please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Home of the Thousand-Pound Shithammer

So, there's another blog by a Portland stagehand. I'd heard about it, but hadn't previously been able to find it, as it is on MySpace, which I feel is retarded.
It's called Wheels to Jesus, which is a truck-loader's term, describing the action of loading a wheeled conveyance onto a truck, wheels up. I can tell that the guy is from here, as some of his friends are also stagehands that I know.

I particularly like this:
"Stagehand noun You. Seriously, I don't care what it says on your card. Just like all marines are riflemen, all theatrical technicians of any sort are stagehands. Stagehands are the infantry of show business, and upon their shoulders falls all the heavy lifting. There is no shame in this. The scenery must move, and it will not move by itself (unless the budget is truly ridiculous). You started as a stagehand, and if enough gear is in the way of complex device you must delicately adjust, you will move it, just like you used to do all day. (This doesn't mean you're going to move it while a dozen newbie box-pushers watch you)."

Yes indeed. There is also one of those ubiquitous time-lapse-photography films that is a staple of all rock documentaries, depicting the building of a professional outdoor festival stage, on his blog. In it, all the employees look like busy ants, which is both fascinating, and also somewhat of an insult: it fails to capture the intricacy of the work.
But that's okay. It doesn't pay to take your job, like yourself, too seriously. Except when you must, if you know what I mean.

For some reason, this brings me to thinking about The Antagonist, which was my paper-only 'zine that I was publishing in 1999. Remember the zine Revolution? And how all of us are now bloggers, and no one cares about zines?
Well, this isn't quite true, but I really don't read the damn things anymore, and yet if I were to do it all over again, it'd be just me, a printer, a photocopy machine and lots of clip art (I have a forest of the shit). I wouldn't bother putting it online, because on here, things mostly get lost.

The Antagonist only ran for three issues (May, June and August) in '99. It was the culmination of so many ideas I'd had for so many years, the central one being You can review Anything.
Besides, all these pieces really belonged nowhere else, and where else could I put all that fantastic clip art?
The subject matter tended to include a lengthy editorial note up front, some review demonstrating that you can, indeed, review anything, my restaurant review specifically geared for the breakfast consumer ("Slaying You Some Breakfast"), a text deconstruction, a feature called "For You Kids" that was a parody of those awful syndicated advice columns for teens 'n tweens, a review of some current album (later replaced by the "Periodic Table of My Favorite Albums"), "Media Crapshoot", 'in which we take notice of the subtle shifts in the bullshit continuum', as I described it in the first issue, an art review, a book review, "End of Relationship Theater", in which I recount the poignant/hilarious aspects of my many breakups, and several things of varying quality by various friends.

The layout itself, painstakingly crafted by me in many-hour sessions at Kinko's, tended to be grafitti cut-up in nature. Upside-down blocks of personals ads formed the background of the first issue's (subtitled 'Here Among the Great Majority of Americans') cover. The second issue's ('For the Gentleman or Lady who Drinks Whiskey out of a Fruit Jar') cover featured a great deal of that generic office clip art that is supposed to be fun and is appended to memos and reminders of potlucks. Where it should say things like "PARTY!" or "T.G.I.F.!", it instead reads "MISERY!" and "SERVITUDE!".

Inside, there is both a fictional table of contents ("I Just Wanna Do A Tribute Album To You: A rundown of all the bands who've recently acknowledged the huge influence of Foghat on today's hot new music P.12 [inset, bottom of page]") that is upside down, plus an actual table of contents. There is also a list of
"ANSWERS to Last Month's Quiz:
1. See, Maggie's Farm is like, society, man.
2. Getting the blood off your clown suit.
3. It protrudes.
4. Because I was that cowboy.
5. Yes, and look where it got him.
6. Probably not.
7. Seven.
8. If you're into that kind of thing, I guess.
9. Six pairs of Don Alvarzho tweezers.
10. Portland Hoffa.
11. "Come come, men! They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist-"

And of course, there had been no quiz, the previous month.

The third issue ('Midnight in the Garden of Good 'n Plenty') was specifically political in nature, and was adorned with lurid, darkly photocopied Stanley Tredick photos of the Watergate conspirators testifying, mixed with the William Steig drawings from Wilhelm Reich's Listen, Little Man!
By this time, the layout design was starting to spiral inward upon itself, each of the pages printed on inverted and sometimes blacked-out pages of the previous issues. This led to a look somewhat reminiscent of government documents released to the public, but with redactions.

I do a text deconstruction in this one that is a letter I received from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, supposedly written by Bill Clinton:
"This is a great time to be an American.
(Bad place to start. Reeks too strongly of bullshit. Plus, I can hear that wheezy voice of his in my mind. This is the beginning of a deadly unfunny comedy routine.)

Right now, 45 gutsy and principled Democratic senators...
(I envision richly muscled Democrats, stripped to the waist, dealing out fisty fireworks to those who oppose Our Agenda.)

Over the last few years we have revitalized the American Dream...
(It is an empty statement that is also a lie. Fascinating. The Dems are so powerful, they can revive a myth.)"

And so on. One of my favorite 'Media Crapshoot(s)' is in here; in which I go on and on about advertising campaigns that are so inept as to appear criminally negligent:

"There's a commercial for a nasal spray. The announcer builds it up nicely, then delivers the payload- "Nasalcrom. You heard right. Nasalcrom." Unintentionally underscoring how stupid a name it is. Furthermore, that 'you heard right' is a tacit acknowledgement that yes, we know our product's name sounds like 'nasal crumb'."

A list of "Occupational Hazards of Being American":

1. You might drop your corn dog and get mustard stain on your clothes.
2. Not enough vowels in Alpha Bits.

6. You dearly love cars that eat gas and are built to fall apart.
7. Your neighbors probably think everything on the news is true.

9. No matter what you do, you'll probably be sued for something.
12. Everybody's got a big chip on their shoulder about how wonderful their part of America is. You might get in a Big Fight about this.
12a. Everybody's got a big chip on their shoulder about everything, and you run a real chance of getting in a Big Fight over absolutely nothing.

15. Debate rather than discussion, counseling rather than working out your own shit, euphemism rather than honesty...
18. Thighmaster!
18a. Miracle Aminophyllin Thigh Cream!
19. No matter what they put in front of you, you'll buy it.

20. Highly religious folk who can barely read and have no sense of irony whatsoever.
21. A much-desired 'norm' that no one really seems to achieve constantly being praised as the highest ideal.

22. Our long-standing love affair with black dwarves or small-statured black folk, ala Gary Coleman, Emmanuel Lewis, that fuckin' Urkel kid, Frankie Lymon, Sammy Davis Jr., etc.
23. Yer town so small, all there is to do is git yer girlfriend pregnint.

24. No pizza beer flavor cigarette.
25. All political opinions expressible by bumper stickers and baseball caps.

26. Never can get big enough gun rack for your rocket launcher with anti-tank device.
28. There is such thing as 'The Drug Czar'.

29. Entire country has an inferiority complex.
31. Texas.

So why did it end? Well, it was a lot of work for one person, although as usual, I didn't really want anyone else screwing up my personal vision. I distributed it very sparingly, as opposed to just dropping it all over the damn place, which had been my original idea. I had envisioned it as the alternative to Portland's (then) one-and-only weekly, but then two more came along, somewhat obviating the need for a semi-monthly, especially written by one person.

I wouldn't mind trying it again, with the same recurring columns and paper-only format, but with contributions of others. Or hell; why not make it into a cooperative blog too? Hell, for a while there I owned the domain name, but all it ever said when you went there was "what the fuck did you expect?"



Blogger rich bachelor said...

Oh, and the title of this post is the title of the never-completed fourth issue of The Antagonist.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

What is the worst thing about being a child molester?

Never have you failed to amuse and inspire.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Salty Miss Jill said...

Oh, and awe. Let's not forget awe.

8:44 AM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Ta-da! Yes, I spend a lot of my time just throwing out punchlines, see who picks 'em up.

Now, let's see what you're writing about...

9:33 AM  

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