’Reilly speaks like a nine year old child. I think this book would make good reading  for inmates in Abu Ghraib

 7. His telphone manner was just falafel! (that’s what she said) – I am going to go ahead and get what’s left of Bill’s sex life out of the way now so we can put that darkness behind us and move on to some less nauseating behavior by Bill that happened while his pants were on (let’s hope; he does sit behind a desk on the the show).  This is one of the crusaders for family values and of course he is always looking out for the children as well.  Come sit on Uncle Bill’s lap and I’ll tell you the story of the Magic Loofa.

6. Don’t make me make someone come over there! – Bill, tries to give the impression that he supports the right to dissent and disagree and speak out against the government and the powers that be, and I think he really does, as long as he is the one dissenting and speaking out.  However, if you disagree and speak out against him, or his administration/corporation propaganda pimps,

he will come down on you with the wrath of a rental security agency.  He doesn’t mess around with Blackwater, or Wackenhut he goes straight to the big guns ( I mean flashlights) and unleashes his posse (I said posse) of Fox Security muscle. 

I guess they show up at your door and give you a serious talking to – intervention style.  Doesn’t Bill remind you of the kid in grade school that would take down kid’s names who talked when the teacher was out of the classroom and tattle on them when she got back?  Of course this was the same kid that would drop his pencil on the floor repeatedly trying to sneak a peak up the teacher’s dress.

5. Phil er up and kick those balding tires – Bill shows what a “real man” he is by inviting Phil Donahue, one of the biggest pacifsts since Ghandi’s mother, on his show because Phil dared to have the same point of view as Cindy Sheehan (who lost her son in the Iraq war) opposing the Iraq war.  You see, gentleman that Bill is, he had been trashing and smearing Sheehan on the air about her outspoken stand against the Iraq war – saying that Sheenhan’s dead son would probably not approve of his mom’s stance. Apparently, Bill has been frequenting seances and utilizing Ouija boards for news sources.  Bill probably thought he would be taking the rational, easy going Donahue to the tool shed with a Factor switch, and get home early for some pantsless telephone calls before dinner, but Donahue kicked his ass, factually, intellectually, and emotionally. 

Bill was unable to match his former media peer, so he jettisoned the facts out of the SS Fox pod door and shifted in to a warp volume tirade, because everyone knows loud equals right in the Fox universe.  Bill threatened to personally and forcefully eject Donahue from his studio for pissing on his right wing agenda.  Come on Bill, intimidating Phil Donahue with physical violence?  You might as well challenge Clay Aiken

to a bare knuckle fist fight over who gets to tap Paul Abdul.  Phil is going to wipe up the floor with you without even having to lay a hand on you.  The highlight had to be Donahue calling O’Reilly “Billy” throughout the exchange as if talking to a snot-nosed kid (no stretch at all there).

4. Mourning has broken – We all mourn in different ways.  Jeremey Glick, son of a Port Authority worker who died in the September 11 attacks turned his mourning of his dad’s death into a vehicle for change to try to prevent the kind of U.S. foreign policy and aggression that led to the 911 atacks in the first place from continuing.

How does Bil O’reilly, who claims he has done more for 911 victims’ families than Jeremy could ever hope to do, mourn the victims of 911?  Well, obviously by bullying family members of 911 victims.  

Bill invited Jeremy on his show so he could attempt to justify signing the Not in Our Name Statement of Conscience  which was a petition calling U.S. citizens to resist the policies and overall political direction that emerged since September 11, 2001, and which pose dangers to rest of the world.

Jeremy committed a cardinal sin on Fox – he spilled his facts in Bill’s lap like a pot of scalding coffee.  This is crucial because at Fox News and in Bill’s world, truth is a four letter word.  Bill reacted like his testicles had actually been scorched and he tore into Jeremy relentlessly like a pit bull on a poodle -Shouting at him, insulting him, assaulting his character, twisting his words around to fit his own baseless rant, and yelling at him to SHUT UP!  Did I mention, that this is the son of a 911 victim?

Jeremy kept his cool, pretty well and was able to get some good factual points in around Bill’s rabid spitting and convulsing barrage of propaganda and faux patriotic sound bites, that were most likely phoned in from the Whitehouse prior to the show.  My favorite point that Jeremy made during the exchange, which I’m pretty sure made Bill’s eyes roll back in his head and his genitals shrivel up, was when he said Bill evoked the 911 victims to rationalize everything from domestic plunder to imperialistic aggression worldwide.

Bill returned as he often does to his Ouija board strategy and told Jeremy, that he did not think Jeremy’s dead father would approve of his positions, and then resorted to the equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and screaming “LA LA LA LA I am not listening to Jeremy,” until finally, hiding behind Jeremy’s dead father again, Bill said he would not dress Jeremy down out of respect for his father.  As if that were not bad enough, Bill brought Jeremy’s mother into it, by saying he hoped his mother was not watching this, implying that she would be disappointed in her son.

Bill then called for backup, ordering his jackbooted studio thugs to cut Jeremy’s mic so he couldn’t rain on Bill’s propaganda parade any longer.  To get the full effect of how much of an a -hole someone can actually be, you need to watch the video and remind yourself that this is the son of a 911 victim Bill is attacking.

3. An open and Shut (up) case of freedom of speech   You remember the Bill O’Reilly, who holds dear his Constitutional freedom of speech and press?  Finally, you’re thinking there may be one redeeming quality to Bill O’Reilly and a common ground we as a nation can all meet on.  Not so fast Mother Teresa.  Bill only finds these rights important if their absence is causing him to be shut out?  If what you are saying, especially in the form of facts, doesn’t mesh with Bill’s agenda and warped version of the truth, then you are going to get SU’ed (Shut Upped) and he’s going to take you down to browbeat town. 

2. A Liberal show of force  or The Nuclear Option – Bill knows how to protect our country from its enemies.  He refers to his enemies by many names such as the secular progressives (SPs) [a phrase that means absolutely nothing, like partial-birth abortion] but is coined by some political public relations guy to evoke negative connotations in the minds of the uneducated narrow minded zombies (Bill’s core audience) and convince them that the SPs are trying to take Christmas away from Jesus.  Oh yeah, and the SPs are trying to turn everyone gay too and get them married to each other.  Bill also includes among his enemies, liberals, the left wing blogisphere, “left wing media” and the left wing smear merchants.

Regardlless of what label Bill uses for his enemies, they all have one thing in common.  They know that Bill is full of crap and the don’t accept his pontifications as the gospel.  Instead, this roving band from the “left” has the nerve to post actual transcripts, videos, and audio of some of Bill’s most outrageous diatribes verbatim, unedited, and unmanipulated so Bill’s words and actions can speak for themselves.  This really sets Bill off into Tizzy Land and he morphs before our eyes and ears into what he has got to think is a macho no nonsense take no prisoners persona, but to everyone else it comes closer to Barney Fife bringing the Mayberry down on your ass:

 

If you see Bill looking like this, then you are in for a liberal show of force, in which case he’s taking care of business himself, so don’t even waste time shuddering, just drop to your knees and cower at Barney – I mean Bill’s feet because he’s coming for you.  

Just hope and pray you get off that easy and don’t live in a liberal America hating city, because Bill will call in the nuclear option on you and take out your entire city without a second thought.  I get the impression that much of what Bill says and does is without a second thought or even a first thought in most cases.

1. He ain’t heavy, he’s my M-effer – Someone as complex as Bill does everything full throttle.  He even dines out with extreme prejudice (pun intended).  That was the case when Bill either lost a bet with Sean Hannity:

or had to pay off a debt to some billionaire with a twisted sense of humor and ended up going out to dinner with Al Sharpton at restaurant in Harlem.

Bill was amazed that the African American clientele was civilized and well behaved.  He found it notable that the black patrons, and I assume the empoyees as well, were not threatening to bust a cap in his ass, or steal the white women.  They weren’t even swearing up a storm like a rapper with Tourette Syndrome.  Could Bill have walked into some parallel universe where left is right, up is down, and the ink is black the page is white

Thinking this about the black clientele is one thing and it is bad of course. But unless you are in the presence of Kreskin, you could probably get away with it.  Now saying something about these observations is another thing all together, but saying something on the airwaves takes it to a whole new level.  Bill went for the trifecta and did all three.  I think at that moment when Bill related his story about the well-behaved patrons at the Harlem restaurant across the national airwaves, even Jesse Helms spit  his mint julep all over his Klan robe and said, “Daaaaaaamn…Bill!”

Bill later defended his words admirably by presenting the “What?  What did I say? I said the black folk were well-behaved and articulate. What more do you want from me”? defense.

Now, If I had said or done even one of the things in the list above, and I am not even talking about on television or the radio, but just in the presence of my small circle of friends and acquaintances, (I am assuming my audience would be smaller than Bill’s TV and radio audience, but I could be wrong), I would be too embarrassed to show my face in public again.  However, it doesn’t bother Bill.  He keeps going out there and he continues to top the last outrageous thing he did.  But you know what?  I believe so strongly in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, I will defend his right to say whatever he wants no matter how ignorant or inflammatory it is.  If only Bill could have the same kind of tolerance toward me and the rest of world.

-B

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Author’s note: Click on the words in green throughout this article for links to related video clips and supporting articles.

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We all pose for pictures that we aren’t proud of and that you just want to forget.  Unfortunately, I know by experience, in most cases they come back to haunt you. Remember Vanessa Williams who had her Miss America crown taken away because she posed for a few nude girl on girl pictures?

Come on, speaking from a predominantly male perspective, is there really any harm in that?  Can’t we all just get along? That is what I said back then and that is what I firmly believe today.

I was willing to pass the olive branch right away on that one. But that is just the kind of forgiving person I am.  I should be a freaking diplomat with that level of understanding.  But no, everyone in the mainstream status quo was so shocked about it.

Oh my, we wouldn’t want to taint the image of the Miss America pageant where ladies are paraded in front of the world in skimpy swimsuits and high heels and Vaseline on their teeth to sell a watered down version of sex.  I guess it is all in the packaging as far as the status quo goes.  I mean selling a woman’s sexuality is okay in the Miss America Pageant if they are the ones doing the selling and reaping the advertising rewards.

 

so I guess that’s why it is okay for them to hint at girl on girl action at the pageant also,

but only to a point or you might frighten the masses and they will run screaming toward their houses of worship because you know there is no sex happening there. 

More recently, there was Miss Nevada USA who, believe it or not also had some girl on girl photos surface.

 

I am beginning to see a trend here – ladies hanging out with other ladies in a beauty pageant setting attract ladies who are into chicks, or depending on when the photos were taken, maybe the female camaraderie in a pageant setting, leads to girl on girl activity.  Regardless, once again, diplomat that I am, what’s the problem?  However, cooler heads and more open minds did not prevail and Miss Nevada USA had her title taken away.

Let me just let you in on a little secret, the porn industry is a billion dollar business.  Who do you think is buying and renting that stuff?  You think there is an literal trench coat mafia out there?

My guess would be much of mainstream America likes to partake of offerings behind the metaphorical curtain of the video store of life.  However, because of the Internet and Pay for View etc. (the plain brown wrappers of the computer and digital age) it is just not as obvious.

Which brings me to an important point.  I think everyone should be allowed to do what makes them happy, as long as they are adults, everyone involved is consenting, and the behavior is not illegal.  I bring that up because I firmly believe it and also because I myself have had some photos from my past recently come back to haunt me.

They were sent to me as a reminder of the stupid stuff we do when we are young.  Not by some sleazy down and out photographer trying to cash in by threatening to go public with the pics, but someone a little closer to home.  Yeah, of all people, my brother decided I needed to be reminded that my past never goes away.  And so I am going to launch my own preemptive strike and put these pictures out there with an explanation before the tabloids and my brother strike up some kind of deal.  

Here are the pictures that I know I should have never taken and that I hoped had gone away, accompanied by my rationalizations and excuses that to the best of my knowledge are true. 

First and most importantly, I was an adult (at least 18 as far as I can remember) and the photographer and I were consenting. However, I was young and naive and bored.  You have to remember, back then  there was no Internet,  or personal computers, or 24/7 cable TV, at least in our household.  So my brother and I used to amuse and entertain ourselves by taking goofy pictures of each other to pass the time.  I never thought they would be seen by anyone outside of our family, and the Photomat guy – for those of you too young to remember, this used to be how you got pictures developed before digital cameras.  You would take the actual physical roll of film to a guy in a little booth the size of a vertical Ford Excursion 

and come back a few days later and get your pictures. Oh yeah, we had patience back then, but we just didn’t know it.

So here are my pictures please don’t judge me too harshly.

I am going to firmly state I was no fan of the Village People.

and I rejected everything disco.  Even if you don’t believe this, at least I had the forethought to dress up like the least gay looking (not that there is anything wrong with it, that’s just not my thing) Village Person. But I am going with the story that either I had a construction job interview that day, I was on my way out to my job with all of the other real men on an oil rig, or maybe it was Halloween and this was my idea of an inexpensive last minute costume.

Now that I have explained that one away with out any doubt whatsoever, I submit the next exhibit:

Okay, first of all, this is an old driver’s license picture and we all know those never look good to begin with, so I think I should get a little bit of slack on this one.  Obviously, since it was my license picture I wanted to look my best that day, so I put on a striped collared shirt with the collar turned in and crazy looking like I had stopped along the way to the driver’s license bureau to try to break up a domestic disturbance somewhere, and threw on what appears to be a US Navy standard issue life jacket.  Maybe I had to get my boater’s license picture taken that day too.  As far as my hair goes, I think I was shooting for this look:

But unfortunately, came closer to achieving this look:

Now, we come to what I think is the most incriminating of all of my photos from the past and hopefully once it is out there I can put it behind me and move on:

 

Yes I look like someone who tries to either sell or buy weed on the school bus. But trust me, I have never done drugs of any kind – why I dressed the part of a stoner I don’t know. I guess I will have to plead clueless on that one and assume I didn’t know the implications of the wardrobe I was sporting.  In retrospect, I guess that is why my friends’ parents always hid the brownies and Doritos whenever I came over.

The sleeveless tee shirt, I am sure, had a local rock station logo on it like the one below, advertising a rock station that is now defunct.

and I thought it was cool at the time, but what do I know?  I dressed like Cheech Marin in my teens but with less of a mustache.

Now what about that cheesy mustache of mine that I sort of grew (proudly at the time.)  Didn’t anyone have the heart to tell me that mustaches on guys back then were fuzzy billboards screaming that you belonged to the Kingdom of Dorothy? (once again, not that there is anything wrong with that)  As if that weren’t bad enough, for someone like myself later in life whose 5 o’clock shadow is always several hours early, my mustache back then couldn’t even qualify for a groovy ’70s porn mustache like the one sported by Johnny Holmes below.

which is a shame, because that is the only inadequate attribute I had that kept me out of that billion dollar industry. That and I had a very short — uhh – temper.

I think I was aiming for this look with the mustache though:

But once again, I misfired and came closer to this look:

  

Or this one:

So hopefully, I have adequately explained my past photographic transgressions, and we have all taken something away from this.  Yes we all make mistakes when we are young and naive, but if you overcome those mistakes, learn from them, and move on, you become a better person, and the world will become a better place where maybe all of us can one day just get along.  Until then, Vanessa, and former Miss Nevada, I have your backs.

– B

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I am introducing what will be a running feature called Retro Review, where I will discuss some piece of pop culture – film, music, literature, etc. from the ‘70s and ‘80s – two decades close to my heart.  I may dip into the ‘60s and the ‘90s because I was alive and kicking during those eras also and I would be lying if I said the pop culture and events during all of these decades did not contribute to the person I have become.

Author’s note: Click on the words in green throughout this article for links to related video clips and supporting articles

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Over the fence and under the lawn to Ben’s House we go… 

Warning: Some of the supporting links in this post contain profanity and mature content.

 

I enjoy movies like everyone else. However, I try to shy away from the mainstream fare with their formulaic plots, digitally enhanced effects and stunts, cardboard characters that read dialogue that doesn’t ring true, and gratuitous sex scenes tacked on for an R rating. Don’t get me wrong. I like the sex scenes as much, if not more than the next person, but I expect them to be believable, and not to be in the film because some Hollywood suit says it is necessary to get a certain demographic in the theater.

 

My strict criteria for what makes a movie enjoyable was met and I was completely drawn in the first time I saw Blue Velvet directed by David Lynch. What Lynch does so well in this movie is to give us a peek beneath the surface of small town America and suburbia at the underbelly that most of us either are unaware or choose to ignore by staying on the “right” side of town so that it does not infringe on our pristine existence.

 

Lynch had me at the opening sequence where he paints an exaggerated, too good to be true cinematic picture of small town America/suburbia, where the fences are white picket, the lawns are green, the flowers bloom bright and enthusiastically, firemen wave happily at citizens as they ride by in their shiny red trucks, and crossing guards protect well-behaved children as they cross the street. Lynch quickly jerks the green lawn out from under our feet to show us what lurks beneath this Norman Rockwell wet dream.

 

The father of the main character of the film, Jeffrey Beaumont, is watering his perfect lawn when a kink (foreshadowing of the dark behavior of some of the characters Jeffrey will meet as well as a dark side he discovers within himself) forms in the garden hose.  As he struggles to untangle it, he suffers a stroke/seizure and falls to the lawn still holding the hose as it sprays into the air from his clenched hand. His dog jumps on his chest and barks and plays with the spray, oblivious to the condition of his owner. The camera tracks toward the green lawn and digs below the surface of the thick, green grass revealing this underworld to be populated by hostile, noisy insects. The camera focuses on two beetles involved in a battle to the death.

 

The movie is not even at the four-minute mark yet, and suddenly it is obvious that this is going to be a very different experience. And that is what I am looking for when I watch a movie. Anything less is insulting. 

 

If the opening sequence isn’t enough, Lynch veers a little farther off the Hollywood beaten path when Jeffrey Beaumont, walking home from visiting his ailing father in the hospital, discovers a severed human ear in a field and picks it up and bring it to the police.  I am going to go out on a limb and say, any movie in which the plot is set in motion when the main character discovers a severed human ear, has got my attention right away.

 

Shortly after this discovery, as the ear sits on the coroner’s table, Lynch burrows even deeper beneath the surface of postcard perfect suburbia, as the camera zooms in on the ear and descends deep inside the ear canal into its darkness, metaphorically beginning the descent that the film narrative and Jeffrey himself will take as he tries to solve the mystery of his find, and discovers the seamy, evil and dangerous underbelly of his home town that he did not know existed.

 

The most powerful and horrifying scene in this movie or any movie as far as I am concerned is the joyride scene (the entire scene runs from about 1 hour and 10 minutes through 1 hour and 26 minutes and must be viewed in its entirety for the full emotional effect) which occurs when Jeffrey gets in over his head on the wrong side of town as he tries to unravel the mystery of this human ear. He is confronted and taken against his will on a journey into the human equivalent of the hostile insects and warring beetles under the green façade of his dad’s lawn.

 

Frank Booth, played flawlessly by Dennis Hopper (who you actually believe is a soulless killer, and his sociopath posse take Jeffrey on a “joyride” to “Ben’s” place where he comes face to face with a dark side of life that is frightening and mesmerizing at the same time.

 

 

Scarier even than Frank Booth is Ben, played chillingly “suave” by Dean Stockwell, who has a penchant for wearing makeup, lip singing to Roy Orbison, and taking pleasure in inflicting pain on others, for the amusement of himself and Frank and his posse.

 

 

This scene had a profound impact on me the first time I saw it and even now as I watch it years later. Any criticism the film may have gotten when it was first released about Frank Booth and his posse and Ben being exaggerated caricatures of evil for cinematic effect is unwarranted.  As a child and a youth, like many others, I dealt with the wrath of bullies that usually ran in packs like Frank Booth and his posse and they had that same blank soulless look in their eyes and seemed to experience genuine amusement and gratification by hurting and demeaning others. These bullies had to grow up and become adults, and they did not change into kind people overnight. If you need any evidence of this, look no further than George W, Bush (who tortured animals, bullied his siblings and tortured classmates both as a child and as an adult) and then grew up and along with many current and former members in his administration have shown a morbid desire for homoerotic torture to coerce confessions of innocent people, including children to wield the power of fear over their own perceived enemies and even their own citizens. If this is not convincing enough, try going to a 24 hour Walmart after midnight and look at some of the unsavory characters trolling around there. It is like a David Lynch film casting call.

 

Another reason this movie had such an emotional impact on me was because I was a good law-abiding kid as well as an adult, never touching alcohol or drugs and trying not to hang with people who seemed to be trouble. However, even I came to find out there is a thin line you walk sometimes between your normal everyday green lawn suburban life and stepping into the abyss and becoming mixed up with the warring beetles beneath the surface where, before you know it, you are in over your head.

 

As careful as I was, I found myself in situations more than once that could have easily been similar to, but not as extreme as Jeffrey’s fictional “joyride.”  It might have been something as simple as going out with college or high school acquaintances and being the passenger in a car with no control over the destination. Then, realizing too late that the journey had taken a turn for the worse, while powerlessly watching it begin to spiral out of control like a dream or a movie in front of my eyes, where my only options were to jump out of a moving car to get out of the situation and hope to survive to limp back to the safety of my normal world, or ride it out and hope for the best. I have often wondered if this is the situation an innocent passenger finds himself in right before he falls victim to a drunk or dangerous driver with whom he has gotten into a car and surrendered control.

 

Lynch is at the top of his game with Blue Velvet and does a superb job in this pivotal scene, and in the film overall of exposing the dark, evil underbelly of suburban life, that we all know exists in this world, whether we want to accept it or not, and tapping into the terrifying reality of how it is much closer than we like to believe. If you think it you are safely insulated from what lies below the gift wrapped façade in your little corner of the world, you only need to look as far as the most recent religious figure or politician caught for pedophilia, or anti-gay rights politician or reverend caught in a gay sex sting, or political pundit or reporter close to the White House with a questionable past, or even the last road rage incident or random work place shooting. This underbelly is more prevalent than you think. The evidence is there, you just have to look past the white picket fences and beneath the well-manicured lawns.

 

– B

 

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Author’s note: Click on the words in green throughout this article for links to related video and audio clips and supporting articles.  Click on the song title and artist’s name at the end of this post to listen to this song in its entirety and to visit a Web site dedicated to Tom Waits.

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The first time I heard and saw Tom Waits he sang this song on Late Night with David Letterman. This was back when Letterman was still on NBC in the time slot after the Tonight Show when Dave’s show could still be legitimately referred to as Late Night . Back then, Dave was still anti show bizzness and anti celebrity phoniness, and still openly insulting the Suits at General Electric (the parent company of NBC). This was back when he still booked non-mainstream edgy guests on the show that you couldn’t see anywhere else. 

It had to be the early ’80s.  I remember this because the next day after seeing Tom’s performance of this song, I went out and bought the Heart Attack and Vine album  and the Swordfishtrombones album (yes as in vinyl; the CD sensation was not upon us yet, and little did we know even that would be short lived).

Tom sang two songs that night and talked to Dave in between the two songs. The other song he sang that night was Frank’s Wild Years from Swordfishtrombones. When was the last time you saw something in late night or prime time break the cookie cutter, mainstream television format mold like that? 

 As Tom sang On the Nickle that night, his voice cigarette raw, and dressed as you’d imagine some of the characters that populated the gritty, unforgiving landscape of this song to be dressed, the music was stripped down to the bare essentials like most of his songs are, no unnecessary, obtrusive accompaniment.  Just Tom behind the piano singing and playing keys that fit perfectly with the musical narrative, a hobo’s lullaby, as he referred to it, sounding like a lounge singer channeling the spirit of John Steinbeck and shedding light on a segment of the population that has and will always be there, but often goes unnoticed by those who have been granted good luck or fortune to have the basic necessities in life.  The emotional sincerity of Tom’s performance gave me the impression, that he was empathetic, if not directly familiar with the plight of the characters in this song. You could almost imagine Tom himself having had to resort to a newspaper sleeping bag  In the Neighborhood for warmth or shelter from the rain at some point in his life.

 -B

 

     

 -and if you chew tobacco, and wish upon a star,
well you’ll find out where the scarecrows sit,
just like punchlines between the cars,
and I know a place where a royal flush, can never beat a pair,
and even Thomas Jefferson, is on the nickel over there.

so ring around the rosie, you’re sleepin’ in the rain,
and you’re always late for supper, and man you let me down again,
I thought I heard a mockingbird, Roosevelt knows where,
you can skip the light, with grady tuck, on the nickel over there.

so what becomes of all the little boys, who run away from home,
well the world just keeps gettin’ bigger, once you get out on your own,
so here’s to all the little boys, the sandman takes you where,
you’ll be sleepin’ with a pillowman, on the nickel over there.
  
    –Tom WaitsOn the Nickel

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Author’s note: Click on the words in green throughout this article for links to related video and audio clips and supporting articles.  Click on the song title and band’s name at the end of this post to listen to this song in its entirety and to visit a Web site dedicated to the band.

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This song does a brilliant job of addressing the superficiality and artificiality of the society in which we live by using the magnification of California as a metaphor for the rest of society. A society where being rich and famous is the ultimate prize. A society where “Reality” shows can make celebrities out of anyone with a face, regardless of talent, skill, or relevance, and the line between entertainment and news is nonexistent. A society where commentators and pundits are celebrities and “normal” celebrities are asked to comment and pontificate as if their opinions carry more weight than the rest of the common folk.

Note to the networks – that’s why there are blogs – they offer a forum to the masses to state their opinion on anything whether anyone cares or not and they do it for free.

-B

 

  

  

-Psychic spies from China
Try to steal your mind elation
Little girls from Sweden
Dream of silver screen quotations
And if you want these kind of dreams
Its Californication

It’s the edge of the world
And all of western civilization
The sun may rise in the east
At least it settles in a final location
It’s understood that Hollywood
Sells Californication

Pay your surgeon very well
To break the spell of aging
Celebrity skin is this your chin
Or is it war your waging

Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Californication

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