Thrillville - Archives for Thrillville Beat
By Will ("The Thrill") Viharo
By Will "the Thrill" Viharo
kay, class, it's the official end of the century and the dawn of a new millennium (according to the more anal time-keepers out there). What have we learned?
Judging from the outcome of the recent presidential elections, absolutely nothing.
MESSAGE FROM THRILLVILLE TO GEORGE W. BUSH: YOU ARE NOT WELCOME IN THRILLVILLE! EVER! IF YOU EVER DECIDE TO SHOW UP, YOU WILL BE TURNED AWAY AT THE DOOR BY WILL THE THRILL PERSONALLY! BEAT IT, YOU BUM!
Then again, Thrillville is a Mecca of Coolness. Dull, conservative idiots like W. would feel very out of place here, which is the whole point. He will NEVER be president of this domain. I am. I am the Lounge Lizard King, and in my world, George W. Bush is nothing.
For some reason, the state of Texas has declared war on Thrillville. First the Texan powers that be behind our once favorite radio station, KABL 960AM, destroy the greatest format on Bay Area airwaves and replace it with the worst - going from swing to sap, from Louis and Keely to the Captain and Tennille. A true tragedy we still haven't recovered from, as now there are NO great radio stations in our own market (for us lounge lovers, that is - rock just ain't my thing). These programming podunks robbed the Bay Area of the final musical outpost of class, taste and style, replacing the Rat Pack with "Muskrat Love." My mother was Miss Houston 1960, so I know Texans are capable of good taste. But lately their dictates in music and politics have nearly ruined my year. Then Julie London, my favorite female singer (next to Keely Smith) just went ahead and died earlier this year, and there was no radio station around to pay her proper tribute.
Then Monica, Tiki Goddess's beloved A's lose in the fifth playoff game against the damn Yankees.
As of this writing, there has been no decision as to who will actually become our next president. Either one will be a lame duck. This ridiculous display of political finger-pointing and hand-counting - causing far more embarrassment in the eyes of the world than the Lewinsky scandal - has permanently tarnished the next administration and pretty much lost their re-election already. But we still gotta pick somebody (I say we keep Clinton, but who listens to me?) So I'll take the one without the big boil on his face, thank you very much. But I am assuming the worst, given my increasing lack of faith in humanity.
Normally I have a theory as to why a president is chosen. Not this time. I am dumbstruck. The fact that so many of this country' citizens could look at someone so obviously stupid, a frat brat without the basic credentials to lead even a panty raid, much less the most powerful nation on Earth, says something deeply disturbing about the mentality of our society. The dumbing down of America has come full circle. The decades of increasingly mindless television shows, derivative movies and bland sound-alike music have finally taken their toll on our national psyche, warping our collective perception. Four years of W's blinking, blithering, stuttering, stammering stupidity makes me more depressed than I can express. I just don't get it. Where millions of others see folksy charm, I see only repellant arrogance and dangerous ignorance. Where others see sincerity, I see shameless pandering. Where others see a regular honest joe, I see a beady-eyed brain-dead weasel. My one consolation: he'll be a one-termer like his Daddy. Hillary 2004! (Wouldn't that make some kinda sense in this political ping pong power play - Bush to Clinton to Bush and back to Clinton?)
The most significant issue on the ballot to me was the Supreme Court, one that seemed almost completely overlooked by most of the media and obviously the masses. If one more right wing bigot gets in there, you can kiss your personal freedom goodbye. This election has been a triumph Christian Right, and that means we independent-spirited, free-thinking types are in for one helluva rocky ride, folks. This country's political and philosophical factions will become more polarized than ever - perhaps even violently.
Al Gore, for his twenty-four or so dedicated years as a politician, deserves to be president. Whether you agree with his agenda or not, he worked hard and had a great record in his field, and he earned the promotion. Robot Al served his country diligently, even going to Nam. The only thing W. served was beer - to himself, and lots of it, I understand.
As for Nader, I don't think he truly deserved to be president either. I still don't know where he stands on any issue besides corporations, and one's presidential policies cover a far broader range than that. Someone said if I went to Nader's web site, I could find out just where he stands on issues that really matter to me, like civil liberties. Nader needs to tell me himself. And his followers seem as uniformly Caucasian as Republicans - where's Nader's coalition of color? He looks like a burn-out to me, disheveled and grouchy, and a lot of people relate to that demeanor and style. But he doesnt have the stamina to run the whole country. And if he did, he'd be presiding over two parties with no loyalty to his agenda, so nothing would get done anyway. He strikes me as being as much of a self-serving egotist as any regular politician - including Gore and Bush. I just don't see the big distinction. I certainly respect the disenfranchised white folks out there wanting representation in Washington, but as long as the left remains fractured, the re-united right will rule. Pick your poison.
As for everyone out there counting on some kind of Third Party to one day save the country, I wouldn't hold my breath. The REALITY is, as long as this society as a whole worships the almighty buck, corporations will capitalize on that pervasive greed and run the show. The astounding success of shallow, insultingly insipid TV shows like Survivor and Who Wants to Be (or Marry or Fuck or Whatever) a Millionaire is pathetic proof of where this nation's values truly lie - in the bank. In order for an anti-corporate candidate to even have a prayer of becoming president, the mindset and soul of this free-market capitalist society - where baseball players go on strike if they only make nine instead of ten million dollars a year, or vapid no-talent movie and pop stars rake in billions while decent people starve in the streets - needs a major spiritual awakening.
You really think that will ever happen, given the avaricious aspect of human nature, given the highly competitive structure of a society that rallies around materialistic rewards? Call me cynical, but I don't. Despite what the "Moral Majority" and all the religious pundits say: more than God, more than freedom, more than sex (well, that's a close one), more than anything, Americans worship the dollar, and the guy with the most bucks gets to call the shots.
That's one possible theory behind Bush's inexplicable popularity (though he is without a mandate) - he bought his way in. The other is of course the Tom Cruise Factor.
Dig it: they're both frat boy types with annoyingly smug smirks whose arrogance is mistaken as "charisma," whose immature need for approval is misinterpreted as "charm," and whose bland shallowness is deemed as "down-to-earth." They are also both inexplicably popular with people far outside my own social circles. They are collectively the Anti-Thrill.
Here's a key to W's so-called "personality" for you: When Oprah asked him what his favorite song of all time was, he blinked dumbly as if the question threw him, then stammered, "'Wake Up Little Susie' - by Buddy Holly!" A few minutes later his brainfart cleared and he suddenly recalled that his "all-time favorite song" was actually recorded by the Everly Brothers. Keep in mind - this is his all-time favorite song, and he couldn't remember who sang it. To me, that's a major character revelation. Not only did Clinton know who recorded "Heartbreak Hotel," but he could play it on the saxophone. Wearing sunglasses, looking cool. Then he turned around the economy and kept the nation at peace for eight years, and made me proud to be American for the first time in my life.
That's all over now. My deep shame and embarrassment have returned in spades, for at least another four years. Maybe it's just me. I could be part of a dying breed. I feel even further from the mainstream than ever now. Evidence of is this is found in my two favorite films of 2000, which not only bombed nationally, but hardly anyone has ever heard of them: Charles Willeford's noir The Woman Chaser and the hilarious Psycho Beach Party, both absolutely subversive, stylish examples of outré cinema straight out of Celluloid Heaven's B Movie Lounge. And yet they came and went almost completely unnoticed. We even showed Psycho Beach Party for a week here at The Parkway. It did as badly as my third favorite flick of the year, Godzilla 2000. So I guess we won't be showing The Woman Chaser (except maybe one day in a Thrillville noir fest) - I sense the trend here.
Someone said to me, when the majority of people looked at Bush, they saw themselves. If that's true, I must be from another planet. That's why I re-created here on Earth, a refuge for the cool and the alien: Thrillville Theater.
Enough about Bush leaguers, let's talk about the things that really matter here in Thrillville.
First of all, here are some major moments from 2000 that I would like to fondly, formally recall:
1)THE RETURN OF BOB WILKINS TO OAKLAND (10/26) - joined on stage by Bob Shaw and John Stanley, this was an historic, legendary evening for "Creature Features" fans - too bad KTVU failed to show up and record it for posterity, as this was probably the only time these three guys will be together in the same room at the same time again. An incredible event. The entire month of "Creature Double Features" co-hosted by John Stanley was a monstrous hit.
2)ELVIS D DAY 2000 PARTY (8/17) - with Yvonne "Batgirl" Craig and Gary "2001" Lockwood in person for a screening of It Happened at the World's Fair, in which they both co-starred with The King.
3)SWINGIN' CHICKS OF THE 60s BOOK AND CALENDAR RELEASE PARTY(11/11) - with Deborah "Gidget" Walley and my stepmom Anne Helm in person! Ginchy!
4)AN EVENING WITH RAY DENNIS STECKLER (8/4) - the iconic cult director graced us with his passionate presence plus three pristine prints from his outré oeuvre: Rat Pfink a Boo Boo, Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Monsters, and Blood Shack. Even worm-eater Herb Robbins showed up, along with Re/Search's V. Vale. An incredibly strange evening that will go down in Thrillville annals as a milestone event.
5)2ND ANNUAL FILM NOIR FEST (9/00) - month-long, twelve-film tribute co-hosted by "Dark City" author Eddie Muller was a triumph of classic style over second run sap.
6)AN EVENING WITH JOHN MICHAEL McCARTHY (7/3) - the underground Memphis maverick appeared in person with his latest cheesecake classic Superstarlet AD plus the amazing short Elvis Meets the Beatles - with live burlesque dancing from Eddie Dane's Dames! A Thrillville exclusive!
7)PSYCHOTRONIC FILM SHOW (4/27) - co-hosted by John Stanley with the thrilling theremin of Robert Silverman, then over two hours of kooky old commercials, vintage drive-in ads, swingin' 60s scopetones, classic horror and sci-fi trailers and more from the collection of Planet X's Scott Moon and Sci Fi Bob Ekman. One of my biggest nights ever.
And guess what? We're doing another Psychotronic Film Show for my end of the year blowout on Thursday, December 28 at 8PM. Dig sizzling scopetones (original music videos, which were played on a jukebox!) from the swingin' '60s, starring sex kitten Joi Lansing, an episode of the classic Japanese TV series Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot plus much, much more!
Yes, it's Thrillville History 101, class. Return with me now to those Thrilling days of yesteryear! Listen up and take notes.
Of course we all remember the glorious time When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (12/7; Nursery 12/5). What a world that was! Playboy playmates running around in furry bikinis, stop motion dinosaurs created by Jim Danforth raising hell - can't wait to re-live those prehistoric memories! This is like Hammer's version of The Flintstones for adults, with historical figures you'll want to study from head to toe. Witness the dawn of Thrillville, when monsters and babes ruled the world!
One of the two worst casting choices of all time was when Kevin Costner played Robin Hood. The other worst choice was when Kevin Costner played Eliot Ness. He needs to stick to aging baseball players, that's his sad little forte. If you want to see the real Robin Hood, according to Thrillville history, check out the great matinee idol/nazi spy/homosexual child molester Errol Flynn in the original 1938 version of The Adventures of Robin Hood (12/14; Nursery 12/12). I shouldn't call Errol a nazi spy or child molester just because everyone else does. Could just be sour grapes. And even if all that were true, he still makes a helluva Robin Hood. Apparently Sherwood Forest is really the woods outside Chico, CA, where this Technicolor classic was filmed. Come see if you recognize any of the trees.
For my annual Thrillville Holiday Party I am featuring the classic Warner Brothers gangster melodrama from 1939, The Roaring Twenties (12/21; Nursery 12/19), set just before, during and after Prohibition, directed by the great Raoul Walsh and starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. You can't get any cooler or tougher than that combo. But why is this a holiday movie? Partly because the final scenes take place around the holidays and partly because I say so. All denominations and creeds welcome. Seasons greetings, guys and dolls.
All shows feature vintage classic drive-in movie trailers from the amazing collection of one-time Creature Features editor Bill Longen, "the Trailer King," who has truly put the much of the Thrill in Thrillville this year. Thanks, Uncle Bill !
Merry men, gangsters,
cavewomen - they're all here in Thrillville, where the best of the 20th
Century lives on in the 21st. See you in 2001 (a big year in Thrillville
history), where I will continue to cultivate cult culture.
Thrillville Theater is sponsored by: Ultra Lounge, Earwitness, Stop the Clock, the Way Back Machine, Action & Adventure and Movie Image
COOL HANGOUTS OF WILL THE THRILL AND THE HOTTEST BABE EVER, MONICA, TIKI GODDESS: Next time you find yourself stranded in SF, check out The Bamboo Hut, at 479 Broadway, right next door to The Hi Ball Lounge. My pal Otto of Tiki News turned me on to this place, a relatively new but very authentic tiki bar with great Polynesian décor, atmosphere and drinks, plus a great exotica house band called Ape which performs for no cover charge every Monday evening. Happy hour is every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 6 to 8, Friday 5 to 8 - fruity classics for $2.50! Of course, for the true tiki experience, you needn't cross the Bay at all - just go to Trader Vic's flagship restaurant/bar in Emeryville, 9 Anchor Dr., off the Powell St. exit, towards the water, on the harbor. Or you could just come to Thrillville Theater on Thursdays and bask in the glory of the Tiki Goddess. Will the Thrill visits all three frequently....
Any suggestions and complaints and donations regarding Thrillville should be sent to me, Will the Thrill, via e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org (anything else pertaining to the content of the Parkway News, whether ads or reviews, should be addressed email@example.com). Monica's fans should write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nothing nasty unless they're from lesbians. We both can appreciate those types of scenarios. Will the Thrill says keep an open mind, you never know what can fly in.
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Thrillville - Archives for Thrillville Beat