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Saturday, November 28, 2009


Jodorowsky's THE HOLY MOUNTAIN: perfect change of pace viewing for the holidays!

Dear Vaulties-

I'll be back fairly soon after the Thanksgiving break, ready to once more regale you with pop culture drivel and such, and hopefully I'll be feeling better by then. For me being in Connecticut is a boring ordeal, but here's the breakdown on my holiday thus far:
  • In an unusual and welcome change of pace, there was none of the long-standing family dysfunction that regularly mars my time visiting the place where I grew up. I have no way to explain why this year was different, but I definitely enjoy being at home without tension, relentless criticism and recrimination hanging in the air. Let's hope this keeps up as a standard state of affairs.
  • This year's Turkey Day feast was a mouth-watering, stomach-filling, five-pound-turd-producing triumph that saw my mom at the very top of her culinary game. We're talking a perfectly-cooked and juicy Butterball turkey, exquisite sausage stuffing, noodles cooked in rich turkey stock, homemade cranberry sauce, and perhaps the finest green bean and dried onions casserole I have ever had the pleasure of eating. This year I managed to devour three helpings of this excellence over the course of several hours, the kind of holiday-appropriate eating I used to be able to accomplish in my youth as a matter of course, and damn my burgeoning Turkey Day girth if it didn't fill me with near-erotic pleasure.
  • In anticipation of how weak this year's holiday television marathons would be (they get worse every year) I brought a number of DVDs with me that my mom and I would most likely enjoy, and my choices proved sound. We saw THE COURT JESTER (1955) with Danny Kaye (one of my favorite movies), the surprisingly good NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, and the Wanda Sykes comedy performance video, SICK & TIRED. That last one came as a real surprise to my mom, an aging Southerner whose tolerance of raunchiness and vulgarity decreases at an alarming rate as each year passes (yet she somehow spawned me, so go figure), and she nearly laughed until she puked when exposed to Wanda's singular take on the world at large. Many of the sentiments espoused jibed with mom's viewpoint (although the segment about how the girls in porno look like they're on FEAR FACTOR when they eat each other's pussies touched on things of which she has no knowledge and that she adamantly seeks to keep it that way) and the bit about the "detachable pussy" caused my mom to shriek with unbridled laughter like I have not witnessed since I can't remember when. Consequently, my mom now counts herself as a full-fledged Wanda Sykes fan and eagerly awaits Christmas, when I'll be running another of her concerts in the TV room. My mom had a rough life and as she gets older she's a tough audience for comedy, so seeing her totally lose it over a comedian was quite gratifying and I intend to find stuff to make her laugh as often as possible from now on.
  • Thanks to a very bad chest cold that reared its ugly head on Wednesday morning and escalated without mercy thereafter, I was up until well past 5AM this morning barking like a goddamned dog and coughing up things that I swear bounced when they hit the tissues. Things are clearing up slowly, but of course it would be my luck to get sick during what's supposed to be a four-day holiday. Oh, well...
Anyway, I'll be back soon with all manner of stuff, including a long-overdue review of Alejandro Jodorowsky's ultra-lysergic THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973), the film that served as my personal palate-clearer after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and some of the more treacly programming that I was forced to endure. It's one of the most balls-out bizarre movies ever made and rife with symbolism and religious imagery that is guaranteed to make you scratch your head in confusion until you gouge a deep, bloody furrow into your scalp. Seriously, where else can you see a re-enactment of the conquest of Mexico featuring hundreds of bullfrogs and lizards in period costume as Aztecs and Spanish Conquistadors?

So with that in mind, we'll soon cross paths again.

Friday, November 27, 2009


"You see Santa Claus tonight, you better run, boy! You better run for your liiiiife! Heeheheeheeheheheh!"
-The homespun wisdom of Grandpa Chapman (Will Hare) from SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984).

WARNING: if you're one of those folks who gets caught up in the magic of Christmas, you are strongly advised to give this post a miss.

So it's the day after Thanksgiving and now the nauseating annual Christmas onslaught can begin in earnest. From now until near or after New Year's Day we will be bombarded with a shitstorm of endless annoying Christmas music, seasonal commercials, guys in Santa outfits ringing bells, roving packs of carolers showing up at your door to sing some of the aforementioned annoying Christmas songs at you, and, worst of all, relentless phony cheerfulness being shoved down your throat from the moment you wake until the moment to lay your head on your pillow at the end of the day, only to awaken the next day more of the same. It's a fucking nightmare and I want to punch it right in the fucking face!

A recent seasonal classic to warm the heart.

For the past several years I've attempted to locate and compile "alternative" Christmas music to counteract the full-scale aural Yuletide torture and I've come up with a number of gems ranging from the funny to the irreverent, as well as songs that skip right past any hope of airplay by being incredibly filthy and venomous, many wielding precisely the same sentiments that I hold about the season. Notable examples of this sub-genre include Blowfly's "Jingle Bell Cock," John Valby's "I'll Be Stoned for Christmas," "Merry Christmas I Fucked Your Snowman" by The Showcase Showdown," and Larry the Cable Guy's ultra-short "The First Noel" sendup, "The First Queer Santy Claus" (complete lyrics: "The first queer Santy Claus/Wore red leather chaps/And a pair of white shorty-shorts/With a hole in the butt-crack"), but it wasn't until just last week that I finally found a tune that completely sums up exactly how I've felt about the entire Christmas experience since I was in my early teens.

Eric Idle: apparently on the same page as Yer Bunche.

My lifelong of Monty Python and the six comedy geniuses who drove it is undeniable, but I'm kind of amazed that my new favorite Christmas song would come from none other than Eric Idle (seen above in the classic "Upper Class Twit of the Year" sketch from MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS), a very talented and funny guy but far from my favorite of the lot. Idle turned in many memorable bits for both Python's TV and movie work, especially in the song department, but for some reason he never lit my fire in the way that Graham Chapman or Terry Jones did. But whatever the case, he's responsible for the marvelous "Fuck Christmas," a tune seen performed live on the documentary MONTY PYTHON: ALMOST THE TRUTH (which I'll be getting around to reviewing in a few days). Seriously, this one is sheer perfection for seasonal curmudgeons like Yer Bunche. Here are the lyrics, which should be carved in stone and dropped right in the middle of Rockefeller Center, cracking a huge fissure in the ice rink and toppling the Christmas tree into the depths of the sewer:

FUCK CHRISTMAS (2006) by Eric Idle.

Fuck Christmas!

It's a waste of fucking time
Fuck Santa
He's just out to get your dime
Fuck holly and fuck ivy
And fuck all that mistletoe
White-bearded big fat bastards

Ringing bells where e'er you go

And bloated men in shopping malls

All going Ho-Ho-Ho

It's fucking Christmas time again!

Fuck Christmas

It's a fucking Disney show

Fuck reindeer
And all that fucking snow
Fuck carols

And fuck Rudolph

And his stupid fucking nose

And fucking sleigh bells tinkling

Everywhere you fucking goes

Fuck stockings and fuck shopping

It just drives us all insane
Go tell the elves
To fuck themselves

It's Christmas time again!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Some words of holiday advice:

1. You can survive your fucking annoying family. And if they piss you off too much, just remember that one day they will be dead.

2. Don't drink and drive, 'cause that shit's for amateurs and assholes. Stay at home to tie one on; why do you think Thanksgiving's an all-day festival of football, parades, movies, dog shows and marathons of classic TV reruns? It's a dazzling cathode ray cornucopia of stuff to keep the wasted off the streets and at home, puking, fucking and fighting right where they belong.

3. When seeing your old high school pals for what's probably the one time you'll see them all year, do not comment on how fat and/or old they look. That shit goes two ways, bunky...

4. If you must go to church during the holiday, make sure to go as hungover and reeking of booze as possible, that way next year they'll think twice before forcing you out of bed and into a place choked with incense and festooned with pictures of Jesus looking at your ass.

5. If your family gathering has a kiddie table, make sure to sit there and serve as a bad example to the next generation. Tell age-acceptable off-color jokes and stories. Teach the kids the lyrics to "The Diarrhea Song" (especially the version recorded by distaff punk/metal band Betty Blowtorch)and have them sing it loudly halfway through the meal. Introduce them to "pull my finger." In short, do your part to ensure your status as the fave older relative from the start; that way the kids won't feel so awkward in later years when they need somebody to take them to get an abortion or bail them out of jail without their parents being any the wiser. And believe me, they will pay back your "cool relative" kindness somewhere down the line.

6. Always, ALWAYS eat the turkey's tail. It's the perfect amount of dark meat, fat, and skin in one concentrated morsel and if slathered with the right amount of gravy it's a thing of joy forever (well, at least until it's digested and re-manifests itself as the next morning's enormous post-Turkey Day turd).

7. The true bombardment of Christmas-themed TV commercials commences right around Thanksgiving, so feel free to let loose with the Ribald Songbird action and desecrate the classic Yuletide tunes that have already been corrupted for TV adverts, only make them super dirty with usages of words like "cocksucker," "shit," and "pussy fart." Since you're gonna hear them a million times between now and the new year anyway, you may as well have some fun with them.

8. If you have to suffer through the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade — the Thanksgiving moment I dread most — don't try to be an asshole and bring to your aging parents' attention the fact that it's nothing more than a saccharine, three-hour commercial. They like it for the marching bands, big-assed balloons, and celebs lip-synching, and do not give a fuck about it's true purpose, so let them have their fun. And you can always have something to look forward to, namely the hope that the guy playing Santa at the end of the show will either be drunk or have a visible hard-on.

9. If you're staying at your parents' house with a significant other, try to remain as silent as possible if having sex under your folks' roof. I don't know why, but the idea of their kids having sex, even us grownup kids, seriously fucks with the heads of our progenitors. Then again, maybe you should fuck like monkeys on crack while at home...Aah, what the hell? Make 'em remember how it's done! And if they bitch about it, remind them of all the times they nagged you for grandkids and ask them if they forgot where said grandkids come from. That'll shut the geezers up in no time.

10. If the friends and loved ones you miss most can't be there this year, think of them fondly and rest assured that they're probably every bit as miserable as you are.

And with that, Happy Thanksgiving, and may the pecans in grandma's cookies actually be pecans and not roaches. (She doesn't see that well anymore, you know.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I know I ran this last year, but once again here's my all-time favorite Thanksgiving movie moment, after which much righteous arson ensues:

"We cannot break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, you will play golf, and enjoy hot hors d'oeuvres. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They have said, 'Do not trust the Pilgrims.' And for all these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.

-Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) as Pocahontas in ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES (1993)

And so once again I hit the boring affluent wasteland where I grew up and came of age, there to do the seasonal gorging with my mom, so I'll be off the radar for a bit. Hopefully during my time in Westport I'll garner some time to get back on track with articles of drivel to keep you dear readers amused, educated and entertained, so pray for my sanity and soul (or what remains them after being ruined by decades of comic books, rock music, bad movies, booze, weed, and of course women of questionable stability).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Yer Bunche, representing for the hopelessly Devoted.

So Devo — the greatest band in the known universe, next to the Beatles and the Cramps — were in town for two nights doing shows at the Fillmore this past weekend and since they have never done a two-night stint in the city since I've been old enough to see them, I figured I would treat myself to both evenings and soak up as much devolved energy as humanly possible. With that in mind I readied myself for a Friday and Saturday of wallowing in back-to-back kickass rock shows, but what I ended up with turned out to be rather...unexpected.

The Friday night show was to be a performance of the band's first album, 1978's Q: ARE WE NOT MEN? A: WE ARE DEVO!, a classic work that rocks hard enough on its own, but that really blows one away when experienced live. My trip to the U.K. in May was to see them perform the first album as part of a special series of concerts in which bands of the late-1970's/early-1980's did whole albums live, and Devo's performance at Kentish Town's The Forum was hands-down the best of the many Devo shows I've attended since the Fall of 1982, so I was psyched like a sumbitch.

Once again joining me on my pilgrimage to de-evolution was my sultry and tattooed fellow music/outre culture enthusiast Xtina, and as always she was a pleasure to hang out with.

The sultry Xtina, bathed in crimson.

As per usual at a show, Xtina and I made the rounds to get the lay of the land and locate the bar. The merch prices were pretty steep (as much as $30 for the "Are We Not Men"-themed tour shirt) but they did have some interesting items, including the albums in question on vinyl ($20 apiece) and a really nice windbreaker with the Mr. DNA emblem hugely emblazoned on the back ($40; I debated snagging one of those). And at the bar the drinks prices were madness. You know those 24-ounce red cans of Bud that can be found at any bodega for $1.75? Those were going for twelve bucks apiece. Xtina was outraged at the steep price tags on everything, especially the merchandise, and declared everyone involved in the gouging to be "a pack of fucking thieves."

Incredible audience energy abounded and many of the fans (such as Yer Bunche) turned out in Energy Domes, the band's signature headgear, and occasionally in the full-blown yellow utility uniform.

A loyal spudboy rocks the Energy Dome.

A dedicated spudgirl represents. NOTE: believe it or not, chicks really dig Devo, so this is the show to go to if you wanna make a hookup.

Unfortunately for the audience the opening act was this mess called JP Incorporated, which was some guy in a fake beard who claimed to be the CEO of a new TV network and "entertained" us by singing us the allegedly funny and satirical theme songs to some of the network's programs, accompanied by corresponding images on the multi-media screen.

The horror of JP Incorporated.

Among other ersatz TV shows were "Jazzbot Xtreme" (about a monster truck that transforms into a 'jazz machine' that sprouts saxophones and spews fire), "Gymnastics Dad," "Action News," "Billie Hardwood: Female Basketball Coach" and other un-amusing non-concepts. The stupidest moment of the entire JP Incorporated set: the promo for "Lieutenant Custard and His Banger of Time," a series chronicling the adventures of a British military officer who travels through time on an English sausage.

Yeah, I know. I didn't laugh either.

The promo for the fictitious "Crap Factory." That title pretty much sums up the JP Incorporated experience.

Clearly trying to work from Devo's skewed video example and failing spectacularly, JP Incorporated was neither funny nor entertaining and it just went on and on despite the very vocal protests of the audience during its nearly half-hour duration (that felt like two hours). When it was finally over the dude in the phony beard and wig claimed his show was funded by Comedy Central, leading one audience member to state while imitating the guy's voice, "They wouldn't hook me up with money for a real pilot, so this was the best I could do." I can't believe the guy actually had a CD for sale, and I would have skipped the opening act entirely on the second night if it weren't simply so bad that my friends who would be there twenty-four hours hence would have to see it to believe it.

Once the fallout cleared, the familiar video of Devo's skewed take on Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man" flickered to life on the same screen that had been violated by JP Incorporated, and all was once more right in the world.

The classic "Secret Agent Man" video.

Next up, as per Devo show custom, was the video for "Jocko Homo," a short film that was actually run during a class I took in college, and before it started the teacher allowed us a brief break and reminded us before we returned to the auditorium, "If ya got 'em, smoke 'em!"

Always a welcome sight at a Devo show: the famous "Jocko Homo" video that serves as part of the band's intro.

Mutants writhe in body-sized condoms during the "Jocko Homo" film.

Following that came "The Truth About De-Evolution," a short familiar to all fans who saw Devo's legendary appearance on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE back in 1978.
Booji Boy presents General Boy with important papers outlining the state of humanity in "The Truth About De-Evolution."

General Boy: "Now every man, woman and mutant on this planet shall know the truth about de-evolution!"
And then it was showtime!

When this logo appears, it's only seconds until the boys arrive.

The best thing ever to come out of Akron, Ohio took to the stage with "Uncontrollable Urge" and rocked like a motherfucker.

The crowd throbbed, the floor shook, and the de-evolved energy electrified the house.

Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh has an uncontrollable urge and he's gonna tell you all about it!

Gerry Casale: bassist, composer, and the creator of Devo.

Mark makes with the rah-rah during "Mongoloid."

Mark experiences some hair issues.

How did a Mercyful Fate fan get in here?

Bob Mothersbaugh, looking like he's holding in a fierce burrito fart.

Bob croons "Secret Agent Man."

"My mama's afraid to tell me the things she's afraid of": Mark gets jittery with "Too Much Paranoias."

The infamous out of tune "Too Much Paranoias" guitar solo.

Mark pontificates.

Passin' a spud.

As mighty as the heroes of yore: the uncontested geek-majesty of Gerry Casale and Mark Mothersbaugh.

The show rocked loud and hard, and the band treated the audience to two kickass encores, bringing in their full performance at about ninety minutes (give or take). Second only to their exceptional London show in May, this was hands-down the finest live Devo performance I've ever had the pleasure to attend. Simply put, the boys were simply exceptional. Just plain excellent. Well done, guys. There's a reason I've stuck by you since 1978!

Then came Saturday night's show and I wish I'd brought a fucking flask...

Saturday night: a twenty-seven-year-old self-professed "fan since in utero" represents.

Xtina didn't go for the Saturday night show, but myself, Suzi and my old friend Chris Gazelli spent the first portion of the evening over a meal at Crif Dogs and then over a few rounds at Otto's Shrunken Head, after which we hit the show.

The same opening act from the previous night stunk up the place again, only this time with far more open hostility hurled from the audience (Suzi loudly screaming "Get the fuck off the stage!" without a trace of mirth was charming, to say the least).

Chris and Suzi, deep in the throes of JP Incorporated-induced agony.

Yes, I endured that "performance comedy" torment two nights in a row! When not yelling "Get the fuck off the stage," poor Suzi passed the time by bashing her skull into my back. Chris merely stood his ground, transfixing me with an angry, smoldering stare as he fumed and questioned maintaining our friendship of twenty-eight years.

Some introductory video tomfoolery: "Freedom of Choice."

The full-album performance of FREEDOM OF CHOICE (1980) kicks off with the ever-popular "Girluwant."

The crowd goes wild.

Gerry lays down some de-evolved bottom.

"Look at you with your mouth watering! Look at you with your mind spinning! Why don't we just admit it's all over? She's just the girluwant!"

Bob Mothersbaugh: one of rock's most unfairly underrated and under-appreciated guitar-slingers. His work on the first album's "Gut Feeling" is simply transcendent.

Josh Freese, the band's superhuman drummer.

Gerry belts out "Ton O' Luv."

Putting a somewhat modern twist on an old standby, Bojji Boy is re-invented in hip-hop track suit attire as "Booji Boyee" when he came out to do his signature version of "Beautiful World."

In a truly surprising moment, Booji Boy took a break from "Beautiful World" to regale us with an account of his mis-adventures on Hollywood Boulevard and his eventual rescue by Michael Jackson. As he told of being taken to the Neverland ranch and being given a special sleeping bag by the Gloved One, the whole audience figured the story was about to go into a predictably nasty place and a few cries of "Too soon!" were heard. However, Booji Boy surprised all of us by concluding his story with a heartfelt outpouring of love for Jackson, whom he he described as "a very nice man." Yeah, I didn't expect that one either.

"Goodnight, Spuds!" And so ended the weakest Devo show I ever saw.

A seemingly worn-out and utterly disinterested Devo toiled through the entirety of the "Freedom of Choice" album and I have never seen them so listless. In fact I would say that the Saturday night show was by far the worst Devo performance I've experienced in the twenty-seven years I've gone to their live shows. Chris, who's just as hardcore on Devo as I am (if not moreso), seconded that assessment and the majority of fellow concertgoers I spoke to afterwards were sorely disappointed.

The face of apathy: the crowd sensed the band's lack of enthusiasm and responded in kind. This shot if from about halfway through the show.
It was painfully obvious that the band just were not into it, perhaps because the previous night's first album show was a straight-up rock 'n' roll kick up the ass (although admittedly a very weird one for the time of its initial release) that fairly bled originality. On the other hand, FREEDOM OF CHOICE was the album where Devo changed their approach and began producing songs that, though still quirky, were much more accessible to a mainstream audience, thus yielding hits like "Whipit" and "Girluwant." In short, they became a pop/dance band and evolved into a whole other entity than their initial intent. Or should I say devolved? And while damned near everybody in attendance felt they'd been rooked, by far the saddest of all were two enthusiastic yet totally disappointed hardcore female fans who'd driven in all the way from Maryland for what turned out to be a very weak barely-an-hour set. The prices on the merch also went up from the previous night.

I'm just amazed at how totally excellent Friday night's show was and then how lame Devo was just a mere twenty-four hours later. In summation: Friday was terrific, probably the second best Devo show I've ever seen (the show I saw in England back in May being the very best, where they also did the first album), while I would have missed nothing had I not attended on Saturday.