“Last of the Luddite”

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Written by David Lawler
Additional Commentary by Bronwyn Knox
Original Music by Alex Saltz, APS Mastering

Introduction Music: “Who Made Who” (Malcolm Young/Angus Young/Brian Johnson) by AC/DC (from the 1986 album, “Maximum Overdrive”).
Audio Clips: “Taxi Driver” (a 1976 film directed by Martin Scorsese), The X-Files “Small Potatoes”, “Maximum Overdrive” (1986 film directed by Stephen King), It’s Garry Shandling’s Show (a 1986-1990 sitcom starring Garry Shandling), Airplane! (a 1980 film directed David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker), “Nervous Man In A Four Dollar Room”, “A Thing About Machines”.

Recorded March 25, 2016

© BlissVille, David Lawler copyright 2016 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Lawler and selected guests each episode. Original Music © Alex Saltz copyright 2015. This podcast, “That Twilighty Show About That Zone” is not affiliated with CBS Entertainment, the CBS Television Network, or The Rod Serling Estate. Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

Running Time: 33:16 Direct Download

Monkees Vs. Macheen: “Monkees at the Circus”

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“It’s Great, It’s Terrific, It’s the Best Show on Earth”

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“Monkees at the Circus” is one I do remember watching in syndication in the late ’70s. It features a circus (obviously) , so of course it would make an impression on my five-year-old mind. David Panich, writer of “Monkees vs. Machine,”  also wrote this one. In addition to The Monkees, he also wrote for The Dean Martin Show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In, and The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show to name a few. He died in 1983 at age 59. “Monkees at the Circus” was directed by Bruce Kessler and first aired February 13, 1967. The show starts out with the Monkeemobile, circus music, and circus stock footage. Our boys walk through a circus tent set, hoping to catch a show but it’s closed.

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They go into the main tent and start playing with paraphernalia in there. The extremely unpleasant (but not evil) Victor starts throwing knives at them. He tells them to leave or he’ll call the police. Micky recycles his “You do and I’ll be sorry” line from “One Man Shy.”

Outside, between the tents, Victor holds a meeting with all the circus players, listing their woes. No one has been coming to the shows, they’re using old equipment, and they haven’t been paid. [This seems like a management/labor dispute – Editor] One of the performers blames the discotheques and rock and roll groups for taking away their audience. Hoo boy. Victor thinks they should quit. Pop, the circus owner, weakly tries to convince them to stay as his pretty young daughter Susan wanders sadly away.  Of course, Davy notices her and shuffles over. She’s worried that her father will lose the circus. Davy promises that everything will be okay or she can “feed him to the lions.” He has no way of being able to keep that promise. Norma Rae … I mean Victor continues to be a rabble-rouser. Davy jumps on stage to convince them to have hope, since there are always ups and downs: The circus is a tradition, the kids will come, etc. The performers like what he has to say.

Back in the tent, the Monkees hang around a costume rack. There’s a repeated reference in this episode whenever Micky sings the theme to Circus Boy, the show he starred in as a child actor. Here’s a bit of him singing it on that show, adorably energetic even then. Susan thanks them for offering to help, and then asks what they do for a living. Why, they’re Brain surgeons! Mike explains, “Except in the summer time, I’m a cotton picker. Sort of a carry-over of skills.” He gives the farm report into Micky’s stethoscope. They forgot to mention that they’re also compulsive liars. 

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Peter picks up the megaphone and transitions us into a scene where the Monkees imagine that they’re circus performers [“folie à quatre”, in other words – Editor]. In their fantasy, Peter is the Ringmaster, Micky’s an abusive lion tamer, and Mike is a deadpan lion. Mike swipes the whip and makes Micky do the trick. I love Mike wearing his wool hat with his lion costume. Davy is a trapeze artist, suspending himself by his mouth at an amazing height of… two feet.

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They transition out and overhear Victor presenting Pop and Susan with a petition from the other performers to receive their back pay or else they’ll quit. The Monkees materialize in costumes and  mustaches, pretending to be a trapeze act known as The Flying Mozzarella Brothers “here to save the circus from distress.” The costumes are red leotards with gold tunics, and look like what the Four Martians used in “The Audition.” All of them do “over-zee-top” French accents, except Mike who remains Texan (with an occasional “zee” thrown in.) I enjoy this scene so much. They’re all charming and funny as they sell this scam to Victor. Micky whispers lines to Mike who introduces them as “Amazing, Incredible, Colossal, and Stupendous.” They claim they can cross the high-wire at 500 feet as a human pyramid. Victor is impressed and rushes off to tell the others the good news.

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After Victor and Pop leave, the Monkees de-materialize out of their disguises. Susan is pissed off and points out the obvious: The circus will be in bigger trouble when crowds come to see the non-existent Mozzarella brothers. That’s more lies for the Monkees. The Monkees hang around the real circus performers; a clown, strong man, sword swallower, and a juggler who each express their hope and excitement that the Mozzarella brothers are coming. It dawns on the Monkees what they’ve done. Yeah, they’re not at all in the right here. They’ve certainly screwed over Pop and the entire circus with their shenanigans this time. It’s always enjoyable to see them con bad guys, whether they succeed or fail, but Victor isn’t bad so the structure is re-set here, making an interesting difference in this episode where the Monkees are unintentional jerks.

The Monkees try to save the day by practicing on the tight rope while Susan nervously looks on. (Donna Baccala, who plays Susan, is really beautiful.) The best part of this is Peter and Mike on the high wire with balancing poles, walking through each other and looking at back in surprise. Micky is off screen shouting, “go back, go back.” Susan is not impressed and asks what they’re going to do. Micky says, “Well for our first act, we could get out of town. (nervous laugh.) A joke. Get it? Little joke, about that big.” Also a recycled joke, this time from “Dance, Monkee Dance.” Susan says they should tell the truth. Davy starts by confessing to her that they are rock-n-roll singers.

Victor overhears this part. He calls the other performers over and tells them about the Monkees lies. He’s presumptuously states that they’ve never even been on a Trapeze. He outs them as rock-n-rollers (the horror!) and says he’s leaving. The Monkees decide to go before they ARE fed to the lions. The performers glare at them and then pack and prepare to leave. Davy looks back in guilt as Susan cries.

Davy gets the others to stop and at least try to cheer Susan up. They dress as clowns and do a little act that’s also a romp to “Sometime in the Morning” (Gerry Goffin, Carole King). They should have done this to begin with. Playing music and being funny, THAT’s how they can help. The performance footage from this romp is used in “Monkee Mother” as well. They look very handsome in that footage. The circus players stop their packing, look on, and enjoy the show. They tell the Monkees they look like “real show folks” and want to perform with the Monkees after all. That was a really nice moment. Something about the circus performers not being terribly “actor-like” and the Monkees getting honest appreciation, worked for me.

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More stock-footage of a circus, leading into Pop as the Ringmaster announcing Victor, featuring Susan as his living target. Victor doesn’t come out, which shouldn’t be a surprise since he made his feelings clear. Davy decides to draw Victor out by impersonating him, taking a shot at Victor’s ego.  Peter puts an apple on her head and Davy throws the knife before he finishes, “Don’t worry folks, I’ve got plenty more knives.” Victor comes out and takes the knives. He should kick Davy’s ass for risking Susan’s life, but he doesn’t. Instead, he performs his act to the sound of the crowd’s cheers.

Pop talks to Davy about how well it’s going and declares that the problem was that people just hadn’t seen a circus in so long. I’m not sure this makes sense; they’ve gotten an audience under false pretenses, and the audience doesn’t mind? I suppose the idea is, if they just get butts in the seats, the people will be so charmed they’ll fall in love with the circus again, but it’s not all that clearly conveyed by the writing. Anyway, Pop tells the Monkees they’re going on next. After a little panic, they realize that they’re going on just to play music. The “playing” is recycled footage of “She” (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart) that was used in “Monkees a la Carte,” with the band in gray suits in front of a blue background. Cut in with shots of the circus cast dancing. Susan and Pop really get down.  It’s not the worst idea in the world, combining a circus with Rock-n-Roll. [“You wanted the best and you got the best!” – Editor] They did it with The Jim Rose Circus and Lollapalooza, though I suppose that was more of a sideshow to the music.

Tag sequence where Susan is making out with Davy to “thank” him. The small clown comes up to hand Davy a giant key to remember them by. The strong man gives Peter the giant bar bell since he was able to toss it around earlier, but now he can’t hold it up at all. The sword swallower gives Mike his sword to practice with, then he totally freaks Mike out by getting it stuck in his own throat. The juggler gives Micky her unicycle, pins, and a bucket so he can have his own act should the discotheques close down. Micky pedals himself into the ladder, right next to where David and Susan continue to make out.

Circus-Performers

There are a lot of nice ideas in this episode. It’s an “old meets new and both learn from each other” type of story. The Monkees are actually the “evil” since they represent a phenomenon that’s taking away from the tradition of the circus, at least according to the episode.  If circuses were waning in popularity in the 1960s, they started to come back again in the 1970s (and as Davy says there are always ups and downs). (Edit: As of 2017, the circus is shut down for good.) The Monkees were able to help in the end, and the circus performers no longer hated and feared musicians. It’s a very sweet episode, although not as funny and missing the subversive humor that I love from The Monkees. And really, two of the funniest lines were recycled from other episodes. I would put this one in the sentimental and traditional sitcom category, like “Monkee Mother” and “Success Story.”

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Dedicated to the memory of the funny and talented Gene Wilder (1933-2016)

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by Bronwyn Knox

Every couple of weeks, “Monkees vs. Macheen” examines the crazy, spirited, Ben Franks-type world of the Pre-Fab Four: David Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork alias The Monkees.

Monkees Vs. Macheen: “Son Of A Gypsy”

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“Everybody Wants to be in Showbiz!”

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“Son of a Gypsy” was written by the team of Gerald Gardner & Dee Caruso and Treva Silverman. I really do enjoy the ones that Silverman wrote. The story is about a gig gone wrong, but it is also a wildly improbable, high adventure territory as their opponents in this episode are a group of larger- than-life gypsies who really like to murder and steal. The story isn’t about any of the Monkees in particular and they work together in funny and entertaining ways to get out of trouble. “Son of a Gypsy” was directed by James Frawley and aired the day after Christmas, December 26, 1966. Weird huh? I guess back then TV didn’t go into reruns on the holidays.

To start, the Monkees are waiting in the hallway where they’ve just auditioned to play a party. Their competition is a gypsy music band: a mother and her four sons. Both groups fervently hope to get the job, but Madame Rantha comes out and announces The Monkees have it. The gypsies are furious, but not just about the loss of the gig. Maria and her sons were hoping to get the job so they could steal the Maltese Vulture, which is the episode’s MacGuffin and a clever homage to the 1941 film, The Maltese Falcon. I remember taking film studies class in college and watching this Humphrey Bogart film. This is when I learned what a MacGuffin was – a plot device that the characters pursue that’s not important to the overall story.

Maria and Co. have invited the Monkees out to their camp to show them there are “no hard feelings” for the Monkees taking their would-be gig. Against their better judgment (except Peter), the Monkees accept their offer. Maria welcomes the Monkees and gives them gypsy clothes and boar’s tooth necklaces for “luck.” She has each son take a Monkee separately on a tour of the camp, so it’s a nice parallel that there are four sons and four Monkees. I wanted to mention the son’s names: Marco, Rocco, Zeppo, and Kiko. Zeppo was the name of a member of the comedy act The Marx Brothers and the other three names certainly sound like they could be Marx Brother’s names; that’s a nice homage.

Rocco, played by Vic Tayback who was also in “Your Friendly Neighborhood Kidnappers” and “Art, For Monkees Sake,” takes Micky to read his tea leaves. Micky, maybe learning from the plot of “Too Many Girls,” says he doesn’t believe in it. Rocco tells Micky his leaves say he is soon to be unconscious and Micky passes out from the drugged tea. Like I said about “Too Many Girls”, it’s easy to predict the future, if you create it. Marco, played by Vincent Beck, who played very similar characters in “Royal Flush,” and “The Card Carrying Red Shoes,” is paired with Davy. He terrifies Davy with a knife-throwing bit. Peter gets tied up by Kiko and a female who dance around him and wrap him up with scarves. Meanwhile, Zeppo wants to use Phrenology to read the bumps on Mike’s head. No bumps on his head? No problem! Zeppo hits him with a mallet and he collapses. It’s so polite the way Mike apologizes for not having bumps.  

The Monkees are now Maria’s prisoners, and she wants them to steal the Maltese Vulture for her. Micky insists they are not thieves. Maria is actually pretty scary. She threatens to let her sons, especially the very keen Marco, torture the Monkees. Watching this as a five-year-old kid, I believed she would kill the Monkees. To emphasize this point, the camera keeps showing a hot poker on the fire. The Monkees go into a fantasy about being tortured which involves stretching Davy on the rack. It leads to a great site gag and a spin on their favorite “I am standing up” joke about the diminutive Davy.

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Marco gets out the poker to use on them until Mike, giving a deep, faux-macho line-reading, agrees to steal the vulture. He asks the others how his performance was, and they say he was good. Sort of breaking the fourth wall, but not necessarily; it could work in character. The gypsies joyfully leap up and embrace and untie the Monkees; Maria kissing Davy’s face. Hilariously, Vic Tayback picks up and carries Micky. The only one not happy is Marco, who’s bummed he won’t be torturing anyone with a hot poker [Somewhat disturbing – Editor].

Maria shows them the map of the location of the Maltese Vulture in the house where they’ll be playing the party. Maria inquires about how they will steal the Maltese Vulture. As they do in “Monkees a La Carte,” the Monkees start drawing all over her map, each with their own “plan.”

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See, because Charlton Heston played Michelangelo in the 1965 film, The Agony and the Ecstasy. That joke sounds funny, even when I didn’t know that. Maria tells them she’ll be keeping Peter as a hostage and they’ll take Marco, dressed in one of their matching blue Monkees shirts, to help with the robbery. Seems like a fair trade.

The Monkees play “Let’s Dance On” (Boyce/Hart) at the party while daffy Madame Rantha scurries happily around her guests. Marco goes off to check on the guards outside the room where the Vulture is kept, so the Monkees take the chance to find some help. They try Madame Rantha, but she’s clueless. Micky goes out into the crowd and tries to enlist the help of a party guest, played by episode director James Frawley. Frawley’s slightly confused facial expressions are terrific as he listens to Micky. He almost looks like he understands, until he suddenly starts speaking Yugoslavian (or faux Yugoslavian, I’m not sure.) Similar to “Monkee See, Monkee Die,” Micky has once again tried to get aid from someone who doesn’t speak English.

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By the way, I notice Micky drinking the champagne. There’s always some vague notion about the ages of the Monkees. The actors were old enough to drink (except Davy) but in “The Monkees Watch Their Feet” for instance, the writers refer to the Monkees as teenagers.

Mike and Davy meanwhile, have gone the absurdist route. They decide to throw a message in a bottle out the window. An unseen hand gives them back two cents deposit. Thank you, Thing.

Marco marks (pun!) the two guards stationed outside the room with the Vulture. This sets off the funniest sequence in this episode: The bits where they try to steal the Vulture. While Marco stays on stage to “play,” The Monkees sneak off into the hallway and peek around the corner.

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Davy will break into the safe, if Mike and Micky distract the guards. First, Micky pretends to rob Mike. Mike plays scared in the flattest delivery possible: “Help, help. Robbery. Who is this masked man, anyway? Help, help gun. Oh, terror, terror burglar. Burglar, help. Help, help. Wallet, mine, His now.” The guards? Unimpressed. On attempt two, the boys execute an obviously fake fight with boxing gloves. Last, they light matches and shout, “Fire! Fire!” and then drop them on the ground. THAT gets the guards to move, pointing out the hallway trashcan that says “Keep Our City Clean.” The Guard asks, “Can’t you guys read?” Micky explains, “Uh, no. We’re musicians.” With that, Davy has managed to sneak into the room.

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Davy has a big black bag from somewhere. The score accompanying his actions is this cool, James Bond-style riff. I love the incidental music in this entire episode, this and the Romani-style strings used for the scene’s at Maria’s camp. Stu Phillips was the composer.

Back to Davy, who goes to the picture where the safe is and under it is…a painting of a safe. With this, and all the other surreal gags from this segment, Davy breaks the fourth wall and looks at us in disbelief. When he gets to the real safe, he pulls an impossible assortment of items out of his bag: bolt cutters, a sledge hammer, a live rabbit, and the little dynamite plunger. He blows up the wrong thing in the room, just like “Monkees a la Carte.” It’s less funny when they just repeat the gag, as opposed to the cool variation in the earlier scene. The explosion draws the attention of the guard, who only takes a cursory look and says it’s okay. Davy gets a stethoscope to listen to the safe and  hears “Last Train to Clarksville,” then puts on a pair of gloves and finds he has another set of hands!

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He doesn’t get too far before Madame Rantha comes in to show her friend the Vulture. Micky and Mike follow behind them. Micky uses that sputtering voice from  “One Man Shy” and tries to create a distraction. More importantly, what is Mike doing to the women? He’s behind them, touching and sniffing both Rantha and her friend’s hair while they ignore him completely. Micky’s acting is so entertaining; I missed this weird Mike business in past viewings.

Micky tells Rantha she can see a flaw in the Vulture if she holds it up to “the midnight.” Midnight brings panic as that’s when Peter will be killed, so Davy steps out, grabs the Vulture and tosses it down to Maria. The gang all have their knives on Peter, so he looks up and says “thank you” when he catches it. His relieved expression and tone of voice are priceless. Madame Rantha thinks they’re the thieves of course, so she has Peter brought in and arrested. The gypsies and The Monkees are now all in the ballroom. Maria says, you can tell Peter’s a thief, it’s written all over him.

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Madame is grateful to Maria and asks what she can do in return? Maria wants the Vulture, so she grabs it and runs. This leads to a romp set to “I’m a Believer” (Neil Diamond). Monkees and gypsies run around, fight and play football. It’s a lot like the “Dance, Monkees Dance” romp with The Smoothies. The gypsies stand in line while the Monkees launch various attacks, and the guards and party guests do nothing. The gypsies pick-pocket the guests. The guards finally pull guns on the gypsies.

The Monkees performance footage edited into this romp is the same “Too Many Girls” footage of the same song, with the four of them in the ivory Monkees shirts. That makes a trio of colors for Monkees shirts in “Son of a Gypsy”; red at the beginning, blue at the party, and ivory here. Also, I really dig “I’m a Believer,” but after hearing it for four episodes in a row, I’m glad to be done with it for the next one coming up. (The producers never envisioned some nut obsessively writing about these shows and watching them over and over fifty years later, I’m sure.)

Maria and sons have decided that showbiz is easier than thievery and will go the route of Bessy and her boys from “Monkees in a Ghost Town.” Maria: “Yes, you boys have showed us that my boys can make a faster dollar in show business.” Marco adds, “And with as little talent, too.” I don’t know why they’re allowed to just leave, but when they do, they’ve taken Mike’s watch, Micky’s wallet, and Peter. Peter is just a more sweet-natured version of Marco, does she really need two of those?

A note about the ballroom where this party takes place, this was an often used set on The Monkees. The same space was used in: “Royal Flush” as The Ritz Swank Hotel ballroom, “Monkee See, Monkee Die” as the parlor, the discotheque in “The Spy Who Came In From The Cool,” Pop’s restaurant in “Monkees a la Carte,” Renaldo’s Dance Au Go-Go school in “Dance, Monkee, Dance”, a banquet hall in “The Case Of The Missing Monkee”, a bandstand in Dr. Mendoza’s castle for “I Was A Teenage Monster,” the throne room in “The Prince And The Paupers”, a TV show set in “Captain Crocodile,” the banquet room for “Monkees a la Mode,” a hotel suite in “Everywhere A Sheik Sheik,” an art museum in “Art For Monkee’s Sake,” a gambling casino in “The Monkees On The Wheel,” a department store in “The Monkees Christmas Show,” the setting for The Secretary’s narration in “The Monkees Watch Their Feet,” a nightclub in “The Monkees Paw,” and “The Monkees Blow Their Minds,” and the stage in the KXIW-TV studio for a Rock-a-thon Contest in “Some Like It Lukewarm.” Shout out to The Monkees Film and TV Vault for help with that list.

A note about the gypsies: I’m well aware that The Monkees writers frequently dealt in cultural stereotypes. Romani (or Gypsy) people were characterized in fiction as associated with occult powers, such as fortune telling, and thievery and cunning as well as having passionate temperaments. Obviously not realistic depictions of Romani people. However, The Monkees were satirizing old movies and TV shows, not real people. Throughout the series, cultural stereotypes are used in “Monkees Chow Mein,” “It’s a Nice Place to Visit,” “Everywhere a Sheik, Sheik,” and others. If these were being written today, my guess is that it would be done with more awareness and sensitivity [If written today, these examples would only be used to ridicule the culturally “insensitive” – Editor]. Even if they still chose to use the broadest characterizations, there would be a knowing, meta-nod to it, I imagine. However, all comedy somewhere is offending someone. If comedy isn’t risking offense, it’s probably not very funny. “Cultural Appropriation” wasn’t something on people’s minds at the time.

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Look-Out-For

Finally, I guess everyone is really loving the new Monkees album as much as I am? I really like the title track and “Me and Magdalena.” Who would have thought 50 years later we’d be enjoying such a cool new album?

Dedicated to the memory of Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

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by Bronwyn Knox

Every couple of weeks, “Monkees vs. Macheen” examines the crazy, spirited, Ben Franks-type world of the Pre-Fab Four: David Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork alias The Monkees.

NEW EPISODE! “Corporate Whores … and Press-titutes”

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Recorded March 12, 19, April 17-28, 2016.

With David Lawler, Andrew La Ganke, Eve Kerrigan, Denny Spangler, Bronwyn Knox.

“My Computer” (Prince) by Prince (from the 1996 album, “Emancipation”), “Yo Bill” (David Lawler) by David Lawler with vocals by Alex Saltz, The Dylan Ratigan Show (an American television program on MSNBC hosted by Dylan Ratigan), “Hail To The Chief” (James Sanderson), Fatman On Batman” (a web series hosted by Kevin Smith), “Pope” (Prince) by Prince (from the 1993 album, “The Hits/The B-Sides”), “Purple Rain” (Prince) by Prince and The Revolution, “The Beautiful Ones (Prince) by Prince and The Revolution, “Diamonds and Pearls” (Prince) by Prince and The New Power Generation.

The Vampire Economy

Artwork by Bronwyn Knox.

NEW PODCAST! “I Could Never Gracefully Bow”

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Recorded April 23-28, 2016.

With David Lawler, Andrew La Ganke, Eve Kerrigan, Denny Spangler, Bronwyn Knox.

“Sexy MF” (Prince) by Prince (from the 1992 album, “The Love Symbol Album”), “Controversy” (Prince) by Prince (from the 1981 album, “Controversy”), “When You Were Mine” (Prince) by Prince (from the 1980 album, “Dirty Mind”), “Dig U Better Dead” (Prince) by Prince (from the 1996 album, “Chaos and Disorder”).  

Artwork by Bronwyn Knox.

“The Eve Of The End”

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Written by David Lawler
Additional Commentary by Bronwyn Knox
Original Music by Alex Saltz, APS Mastering
Introduction Music: “Seen But Not Seen” (David Byrne, Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, Tina Weymouth) by Talking Heads (from the 1980 album “Remain In Light”).
Audio Clips: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert “The Twilight Zone: Just The Twists”, The Incredible Hulk Series Pilot, “The Gunslinger” (a 1956 film directed by Roger Corman), “Sixteen Candles” (a 1984 film directed by John Hughes), Star Trek “The Return of the Archons”, “Vampire In Brooklyn (a 1995 film directed by Wes Craven), “Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb” (a 1964 film directed by Stanley Kubrick), Family Guy “Believe It Or Not, Joe’s Walking On Air”, “The Four Of Us Are Dying”, “Third From The Sun”.

Recorded February 5, 2016

© BlissVille, David Lawler copyright 2016 for all original vocal and audio content featuring David Lawler and selected guests each episode. Original Music © Alex Saltz copyright 2015. This podcast, “That Twilighty Show About That Zone” is not affiliated with CBS Entertainment, the CBS Television Network, or The Rod Serling Estate. Any and all images, audio clips, and dialogue extracts are the property of their respective copyright owners. This blog and podcast was created for criticism, research, and is completely nonprofit, and should be considered Fair Use as stated in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. section 107. It is not an official product, and it should not be sold nor bought; this is intended for private use, and any public broadcast is not recommended. All music clips appear under Fair Use as well. If you’re thinking of suing because you want a piece of the pie, please remember, there is no actual pie. We at BlissVille have no money, and as such, cannot compensate you. If anything, we’re doing you a favor, so please be kind. I do this ’cause it’s fun, and nothing else.

Running Time: 36:33 Direct Download

NEW PODCAST: “Save The Texas Prairie Chicken”

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This is BlissVille, Misadventures In BlissVille, an American variety podcast presentation that premiered December 5th of the year 2014 featuring host David Lawler and guests including Colin Hall, Bronwyn Knox, Andrew La Ganke, Nicole Phelps, Sarah La Puerta, Alex Saltz, Mark Jeacoma, and Denny Spangler, who is with us tonight to discuss all-things-Monkees.  I’ve got two Michiganders on one podcast, Denny and my wife, Bronwyn.  Basically it’s a shameless plug for Bronwyn’s new series, “Monkees vs. Macheen”, exclusively on BlissVille, which, I think basically means I’m the Raybert to her Nesmith.

So the Sixties were hip, dig?  Lots-a crazy cats, dig?  Crazy drugs – MDMA, which was a purer form of Ecstasy, if I’m not mistaken.  You could take pills.  You could buy pills at the drug store without having to show your I.D.  I wasn’t there, but that’s what I’m told.

I wonder if we can talk about Michael Nesmith without getting sued?  He seems to keep a close eye on YouTube.  “Elephant Parts” is an extremely difficult show to find.  It is available in a very limited run on DVD, the price is high so I’m guessing another run will not be in the offing, perhaps Blu-Ray if the 50th anniversary Monkees box set sells, but when you try to look at clips from “Elephant Parts”, you’ll get a nasty notice saying, “This video was removed at the request of Michael Nesmith”.  He has a net worth of $50 million, but whatever!

In the years before Cable Television, higher ratings and viewership were easier to assess.  There were only three networks, and some haphazard attempts to create fourth networks, such as Dumont, but it was mainly CBS and NBC, later ABC; the running average of viewership hovered between 55 and 60 million viewers, divided between the three television networks in the mid-to-late sixties, the time when The Monkees was broadcast, and I believe The Monkees was broadcast in a very easy time slot for their viewers, which was mainly kids and young adults.  The show aired on Monday nights as 7:30PM, and handily won it’s time slot every week, running against a western called The Iron Horse and Gilligan’s Island.

Written by: David Lawler with Bronwyn Knox and Denny Spangler
Audio Clips: “Save The Texas Prairie Chicken” uploaded to YouTube by classical56, “Save The Texas Prairie Chicken (Outtakes) from the episode, “Monkees on the Wheel”, “(Theme From) The Monkees” (Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart), “Don’t Call On Me” (Michael Nesmith, John London), “Randy Scouse Git” (Micky Dolenz), Excerpt from “The Monkees Watch Their Feet”, Excerpt from “Fairy Tale”, “My Heart Will Go On” (James Horner, Will Jennings), “For Pete’s Sake” (Peter Tork, Joey Richards).

Monkees vs. Macheen: “Monkee vs. Machine” (What?)

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“They Just Won’t Stop with the Social Commentary”

“Monkee vs. Machine”, directed by Monkees creator Robert Rafelson, aired September 26, 1966 on NBC and was written by David Panich who wrote “Monstrous Monkees Mash” and “Monkees at the Circus.” This is one of my favorites because of its unusual storyline. It’s cited on the Chaos and Control: The Critique of Computation in American Commercial Media (1950-1980) website in the “Humanistic Critique” section along with 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, Dr. Strangelove, and other movies and television shows from 1957-1977. The author of this essay, Steve Anderson, postulates that Hollywood stories at that time compared machines to humans frequently, addressing questions of how people compare to computers. The general conclusion of these shows and movies always seemed to be that people come out ahead in any comparison because humans have feelings and are capable of independent thought.

Schneider-web

This story starts out when Mr. Babbitt demands his rent again. After checking the want ads, the others send Peter off to get a job at a toy company; a job he is perfect for because it requires no training or experience. Peter interviews with a computer, the DJ61, a machine which, by all rights, should not have a personality, but does (indeed a humorless, inflexible one). DJ61 can’t understand the emotional, nervous Peter at all and thinks Peter is a woman named as “Nit Wit.” Peter is upset and asks why he can’t talk to a live person but the unsympathetic (dare I say machine-like) secretary boots him out. His application is rejected. The Monkees vs. Machine score in my head is Monkees: 0, Machine: 1.

Before I go on with the story, I have to note that when I saw this recently on IFC, their version goes straight into the credits, and then starts with the first scene. My DVD version has the first two scenes with the Monkees in their house and then Peter going to the interview, right up to the point where the secretary shuts him in with the DJ61, and then the credits. I surmise they flipped things around for the syndicated version that IFC is using.

Now it’s Mike’s turn to take a crack at the job and the DJ61—armed with information from Peter. He enters the interview and takes over. I love it when he does that. The supposedly unemotional computer sure does get flustered when Mike (in true Captain Kirk fashion) turns the DJ61’s questions back on it, and starts punching its buttons. The true machine enters in the person of Daggart, the company executive. Stan Freberg played Daggart, and he was a damn funny man. I have a vague memory of listening to his “John and Marsha” routine, which Youtube helps me to revive. Freberg’s comic skills really drive this episode. Daggart tells us the computer declared Mike a genius. Mike Nesmith pulls off this adorably proud, yet embarrassed, expression. Mike’s genius destruction of the Machine makes the score Monkees: 1, Machine: 1.

Favorite-Line-web

Daggart is impressed by Mike’s ability to outwit one of his machines, so he takes him to the company owner, JB Guggins, played by Severn Darden, and declares that he’s hiring Mike on the spot. Guggins lets Daggart and his computers do all the thinking for him, and he agrees to whatever Daggart says. Note the picture of Guggins’ father and company founder behind the desk, which is clearly also Severn Darden with hilarious hair.

Daggart then takes Mike around to meet the rest of his staff, who turn out to be computers with human names. These are Daggart’s children, and when Mike starts poking at them, Daggart gives him a “Don’t do that.” The only human member of his staff is Harper, an old man who designs toys by hand. Pop Harper has made a flexible toy that can be bent into any shape, which he shows to Mike. Daggart scoffs at him, telling him he’s part of “yesterday” and tells Mike he’s only keeping Harper around because Guggins’ father promised him a job for life. Harper looks dejected at Daggart’s attitude towards him, and Mike is sympathetic. Daggart leaves with disembodied “boos” accompanying him off screen. The new score is Monkees: 1, Machine: 2.

Back at the Monkee’s pad, Mike is not as happy as he should be about his new job. Is Mike sad because he really thinks Harper made a wonderful toy, or because Harper is the underdog? We like the Monkees because they are underdogs themselves, and always defenders of the same. The others try to cheer Mike up with the romp of “Saturday’s Child” (David Gates), where they play with some kids on the beach. They get along great with the kids because they are big kids themselves. This gives Mike the idea to help Harper by sending the other Monkees into the factory as “children” for the play tests. (It amuses me that Mike and Micky call each other “babe” in this scene.)

In a bit that would not look out of place in a Kids In The Hall sketch, Daggart coordinates play testing sessions to show Guggins how well the computer-designed toys will sell to kids. Monkees in Mommy-and-child drag in various combinations attend the sessions and wreak Monkee-style havoc. The kids quickly get bored and toys get destroyed. Daggart responds with temper tantrums and many rounds of “Don’t do that.” Clearly he should be kept far, far away from children. In the DVD commentary for this episode, Peter Tork mentioned that Stan Freburg wasn’t scripted to tear the shelves down, he improvised that. In the office with Guggins, Daggart tries to pretend the machines knew this would happen, calling it planned obsolescence. Mike explains the play tests are going badly because “building in some happiness” should be part of making toys and machines aren’t capable of that. Daggart has lost control and it’s now Monkees: 2, Machine: 2.

sceencaps-montage
Daggart finally gets wise and realizes Peter is not a little boy and Micky’s no lady. He rips the blonde wig off Micky’s head (the same wig that Davy was using when it was his turn to be a Mommy). Then again, Daggart’s not that wise, because he disrobes an actual Mom to prove she’s also a man, for some reason going for the skirt and not the hair. I speculate that this gag was borrowed in the Austin Powers International Man of Mystery movie with Mike Meyers beating up Basil Exposition’s mother and shouting “She’s a man, baby!” Daggart is furious and fires everyone. With that, my count is Monkees: 2, Machine: 3.

The Monkees and Harper go back to the Monkees pad and mope. They try to throw away Harper’s flexible toy but it keeps coming back in the window because it’s now shaped like a boomerang. The Monkees and Harper take this to Guggins and convince him a toy that always comes back will sell and make kids happy. Daggart is not convinced because to him nothing can be good if it wasn’t made by a machine. Guggins does his own thinking for once, not letting Daggart’s machines do it for him this time. It might have been a bigger victory if Daggart had seen the error of his ways, but that was never going to happen and wouldn’t have “rung true” if the writers had tried to pull that. Guggins promotes Harper and fires Daggart who storms off with a “bah, humbug.” For this the Monkees get another point, making it a tie, Monkees: 3 Machine: 3.

boomarang
Tag sequence where Mike brings home the DJ69 computer to help them figure what kind of job they could get to help make a little extra money. A “Last Train to Clarksville” (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart) romp gives them career suggestions such as a construction worker, fireman, and farmer (the farm footage is from the “Never Look a Gift Horse” episode.) Mike gives several incredulous looks to the camera, not buying what the DJ69 is selling. As we know, the Village People would not emasculate the pop culture for another nine years.

Great episode. One I can watch again and again. The points about the differences between something built by data and analytics vs. something made from the heart are all made in a very funny and entertaining way, though I could live without Mike’s moralizing at the end of the episode. The final score is a tie, as Daggart pointed out: you can’t stop the rise of the machine. Remember 20 years ago, when we all weren’t walking around with cell phones? Machines are great if we’re not ruled by them. Daggart would prefer to leave the creative task of designing toys to computers, since they can’t really make mistakes, and they can’t complain. But Daggart himself is full of negative characteristics of human behavior: violence, close-mindedness, and arrogance. Maybe this is why he sees the machines as superior.

Evil

Look-Out-For
Sweet-Young-Thing

 

by Bronwyn Knox

Every couple of weeks, “Monkees vs. Macheen” examines the crazy, spirited, Ben Franks-type world of the Pre-Fab Four: David Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork alias The Monkees.

Monkees vs. Macheen: “Monkee See, Monkee Die”

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“And Then There Were Four”

Monkee See, Monkee Die

“Monkee See, Monkee Die,” directed by James Frawley, first aired September 19, 1966 on NBC. Episode writer Treva Silverman wrote some other very funny Monkees episodes: “I’ve Got a Little Song Here”, “One Man Shy”, “Son of A Gypsy”, and “A Nice Place to Visit.” According to the IMDB, she wrote “The Card Carrying Red Shoes” as Lee Sanford. Other interesting facts about Silverman: she wrote episodes for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for which she won an Emmy and created the character of “Georgette”, and she was one of the few working female writers in television at the time of The Monkees.

The story begins with the Monkees rehearsing, which is the first real reference to them as a band. Also appearing for the first time is Mr. Babbitt, who sweeps in accompanied by villainous harpsichord music. Babbitt is demanding the rent, or his lawyer will toss the boys out. Mike ferociously defends them, saying Babbitt is not making any needed repairs to the house. I think I’ve rented from this guy before. Mike quickly comes up with the idea they should pretend not to know the Monkees when the lawyer shows up, so they bring out the costumes and funny voices. The person they end up fooling is a solicitor who came to tell them they’ve been named in the will of an eccentric millionaire. Surely their rent problems are over now?

The Monkees arrive at the late Mr. Cunningham’s spooky house and are immediately startled by an obviously fake bat. The creepy butler, Ralph, takes them to the reading of the will. I love the shot of Ralph leading them to the parlor with Mike in front and the other Monkees hiding behind him.

Next, they meet the fabulous Madame Roselle, Mr. Cunningham’s spiritualist, and Mr. Kingsley, Cunningham’s travelling companion and hack travel author. Last but not least, they meet Ellie, Cunningham’s cute niece. She and Davy fall instantly in love and the editors used the starry-eyes special effect for the first time.

He's in love. For the very first time today.

Ellie was played by Stacy Maxwell, who, before The Monkees, had acted alongside Davy in an episode of a show called The Farmer’s Daughter, in which Davy and Stacy performed a very familiar song to Monkees fans: Boyce/Hart’s “Gonna Buy Me a Dog.”

Young, sweet Ellie will be the one to inherit Cunningham’s mansion, provided she spends one night there. This is an unpleasant surprise for Kingsley, Roselle, and Ralph. Cunningham has left the Monkees his library organ, with the stipulation that they play it once before they take it. They get up to play their inheritance and get out, and it really is an awesome organ because when Peter starts to play it, the “Last Train to Clarksville” (Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart) romp comes out. This was first time the song, and the Monkeemobile, appeared on the show.

Monkeemobile

Ralph tells the Monkees they’re trapped on the island due to the “foggy season,” so they go upstairs to bed. I’d ask where they got their pajamas since they didn’t have any luggage (perhaps they have TARDIS technology), but then I’d have to ask why they wear boots to bed. Peter startles Micky, who utters the first “Don’t do that” line that recurs in many future episodes. After getting frightened out of their room, they run into Madame Roselle who tells them the butler may be dead.

Madame Roselle: “I just had a vision about the butler. Either he’s going to take a long, pleasant journey and enjoy good fortune, or he’s dead.”

Micky: “Well, which is it?”

Mademe Roselle: “Six of one, half a dozen of the other.”

They run downstairs and see a knife in the wall, but no dead Ralph. Micky and Davy act out a Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson fantasy and work on solving the mystery. Failing that, they go back to the room to think of a way to escape. This leads to my favorite scene of the episode: Mike explains his plan to get a message out of the mansion with a carrier pigeon and then a Saint Bernard. Including a link to the clip, because my words can’t do that justice.

The Monkees are trying to sleep all in the same tiny bed, when they hear what sounds like gunshots. Out of nowhere, Roselle appears and dramatically tells them Kingsley has been shot. Those that are left in the house sit downstairs discussing Kingsley’s and Ralph’s missing bodies. Micky gets inspired to get the phones to work and scrambles around attaching the telephone receiver to the tubes on an old radio. He successfully contacts some foreign sailors who only know three words of English: “Yes I do.” It was pretty impressive, all the same.

General Sarnoff

Madame Roselle has them join hands for a séance to reach John Cunningham. The actress playing Roselle is hilarious in this episode, going in and out of her “spiritualist” persona in a snap. She conducts a séance in curlers. Watch the episode one time just keeping an eye on her. Mike is pretty skeptical of this whole thing, and her attempt to reach Cunningham fails. The lights go out, and she disappears. Here’s the first use of Monkee’s running gag “She’s/He’s/It’s gone!” when they see she’s missing. 

Shes-Gone-web

The Monkees and Ellie get out of the mansion as fast as they can before they vanish like the older adults. Mike suggests they play a little music to cheer them up while they wait for the ferry. The song “Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day” (Tommy Boyce/Steve Venet) plays to a romp, which ends with them in monster masks and a fifth guy in a Monkees shirt and mask who scares them off.

Now we get to the real plot: the three older characters are conning Ellie and the Monkees. Davy, Micky, and Mike sneak back into the house and find a very alive Roselle, Ralph, and Kingsley bragging about driving off Ellie so they can take the mansion. Davy wants to use Micky’s experimental knock-out drop to stop them, so he sneaks off to slip them a mickey, so to speak. Peter and Ellie enter noisily and the villains hear them, each in turn coming out to threaten the Monkees with a gun. Who knew so many old folks in the ’60s were packin’ heat? Peter pulls out an imaginary gun and threatens to shoot Ralph. Conveniently, the knock-out drops kick in on each villain just as Peter aims and fires his finger. The bad guys end up in a heap on the ground. In the tag sequence, the Monkees tell their story to the police.

Monkee-Shirts

This is one of the funniest episodes of the series and one of my favorites. The guest cast, especially Lea Marmer, is excellent. The pigeon sequence and the séance are two stand-out funny bits in an entire episode full of laugh-out-loud scenes and dialogue. It’s a well-written, solid all-around spoof of Agatha Christie type mystery stories. The personalities and dynamics of the Monkees are clearer here than in the first episode with Mike emerging as the leader, Micky the one with the crazy ideas, Davy the young romantic, and Peter the oddball.

In this episode, as well as “Royal Flush,” there is a division between the old and young characters. The bad guys in this episode are all the older adults. Mr. Babbitt wants to throw the young Monkees out on the street, though he is not a responsible (or even reasonable) landlord. The adult villains in the mansion are plotting to rob teenage Ellie of her inheritance and it’s up to the Monkees to figure it out. There’s no wise grown-up to help or guide them, no adult to be trusted. This was the age of the generation gap and “don’t trust anyone over 30.” “The kids are alright,” but they’re on their own.

Happy Thanksgiving, Monkees Fans!

You're Evil

Look out for (guest cast)

Sweet Young Thing

by Bronwyn Knox

Every couple of weeks, “Monkees vs. Macheen” examines the crazy, spirited, Ben Franks-type world of the Pre-Fab Four: David Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork alias The Monkees.

“The Man Without Glasses”

Sean-Flaherty-BlissVille-picture

 

Ice-T Spit on my Foot (read by Colin Hall)
Striking from the Western Side (read by Mark Jeacoma)
I Dated a Weather Girl (read by Regan Lawler)
Autumn Leaf and John (read by Eve Kerrigan)
It’s Not You. It’s Me. (read by Andrew La Ganke)
The Doctor, Part 1 (read by Bronwyn Knox)
The Doctor, Part 20 (read by Bronwyn Knox)

Sean Flaherty passed away January 4th, 2015. He was a poet, and he spent the remainder of his time putting together a series of poems about his experience with cancer. A couple weeks before (this was at the end of December of 2014), I reached out to Sean to see if he could join me for a podcast. I figured he might want to read some of his poetry. He wrote me back, saying, “Hi, David. I’m sorry but I’m really too busy. Thank you for thinking of me.”

I was like, “I can wait. No big deal.” I wasn’t aware of the severity of his condition because he always kept a stiff upper lip and a sense of humor about himself. I thought he was going to be fine. Bronwyn thought he was going to be fine, but then came the news. I had unresolved feelings about him. We were very much alike. Both Irish. Both assholes, contemptuous, rife with creatively bitter energies that we tried to channel in various forms. I felt like we had all the time in the world to get to be friends.

To commemorate his birthday, November 15th, BlissVille presents an encore of “The Man Without Glasses”. My friends, family, and colleagues read selected works from Sean’s body of work. I hope you enjoy it.

Ice-T Spit on my Foot (read by Colin Hall)

I have been going
to night school
after work
so I can learn
some new things,
to broaden myself
at forty-three,
I met this roofer
at school
who told me that
all the roofers and electricians he knows
do boatloads of cocaine
and he’s been doing too much roofing
and too much cocaine
so he’s trying to learn
computer programming
to get a new gig,
Ice-T is in our school
to study for a new role,
I stopped him
when we were all stepping out
for a break
and said
Hey, man,
I don’t know if we ever met
but I helped you and Coco
with that thing a few years ago
so we hung out for a bit
talked,
mostly about music,
we were sitting down
and I took my shoe off to
work out a pebble
he was talking about
a new band he’s working with
and that they were listening to
a lot of Michael Jackson lately,
he said
he was awesome,
he was one of the very best
and I injected:
too bad
about all that stuff
with the kids
Ice-T stopped talking
he looked at me like I was crazy,
like I had vomited fire
he spit on my foot
stood up, turned his back
walked away
and said,
Fuck you, Flaherty!

It’s Not You. It’s Me. (read by Andrew La Ganke)

I put my daughter to bed,
kiss my wife
and take an easy walk
to get some groceries and a bag of beer,
at Driggs and North 8th
the ground gets hot
and the air smells like cinnamon:
across from the liquor store
a bright light
shines on a parking spot
where a flying saucer sets down,
beautiful, symmetrical
stainless steel
gull wing doors open.
Wearing a navy blue suit,
and black wing tips that look an awful lot
like the ones in my closet,
a green man
steps out of the ship,
he looks around
pretending to be careful,
and he steps towards me,
touches the side of his nose,
fixes his red tie
and says,
“Look,
I’m not from where you might think I’m from.
Not ‘up.’
I’m from the other place.
I just like the way this thing handles.
I wanted to find you
so I can look you in the eye
and let you know
when you’re not looking,
I’m the guy who’s fucking you:
I snort lines of cocaine
from your baby’s round belly
when she’s asleep in her crib;
I strangle your cats until they can barely breathe
so they sound asthmatic,
I make love to your wife
better than you,
she can’t stand you,
and I talk shit about everyone you know,
I told the landlord to get bent,
I told your boss to take a hike,
you think you’re tired now, man,
I am going to burn you down
from every angle possible.”
I pull a pair of beers from the bag,
open them up:
I hand him one,
take one for myself
and take a good long drink out of the bottle
before I look down his pointy green nose
and say,
“Thanks for the heads up;
I’m glad it’s you
and not me.”

Striking from the Western Side (read by Mark Jeacoma)

The addictive aroma of
Well-aged nostalgia, and a
Hurricane-yellow sunset, was
Striking from the Western Side.
The east, full of forest. It
Often goes Unappreciated.

Sat alone, and gritting his teeth
Over it, his forehead wet,
Losing patience, sweating
Droplets, wiped up by the
Dollars you couldn’t afford to spend.
Outwardly expressing: “Overwhelmed.”

Born of the burning woods, and
Left to ash, again, with the leaves, the
Scent settled, clearly set on
Sticking around.

In the mood to bleed, and
Drag some metal, through the
Dirt caked on your legs?
Filth burns brighter indoors, and my
Power’s just gone out.

But you cast quite a shadow, when
Lightning interrupts the black.
“Storm’d been on it’s way for a while.
I’m relieved, it finally hit us.
Fair weather felt dishonest. ”

Long hair’s got a few more days left in it,
Bags under his eyes, not quite full,
Intent on the ideal, and
Going out on his shield.
Decrying the Curse of the Under-employed.

Barking beckons him back, and
Beneath his broken heart, beating,
Beyond a reasonable doubt,
Buggering on. Exhaustingly enthusiastic.
The howled woofs, and selected drum lines.
Droning, diligent,
“And pleased to meet you, darling.”

He flips open one of his
Boxes, counts to seventeen, and sighs.
Puts a cigarette between his lips.
Lights it. Counts to sixteen, and sighs.
Closes that box, and buys another.

“One third of what he says is nonsense, but
When you talk, he listens.” And
Love’s a vice, he can’t help but
Nourish. Hiding in fog, and
Drowning in his cheap whiskey.
Perfectly cornered, writing a poem about it.

Autumn Leaf and John (read by Eve Kerrigan)

Autumn Leaf
was born on an ashram
up north
on a piece of land her parents owned,

John
was a math guy
making Wall Street money,
they both lived in the city,
radiation levels were getting too high:
babies grew too big
in the womb,
often killing the mother,
leaving the children feeble
or worse
and vexing, Mendelian mutations
were occurring
to a variety of the citizens:
accountants were spawning
extra eyes,
extra hands
and did away with sleep cycles,
bicycle messengers were growing
longer legs,
strippers
had tails
stretching out of their tailbones.

Autumn Leaf had a tail,
John had an extra thumb on each hand.
They met and fell in love at a doctor’s office in midtown.

John had a thing for her tail:
the fucking was epic.

Autumn Leaf’s parents
allowed the two
a house on a plot of land,
the mutations hadn’t started up north,
but
away from the city
all their time piled up on one another,
their love distorted.

One day
after another dismal effort to be intimate,
John sat at his desk
wearing a green v-neck T-shirt
and white boxers
with watermelons printed on them
eating an apple,
looking over some old work papers,

Autumn Leaf walked up to John’s desk,
her tail twitching,
whipping back and forth,
she looked at John
and told him
she didn’t love him anymore,

the length of his tongue
flapped out of his mouth,
bits of apple
falling onto his desk,
his face turned bright red,
his eyes bulged –

he watched with his left eye
as the right eye
shot out of his head
into a corner,
the top of his skull
cracked open,

the explosion
splattering the
robin’s egg-blue walls of the room
with pieces of his hot brain.

I Dated a Weather Girl (read by Regan Lawler)

She could be seen
on channel
two twenty five
touching numbers,
pushing clouds
with her perfectly manicured hands
across America,

she got
prettier
the closer
she got,

men try to walk away
from their teevee screens
but as soon
as she got closer to their cities,
they’d catch fire,
their hands would be burning,
their hair
would go up in flames
for the weather girl from WPIX.

The Doctor, Part 1 (read by Bronwyn Knox)

I have always sought
my own
extreme
emotions,
threatening people,
often
with love,

asking if it means
enough
to you,
do you
trust me
enough,
if you’ll spread your legs long,
wide enough
for me to see
your liver,

I am breathing
heavily now –
not hard –
listening to the sound of my own breath,
following the
idiosyncrasies
of the air
passing
in and out,
the fear and fasting
turning the air
colder
on the way
in

waiting for the doctor
to reach up inside me.

The Doctor, Part 20 (read by Bronwyn Knox)

A call
from the right place
I suppose,
a long distance
motherfucker
jammed my signal,

shook me
with the words
“miracle doctor,”

with the words
“miracle cure,”

with the words,
“if you were my son
I’d fly you to
Las Cruces
tomorrow”

jolted
my fear,
made me check my
balance
and
pissed me
off.

Special thanks to Ciaran Cooper for providing me a copy of the tribute notes.