June 24, 2008

Exhibit 24: Supergroups

By the late 1960's, demand for rock and roll had increased to such a level that mere music groups were inadequate. As regular music groups were increasingly unable to repel NLF and NVA forces in Vietnam with their shimmering pop hooks and shaggy hairstyles, or stop the Watts Riots with their renditions of "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter" on Wilmington Avenue, the need for more awe-inspiring combinations of pop musicians escalated.

To compensate for the power diminishment of regular music groups, General William Westmoreland ordered the creation of supergroups, amalgamations of the most popular components of other, smaller groups (sometimes unfortunately and mistakenly called "semigroups") into one standard-sized group with considerably more oomph, zazz, kapow, hotcha, and woof-woof.

Based loosely on Nietzsche's concept of the Übermensch, supergroups were designed to jolt the consciousness of music listeners with a cumulus of almost unbearable star quality, such that if the listener was to experience even a few moments of the supergroup's music, his or her very intestinal fortitude would be rewired and compromised, to the point of actual physical upheaval. This facet of the supergroup at least partially explained the epidemic of people throwing up at Damn Yankees concerts in the late 1980's.

The first supergroup prototypes, alas, were hastily planned, with little concern or attention given to cultural relevance or context. Dow Chemical's foray into the arena was Ginormous, featuring Sonny Bono, the Fugs' Tuli Kupferberg, Petula Clark, the Lollipop Shoppe's Fred Cole, and drummer Jim Keltner. The supergroup was ill-advisedly allowed to write their own material, which resulted in the confusing hit single "I Got Your Existential Uprising In Swinging London Right Here, Babe":

My hair's too long, my spirit is free
The city-state engulfed in its own glut
I just bought a new purse dooooown-tooooown
Pammie's on a bummer

The United Kingdom took the lead in supergroup excellence, offering these groups into classic rock hsitory:

  • Cream (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce) recorded several unassailable rock staples and also cured diabetes.
  • Blind Faith (Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood, Ric Grech) recorded an eponymously titled album that defined the supergroup ethic and also rid the world of rabid dogs.
  • Derek And The Dominoes (Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon) made "Layla" a classic rock staple and also cleaned the streets of London with their tongues.
  • Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer) wrote the book on rock pomposity even as they were performing six open-heart surgeries a day.
  • Asia (Carl Palmer, Steve Howe, John Wetton, Geoff Downes) helped eliminate insomnia by their mere existence.

America was not to be outdone, though, and gave the world the musical gift of Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Morgenstern, Schmidt, Rosenberg, Rosenberg, DeLillo, Feinstein, Fierstein, Blomstein, Gluckstein, Springstein, Abramsky, Fleischer, Bomberg, Jacoby & Meyers, Bartles & Jaymes, Mankowitz, Rabbinowitz, Rothschild, Shapiro, Zangwill, Monash, Lehmann and Liebermann. The group sued themselves for breach of contract and represented themselves in court.

Other notable supergroups in rock history include:

  • Warped Gnutella: Paul Kantner (Jefferson Airplane), Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead), Barry McGuire (“Eve Of Destruction”), Ray Manzarek (The Doors), Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “I Just Got A Job At Woolworth’s!”
  • The Important People: Keith Emerson, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Jim Morrison (The Doors), Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra), Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “The Bathroom, Parts I-VI”
  • The Floundering Wilburys: Pete Best (Beatles), Slash (Guns ‘n Roses), David Lee Roth (Van Halen), Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “Severance Package Blues”
  • The Big Sleepers: John Tesh, Kenny G, Enya, George Winston, Jim Keltner. Best-known work: "I Could Do PCP All Night!"
  • The Bleakles: Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails), Robert Smith (The Cure), Morrissey (The Smiths), Edith Piaf, Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “No, Everything’s Going Great – Why Do You Ask?”
  • The Moving Vans: David Lee Roth (Van Halen), Sammy Hagar (Montrose, Van Halen), Gary Cherone (Extreme, Van Halen), Jim Keltner. Best-known work: “Who Told Cherone Where The Studio Is? Don’t Let It Happen Again.”
  • The Jim Keltner Experience: Jim Keltner, Jim Keltner Replicant #1, Jim Keltner Replicant #2, Jim Keltner Replicant #3, Jim Keltner Replicant #4. Best-known work: “Actually, Yeah, I Do Have Free Time This Weekend”
  • Toto: Steve Lukather, David Paich, Bobby Kimball, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro, David Hungate. Best-known work: “Maybe We Wouldn’t Have Sucked So Hard If We’d Hired Jim Keltner”

June 20, 2008

Exhibit 23: CREEM

With the publication of the splendid, encyclopedia-sized volume of retreads released last fall and the ability of the internets to indulge effortlessly both the consumer's facile curiosities and the merchant's pandering banalities, CREEM has crept once again to the edge of the the firelight of popular consciousness. Still reeking of stale cigarettes and cheap beer even through a slow dial-up connection, CREEM was, in its heyday during the late-mid and early-late 20th century, recognized as the standard by which music journalism was judged, an amalgam of savantish insight, Curly Howard buffoonery, otaku/Asperger's obsessiveness, and P-town/meangirl bitchiness.

Older patrons of MOPA, those who remember print media and brick-&-mortar retail, may recall seeing the cryptic covers and the odd, confusing feelings aroused by headlines and photo captions inside. Few readers, even those somewhat familiar with the magazine in this period, though perhaps vaguely aware that it predates Mitch Ryder and the MC5, realize the long and storied history of this publication.

First appearing in in the Langue d'Oc region, possibly as early as the 11th century and well established by the end of the 12th, CREME began as a hand copied 'zine of sorts, covering the activities of the troubadours who were gaining popularity in the region, and featuring extensive reviews of area cheesemakers. Many scholars, in fact, claim that if CREME (as it was then rendered, nearly always in capitals, reflecting the importance of the local dairy culture) did not invent the very idea of the troubadour, then it was seminal in the development of the troubadour aesthetic and attitude.

It is also claimed that the remote geographical location in the market village of deTrois, near the modern Spanish border, conferred on the publication both access to the local musicians and cheeses that were in those days its raison d'etre, as well as the outsider status that would be so important conceptually throughout the publication's many incarnations. What is mentioned less is the importance of the local scribe's college/monastery, l'Ecole Bryman del Jesu, where the scribes-in-training would reproduce illuminated copies of the publication for distribution on a national scale, giving exposure to the music, cheeses, and styles of the region.

It is believed that one of these nameless scribe/monks created the first of the snarky captions which would become the publication's trademark, under an illustration of Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, possibly as a joke for the benefit of one of his co-scribes. This was mistakenly reproduced and included in distributed copies of the final manuscript. The same, or perhaps another, nameless scribe would sometimes include a doodle of a milk bucket on his copyings, which Barry Kramer would later pay a young R. Crumb $50 to rework into the highly recognizable "Boy Howdy" logo.

Exact dates are lost to antiquity and largely unimportant before the advent of rail travel in the 19th century. Sometime during the early ascendancy of the French throne, and coinciding with the widespread use of the Guttenberg press, CREME moved operations to Paris. The capital was never a perfect fit for the provincial attitudes of the magazine. It further seemed to founder when coverage of dairy products dwindled. All of this, along with a certain hostility from the court, whose individual members claimed to appreciate the irreverent attitude when aimed at their peers but not their person, and an editorial interest in the raucous theater scene that was exploding in London, prompted another move.

By the time Titus Andronicus premiered at the Globe, CREME had been Anglicized into CREEME, and the magazine was well-established in London. Globe Theater records show a large outstanding bar tab from 1592, and Shakespeare himself includes this passage in his personal diary around the same time:

...with regarde thee gentlefolke frome thee revue Creeme, methinks they be certainlye not gentle and mayhap be not even folke, but instead some manner of wolfe-orang amalgam bred for thee pits and 'scaped in thee streete with stronge taste for ale, tobaccoe and titte...

No positive record can be found of CREEME in London after the death of Elizabeth I. Speculation is that the publication fell from favor with James I, perhaps over an unflatteringly captioned cartoon, or perhaps because excessive tobacco bumming off of the king and his lover, Sir Walter Raleigh, and all connected were beheaded, but this remains fanciful theory with no actual supporting evidence. Ironic, given that the review was ardently supportive of the so-called Jacobean Phase of Shakespeare's career.

Indeed, claims that publishing of a periodical called CREEME, or CREEM, continued are largely apocryphal or even wishful, and could almost be dismissed, except for the fact that shortly before the American Civil War, a publication now called CREEM, appears, published in the Midwest for readers in large, eastern cities like New York and Philadelphia. In addition to the name, that magazine's tone and editorial stance implies a continuity with CREEME, even though no direct links can be found connecting one to the other, and no known articles or issues remain from the years between the London disappearance and the US reemergence.

CREEM cataloged the adventures of wild west gunslingers, generally preferring outlaws and Native Americans to settlers and lawmen, for an audience trapped in the choking miasmas of cities undergoing the pangs of industrialization. With the war, the closing of the West, and the extermination of the native, editorial focus shifted from tales of scalphunters and renegade to the new entertainments being offered in places like St. Louis and Kansas City, where everything was said to be up to date.

Once again, they favored and gave exposure to the more innovative and confrontational forms. It is said that the term "donkey show" first appeared on the pages of CREEM in this era, and in the middle 1880s, they extensively covered the tour of a sensational family act known as The Aristocrats. The substance of this act is unknown but many pages are devoted to the family and its members, including a CREEM Profile of little Sarah, the youngest of the group.

In the 19th century, CREEM coverage favored minstrel shows to the prevailing light opera most other entertainment publications covered. It was issues from this period, uncovered by a young Barry Cramer while looting a Detroit library basement, that prompted him to resurrect the magazine. Plenty has been written and revised about this period of the publication, therefore we may ignore it.

We hope you have found this brief overview of the near millennium of CREEM enjoyable, or at the very least persuasively neutral.

June 18, 2008

Exhibit 22: “Viva Viagra!”

"Viva Viagra!" was a 2007 composition by Nashville songwriter Woodrow Shaft. The song enjoyed considerable popularity thanks to the success of an oft-televised music video, shown above. During the procurement of this exhibit, Shaft granted MOPA researchers a telephone interview, in which he extended the origins and writing process of the song.


WOODROW SHAFT: Please, call me Woody.

MOPA: Very well. Woody Shaft, tell me about the origins of this composition.

SHAFT: Well, I was always a bit of a mystic. I would get these visions. A lot of songwriters of my age get 'em. Some people might call 'em dreams, but I always call 'em visions, 'cause they always happen when I'm drivin'. Usually on the I-440.

So one day durin' rush hour I suddenly get this vision. I'm a weary traveler, limpin' down a crooked road. I been workin' this road for a long, long time. Just goin' up and down this road. I'm very tired. My body is wobbly, infirm, lacking all turgidity… I feel like a toad leg. Very flaccid.

MOPA: What are you wearing?

SHAFT: In the vision?

MOPA: Yes, what are you wearing right now, at this point in the vision?

SHAFT: Just a leathery jacket. A little wrinkled I guess. You want me to go on?

MOPA: Yes, yes, please keep going.

SHAFT: I'm walkin' down this road, exhausted as all get-out. Then I fall down on the ground. My body, I just can't get it up, so I just lay there on the ground for awhile, in a pile of dust.

MOPA: Are you feeling dirty?

SHAFT: I am feelin' dirty, yes. And I'm an old man, but I feel as helpless as a little baby boy, lyin' down there in the dirt.

MOPA: You're a dirty little boy.

SHAFT: Yes I am. Now, I'm exhausted, just like a lonesome toad. I go to sleep for about two hours. When I wake up I notice my head has landed in a very soft-feeling patch of grass. Or I think it's grass, I ain't so sure. So I start touchin' this spot to see if it's actually grass, or if it's somethin' else. This goes on for a few minutes.

MOPA: And you keep stroking it?

SHAFT: Yes. Then I realize it's grass after all. So I slowly get up on my feet – it's very difficult, because I'm so weak and unable to exert much effort.

MOPA: It's getting harder?

SHAFT: Incredibly difficult, yeah. But eventually I get up and stay there for awhile, until I notice a city-limits sign that reads, "Welcome to Viagra – Our Rubber Covers The World." Meanin' this town Viagra must've been a major industrial center for tires and whatnot. But once I see that sign, I realize I've finally stumbled across civilization! So I decide I'm just going to continue down this path until I see something that sticks out.

MOPA: Just keep going.

SHAFT: Right, stay on the path. After a few minutes I fish out these little – I dunno, they kinda look like blue vitamins, some sort of vittles or somethin'. And all of a sudden, I get this sudden surge of energy, and it takes me by surprise.

MOPA: So it feels good?

SHAFT: What's that? Sorry, I'm hard of hearing.

MOPA: I said, it feels good?

SHAFT: Oh, does it feel good?

MOPA: Yeah, does it feel good?

SHAFT: Yeah, I'm really relieved that I can spring back into action like that. So I keep walkin' for about fifteen minutes, up and down, up and down, up and down that road. Then off in the distance I notice this really big, tall lighthouse, with a couple of grain silos on either side of it. The lighthouse is standin' straight up and these two silos go up against its side about a quarter way. I feel this impulse to go towards the lighthouse, because I can sense some sort of closure on my day's journey, a sign that will really mean somethin' to me.

MOPA: You're coming to a climax.

SHAFT: Yeah. Well, not completely. I kind of want to wait a bit and hold back, in case I come too early to a hasty conclusion. I mean, I don't know what's happenin' here, I'm just goin' on instinct, you know?

MOPA: Yes, yes, yes. Oh, yes.

SHAFT: So I get up to the lighthouse, and I knock on the door. There's this supervisor there – I'm afraid of him at first, he looks kind of tough, but it turns out he's a very friendly guy. He says, "Hey, glad you could finally make it. Enter, please!"

MOPA: "Come, come."

SHAFT: Yeah, that's what he says. So I come in the lighthouse, and I notice on the floor there's this little circular launch pad. And it's kind of vibratin'. The supervisor tells me to stand directly on the launch pad. I ask 'im why and he says, "Well, let me tell ya – I'm a man of the cloth, and I'm here to help you get where you're goin'." I say to him, "So, what would I call you, a crusader? Travelin' preacher? Evangelist?" And he says, "I prefer missionary."

MOPA: Oh, yes.

SHAFT: And he goes on, "I'm seeking lost souls, and guidin' pilgrims on their journeys. You look like a pilgrim to me. You're on this pilgrimage, and that's why you wound up here. I'm here to help you. If you stand on this launch pad and just wait for a bit, I guarantee you, you're going to fly up into the face of the cosmos, and you're gonna see God."

MOPA: Oh, God.

SHAFT: Yes, God.

MOPA: God.

SHAFT: I know it sounds crazy, but it feels to me like the journey's coming to an end. That after all this hard work and effort, I'm just about ready to bring it to an end. And I have a feeling it's going to feel good and that whatever's up there is gonna take good care of me. Which is good, 'cause I ain't had tobacco in weeks, and I could sure use a cigarette at the end of all this. So I stand on the launch pad, and it starts shaking violently. All of a sudden the walls crack a little bit, and all this water from the ocean starts filling into the room. I get the sense it's about to happen.

MOPA: It's so close. It's so close.

SHAFT: It is, and I'm sure lookin' forward to that cigarette. The room fills with water, up to my knees, and all of a sudden I hear this horn sound in the chamber, it's makin' this sustained, long, round tone… I'm not quite sure how you'd describe it… it kind of sounds like… I dunno…

MOPA: "Aaaaaaaaaaaah"?

SHAFT: No, not quite that, it's rounder sounding than that…

MOPA: "Ooooooooooooh"?

SHAFT: Yeah, "Oh" is more like it. Finally after a few moments of hesitation, the launch pad pulls downward a little, and the water comes over it… and then, finally…. Whoooosh!

MOPA: Yes, yes!

SHAFT: The launch pad shoots me through a very little hole in the top of the lighthouse, and I come shootin' out into the sky, with all this water comin' out too! It's a powerful moment. It's amazing!

MOPA: Oh, wow. Wow.

SHAFT: You got it! I fly right into the damp atmosphere! And I very slowly start decompressing – I'm very relaxed, kind of flushed, just lyin' on my back, free of obligation. I mean, I don't have to call nobody in the morning, I'm free from all responsibility and commitment. I just stay there, on top of this column of water, floating in the middle of the sky with no cares whatsoever. It's a fantastic feeling. A giant release. An outpouring.

MOPA: Wow.

SHAFT: Pretty intense, ain't it?

MOPA: That was incredible.

SHAFT: Thank you. I appreciate it.

MOPA: That was the best ever.

SHAFT: Well, I've always been told I'm a good storyteller.

MOPA: Good? Only good? No way – you're the best ever! I mean it!

SHAFT: Thanks again. That means a lot to me.

MOPA: Whew!

SHAFT: Heh-heh.

MOPA: Wow.

SHAFT: Thank you.

MOPA: So what happens next?

SHAFT: I stay up there in the sky for more than four hours and I have to call my doctor to bring me down.

June 16, 2008

Exhibit 21: East Coast-West Coast feuds

The concept of the East Coast-West Coast feud in popular music was hatched by Capitol Records' marketing department in 1960. In response to criticism of Nat "King" Cole's professionalism, virtuosity and unfailing politeness, marketing guru Henny Meninsky developed a detailed strategy in which Cole – born in Alabama, but professionally seasoned in Los Angeles – would initiate a feud with pop composer and singer Neil Sedaka, a Brooklyn native also known for his extraordinarily genteel nature.

The "Meninsky Memo" was a list of bullet points circulated amongst Capitol Records employees in 1960, outlining the specific nature and content of the proposed Cole disparagements against Sedaka in media outlets:

  • "I hate Neil Sedaka."

  • "I have a strong dislike for Neil Sedaka."

  • "You know who I don't like? That Neil Sedaka guy."

  • "Sedaka. Oooh, man, he makes me upset."

  • "When I find that Sedaka guy, I'm just gonna… well, I'm so mad, I can't articulate what I'm gonna do in that situation. That's how mad he makes me."

  • "I have it on good authority he files his nails."

  • "What kind of name is 'Sedaka'? It sounds like a foreign cereal brand. We got perfectly good cereal in America. I don't need some Brooklyn wise-ass telling me I gotta have that highfalutin Danish cereal. Doesn't he know there's a Cold War going on?"

  • "You see that picture of him in a ruffled shirt? What kind of man wears ruffles? It looks like he's playing Benjamin Franklin in a re-enactment of the signing of Declaration of Independence at Knott's Berry Farm. Ruffles! Damn fool's wearing ruffles!"

  • "Sedaka is a punk-ass motherfucker."

  • "He killed a man with a damper pedal."

  • "He doesn't tip well at the Carnegie Deli."

  • "Sedaka this, Sedaka that, Sedaka Sedaka Sedaka."

  • "Man, am I mad about Neil Sedaka."

The Meninsky Memo somehow leaked to the offices of RCA Victor, which was Sedaka's label at the time. In a hurried, frenzied meeting before a Sedaka appearance on The Jack Paar Show, RCA marketing head Maximilian Strombulus constructed a series of retorts Sedaka could make against Cole during his appearance:

  • "Nat 'King' Cole – oh, man!"

  • "Who's this Nat 'King' Cole guy anyway?"

  • "I'm gonna get that Nat 'King' Cole if it's the last thing I do."

  • "Nat 'King' Cole? More like Nat 'Big Jerk' Cole! Ah-ha! Ha-ha-ha!"

  • "Yeah, I'm gonna file my nails – right over Nat 'King' Cole's living room Persian! And then I'll strip to my skivvies and do the Nepalese dance of the dead."

  • "Knock knock. Who's there? Nat 'King Cole. Nat 'King' Cole who? Nat 'King' Cole can go stuff himself!"

  • "Who was it that thus cried? Why, worthy Nat/You do unbend your noble strength to think/So brain-sickly of things. Go get some water/And wash this filthy witness from your hand./Why did you bring these daggers from the place?/They must lie there. Go, carry them, and smear/The sleepy grooms with blood."

  • "Cole ain't shit."

  • "Cole this, Cole that, Cole Cole Cole."

  • "I need a seltzer."

Neither the Meninsky Memo nor the Strombulus directive ever actually got delivered to Cole or Sedaka, and the two composers frequently golfed together with Cole graciously spotting Sedaka a generous handicap of 14. Chagrined, Meninsky and Strombulus became lovers, resigned their positions and opened a bistro together in Providence.

However, the East Coast-West Coast feud became an attractive alternative marketing strategy, and several manufactured feuds became parts of pop music lore, such as Bob Dylan vs. Frankie Laine, The Four Seasons vs. Moby Grape, the Archies vs. the Fat Albert Kids (which escalated in a knife fight at a Hanna-Barbera office Christmas party), the New York Dolls vs. the New York Dolls of Anaheim, the Ramones vs. the Eagles, Hall & Oates vs. Donny & Marie Osmond, and Chicago vs. themselves.

With the onset of hip-hop, the East Coast-West Coast feud reached new, sometimes fatal extremes. The harshest East-West feud was the fracas between rappers Flavor Flav and Snoop Dogg, a long confrontation that was often conducted in the pages of popular music magazines and entertainment periodicals. Flavor Flav's comments in a 1992 issue of Spin magazine first fueled the fire:

FLAVOR FLAV: Of course Snoop is going to reject Descartes' mode of an elevated dimension; he's an empiricist. Granted, Descartes had some degree of difficulty with his establishment of all the universal properties as a mode of prolonging substance; by its very definition metaphysical dominion is a principle organized around intangibility, and fideism is commonly declaimed as the realm of the poet/shaman, a persona philosophy is conditioned to avoid. But do we therefore simply revert to the rustic principles of containment that reinforced man's crude self-idolatry? If we simply refuse that which is not a reflection of ourselves, we invite consequence that is dangerous, even primal if the communal extension is sufficiently sustained. Should we risk negating the power of the infinite for mere egoism? Shall we ascribe a ceiling to our sphere of enforced rationalism? I think not. No, I think not.

Within weeks of Flavor Flav's broadside, Snoop Dogg issued a refutation of his own to People magazine:

SNOOP DOGG: Flav's assertions, quaint as they are, cannot endure the harsh inquisition of skepticism with their fanciful imagery and reversely pious foundations. Indeed, I fear his arguments because they propagate a type of naiveté that folds into nationalism. Better to follow what Hume endorsed: to be "convinced of the force of Pyrrhonian doubt, and the impossibility that anything, but the strong power of the natural instinct, could free us from it." What Flav fails to recognize is that placing any perceived limitations on our cognitive resources is, in fact, the true skepticism. I was discussing this with my colleague Schoolly D, and he agreed: Descartes' position, though imbued with an admirable strain of altruism, nevertheless lends itself quite easily to the establishment of dogmatic thought. That, I opine, is the truly risky supposition in Flav's argument, and it would be folly to think it is anything more than a merely reactionary tenet, which of course is no tenet at all.

The Flav-Snoop feud fomented for several years, culminating in violence when rap mogul Suge Knight dangled a tenured UCLA professor off a third-floor balcony until he accepted free will.

June 8, 2008

Exhibit 20: Transcript from a Morrison family counseling session, 1958

DR. JERRY SUGERMAN: Why don't we talk about the Indians?

ADMIRAL MORRISON: The Indians. Again with the Indians.

CLARA MORRISON: Oh, doctor, must we revisit that horrible episode?

DR. SUGERMAN: If a child of four years sees any kind of death – like the dying Indians your son saw after that car accident – the trauma can manifest itself slowly, gradually, throughout the course of his adolescence. And that makes the trauma harder to recognize.


ADMIRAL MORRISON: God, do you have to keep having outbursts, Jim? First the supermarket, now here?

CLARA MORRISON: (crying) He's never this way at home! He just sits and listens to music with the bass turned down!

DR. SUGERMAN: Jim, count back from 10, and breathe… there. Now let's take this slowly and calmly. What do you remember about the accident?

JIM MORRISON: I remember… I remember the light, the fractured sun… the squall of the wounded eagle, flying on his side, brushing against God with one eye… the progress of mechanics, and the mystic's slump, caterwauling…

ADMIRAL MORRISON: Oh, for crying out loud. Did you pick this up from that goddamn English teacher?

CLARA MORRISON: Georgie, please…

ADMIRAL MORRISON: Please nothing, Clara! That goddamn teacher's a Communist! Or one of those free-thinkers! With that little Errol Flynn moustache and the elbow patch! That man's teaching our kids, doctor! He has access to our children!

DR. SUGERMAN: Let's try to stay focused, Admiral. This is Jim's time. Go ahead, Jim.

JIM MORRISON: And then the Great Spirit! The keeper of balance! It seeped from the shaman's wrinkled carcass like a smoking cloth! As it approached me, I eyed it with knowing! It persuaded me to inhale, to open up the portals of my personal infinity! I breathed, I breathed! I released my thoughts to the carriage of the wind! And then, like a vapor, the Great Spirit came into me!

ADMIRAL MORRISON: Military school. Why didn't I just put him in military school?

JIM MORRISON: My meat is real! Your ballroom days are over, baby!

CLARA MORRISON: Oh, God, it's just like one of those pamphlets!


ADMIRAL MORRISON: That's it! Jim, you're grounded!

DR. SUGERMAN: Jim, I think what you really need to do is open up to your feelings with your father and be direct about it. For just a minute, don't be a poet – don't strive so hard to be imagistic. Just talk to him simply, man to man. And remember to own your feelings – say "I am," "I want," and so forth.

JIM MORRISON: …All right.

DR. SUGERMAN: So turn and look at your dad, and look him directly in his eyes. Don't worry about how it comes out. Okay?


DR. SUGERMAN: Go ahead.



JIM MORRISON: I want to kill you.

ADMIRAL MORRISON: See? See what I've been talking about? Total disrespect for authority! I gotta keep the revolver locked up in the safe now, is that it? I gotta worry about your killing me now? Seriously? I got enough to worry about without some little beatnik in diapers standing behind me raising a knife in his hand! Good grief, Jim! What did your mother and I ever do to screw you up this bad?

JIM MORRISON: Actually, I'm glad you mentioned mother, because I have something I've always needed to tell her as well…

CLARA MORRISON: Go ahead, Jimmy. I'm all ears, pumpkin.

JIM MORRISON: Mother… I want to…

DR. SUGERMAN: Oh, darn it, our time's up. Jim, hold that thought 'til next week, okay?

June 4, 2008

Exhibit 19: Band names as satanic acronyms

As some musicians directly courted Satan's assistance in furthering their music careers (see Exhibit 15), other bands – especially those in heavy metal – became the targets of Southern Baptists and other religious conservatives who were absolutely certain the bands' styles, demeanors and penchants for tight leather indicated devotion to Satan. To shore up their arguments, these religious leaders pointed to the names of the bands themselves, which they claimed were not mere descriptive, harmless monikers, but rather satanic acronyms.

The most famous of these supposed acronyms, of course, was that of the rock band KISS. Depending on the accuser, it was claimed KISS actually stood for "Kids In Satan's Service," "Knights In Satan's Service," "Knights In Satan's Servitude," "Knights In Satan's Satchel," "Kids In Satan's Slipknot," or during the holiday season, "Kids Ingesting Santa's Spleen."

Many other bands and musicians were accused of having names that were encoded, initialized tributes to Satan, including these:

AC/DC: "Anti-Christ/Demon Child"

Rush: "Right Under Satan's Hand"

ABBA: "At Beelzebub's Beckoning Always"

R.E.M.: "Rendering Evil Monstrosities"

Cher: "Choosing Hell's Eternal Rapture"

'N Sync: "Naughty Satan, You Nasty Card!"

a-ha: "Attention! Hades, Anyone?"

Sade: "Satan's Ass, Demon Enema"

Queen: "Quick, Unholy Entity, Enter Nicely"

Boston: "Bring On Satan Tonight – Oh, Neat-o!"

Sebadoh: "Satan's Ever-Baying, Angry Dogs Of Hell"

Genesis: "Gabriel's Evil, Naturally – Excellent Student In Satanism"

Alabama: "Anton LaVey's A Bright, Attractive Man-Animal"

Celine Dion: "Comely, Eye-popping Lady In Nice Ensemble: Devil Is On Notice!"

Einstuerzende Neubaten: "Even In Nova Scotia, The Unholy Entity's Rusty Zipper Edges Near Destiny's Endgame – Nobody Ever Underestimates Beelzebub's Amoral Tendencies, Endless Nastiness"

Engelbert Humperdinck: "Even Nice Girls Eventually Like Being Easy, Rotten Tarts – His Unholy Majesty Performs Evil, Reeking Deeds In Nasty Carnal Knowledge"

KC And The Sunshine Band: "Kooky Christ, Always Negating Demons, That Holy Egghead. Satan, Understandably, Nobly Says He's Infinite, Never-Ending Evil – Bad Ass, Nimble Devil"

Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band: "Devil's Right. Bad Umbrella – Zounds! Zoologists! – Always Rams Down Satanic Oracles, Really Imaginative, Great Ideas. Nowadays, All Love Satan, A Victorious Archangel: Never Needs A Haircut, Boxes Against Neil Diamond"

Bee Gees: "Beelzebub, Eh? Eh. God, Eh, 'E Sucks."

All these acronyms have since been proven to be mere urban legends, with the exception of Celine Dion.

June 3, 2008

Exhibit 18: Irony

Irony was invented by a French chemist, Claude Delashmit, in the late 1920's. Delashmit was commissioned by a Parisian sweets manufacturer to concoct a candy to compete with bubblegum, which was becoming increasingly popular in French villages and a few unlicensed opium dens.

One afternoon Delashmit was in the process of mixing gum base and toffee for a candy he called sabots de sucre; he abruptly halted his work when he realized he was barefoot. The chemist searched frantically around his laboratory for his shoes, to no avail. Despondent, Delashmit then fatally impaled himself through his stomach with a candy thermometer. French police determined that Delashmit's missing shoes were actually at the bottom of the vat he was mixing at the time. Regardless of the tragedy, the company manufactured the candy to much commercial success, thanks to an ingenious commercial jingle with the chorus "Si délicieux, vous voudrez s'empaler" ("So delicious you'll want to impale yourself"). Delashmit posthumously became a millionaire; his beneficiaries spent the entire sum of his fortune on bubblegum.

From these humble, happenstance beginnings, irony then leaked to the rest of Europe with the help of secret societies and pharmacists with a knack for gallows humor. (An uncured form of irony was also snuck back to America in the satchels of G.I.'s returning from the Second World War, or as the given G.I.'s called it, The Baby Shower.) Artists and authors exploited the new technique to transform their works into new, heretofore uncharted territory: Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea (originally entitled Peppiness), George Orwell's 1984 (originally entitled Last Thursday At The Sunflower Farm With Bunnies), Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit (originally entitled Oom Poppa Mow Mow) and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (originally entitled Piccadilly Circus At The Height Of Tourist Season).

A refined specimen of irony finally reached American shores in the 1950's; Charles Bukowski obtained the first strain of irony while working as a milkman in Utah. As it inevitably trickled into the New York folk, beatnik and art scenes of the 1960's, irony began to have an intoxicating effect on pop and rock lyrics; its sly infiltration into previously benign Brill Building and Tin Pan Alley songs revolutionized creative thought and broke open new layers of meaning, which compensated for the songs' lack of royalty revenue.

A shining example of irony in action was the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane," the original, pre-irony version of which described a far less mischievous New York landscape than the final product:

Standing on the corner
Brochure in my hand
Jack is wearing a modest jacket and tie
Jane is wearing a flair blouse and a sensible skirt that covers her knees
And me, I'm passing out coupons for a Macy's White Sale
I'll do anything for a commission bonus
That is, anything that doesn't call for unreasonable acts of moral turpitude
For example, taking heroin or performing acts of sadomasochism, those are out of the question
I'm very happy I purchased these shoes
They're more sensible than leather boots and my feet don't blister

Jane's a fairly agreeable sort
Jane's a fairly agreeable sort
Well, Jane's a fairly agreeable sort
Jane's a fairly agreeable sort
Makes a darn good casserole as well, oh sing it

Irony worked its magic on several other notable rock songs of the period, reshaping the viewpoint of initially harmless songs like the Stooges' "Now I Want To Take You Out On A Chaperoned Date," the MC5's "Let's Have A Round Of Robust Square Dancing, Gentlefolk" and former Velvet Underground member Lou Reed's "Stroll In A Relatively Safe Suburb With Well-Tended Gardens" ("But she never lost her head/Even when she was clipping hedge").

As with any newly minted literary or narrative device, however, some pop musicians with a glut of enthusiasm were guilty of overusing irony. Unable to wield the gift with the same skillfulness as their more urbanite contemporaries, these musicians' ham-fisted and obvious injection of irony into their lyrics betrayed a quality of perverse naiveté rather than sophistication. One act that was repeatedly culpable in this regard was The Carpenters, who had to rewrite several of their lyrics to repair the awkward use of irony:

We've only just begun, to live
Codpieces and suction cups
A doctor's note and we're on our way
Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?
Because they're winged demons of my lust-whip

I'm on the top of the world, looking down on creation
And I wonder if I should even bother with Australia
Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong
Especially if it's by Black Oak Arkansas
You have a dirty little tongue, cupcake

Irony is still employed in the present day, mainly amongst the rock critic community when trying to explain the meanings of Pavement songs. It was also famously and mistakenly used by Canadian songstress Alanis Morissette when she confused the meanings of "ironic" and "coincidental"; in her defense, she was going down on an unnamed man in a theatre at the time, which adversely affected her skills of reading for comprehension.

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