Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Utter bloody shambles

My birthmates Adam and Becca are both away on highly dangerous top-secret government missions requiring complete abandonment of their blogs for security reasons (I am forced to assume) so I'm all by myself for the birthday commemorative post this year. That being the case, I'd like to share a bit of personal archaeology and self-indulgence -- not specifically birthday-related, but instead a memory prompted by something Andrew Hickey mentioned a few days back.

On the evening of April 14, 1969 I was left alone in front of a television set. If we're being brutally honest that probably happened more often than my parents would have liked to admit, but on the other hand just look how I turned out. What I saw that particular night was so scary and inexplicable that it stayed with me…though it became so muddled as the years went by I began to wonder if I'd simply dreamed the whole thing. A supervillian or magician or mad scientist had kidnapped a quartet of rock musicians and turned them into robots. (Or had he built robot doubles to take their place while they remained in captivity? I wasn't sure.) I couldn't recall the rock group escaping and defeating their captor. I remembered something about the villain laughing as the show ended. Could the bad guy have won in the end? Surely that couldn't be right? For many years, I would remember bits of this at odd moments and wonder. Honestly, I would literally be lying awake in bed at night thinking what the hell was that?

As a teen, I wondered if this was some tv appearance by the Beatles, or if I was misremembering something from the movie Help!, but further investigation quickly proved that wrong. In my twenties, it seemed obvious that unfortunate quartet of abducted musicians must be the Monkees, and when the series aired as a marathon on cable I watched it closely. When nothing showed up matching my recollections, I became even more convinced it must all have been some kind of delusion on my part.

It was four decades after the original airing before I found out what it really was: I had seen the ill-fated NBC broadcast of 33 & 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee, a legendary fiasco of television history. I'd remembered the plot pretty accurately, as it turns out, and watching it as an adult my confusion was easily explained: it really was as strange and hallucinatory as I'd remembered it. The difference was, now I utterly loved it. That something so chaotic and undisciplined and shambolic, something so unfiltered and utterly of its moment, could have found its way onto national television is remarkable. And as I've said elsewhere, some of the music on this show is just spectacular.

More discussion of 33 & 1/3 Revolutions per Monkee can be found here and here. Here's the finale of the program, featuring the Monkees joined by The Buddy Miles Express, Paul Arnold and The Moon Express, Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll and the Trinity in a jam session. This is one of my favorite tv musical performances, even if it took forty years to realize that. Just once, almost by accident, this aired on network television:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Forgetting to remember

I guess it's inevitable that Occupy Wall Street will give in to the pressure to issue a list of specific policy demands, but I still wish they wouldn't. A list of demands would turn a protest movement into a hostage situation. It risks becoming a form of blackmail. "Agree to this list of conditions or we'll never return this captured piece of property." And OWS isn't a hostage situation; it's about calling attention to a broken system, not trying to take advantage of the brokenness to achieve the wishes of a small group undemocratically. This is the kind of thing the banks and financial institutions have been doing that we're all so unhappy about.

Anyone reading this has got to be familiar with current Doctor Who, right? The banks and corporations are the Silence. You're supposed to forget they exist as soon as you look away, but they own our country and our government and our mass media. To follow this analogy down the most obvious path, the Occupy movement all around the world is like the Doctor and his team. For the past month they've been the ones making us notice what we're conditioned to ignore and forget, and telling us not to look away.

(Yes, I realize that analogy followed to its logical conclusion leads to the human race being conditioned to kill them all on sight, but I hadn't really thought that far ahead. There is such a thing as being too literal, okay?)

The people in Zuccotti Park aren't the ones doing the occupying. They're the ones protesting the occupation.

crossposted from Google+