A Blow For Democracy

by Fielding Goodfellow

In an arena filled with corruption and deceit, cum soaked cigars and semen stained dresses, Arthur C. Pollard, famed producer of the classic low budget sci-fi porn films ‘Belinda’s Big Bang’, ‘Plutonian Poontang’ and ‘Nubian Nymphos Of Nimbus 9’, was in way over his head. With his mind submerged in a sea of nicotine, caffeine and a handful of Benzedrine, the political theatre of the absurd danced around him so quickly that he was lost in the shadows. This was nothing new for Artie, although this sensation usually found him after taking some shitty acid he scored from a sketchy street hustler in Parkdale, leaving him so dazed and confused that he often couldn’t find his clothes when it was time to go home. And now, as he found himself standing naked at a Taco Bell Drive Thru attempting to order two double stuffed tacos and entice several young women to join him in the colonization of other worlds on behalf of the purely fictional Ministry Of Intergalactic Propogation, realizing that he had no idea how he got there from the yacht party he had been attending for the past five days, he understood that he needed help.

There were many times Artie questioned his stability, if not his sanity, but he had chalked those up to drug induced mind splintering, a term he used to soften the blow of what was really drug induced schizophrenia like psychosis. He didn’t mind it really, but it scared the hell out of him when it was over and he just couldn’t put the fucking pieces back together again. Its one thing to lose your mind, but its an entirely different problem to know it happened and to be helpless to do anything to stop it from happening again.

Artimus C. Pollard had promise, hell we all did at one time or another, but those days were long gone. Politics seemed like a game he had a chance to win. As far as he was concerned, politicians were all out of their fucking minds. Artie had announced his candidacy by stating “There are so many self serving, delusional deviants currently in public office, it seems unlikely that proctologists will ever find the time to remove their  pointy, little heads from their asses. I will have to run for office.” No one who knew him, not one of us believed for a minute that he could win. But the allure of the drugged out maker of pornography was just too tempting for the depraved housewives who had, for years, secretly been rubbing their buttons to his alien sex scenes to resist. Artimus C. Pollard won by a landslide.

“I don’t think I should stay in politics.”, he told me during my visit to the Institution. “I think its all just too much right now. I’m going to resign.”

“Well, there’s a blow for democracy.”, I remarked.

“That’s good.”, Artie said as he laughed out loud. “I’m gonna have to steal that one.”

“Its all yours.”, I told him.

“We need to go to that coffee shop we used to hang out in years ago.”, he said. “What was it called?”

“Espress O”Reily’s.”, I informed him. “As soon as they let you out of here.”

“Espress O’Reily’s.”, he repeated and laughed. “Right. The Irish Coffee House. That’s good.” Artie spent five weeks inside the bleak, grey, concrete walls of what he called The Home For The Ambiguous And The Absurd, with nothing to do but talk. That’s all they wanted him to do, all day long. Talk. Talk about how he was feeling now and how he felt then. Talk about his fears and his hopes and his dreams. Talk about everything. And Artie loved to talk. I suspect that they discharged him early when they realized that he just wouldn’t shut the fuck up.

Artie never felt comfortable inside The Home. The nights were the hardest, with everything quiet and still. Everything except his mind. It was hard to sleep, even with the Lorazepam. He just couldn’t stop reliving every moment of every day over and over again, until he passed out from sheer exhaustion. I went to see him twice a week, and he always looked worn out, but I suppose the drugs they were pumping into him had something to do with it. “They’re gonna let me out by the end of the week.”, he told me one day during his final week inside. “I have to tell you, I’m scared to go back out there.”

“I know you are.”, I said as we walked down the hallways.

“I’m working on a new script.”, he told me as we arrived at his room. There was an attractive, young woman inside waiting for him. “This is Gina.”, he introduced me as he climbed up onto his bed. “She’s one of the therapy assistants here. And now”, he continued, “if you’ll excuse me, this young lady is about to deliver another blow for democracy.”

After Artie was released we returned to Espress O’Reily’s, one last time. All of us were there, Farberman, Tate, Hill, Artie and me. I tried to keep in touch with him for a while, but he moved  to the coast. Every now and then I get a call letting me know that he’s okay, even though he continues to splinter. His made his final film shortly after his release from The Home and began teaching a film course at a local Community College. He seems better, or at least happier, and I suppose that’s all that really matters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

It Ain’t No Musical

Life should be more like a musical, a joyous romp in a well scripted song and dance routine with a happy ending instead of this completely improvisational sketch comedy set in summers so hot that it feels like I’d spontaneously burst into flames, and winters so damned cold that I’m sure that if I go outside, my nuts would freeze and then simply fall off.

It should be more like River City, with Harold Hill warning of the trouble brewing and falling feet first into a parade led by 76 trombones that allows him to capture the heart of Marian The Librarian who, years later, would leave her position at the book depository and set off with five kids in a painted school bus sharing their ‘C’mon, Get Happy’ song with anyone who dared to listen. Or maybe a week or two in the small, sleepy town of Sweet Apple, Ohio, shaken awake by the swiveling hips of Conrad Birdie bumping and grinding his way into the sexual fantasy of Kim McAfee, as he prepares to ride off in his gold lame fatigues to serve his country, leaving the hapless failed songwriter, Albert Peterson, with his dreams of chemistry and having his way with the ravishing Rose Alvarez who, by the way, survived an unprovoked attack in her room at The Bates Motel.

Or maybe a trip through space and time as Erronius wanders around the seven hills of Ancient Rome, and Pseudolus, dodges gladiators and Centurions on his way to the Forum as he set out to obtain his freedom from servitude in exchange for the lovely Philia, a winsome virgin who lives next door in the house of Marcus Lycus, the flesh peddler who bears an uncanny resemblance to Sergeant Ernie Bilko who lived two thousand years in the future! Now that would be something peculiar, if not familiar. Life could be a turf war in New York’s west side between the Jets and the Sharks, all set in 6/8 time, or a mob war with The Rat Pack in 1920s Chicago, the battleground between Robbo and Guy Gisborne, who decades later emerged as a cigar smoking Los Angeles Police Lieutenant.

Life should take me through the world of my imagination, down the river of chocolate with a golden ticket and an everlasting gobstopper in hand, as Oompa Loompas sing and dance for Willy Wonka, who I am sure was one of the former Broadway producers incarcerated for fraud in the ‘Springtime For Hitler’ debacle. I may find myself in a Russian village at the height of the Bolshevik Revolution, with Tevye dancing down a dirt road, wondering what life would be like if he were a rich man while a violinist from the St. Petersburg Philharmonic plays the classics while precariously perched on the roof.

Life should be an eternal party on a stormy night, when madness takes its toll, and a jump to the left and then a step to the right would transform the world and drop me among the transsexual Transylvanians led by a sweet transvestite who, after his fall from grace, settles in Derry, Maine dragging unsuspecting passersby into the sewers where everything seems to float. Or at best, the dugout of the heartless Washington Senators, the worst team in baseball, spring to life with the arrival of Joe Hardy, who is talked into a deal that would change both the team’s fortunes, and his life, as arranged by the devil in the guise of Mr. Applegate, who interestingly enough arrives on Earth a second time as Tim O’Hara’s Martian uncle, Martin

It’s a far cry from sitting in the dark after the power goes out in the middle of another ice storm shoveling handfuls of dry Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch in your face knowing the neon lights are bright ‘On Broadway’. In any event, you always have a choice. You can either stand on the stage and belt out a verse or two of ‘Lullaby Of Broadway’, or any other ‘Broadway Melody’, or you can give your regards to Broadway and blame it on those ‘Nights On Broadway’. As for me, well, I don’t think life was meant to be lived as a carnival, a short stop in a field outside of a small town in rural America before it moves on to another locale. Life should be a musical, it was destined to be a musical, filled with chorus lines of women in short skirts and fish net stockings, bright lights, memorable melodies, and dance steps that are  perfectly choreographed, not to mention the perverse diversions that go on in the understudy dressing rooms following each night’s performance.

 

 

 

453 Grams Of Flesh

I have tried, believe me. I have spent hours upon hours trying to think metrically, and laid awake at nights with formulas and equations dancing around my head. But it has made no difference.  While I have a grasp of the basic components, I just can’t seem to get the hang of the damn metric system. To be honest, I have given up trying.

In the early to mid 1970s, we went metric. After I spent years and years learning inches and miles, and ounces and gallons, they went and changed the whole damned system. A yard became a meter, even though a meter is slightly longer than a yard, and  a mile became a kilometer which is, to be clear, one thousand meters. It takes about 2 1/2 centimeters to make an inch so the reported 5 centimeters of snow is, in actuality, only about 2 inches. There are about 25 millimeters in 1 inch, so the rain forecast of 30mm isn’t nearly as ominous as it sounds.  A mile is now a kilometer, although they are vastly different, with a mile being equivalent to 1.6 kilometers, which means that, if written today, The Byrds would appear to be significantly higher at almost 13 kilometers high.

Temperature has changed as well. Water no longer freezes at 32 degrees but  at 0 and boils at 100 degrees. I don’t know what happened to water to lower the temperatures required to freeze and boil, but despite the switch to Celsius  it still takes the same amount of time.

What about volume? There was a time when it was all ounces, pints, quarts and gallons. We now measure in milliliters and liters. Instead of one cup of water, I now add 284 milliliters of it to an equal amount of rice. Hell, that seems like an awful lot of rice. Well, not surprisingly, a gallon has been replaced with a liter, which means that  the guy in Texas, the one with the ten gallon hat, now proudly wears a 38 liter hat. Its okay though, I mean everything is bigger in Texas. And under the golden arches, well, the 1/4 pounder has become the 113 gramer. Hell, that’s just not right.

I don’t think metrically. I suppose I never will. Its too late for me. I spend most of my time converting speed, distance, and temperature in my head to get an approximation of how fast, or how far, I am going and what kind of a jacket I need to put on. Proverbs and adages no longer have any real value either,, I mean does anyone want to have 28 grams of courage, or care that a miss is as good as a kilometer, or that they are penny wise and 453 grams foolish?

But its not all piss and vinegar. On a positive note, it seems that my diet has paid off. I suspect however, that I may be quite malnourished as I now weigh 80 kilograms, which seems significantly less that the 177 pounds the non metric scale at home reports. My doctor reassured me that my weight is fine so I suppose I can continue to go on quite happily amid the confusion swirling around this metrically impaired mind.