Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I recently stumbled across the considerable comic book contributions of the great Lily Renee. Originally from Austria, Renee (born Lily Wilhelm) came to the U.S. as a teenager during World War II and drew for Woolworth's catalogs before getting into comics (Interesting aside: fashion products in ads and catalogs for years were drawn instead of photographed, even into the Fifties when Andy Warhol paid the rent with his drawings of shoes). Lily went to Fiction House when her mother saw an ad in the paper calling for comic book artists, and would become the only woman who drew covers for the company. She depicted ghostly mysteries in Werewolf Hunter, journeyed to an adventurous planet in The Lost World, depicted cheescake-laden adventures in Rangers Comics, and earned some real estate in the history books with Senorita Rio, the daring, clever, tough-talking, spy-hunting piece of ass extraordinaire.

Renee was something of a stunner herself (check out the photo), and would go on to several marriages, the creation of plays, and appearances at the San Diego Comic Con. She recently gave a talk at the Jewish Museum which I could kill myself for missing.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


IDIOCRACY. Wow. The more I google it, the more it looks like Fox tried to bury it. Deep. Opened in September in only 7 cities, none of them NY. I wonder what the conspiracy is? Because, I know the business well enough to know that there's a conspiracy. He openly mocks large corporations. I think they may have agreed to lend their logos, like Taco Bell agreed to be all over DEMOLITION MAN, thinking they'd get great product placement. When they saw how it turned out, they probably went bananas.

Googling it will spoil the surprises, so if you're tempted, don't be. It spoiled them for me, and what was left was a movie more disturbing than CHILDREN OF MEN. I'm not kidding. This may be the most grim dystopia I've ever seen. And in a comedy, no less.

Mike Judge really shows his true colors. In BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD, I suspected he was mocking the MTV audience, but I had no idea he had this deep a contempt for them. We are blessed to have Mike Judge.

When I tried to watch the JACKASS movie, I was made profoundly uncomfortable. I mean, on a deep, existential level. I tried to figure out why. I mean, I watch "tortureporn" like HOSTEL until the cows come home and never feel like JACKASS made me feel. For a long time, I chalked it up to me being too square or old to "get it." Maybe it triggered some nascent homophobia of which I was unaware, I wondered. Maybe I had no sense of humor, or a sense of humor that's "too safe." Given the range of what I find amusing, that was doubtful. I think I just slowly realized that I was living in a world where shit and torture and genital mutilation -- with no context whatsoever -- were found not only acceptable, but funny, by a mass audience. I guess this is how they view the world.

And, you know, if they were viewing the world that way as a purposeful method of giving the finger to a society that treats people like cattle, that would be one thing. But that wasn't in that film, or in the response to it. Even on a subconscious level. Dey just towt dat wuz funnee. This is a selfishness that's gone beyond self-indulgence. This is psychological infantalism of the worst degree. "You just have to laugh at it," the fans say, "It's funny because it's just so stupid."

No, it's stupid because it's so stupid.

As the Wicked Witch of the West aptly mused, "What a world. What a world."

And that's what I thought when I staggered out of JACKASS. I was feeling dread on an apocalyptic level. This is a movie that made the Three Stooges look like Samuel Beckett.

BORAT made a very convincing case that redneckism still permeates America. Basically, we're Borat's homeland with a better dental plan. And, just as Borat's comrades are capable of surprising sweetness, so are we. He dealt with redneckism on one level. Mike Judge kicks it up a notch.

Mike Judge holds up the most unflattering mirror to America I think I've ever seen. We don't stop and think enough about who we are, as a culture, when even our best critics, in an orgy of if-you-can't-beat'em-join'em, begin apologizing for JACKASS. I feel as if Mike Judge similarly staggered out of JACKASS, but was smart enough to know what was going on, and do something about it.

IDIOCRACY is that something. And maybe that's why Fox buried it. It would be incendiary to so many people who would see it, that riots would break out in theaters... if only they could get past laughing at the fart jokes and realize that the joke's on all of us. And it should be. We should be ashamed of ourselves. That's what IDIOCRACY made me feel. Intense, intense shame. And that's the point.

I've never seen our potential intellectual apocalypse taken on like this. You know, usually it's just some fuddy duddy like me longwindedly pontificating... like I'm doing, now. But this is using the JACKASS audience's ammo against itself. It is a revolutionary work, in the truest sense. And to paraphrase THE FOUNTAINHEAD, mankind will never destroy itself, nor think of itself as destroyed. Not so long as it produces work such as this.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Top Ten Best Remembered Things about the late President Ford:

-His potato salad with sliced pineapples.

-Regarded balding as a sign of dominance.

-He slipped down a staircase when disembarking from an airplane.

-Considered Jim Morrison a close, personal friend.

-He slipped on one of Spot’s “little presents” when visiting the White House in 2002.

-Frequently gave copies of “The Illustrated Kama Sutra” to his in-laws.

-He slipped on a pool of vomit at the quarterly “I Hate Chevy Chase” support group meeting in December, 1983.

-The worst thing he ever said about a movie was, “There was too much dancing.” He was referring to Showgirls (1995).

-He slipped on a puddle of blood at Goth-Fest 1999 in Vail, Colorado.

-Worked hard to find his spiritual center. Found it much easier to stay away from his wife’s Center.

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