By Will ("The Thrill") Viharo
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gotta laugh when young people call stuff "old school." What kills me about this distinction is that EVERYTHING becomes "old school" by their own definition - probably sooner than later, considering today's ever-shortening attention spans and contagious collective amnesia. To dismiss culture that isn't currently popular is not only stupid, it's suicidal from a strictly self-serving point of view - if everything we do as artists or people can be erased and forgotten so easily, why even bother to record it for posterity?
Recently, Monica, Tiki Goddess and I were appalled that both Keely Smith and Rosemary Clooney lost their potential Grammys (in something like the Traditional Pop Vocal Category) to that friggin' lightweight wannabe Harry Connick Jr. This incredible snub proves that the mainstream powers-that-be have no respect for "old school" - Connick's award-winning album (which I haven't heard because his singing sucks) even boasts the derivative title "Songs I've Heard"! Rosey and Keely can sing circles around this wimp, but they are both much older and deserve the recognition a Grammy win would afford them. (Normally I ignore all Awards ceremonies, especially the Oscars, since the concept of treating art like a sporting event insults my personal ideology - now I regret paying attention at all). Connick is young and probably has a long life ahead of him - why not honor the singers who paved the road long, long before him, while they're still here to enjoy it? It's all politics, I know - but that's the point. Awards ceremonies have nothing to with talent, or even reverence. "Respect your elders," as the saying goes - remember, you'll be one too, sooner than you think. Your "new school" is much more fleeting than any of the "old" ones, now more than ever.
WAKE UP AND SMELL THE FEAR!
Now on to another issue of major concern to me: that other home front threat to be concerned about - the coming Social Warfare.
Normally I wouldn't give an uptight asshole like Bill Simon a chance in hell of becoming California's next Governor. But the incredible popularity of our dimwit president has shown me just how powerful a factor Fear can be in shaping a society. We're basically returning to the rampant conservatism of the pre-1960s, with Terrorism (replacing Communism) now the Face of Evil used to unite the country under a conservative philosophy. Liberals need to get off their whiney asses and speak up, or else dissent will be as unpopular now as it was before the Civil Rights revolution.
The only positive outcome of all this is that the frightening resurgence of the conservative right should help re-vitalize the lazy left. I don't care what side of the issues you're on, a balanced debate is what our country and its constitution is supposedly founded on. The USA thrives on opposing viewpoints and the freedom to express them and live our lives according to our own philosophies. We need both the right and the left to maintain perspective (though, to be honest, there is next to nothing I agree with on the Republican platform, at least from a social standpoint - I don't mind paying less taxes, but that's about it.) What bothers me most about the right-wing conservative social agenda is the abortion issue: to me, if you're not Pro-Choice, you're pro-fascism, plain and simple. One of the basic tenets of our constitution is religious freedom; if right wing Christians are able to force their beliefs on everyone else by outlawing a basic right like abortion, an issue mired in a moral, ethical and spiritual twilight zone, simply because according to their doctrine it's outright murder, then "religious freedom" gets tossed out the window instead of the unborn fetus. What we need is more freedom FROM religion, not religions to have more power over people of opposing viewpoints and creeds. The power of proof (that abortion is murder) needs to be on their side. Until they can supply God's web site or phone number so we can not only ask Him personally when and if the soul enters the flesh, and also have Him substantiate His actual existence while He's at it, then women of varying faiths or none at all deserve protection from insecure fanatics trying to dictate their own interpretations of ancient text that has no bearing on this country's constitution, which in fact specifically stipulates such actions as intolerable. Of course, God could be a She, but if that's true, why is She allowing women to be treated so poorly by her own followers? Personally, I do believe in some sort of God, who is asexual (while offering us the gift of sex), a Force of Nature who is way above such distinctions. But that's just me. You can think what you want. Your beliefs have no impact on mine, and vice versa, but I don't need your corroboration any more than you should need mine for verification of your own views.
I have to admit, before W. stole the White House, I was a pretty moderate liberal (unlike Monica, a raging lefty.) But the defeat of Riordan, a relatively harmless Republican, to a rich white dickhead Nazi like Bill Simon is alarming (and please, fuck Giuliani and his endorsement, he did what any mayor would and should have done on 9/11 by rallying the citizenry to stand strong, big fucking deal!! - the firemen who were actually battling at Ground Zero are far more worthy of my admiration). Simon's nomination indicates a major social war is coming, and California, traditional liberal territory, is going to be a major battlefield for this conflict. We're all going to have to choose sides - no more gray area comfort zone (sorry, Independents and Green Party-crashers, but that's a sad fact). The only reason I vote Democrat really is because I hate Republicans that much more, plus most liberals are pacified somewhat by Democratic dogma. And the only reason I ally myself with liberals - despite their generally poor fashion habits, often lousy taste in music and incessant whining - is because that philosophy allows more voices and viewpoints into the arena. I think everyone - including Christians - deserves to live as they so choose, as long as they don't force their beliefs on others. The conservative Republican agenda claims to offer individuals freedom from government intrusion, even as they attempt to rob women and minorities of equal rights and allow religious doctrines into the classrooms. This was the whole reason Church was legally separated from State. The way I see it, conservatives want the Church to unite with the State and dictate the lifestyles of the entire population, variety and diversity be damned (literally). As a regular human being, and as an artist, I demand diversity and dissent, because both are only natural rights, not just politically, but morally, philosophically, culturally, and above all - practically speaking. Like every human born on the face of the planet, I deserve those rights, and so do you. I don't see those rights offered or even implied in the right-wing conservative agenda - in fact, I see those rights as specific targets for obliteration. Liberals, for the most part, at least acknowledge and even embrace the eclectic nature of our society and also humanity. I want to celebrate those attributes. The Republican party in their current incarnation is not a place for this sort of celebration. This is why I fear their impending takeover. So, if you're a right winger and you're reading this, feel free to dispute my claims that your people are against freedom of diverse viewpoints, and their open expression (but be warned, I'll ask for specifics, like how one guy sucking another guy's cock is any of your business, or one woman licking another woman's pussy, for that matter - and I'll also ask you to explain why either couple shouldn't be allowed a legally solid wedding ceremony, regardless of YOUR opinion on the sanctity of traditional marriage, much less sex). If you are a left winger reading this, GET OFF YOUR LAZY, COMPLACENT ASS!!
Now that I think about it, I don't know if I want to totally align myself with liberals. They're such pussies sometimes. And that politically correct crap really rubs me the wrong way - if you can't have a sense of humor about something, about anything, you're as good as dead. Maybe I should try to find things to like about the right. Hm .W. wears nice ties, he has a cute wife, and his stupidity is consistently entertaining, a welcome comic relief amid all this violent chaos. Did you hear the one about him frantically waving hello to Stevie Wonder until he realized the futility of this type of greeting with a blind person? Classic.
Hm. That's about all I can think of, though. Not quite enough for me to go to their side. I guess I should just eschew labels altogether. Except when the cultural and social wars start, I can't stay neutral. My conscience won't allow it. I'll be what I am now: a Rat Pack Democrat. Liberal, with style. Or I try. Not that I want to be labeled or anything.
Anyway, to hell with all this crap. Let's move on to what really matters, a unifying force in our topsy-turvy universe: B MOVIES!
This month I am offering two ultra-rare science fiction "classics" that define the term "B movie". Their obscurity is attributed to the fact they were made to be disposable matinee fodder, mere marquee fillers - and yet somehow transcended their own meager ambitions via the ironical, accidental force of Camp. These are not "serious" sci-fi masterpieces a la The Day the Earth Stood Still or even The Thing. These are the cheesy pulp potboilers that enthralled you as a kid on your local "Creature Features," and as a kid, you had to explain or defend their odd appeal to no one. As an adult, you still don't - but only here you will not be judged, just welcomed by a crowd of like-minded peers. WELCOME TO THRILLVILLE!
Both of these 35mm buried treasures hail from the Palm Spring cult-movie caverns of Uncle Bill, the Trailer King. Everyone loves Uncle Bill, mostly because he supplies me with such cool trailers, plus there's the ongoing mystery of Latex Boy's true identity. Bill Longen is much more than The Trailer King- he is also an award-winning television editor, and one of the behind-the-scenes madmen behind the "Creature Features" TV show. He's also a great guy. But he's not my actual uncle. He's the spiritual uncle of everyone who digs cool stuff. Right now he's busy bringing a lot of this coolness to the blazing cultural wasteland of Palm Springs. They need him as much as we do - maybe more. He hasn't left us, though. He's still here, via his trailers and now his feature length gems. This month's programs will also include some of Uncle Bill's usual vintage previews and shorts. The indoor drive-in is in session, boys and girls.
First off, on April 11 at The Parkway, I'm proudly presenting MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL (1957), the one about atomic-mutated wasps in Africa. Fighting the giant wasps are the usual WASPS you see in these things, though the mutated wasps look more like beetles. The other WASPS look like regular white people. As far as Big Bug movies goes, this isn't in the class of Them or Tarantula - which is one reason why I love it so much. It's pure popcorn (or pizza and beer) pleasure - check your guilt at the door, and dig it.
Next, on April 25 at The Parkway, is yet another entry in the Interstellar Cheesecake category - FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE (1955), the British answer to such outrageous sexist classics as Catwomen of the Moon and Queen of Outer Space. This time the all-female race of dancing dolls lives on Jupiter. There's a monster in it, too. I know all you hetero males and homo gals out there fantasize about being an astronaut who lands on a planet of horny, shapely bombshells - forget your shame, come revel in your perverse fantasies!
They don't make movies like these anymore, for whatever reason, be it political correctness or patronizing hipness - most "new school" sci-fi is so serious and overblown. At least bargain basement B movies ("old school") like these maintained a sense of awe and wonder. I think that's one reason they're still so seductive in today's jaded culture - their ingenuity and innocence are part of their ingenuous charm. Plus, they are just plain funny as hell. Mystery Science Theater 3000 was created because of movies like these. So was Thrillville.
I turn 39 on April 2, by the way. I should be too old for this nonsense. But I'm not. And I never will be. If I ever do get too "mature" for giant bugs and alien pin-ups, it's time for me to hang up the smoking jacket for good. I don't see that happening for a long, long time. Pass the popcorn.
NEXT MONTH: SPACE AGE SWINGERS and ARACHNID ANARCHY!
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