Porky's Drive-in, University Av., St. Paul

None of your trusted networks can be found, the computer says. Do you want to join the wireless network A9234ndDB? Why yes, I say. Every time. The computer must think I’m the biggest slut in town. Mr. Easy. Party down with Joinin’ Jimmy.

Back at the blues-inflicting coffee shop. Once more the singer is informing me that he is a Man! M! (da DA da da DAH) A! (da DA da da DAH) N! (da DA da da DAH) Can’t wait for the smash followup, “I’m a Hermaphrodite.” H! E! R! M! E! No, wait, A! P! H! R! O! D I said D! I! T! E! Da DA da da DAH! HermaphroDITE! Da DA da da DAH!

Woke up this morning sick at heart and disgusted with myself. I had stayed up 15 minutes beyond bedtime watching “Silent Running.” (I don’t have a set bedtime, just a general idea of when it would be good to pull all the plugs; otherwise I would stay up until 3 AM every night.) I hadn’t seen that peaty slab of crap since it was in the theaters, and I was
a very deep & ecologically concerned teenager. Why, it had it all: models by Douglass Trumbell and music by PDQ Bach. (I am a very big Schickele fan, but this is - well, it’s not John Williams Space Music. It contains two near-fatal doses of Joan Baez, each of which contain such concentrated hippieness you could soak it in vat of Curtis LeMay’s urine and it would never dissolve. The worst offender is one of those “teach your children” songs the era specialized in, although the specifics were usually rather scant – teach them about dirt, and the harvest, and the Circle of Healing, and the rest of the pagan jump-around-under-the-moon drivel the early 70s posited as a replacement for the current civilization.

Of course we took license with the concept; when the radio played “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest (gah! Why not just have the band show up with masks made of corn husks and sacrifice goats to the fertility gods while slathering the tribe in bovine ejaculate?) we all thought that was cool and “natural,” the latter being the true granola-based riposte to your plastic nylon radioactive world, maaaaan. But our version of “Dancing in the Moonlight” contained no actual dancing; we just sat in the park, listening to the car AM radio, drinking Boone’s Farm or those little tiny bottles of Pabst they used to sell. Ponies, that’s what they were called. The Airplane miniatures of Beer.

I seem to have gotten off the subject. The movie, if you haven’t seen it, concerns a fleet of spaceships that have the last surviving forests of earth. All the forests were wiped out by some man-made catastrophe so great it caused Iron Eyes to shed two separate distinct tears. For some reason they ships are floating around Saturn, perhaps because someone on Jupiter was allergic, and for some reason the order comes down from Evil Soulless Earth Command to get rid of the forest-domes, nuke them, and return to earth. Yes, nuke them. Can’t have any loose forest-domes just floating around in space. A guy could stub his toe. Oh, and nuke them when they’re about 100 yards off the port side. Don’t leave the area and detonate them remotely.

Naturally, one of the spacemen doesn’t want to kill the forests, because he’s this pure & noble Jesus of the Bunnies with the ponderously significant name of Lowell Freeman. Unfortunately for Lowell, he is played by Bruce Dern, who combines the Marty Feldman Ocular Protrusion Acting Method with the sort of sneering craziness that makes you wish for a slapstick death – there’s a rope tied to his foot that’s tied to a forest dome, he gets yanked into space when it’s jettisoned, and he flails and claws before shooting up through the roof: kaboom!

(I don’t know what’s creepier – Hippie Space Dern or Psycho Footballer Square-John Dern.)

So he kills his fellow astronauts and lives alone with three cute robots, true RD2D precursors, and they all tend the last forest to the strains of Joan Baez and PDQ Bach. Then they go through Saturn’s rings, or something. Gosh: you’re orbiting a planet beyond Jupiter, and there’s insufficient sunlight to keep trees happy. Who could have seen that coming. I had to turn it off and go to bed. Wretched shite, preposterous, depressing and hopeless as much of the stuff from my merry childhood in the 70s.

I’ll probably finish it tonight.

Oh: co-written by Michael Cimino and Steven Bochco.

Found the lyrics for the Baez harvest / kid number. And I am utterly dismayed to find that I have the soundtrack, too.

Heels of children running wild in the sun
like a forest is your child growing wild in the sun
Doomed in his innocence in the sun.

Gather your children to your side in the sun
tell them all they love will die, tell them why, in the sun
tell them it's not too late for today one by one
tell them to harvest and rejoice --- in the sun.

Gather round, kids! It’s time to tell you that everything DIES!

Daddy, why are you dressed as a clown?

Because the CLOWN KNOWS WHY! Why you’ll DIE! Now everyone put on these little robot costumes and waddle around while Auntie Joan sings the Harvest Sacrifice Song. DANCE!

Of course, things are so much better now, culture wise.

Notification of imminent coot-status: I’m curious if this qualifies. I drove up to the Post Office to drop some letters in the curbside box. The area by the boxes is marked NO PARKING, for obvious reasons. And yea, what did I behold, but a parked car. Unoccupied. I waited a few seconds to see if anyone sprinted out of the building, but it was soon apparent that someone had parked in the spot and left. So no one could drive up and deposit mail without getting out of the car.

I got out, put the mail in the box, waiting for someone to come out and saunter towards the car so I could refrain from saying something. But it would be an extra potent refraining. But what if the car belonged to someone infirm who couldn’t walk from the adjacent parking lot? Well, let’s go inside the post office and see if anyone fits the bill. Went inside. All hale and hearty and whole of limb. So I got out a piece of paper on which to write a chastening note, and got as far as “Note: the drive-up boxes are for” before I threw it away and came to my senses. Went back to the car. Buckled up. Out comes the driver of the car – late 50s early 60s, big jeweled sunglasses, beige outfit, drab taste. As I drove past I looked over; she was plowing through her purse.

“I’m glaring at you,” I said. My windows were up and the radio was on and she had no idea I existed, let alone had chosen her as the focal point of my righteous, Pat-like fury.

Still: showed her.

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