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Sunday, July 30, 2006


Here's some sound advive from Manhattan'S Sex Museum as modeled by a particularly spectacular lady I know. HEED HER WISDOM, MUTHAFUKKAS!!!

Why do I have a sudden craving for caramel?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Looking like they wallked right off the pages of Darwyn Cooke's exceptional NEW FRONTIER mini-series, the figures from DC Direct's related series are a 10 out of 10. The first series includes Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow and Blackhawk, all in glorious 1950's-style retro design.

Here's Wonder Woman in her battle gear, complete with Greek warrior's skirt. She comes with two changeable heads — one with battle headgear and one with her standard tiara — her golden lasso, a shield, and a sword, but the sword is very fragile and will break off if you try to fit it into her hand, so widen the grip hole with an eyeglasses screwdriver or something before adding the accessory. I broke the sword on mine, so I reached into my handy toys accessories box — don't look shocked; all toy collectors have one — and dug around for something that would be a fitting substitute. I found a couple of lightsabers, but those looked too delicate for Cooke's chunky/wine-drinkin'/steak-eatin' version of the Amazing Amazon. A plastic turkey leg borrowed from a FIST OF THE NORTH STAR Juza toy would have worked in a humorous way, but the perfect chioce was a Klingon bat'leth, swiped from STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION'S Worf; that seemed not only appropriate, but it added just the right note of savagery to the bloodthirsty woman warrior.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Every now and then I see a movie that I enjoy so much that I just can’t get it out of my head and I even dream about it right after I’ve seen it. Such a film is Kevin Smith’s riotous CLERKS II.

Picking up about a decade after the original indie hit, we find Dante Hicks (Brian O’Halloran) and Randall Graves (Jeff Anderson) having progressed no further in their meaningless careers as clerks at the familiar Quick Stop convenience store/video rental establishment, except that they now work at a Mooby’s fast food after the Quick Stop burns to the ground during the story’s first two minutes. Randall is every bit as side-splittingly foul as he was the first time around, but Dante is engaged to wed Emma (played by the director’s painfully untalented wife, Jennifer Schwalbach, who previously stunk up the place in a mercifully small turn in JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK) and move to Florida, despite the strong feelings he harbors for his hot boss, Becky (Rosario Dawson), feelings that she also shares.

The threadbare “story” follows the structure of the original film, taking place during the course of a single workday — in this case Dante’s final day on the job — and chronicles the staff’s adventures with all manner of distractions, pretty much anything but work, with cult heroes Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith) hanging around outside the fast food joint — right next to a huge piece of Randall-provided graffiti that reads “Eat Pussy” — and providing assorted moments of illicit lunacy.

That’s it, but within this non-scenario Smith manages to cram a cornucopia of his trademark dialogue/tasteless humor that more than makes up for the agonizing cinematic Chernobyl of JERSEY GIRL.

Not surprisingly, the morass of filthy jokes yields some real treasures of content, such as:
  • The final word on “ass-to-mouth” etiquette.
  • Jay’s jaw-dropping tribute to Jame Gumm.
  • Great performances all round, especially O’Halloran and Dawson’s sweet relationship.
  • A hilarious running gag using King Diamond’s demonic metal classic “Welcome Home.”
  • The now-infamous Tijuana-style donkey show, the mere mention of which prompted film critic/utter douchebag Joel Seigel to loudly walk out of the film at the forty-minute mark.
  • A fun musical number that comes from out of nowhere.
  • Trevor Fehrman’s Elias, a Christian uber-geek who is funny enough, but his tale of “Pillow Pants” is one for the ages.
  • An outrageously hysterical debate over the merits of the STAR WARS and LORD OF THE RINGS trilogies, highlighted by Randall’s priceless — and not inaccurate — less-than-sixty-second reenactment of the three RINGS flicks.
  • Randall’s cluless defense of an ethnic slur and his attempts to “take it back” as a term of endearment.
But the biggest pluses here are Smith proving that he can actually handle a solid romance — sorry, but I didn’t buy CHASING AMY — and a believable examination of male friendship; I went in expecting a shitload of dick and faggot jokes, but did not foresee how much heart the film turned out to possess.

Bottom line: if you enjoy Smith brand of raunchy humor, CLERKS II is a vulgarian’s delight, and most others should tread carefully.

Ivan (GHOSTBUSTERS, STRIPES) Reitman’s MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND has more true comic spirit — in both senses of the term — than any of this year’s mega-budget super-hero opuses, and is a fun way to kill an hour and a half. The basic premise is pretty much FATAL ATTRACTION, only done as a comedy with the Glenn Close character equipped with the same powers as Superman. It’s pretty fluffy stuff, but taken for what it is, this is pretty enjoyable, with some very funny gags and a few really cool bits involving G-Girl (Uma Thurman) alternately saving the day and neurotically abusing her abilities while making her ex-boyfriend (Luke Wilson) completely miserable. And Eddie Izzard’s turn as Professor Bedlam, G-Girl’s arch-nemesis, is great fun, complete with the most understandable motivation for a supervillain’s bitterness since Lex Luthor blaming his baldness on Superboy.

Uma Thurman as G-Girl.

But I do have one question: exactly why does the super-woman call herself G-Girl? That tidbit is mulled over briefly, but never answered. Isn't she a little long in the tooth to be calling herself "girl?" Also, G-Girl’s character is so neurotic that she’s pretty much every premenstrual stereotype writ large, so keep that in mind.

Bottom line: fun, but pay only matinee or DVD rental price.


Sunday, July 23, 2006


Way back in 1978, myself and a friend — whose name I can’t print here for a couple of reasons — were perusing the “art” book section at the local Waldenbooks and enjoying all of those photo books of naked twin sisters and such, when I noticed my friend checking out a copy of “The Joy of Sex.” He was clearly engrossed, and I asked him what he thought of the book; the look on his face said it all so I asked, “Do you want it?” He said, “Yeah!” so I dropped the book into my backpack and we made a hasty exit out onto Main Street.

NOTE: one of the truths about my misspent youth that I am not terribly proud of is the fact that I was once an accomplished master of the “five-finger discount,” and used that skill to obtain boatloads of porn mags and dirty books that I would then sell for a then-hefty price during my junior high years. As was probably inevitable, I got caught early in 1980 while trying to boost an issue of HUSTLER from a convenience store that had recently installed camera security; prior to that point I never once ran afoul of any sort of security because not one of the local bookstores, pharmacies or convenience stores bothered to keep an eye out for young hooligans. After all, this was WESTPORT (capitalized for emphasis), where the kids were all upstanding young men and ladies who would never do such a thing (their rampant promiscuity, alcoholism and drug habits notwithstanding). And since I was Black it was unlikely that I would have any interest in stealing books of any kind…

Anyway, skip ahead twenty-eight years to me working in the kitchen last night; it was just after two days of torrential rain and the neighborhood was coming out once again, in search of food and intoxicating libations, so Scott and I were running ourselves ragged to keep up with the meal orders. Suddenly an odd-looking man darted into the kitchen and thrust a manilla envelope into my hand. I opened the envelope to discover a vintage hardcover copy of “The Joy of Sex,” at which point I dropped what I was doing, ran out into the dining area and asked a general “What the fuck?” But then I noticed Eric Singer, a guy who I grew up with who now lives in the neighborhood, and sitting across from him was the now-grownup kid for whom I’d lifted that copy of “The Joy of Sex” over twenty-five years ago.

This was the first time I’d seen the guy since his family had left Westport in the early eighties, and it was great to see him again; he was simply one of the craziest and funniest people I knew at the time, and such kindred weirdos were precious indeed.

Now that you have all the background info, here’s a shot of the two of us with the ancient stolen tome. I even had “Mister X” sign it as a keepsake.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I was off from work yesterday, beating the hundred-degree heat in my air-conditioned sanctum sanctorum, having switched with my kitchenmate, Scott — the guy in the photo — so he could get in some time in a recording studio on Monday; Scott’s been part of our wacky little pirate ship of barbecue and booze for about six months, hailing from Texas and providing authentic cowboy flavor to the joint. The guy’s easy-going, funny, friendly, and slightly demented, so he fits right in. During his relatively short time here in the wilds of Crooklyn, he has been constantly astonished by the day-to-day madness, rudeness, and outright assholism of the Big Apple, gleefully adding crazy anecdotes to his repertoire for the amusement of his friends and loved ones back home.

When I returned to work today, as always happens when I’m away, I missed witnessing something idiotic… Fuck it, this is Scott’s story, so I’ll let him tell it:

“Bunche, you are gonna love this story. I stepped out of the kitchen for a smoke and looked over toward Kitchen Bar [note: our distinguished competition next door] where I saw a fiftyish Italian guy having dinner with some hot oriental chick. The guy saw me and asked, ‘Yo! Food ovah there’s pretty good, hunh?’ I said yeah, and then the guy went into the standard, ‘I lived in dis naybuhood since befaw yooz wuz born’ — an intro that never leads to anything good — so I said, ‘Oh yeah, I heard it’s changed a lot over the years.’

“The guy looked at me and said, ‘Yeah, all the fuckin’ yuppies and the hipsters fuckin’ up the place… Ya know, about twenny-five years ago some fuck was tryin’ ta break inta my car with a screwdriver, so I took it from him an’ fuckin’ stabbed him with it.’

“The mook then went silent and waited for my reaction, so I asked, ‘What happened to the guy?’ The mook looked at me like I’d grown an extra head and said, ‘What the fuck kinda question is that?!!? I don’t care! I hope the prick died! Ya know what? That’s kinda funny! I’m gonna tell alla my friends about that! You’re gonna be a fuckin’ legend!’ Like me asking what happened to the guy was the most asinine thing he’d ever heard!

“With that, I finished my smoke and hauled ass back to the kitchen.”

“Man, I love this neighborhood.”

Saturday, July 15, 2006


As you may have gathered, the barbecue joint is, among other things, a salon of higher culture and erudite discussion of the arts. Before coming in to work today I perused the items at a local stoop sale, and among the many books I found a charming volume of erotic art for two bucks and figured it would be fun to share with the staff and the regulars when my shift began. As predicted, the book was a big hit, covering all manner of fleshly ground from centuries-old engravings to Japanese shunga prints with the colossal genitalia to contemporary gallery works, and while checking this stuff out I realized that at some point this sort of material was probably some unsuspecting kid’s first exposure to the world of osh-osh as a somewhat prurient form of entertainment. It’s a universally visceral, fascinating and somewhat scary experience to say the least, for both young males and females alike.

Excluding the rather innocent stuff like PLAYBOY and PENTHOUSE, my own first glimpse at such material was a rain-soaked copy of SCREW magazine found at my bus stop when I was ten years old. The tabloid literally dripped with filthiness and while I knew what a girl’s equipment looked like — thanks to a little girl who lived across the street when I was six; you have my eternal gratitude, Terri! — I was horrified by the unbelievable talents of one Honeysuckle Divine, a cute blonde who used her sacred reproductive orifice for purposes that it was never meant to perform, such as individually spewing out greasy-looking matzoh balls. Sadly, I left this treasure where it was because to have it found in my possession at home or at school would have meant certain death in ways that Torquemada never imagined.

Later that same year an uncle gave me a steamer trunk full of rather “weathered” dirty magazines, an act more or less fully endorsed by my mother in an effort to prevent me from becoming “an artsy fag;” you see, in her book anyone with even the slightest interest in the arts was destined to have nuts bouncing off his chin in no time at all and that she would not allow, by God! So porn was an approved part of my library from very early on. Little did she realize that I already had the fever for girls, but any way you cut it, it was a win/win situation.

In the two minutes it took for me to get the trunk to my room, I swiftly managed to riffle through the smut and find most of the really foul stuff — including the now-infamous issue of HUSTLER that included a scratch-and-sniff center-spread — before my mom could pick and choose what was kosher for me to keep. I stashed the toxic material in a hidden panel behind the bookcase in the walk-through closet that connected my bedroom to my bathroom (this was at the palatial first house that we lived in from 1972 through early 1980 in Westport), and then spent hours engrossed in the images of naked womanhood splayed across my bedroom floor.

Shortly after this a succession of babysitters discovered my illicit collection and were even more fascinated than I was, each eagerly devouring page after page of pink. I was particularly enamored of a pair of twins who used to take care of me and had an extensive critical knowledge of the genre thanks to raids on their brother’s closet. These two girls were the first to make it plain to me that girls enjoyed naughty stuff just as much as guys did, and that was a mind-altering revelation. Ever since, I have appreciated the female porno fan.

As I reminisced on my own tender corruption I was intrigued to find out what other people recalled of their early exposure to pornography, and since I have no shame whatsoever I asked all within earshot. Here’s what I got:

“A PENTHOUSE found in the creek bed behind the local elementary school in Lexington, Kentucky!”
-Big Mikey

“A PLAYBOY found in a drainage ditch in Texas.”
-Scott M.

“It was a tape called NAKED AEROBICS found in my dad’s back drawer. It was kinda pathetic, really, since it was just two women with that early-1980’s Jane Fonda workout aesthetic, doing regular aerobics, only naked. And making it even cheesier, there was this mirror/kaleidoscope effect that multiplied the image of the two women into a legion! When my dad died, I inherited all of his adult material, sort of a porn legacy, if you will. The tape, and a bunch of softcover books about dirty nuns, and the like.”
-Tracey McT.

“I like to call any porn found outside somewhere ‘feral porn;’ I mean, you can be in the middle of the fucking woods and find a porn mag! My own feral porn was a OUI magazine found on the fire escape at St. John’s, the local Catholic elementary school.”
-Frank T.

A nudie playing card on the muddy banks of the stream that ran through our neighborhood.”
-Jeff P.

“I was in fifth grade, babysitting with a friend, and we were flipping through the channels while the kid we were looking after was asleep. We found some kind of softcore something or other on HBO, and we were fascinated but too embarrassed to admit that we wanted to watch it, so we kept switching back and forth, but always kept landing on that flick. And my lower half started to feel really weird… And then I was hooked!”
-Lauren A.

“I was in fifth grade and I went over to my buddy Colin Riley’s house, where he showed me his dad’s copy of INSIDE VANESSA Del RIO.”
-Dan E.

"I was in fourth grade and went riffling through my parents’ stuff when they weren’t home, and saw one of those “365 Ways To Do It” manuals; I guess they were trying out something new each day… Anyway, when I lifted it out of the drawer there was an issue of HUSTLER beneath it, and I was blown away to see that the center-spread was signed by the girl in the picture, telling my dad how nice it was to meet him in Vegas and inviting him to 'cum again.'”
-Rob R.

“I think I was eight or nine, and soon after it lead to masturbation at age ten. It was PLAYBOY, of course; my dad had some, and my older brother found them.”
-Tim L.

“I was probably, like, ten and I totally found it on a wildlife walk, between the junior high school and the national elk refuge in Wyoming. Some random sleazy trucker mag or something… No, wait… I was in second grade, seven years old, and a friend who lived in a trailer park invited me over to see the bunnies that his folks raised; his dad would kill them with his bare hands and his mom would cook them, so I was already kind of traumatized that day. Anyway, since we had nothing else to do after the bunnies, my friend asked me if I wanted to ‘look at some pussies.’ I said okay, having no clue what the kid was talking about, and my friend broke out some porn mags that his dad had thrown away, and one of them was called THE BEST PUSSY IN THE WORLD CONTEST. The cover didn’t even have a picture of a woman; it was just a picture of a pussy. So he pulls it out and we start flipping through it, and every single page was, like, four crotch shots! Crotch shot, crotch shot, crotch shot, crotch shot! So I didn’t know what the hell I was even looking at! I didn’t understand that this was part of a woman’s body; I just thought that it was something…animal. And I couldn’t imagine why he’d want to show it to me. So I went home and my mom asked me what I did over at my friend’s house, so I matter-of-factly stated, ‘we looked at pussies.’ My mom was horrified and called my friend’s mother, after which my friend never spoke to me again. I didn’t figure out why until I was, like, fourteen or something.”
-"The Blank" (a regular who was too much of a pussy to be identified for this post)

“When I was around seven years old my family went from South Carolina to spend Christmas with my aunt and uncle, and when I went to use their bathroom I found a book that I’m sure belonged to my uncle. It had, like, a picture of a farm on it. Yep, I learned really young about bestiality… I don’t remember who the characters were, but they were visiting a farm and I’m not sure about most of the animals, but I think they were cows. There was also a woman who put something on herself to get a dog to lick her, and she even got off! I didn’t know such things existed when I was seven years old! So every time I went to the bathroom at their house, I’d look for that book. My mom and my aunt would knock on the bathroom door and go, ‘Debra? Debra, what are you doing in there?’ My dad also used to hide his PLAYBOY stash on top of the freezer, and I eventually discovered them. There was a day when my folks came home early, so I hid the PLAYBOY that I was checking out under my mattress. Now my dad got up really early the next morning and must have gone to look at the issue I borrowed, of course not finding it where it was supposed to be. That afternoon when I got home from school, he laughingly asked me, in front of a friend I was with, ‘So, did you enjoy my magazine?’ I sneaked out of the house, rode my bike past a stretch of road where they were building houses and got rid of the PLAYBOY in the woods, because if it had reappeared my dad would have known for sure that I had it.”
-Debra S.

“When I was sixteen I knew a girl who’d stolen her father’s VHS copy of DEBBI DOES DALLAS and she invited a bunch of us over to her house to watch it while her parents were away. So there I was, surrounded by a room full of high school girls, watching one of the classics of old school porno; now up to a certain point the film has plenty of nudity, but then the real sex started and the girls were horrified. They all started screaming, but I thought it was the greatest thing ever!”
-Chez P.

“I live in West Palm Beach in Florida, and I had these totally white trash neighbors who had fifteen kids — for real — and a duck named Chirpy who they’d feed cat food. They had this huge yard and they’d chuck porn mags all over the place for no apparent reason. It was like a graveyard of porn.”
-Madison P. (age 14, daughter of Chez)

“For me it happened when I was eleven, and my brother and I found a magazine wrapped in black plastic in the mail. It was an issue of PLAYBOY addressed to my father, and he claimed that they had just sent him a free sample. Yeah, right, but considering how whipped he was, I mean, my mother would never have allowed that!”
-Jayne P.

“I was ten when my great-grandmother’s husband died, and me and my cousin Junior were cleaning out Pops’ bedroom when we found all of this really ancient porn. Like pre-PLAYBOY stuff, and we thought, ‘this is hot! This rocks!’ And then we threw them all away.”
-Lee G.

“I don’t know how old I was, but I was really young and I was snooping, you know, like kids do. And my dad had a drawer in his dresser next to his bed that I opened, and I found this postcard of a woman on skis, stark-assed naked. And she had the biggest, hairiest bush I’d ever seen! But I didn’t know if that was just my perception, or if she really was that hairy because I didn’t know what was supposed to be down there. And that’s my story.”
-Joy A.

So what’s your story, dear reader? Remember: sharing is caring!

Monday, July 10, 2006


When I woke up this morning I did not expect to find myself underwater, surrounded by live Sand Tiger and Nurse sharks with a couple of huge Moray eels thrown in for good measure.

Let’s backtrack a bit: during one of the many odd conversations had at work, the bar’s TV was running a special on sharks and their habits, and, as I tend to do during such programs, I got that faraway look in my eye and said to myself, “I simply cannot die until I go on a shark dive…” after which I lamented giving up on my childhood dream of becoming a marine biologist. Hey, it was the early 1970’s when I had that dream; Jacques Cousteau was my god, I had forced my parents to take me to see BLUE WATER, WHITE DEATH six times, and I devoured books on marine life like I would later do with comic books (yep, there’s a sad revelation, dear readers). Little did I suspect that Tracey, our oft-mentioned waitress/goddess, had overheard me and filed that piece of info away for future use. A couple of months went by, and when my birthday drew nigh Tracey told me to keep July 10th free because she had a kickass surprise in honor of my birthday planned for that day.

Tracey, the mastermind of the fiendish plot.

Let me state right here and now that I loathe surprise stuff for my birthday because in times past few of the people involved in the planning managed to keep the surprise to themselves, and more often than not I would have preferred to spend my birthday on my own, with friends and loved ones at an agreed upon party location, or in the company of an enthusiastic, pulchritudinous bringer of copious osh-osh. So unless you can pull a spectacular birthday miracle out of your ass, I implore you not to even contemplate a surprise event. Keeping that caveat in mind, you can imagine my trepidation when Tracey let her intentions be known, but I did not want to be rude, so I waited for the 10th to roll around and hopefully be over as swiftly and painlessly as possible. But, like many of us would-be know-it-alls, I didn’t take into account the many times Tracey has made suggestions or recommendations and every single time she’s been right on the money.

Monday the 10th arrived, and while I would normally have slept scandalously late on a day off, I had to meet Tracey at the barbecue joint at 9:30 AM… Not a fun hour for us nocturnals, but ya do what ya gotta do. When I arrived, I was met by Tracey and our co-workers, Joy and Will, all of us looking like the ill-rested specimens that we obviously were. We all boarded Joy’s car and took of for adventures and parts unknown, and, luckily for our intrepid quartet, the day was simply beautiful.

We soon found ourselves on the Long Island Expressway, and for me the mystery of our destination deepened. I nonetheless enjoyed the sights on way while my friends chatted happily about all manner of oddball shit, and we passed by many strange billboards such as the one pictured below:

I’m sorry, but even though the spelling isn’t the same, I refuse to eat a chocolate confection that uses a slogan that sounds like “rectum.”

During the ever-lengthening ride, I saw that Joy possesses a gift that I wish I had, namely taking pleasure from driving, an act that for me is nothing but tedium and merely an exercise in getting from point A to point B. With a toothy grin lighting up her sunglasses-adorned face, Joy fueled her sleepy self with a Red Bull energy drink, kicked off her shoes and hiked up one of her fantastically long legs to rest a heel on one side of the steering wheel and merrily serve as our urban charioteer.

The ride stretched on for roughly an hour and forty-five minutes, passing through Long Island at a brisk clip, until we reached Riverhead; it was there that I sussed out that we were bound for an aquarium. Fine by me, since I loves me some sea critters and I had not been to an aquarium since I was a boy of nine years old.

As we drove into the parking area of Atlantis Marine World, my fellow passengers all turned to look at me as Tracey announced, “Well, obviously we’re taking you to an aquarium, but guess what? You’re gonna go on a shark dive!” My head nearly split in half thanks to my idiotic grin, and I briefly sat in stunned silence. I then went apeshit with happiness and gratitude, and nearly rocketed from the car to get into the dive area.

Once inside, we had to wait for the other booked diver to arrive, so we checked out many of the attractions on view within this building that sought to evoke the lost continent of Atlantis with images of Poseidon, Aphrodite and tridents in view all over the place.

Happy children ran about in sheer ecstasy as they beheld the living wonders of the deep, including an adorable seal that was rescued from the wild, and a pool where guests could not only feed a gaggle of stingrays, but also touch their frictionless hides as well. This exhibit was a big hit with adults and kiddies alike, and the stingrays charmed the hell out of everyone as they greedily jockeyed for position before the cluster of anchovy-supplying human hands. The graceful creatures glided along the bottom of the shallow pool with hypnotic ease, but they would frequently blow their ethereal aspect by practically flopping out of the water and making rude sucking noises as they hoovered the reeking fish from our outstretched mitts.

We didn’t care, though, because they were just so damned cute!

Will makes a friend.

Soon, the other diver arrived, a guy named Vinnie who was treated to this honor by way of a Father’s Day prezzie, and once introductions were made, we went off with Ditte (pronounced “Ditt-Uh”), our Dutch dive master, for some simple instructions. On the way to the platform we were lead past a huge, ceiling-mounted model of a Great White shark and straight to the observation area of the 180, 000 gallon/fourteen-feet deep/forty-feet across saltwater tank and given an in-depth who’s-who of the denizens within, including various fish, a couple of huge and scary-looking Moray eels, and about a dozen or more Sand Tiger and Nurse sharks. Once that was done, we went upstairs to where cage was tethered, and other than the explanation of the logistics of how the full-face mask and its communications capabilities worked, I was pretty much good to go since I am utterly at home underwater, and, in fact, once I am in, I don’t want to get out. Vinnie and I soon found ourselves in skintight wet suits and weight belts to keep us semi-rooted to the diving cage’s platform, and then it was off to the races.

Ditte got us into position, made some last minute adjustments to our breathing apparatus, and then instructed the tender to push us into position and gingerly lower us into the drink.

As we descended, Ditte reminded us to speak loudly and clearly, since when we were submerged the bubbles from our air tanks would be very loud and the noise would drown out our words, pun intended. Once below the surface, Vinnie and I were blown away by the size and grace of the creatures that leisurely swarmed about the cage; the eight-foot Sand Tigers got within mere inches of the bars, and I couldn’t help but marvel at their casual power and simple, perfect predatory perfection, each bearing an ominous presence that scattered the multitude of smaller fish as they implacably bullied their way through the liquid environment.

Almost as impressive were the placid, bottom-feeding Nurse sharks, a mellow lot who slid about the tank’s floor resembling sleepy-eyed, elongated dogs.

And while the sharks were definitely the star attraction, the creatures that riveted me most were the pair of fluorescent green Moray eels who hung out at the bottom, mouths wide open in seeming smiles while their eyes contained a hint of barely contained evil; as they breathed heavily their temples yawned open, exposing their gill arrays and, in my eyes, rendering them fiercely alien and dragon-like in demeanor. These were the only inhabitants of the tank that all of the other fish gave a wide berth, and when an eight-foot snaggle-toothed shark doesn’t want to piss you off, you must be a pretty bad motherfucker.

I was so enraptured by this experience that I did not feel the allotted half hour fly by, and all too soon we had to return to the surface world and its cruel gravity. But I didn’t mind in the least; my brief stay in the simulated ocean rekindled deep feelings within my heart that I had thought long dead after years of living in the Big Apple and being away from the beach that was within walking distance from my boyhood home in Connecticut. I have to reconnect with the ocean once again, and the sooner I do that, I think that part of my ongoing malaise will be unceremoniously kicked to the curb.

Once back in my street clothes, my friends and I checked out the rest of the aquarium and had a great time doing so as we ooh’ed and aah’ed at the gorgeous forest of sea anemone, in which brightly-colored tropical fish capered about, the display of sea horses and horseshoe crabs (in which the crabs appeared to be giving up the ghost before our very eyes), and a shy, economy-sized octopus whose chromatafores were working overtime to keep it camouflaged as it huddled against a rock. Our group split up for a time while I waited for my complementary 8x10 of myself standing in full wetsuit with Ditte in the dive cage, and when I made it to the photo booth I saw the aquarium’s mascot greeting the kiddies. Some poor kid in a full-body suit portrayed “Jimbo Jaws,” a smiling anthropomorphic shark who looked surreally ridiculous, so I of course had to get photographed with him. Joy soon appeared from out of nowhere and did the honors as parents stared in horror at some crazy black guy flashing the Satanic “horns” next to a character meant for the little ones.

Our little band then regrouped and made our way to the outdoor amphitheater for the 2:45 PM sea lion show, giddily occupying the nosebleed seats as we were gripped with a raging case of the sillies that turned us all into cynical wiseasses. That state of mind proved wholly appropriate as the teenaged announcer got the kids worked up for the incredibly bizarre warm-up show, a parade of pop music snippets accented by the terpsichorean stylings of Jimbo Jaws, who took the stage after taking a header while going up the stairs. Jimbo, a smiling, furry shark in oversized sneakers dancing around was crazy enough, but the performance literally “jumped the shark” into outright lunacy when Jimbo busted loose to that intolerable 1990’s hell-on-wax, the Macarena, while the announcer exhorted the audience to join in. The person who was judged as the best dancer was promised a free t-shirt, but once about twenty little girls and their cellulite-laden mothers began doing that pointlessly semaphore-esque shimmy, I think the announcer thought better of it since I never saw him unload the souvenir shirt. Jimbo then launched into a spirited routine that was identified as the 1970’s mainstay “the robot,” but I found it unrecognizable as such, thinking instead that it resembled nothing so much as cerebral palsy night at the disco (I anticipate your brickbats for that one).

Tracey and I nearly pissed ourselves laughing at all of this madness, but then it was time for Jimbo to return to whatever strange, sub-sea dance club that he haunts, and the stage was taken over by the antics of Bunker, the sea lion. Bunker’s much-ballyhooed act was cute for what it was, but after the buildup it turned to be maybe ten minutes in length, and at the climax the trainer bid the audience farewell as Scandal’s “Goodbye To You” unsubtly spewed from the speakers. Tracey and myself found that quite amusing, and we amused ourselves by singing the more honest lyric of “Goodbye, and get the fuck out” as we filed through the exit.
By this point, our little band was weary beyond words, so after a quick lunch we headed back to Brooklyn.

On the ride back I had time to think about the whole experience, and I realized that during the short time that I have worked at the barbecue joint I have come to consider the entire staff as a crazy, semi-dysfunctional family, and while we frequently drive each other into states of apoplexy, we do care about each other a great deal. Today’s trip and shark dive are something that took me by surprise and moved me deeply; a gift given out of love by good friends who every day have put up with a lot of the same shit that I write about on this very blog, and much like during wartime, sometimes a strong bond is formed from shared suffering and horror. As I often say, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it, but sometimes putting up with shit leads to unexpected rewards.

So, thank you, Tracey, Joy and Will. This day will live long in my memory as one of the best of my life.

Saturday, July 08, 2006



I would like to say a hearfelt thank you for all of the prezzies I received for my birthday, but as of now I would also like to make a request: please don't buy me anything for my birthday unless you are 100% certain that I do not have the intended item. You see, I am a hard core collector of all kinds of stuff, and the odds are good that if I want something I will buy it for myself.

The reason I bring this up is that as of this afternoon I have just receieved a fifth (!!!) copy of the hardcover first edition of Ian Fleming's YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE within just under two weeks, and, sad to say, as a longtime James Bond Collector I already had that edition in the first place. Your intentions are laudable, folks, but I am very, VERY hard to shop for and I don't want you to waste your money and efforts on stuff I probably already have, so in future I suggest cash, gift certificates, pussy, or simply taking me out for drinks.

But again, thanks for the thought!


Hopefully the release of season one of THE WILD, WILD WEST on DVD will erase the utter uselessness of the big screen version from a few years back that starred an outrageously miscast Will Smith, and simultaneously introduce neophytes to the awesome villainy of television’s most unique bad guy. I am, of course, talking about the one and only Doctor Miguelito Loveless.

In case you don’t know what I’m going on about, THE WILD, WILD WEST was perhaps the most bizarre bit of fallout from the spy boom of the mid 1960’s, a fast paced, violent western set in the 1870’s that gene-spliced with the superspy genre to more or less invent the concept of steam-powered high technology. In any given episode, invariably entitled “The Night of the (FILL IN EPISODE’S SUBJECT HERE),” the secret agent duo of dashing tough guy James West (Robert Conrad) and master thespian/disguise virtuoso Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) traveled the country in their tricked-out private train, meting out ass-whuppin’ justice to enemies of America and scoring with the hottest chicks that the Old West had to offer. In other words, they set the Wayback Machine and James Bonded up the place. And, amusingly enough, the show was not cancelled thanks to low ratings; it got the axe due to CBS’ campaign to cut down on much if its violent programming content.

West and Gordon’s adversaries were an eccentric lot, each prepared to unleash some sort of mad scheme to overthrow or undermine the US government, but none stood out more than a three-foot-tall, childlike madman whose skills and achievements were far beyond their time.

Doctor Miguelito Loveless was indeed a dwarf, but his diminutive size served as a sharp counterpoint to his gargantuan intellect; during the course of his ten appearances during the program’s four-year run (four of which are found in season one), Loveless would casually gloss over the minor “trifles” found in his lab, such as the phonograph, the camera, penicillin, the airplane, television, and many others, but his awesome technological leaps pale in comparison to his megalomaniacal endeavors, most of which are fueled by petulant desire for retribution against those who wronged him in some way or made the fatal error of underestimating — and thereby patronizing — him due to his size.

The son of a landed Mexican/Spanish noblewoman and an English father, Loveless has a charmingly aristocratic air about him, and he is unquestionably cultured; frequently seen in the company of Antoinette, a talented harpsichordist and songbird, he often performs lovely duets with the chanteuse and during these moments his tender side is most unguarded. He openly displays a great affection for the smaller life forms and goes out of his way not to harm even a fly, but human antagonists are another story entirely.

Ruthless and homicidal to an alarming degree, Loveless has no qualms whatsoever about committing wholesale mass murder in the most violent and sadistic of ways, yet he is surprisingly not evil; the man is definitely insane and probably what we now recognize as bipolar, but his flouting of the law and basic decency when it suits him is a reflection of a frightening amorality that runs unchecked despite the constant interference from James West and Artemus Gordon.

Monstrous intellect notwithstanding, being as small and feeble as he is can be a major obstacle for Loveless, so he must at times rely on the aid of his giant companion, Voltaire (Richard Kiel, later to be more widely known as Jaws in the James Bond films) and the enormously obese Kitty, the presence of whom only adds to the sideshow-like sight of the
wobbly little fellow.

It is difficult to sum up just what it is about this character that makes him a classic without showing you some of the episodes that involve his chicanery, but one thing that is indisputable is that Loveless would have been swiftly forgotten if not for the actor who played him, namely the late Michael Dunn. Dunn was a classically trained stage actor and cabaret performer who suffered lifelong pain common to the complications of dwarfism, and when he was tapped to play Doctor Loveless he was already an accomplished Broadway and off-Broadway player. Other than Miguelito Loveless, Dunn is best known to cult TV geeks for his turn as Alexander in the “Plato’s Stepchildren” segment of the original STAR TREK series.

Dunn as the tormented Alexander in "Plato's Stepchildren."

Notably, that episode has gone down in American broadcasting history for containing TV’s first interracial kiss. Leave it to that intergalactic gash-hound, Captain Kirk, to blaze a trail where no man had gone before (well, not on television, anyway…).

GASP! Captain Kirk paves the way for interracial osh-osh on TV!!!

Tragically, Dunn died from an overdose of prescription medicine, a death that some feel might have been a suicide. Fortunately, we have DVD to preserve his brilliance forever, and if you have never seen his work I strongly urge you to go out and rent THE WILD, WILD WEST season one immediately.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


In the history of cinema there has been a handful of films that have drawn a firestorm of controversy over the purportedly offensive subject matter that the filmmakers chose to present to an unsuspecting audience, among them classics such as THE BIRTH OF A NATION, FREAKS, ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, BABY DOLL, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE WARRIORS, and BLUE VELVET. Yet none of these works has been critically vilified as the most hateful film ever made, an opinion leveled by many critics, both professional and armchair, at Mier Zarchi’s 1978 rape/revenge story DAY OF THE WOMAN, or as it has been much better known since its re-release in 1980, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE.

I first heard of the film back in the spring of 1980 on an installment of Gene Siskel (the bald one) and Roger Ebert’s (the fat one) “Sneak Previews” during their days as public television mainstays, theirs being one of the few movie review programs at the time. What was interesting about their review of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was that they took their entire half hour running time that week to pan the flick with unprecedented venom; this was not just a review, it was an outright crucifixion that saw both well-respected critics ranting like madmen about how the film had not one shred of artistic quality, encouraged the audience to identify with the rapists, eroticized the act of rape, and portrayed the film’s heroine as a helpless toy whose sole purpose was to be humiliated and degraded for the enjoyment of the sick audience at which the piece was aimed.

I usually kept my ear to the ground for offensive films at the time, — hell, I still do — and a movie like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE would have played at the nearby and notorious grindhouse Norwalk Cinema, but there had never been a trace of it. In fact, if not for the SNEAK PREVIEWS witch hunt most of the general public would never have heard of the film. And as any idiot can tell you, if you don’t want people to see something, just gloss over it quickly and let it die a silent, lonely death. But when the two most high profile critics in the country take up a whole episode of their show to denounce just one movie, that’s going to raise eyebrows and spark curiosity. And, consequently, box office. In the following two years I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE did decent business in theaters, but it really hit the big time when the VCR boom happened and people could now watch whatever twisted shit they chose to corrupt themselves with, all in the privacy of their own living rooms. And what better way to watch a film that allegedly celebrated the time-honored, old school entertainment that is gang rape? In fact, during the first few years of its release on VHS the flick was a perennial best seller, never leaving the top 50 charts until the late-1980’s, despite being banned outright in several countries. So, just what is this toxic chunk of cinema anyway?

I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is about as simple as a story can be: a young woman from the Big City heads out to the Sticks and catches the unwanted attention of four local louts. The louts hunt her in a secluded part of the forest, take turns beating and raping her, and mistakenly leave her for dead. She survives, gets her shit together, and exacts well-deserved, lethal revenge. The End.

Sure, that sounds simple, but what was it about this film that has affected so many on such a primal, visceral level? I’ll, analyze the plot in detail a bit later, but for my own part I can say that I have a real problem with rape, harm to children and harm to animals being depicted as entertainment, and the reviews of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE certainly made it seem like it was created solely for the purpose of giving a vile audience what amounted to some sort of sick rape pornography; I like my sex and violence to stay mutually exclusive, thank you very much, so I went into seeing the film with an already loaded viewpoint.

I first rented the movie sometime in the late 1980’s along with what was considered to be the other “classic” of the genre, Wes Craven’s 1972 “homage” to Ingmar Bergman’s THE VIRGIN SPRING (1959), the infamous LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. My buddies — a mixed crowd of males and females — and I stocked up on booze, joints and snacks, and ran LAST HOUSE first since it was the senior of the two works, and let me tell you, it was a profoundly disturbing experience since pretty much the latter half of the movie was shot in and around our hometown of Westport, Connecticut, and my friends and I could have hopped into a car and driven to the locations in question within minutes. The horror of seeing the two lovely young hippie chicks unspeakably violated, tortured and murdered by a carload of prison escapees and mental defectives in familiar locations, along with the savage vengeance enacted by the parents of one of them, plunged the viewing room into a deep funk, and we debated running the second film on our double-bill. But we were the hardest of Westport’s fans of evil and offensive films, and to paraphrase Super-Chicken, “we knew the job was dangerous when we took it,” so, with a sense of ominous foreboding, we proceeded as planned.

We knew of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE’S notorious status from the get-go, but nothing had prepared us for the onslaught that we witnessed. The film looked painfully amateurish, the performances seemed wooden at best, and the much-condemned and admittedly ultra-sadistic rape scene felt like it went on for at least half of the film’s running time, with a camera that seemed to linger too long on the ugliness it captured, almost in the same way that one cannot look away from the grisliest of car accidents.

My friends and I were stone-cold stunned; this roomful of wiseasses made not one wisecrack during the proceedings, and the one thing that was said by way of comment came from the crew’s resident ladies’ man, Eric, who postulated, “Jesus…Can you imagine trying to get it into a dry, unwilling female? For fuck’s sake, man!” The three girls in the room nodded in shocked agreement, and even when the film’s heroine achieved her revenge, not one of us felt any form of relief since she had now descended to the rock-bottom level of her assailants. A profound sadness filled us all.

Now I understood the knee-jerk reaction felt by Siskel and Ebert and many other commentators, although I felt that their reactions were a bit much considering how many other films had dealt with similar material in equally harsh ways (LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE leading a very vicious pack, the latter even containing hardcore penetration shots during one of the rapes, a segment that could only have been gotten away with in the film’s native Sweden) but there was something about the film that would not let go of me and I just couldn’t suss out exactly what it was…

After my first viewing, I saw I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE twice more during the next decade, and began to figure out a few of the things that intrigued me about the film:
1. The first thing I noticed after recovering from my initial state of shell shock was that the film has no musical score, a stylistic choice which only ups the tension by giving the viewer no cues as to where the action may go, and also stranding the viewer firmly within the film’s own bleak reality.
2. The desolate location of Kent, Connecticut is pretty much a dead zone, a no-man’s-land in which anything can happen due to its isolation. Having actually been to Kent and felt its ambiance of “you can turn your neighbors into chili here, and no one would ever know,” it was the most perfectly unsettling place to film such a story. It’s funny how horror filmmakers tend to gravitate to Connecticut; LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH, and several of the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise were shot there since many of the backwater areas look like the staging ground for many an urban legend featuring teenagers and crazed serial murderers.
3. The justifiably infamous four-against-one rape sequence does not actually go on for nearly an hour, it just feels that way, The actual running time is still excruciating though, since it clocks in at a staggering twenty-five minutes and fourteen seconds of nigh-unbearable cruelty.

Recently the DVD online ordering service I use, Deep Discount, had a massive sale, and I finally decided to order the Millennium edition of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE just so I could hear writer/director Mier Zarchi’s commentary track, a track that I imagined would be either a feature length litany of apology and “what the fuck was I thinking,” or an equally long spouting of pretentious excuses for making what is the basest form of exploitation. What I got both shocked and surprised me, so much so that I have completely reevaluated my stance on the film and will now defend it in a court of law as an important, if flawed, work of art.

Having been depicted in the media for nearly three decades as the Great Satan of cinema for masterminding such an incendiary flick, Mier Zarchi opted to avoid commenting on his film since so much has been said on it and for all intents and purposes he has been pilloried right along with it, but he came out of seclusion for the special edition, and thank the gods that he did. Zarchi’s commentary reveals much of the process of crafting an extreme independent film, but his reasons for making this filmic holocaust are not only completely valid, they are downright fucking heartbreaking.

As previously stated, the 1970’s saw the rise in popularity of rape/revenge flicks, a genre spearheaded by the success of DELIVERANCE (which in many was the direct ancestor to I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE) and DEATH WISH, and along with it came a certain factor of titillation connected to such content; a titillation that doesn’t address the sheer degrading horror and inhumanity of the act of rape. Zarchi may be the only filmmaker whose vision on this rather touchy subject is informed by firsthand knowledge of the shattering aftermath of rape thanks to a 1974 situation in Queens in which he, his daughter and a friend stumbled upon a naked woman who had been raped and sadistically beaten by two rat bastard motherfuckers who not only robbed her of her basic humanity and broke her jaw, but also intended to slash her throat when they were through having their “fun.” What saved her life was her telling her assailants that since they had knocked off her glasses she couldn’t see them and therefore identification was impossible.

Zarchi and his friend threw a coat around the woman, dropped off his daughter at home, and then made the mistake of taking the woman to the police only to witness her further violation by an indifferent cop who showed her no compassion and clearly wanted to get her processed into the system and out of his hair as soon as possible. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, when Zarchi dropped off his daughter at home, the eight-year-old girl asked her mother, “Mommy, what’s rape?” Can you imagine having to explain that one, especially after the kid witnessed a naked, abused woman with a broken jaw staggering out of the bushes? Jesus H. Christ…

The years went by and Zarchi understandably couldn’t get that scene out of his head, and when the opportunity presented itself he wrote and directed DAY OF THE WOMAN as a no-holds-barred, anti-entertainment depiction of rape whose very simplicity allows the story to say one hell of a lot despite its near total lack of dialogue. And with that, here’s the in-depth plot analysis section!


Very much wearing its post-liberation-movement sentiment on its sleeve, the narrative introduces us to Manhattanite Jennifer Hills (the unimaginably brave Camille Keaton, great-niece of Buster Keaton), who heads to an unspecified upstate location in the middle of nowhere for a summer of relaxation and creative inspiration in a charming rented house by a placid river (in this case played by an unbilled Housatonic).

Upon arriving in town she pulls into the local gas station and meets Johnny (Eron Tabor, enacting one of the foulest villains in moviedom), the obvious alpha wolf to omegas Andy (Gunter Kleeman), Stanley (Anthony Nichols), and Matthew (Richard Pace), a retarded man-child who the rest treat like a feeble-minded pet. Matthew develops a crush on Jennifer, and when his “friends” learn about it they start to formulate a plan that will serve as the catalyst for this whole horrible mess: they must help Matthew lose his virginity by any means necessary.

When Jennifer gets to her rental house — in which a previous occupant left behind a fully loaded pistol in a drawer where one would expect to find Gideon’s bible —, the location is clearly a tonic for the urbanite and, overwhelmed by the beauty of her surroundings, Jennifer takes an innocent nude swim that is the antithesis of the so-called “male gaze” since Zarchi only gives us the briefest glimpse of her nudity and immediately pulls back to a vantage point from across the river, thereby eliminating the ogle factor and respecting the character’s privacy. Or is the positioning of the camera an indication that Jennifer is being watched by eyes filled with bad intent?

The next day, Jennifer orders groceries from the local market and Matthew turns out to be the delivery boy. The two cheerily banter back and forth as he asks her a series of childlike questions and determines that she comes from New York City (which he eerily describes as “an evil place”), that she is a writer who has been published in “women’s magazines,” and that she doesn’t have a boyfriend at the moment, although even the dim-witted Matthew can gather that she is no stranger to the pleasures of the flesh. She even playfully tells him that she’ll be his girlfriend for the summer; not a great idea in a film of this nature…

Matthew: unwitting catalyst to one woman's worst nightmare.

That night, the boys go fishing and engage in a round table discussion of everything that all men need to know about women, and these Rhodes scholars clearly know it all, including a dead-serious rumination on whether or not women have to take shits just like men do. And after many a spent Pabst Blue Ribbon their determination to get Matthew laid approaches the boiling point…

NOTE: as of this point the narrative is told almost entirely from the protagonist’s point of view, a fact that cannot possibly be overstressed.

For the next few days Jennifer paddles about the river, becoming one with Nature, working on her (painfully poorly-written) novel, and hanging out in a hammock while wearing a very fetching string bikini. At that point, two of the boys wreck the tranquility by zooming about and doing donuts on the river in an annoyingly noisy outboard boat; the intent of this action is not merely to be obnoxious, but is instead a blatant act of scoping the place out to see just how vulnerable Jennifer is. That night, she hears whoops and howls from the surrounding woods that are obviously not made by animals, yet she is not intimidated in the least and defiantly strolls outside to see what’s up. Finding nothing, she retires for the night.

The very next morning the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and Jennifer goes sunbathing in the middle of the river, bikinied and secure in the bosom of the natural world, in every way a longhaired Diana reveling in her wilderness. After a long, tranquil establishing shot, the silence of her solitary idyll is disrupted by that fucking outboard motor and the arrival of Andy and Stanley, both of whom hoot and holler like wild Injuns on a drunken rampage. The boys latch on to the canoe’s tether rope and drag an indignant Jennifer behind them, an unwilling captive who attempts to fend them off with repeated swings of her paddle and a barrage of foul language.

At this point, if we include the stalking/kidnapping, the rape of Jennifer begins in earnest as the boys haul her canoe to the riverside and try to pull her ashore; at no point during this exchange does our heroine back down, quite the opposite in fact as she hurls blow after blow at her assailants, making as much pejorative noise as possible. She breaks away and runs barefoot through the woods, pursued by the two shrieking Neanderthals, and when she reaches a clearing we almost think that she can get away. And then she literally runs right into the engineer-hatted Johnny. He repeatedly knocks her to the ground, as she fights the bastards off as best she can, but it’s a case of four booze-fuelled assholes against a willowy, ninety-eight pounds soaking wet city gal in a bikini, so you do the unfortunate math.

Johnny tears the bikini from Jennifer like he was skinning an animal — this was, after all, a human foxhunt — but she still ain’t having it, so each of the scumbags grab a limb and pin her spread-eagled to the ground. Johnny then urges Matthew to come and get her since “we got her for you,” but Matthew is too nervous and can’t perform (there is apparently some small part of him that knows that this is wrong), so in a moment of “well, what the hell, we might as well since we’ve got her here,” Johnny disrobes and mounts poor Jennifer, thrusting and grunting like the greasy pig that he is. When it is over, all of the men are stunned into silence by what they have done, and they release Jennifer, who stumbles away whimpering into the forest.

Bloodied and dirty, Jennifer staggers like a zombie through a disturbingly phallic forest-scape for what seems like a silent eternity, and then she hears the eerie keening of a nearby harmonica. She turns to see Andy perched upon a boulder and she quickly surveys the area for a possible escape route, but there is none to be had; she is surrounded by the four vermin, and they once again haul her into position for violation, only this time they place her face-down over the boulder, thereby making it simple for Andy to sodomize her while having what appears to be an epileptic seizure. The scream let out by Jennifer at this point will stay with you until the day you die, trust me on that one…

Andy soon finishes, and the boys leave the ravished Jennifer to roll off the rock and bounce off a tree. Before rolling off the boulder Jennifer remains immobile for quite some time, and the viewer even begins to wonder if she’s dead. But Jennifer is made out of far sterner stuff, and she manages to wobble to her feet and make an unsteady beeline to the rental house. As she enters the front yard, she collapses and begins to shake and sob uncontrollably, eventually crawling up the steps and donning the robe pegged next to the door. Soon, she is inside and making her way to the telephone, but when she begins to dial, a leather boot kicks the phone away from her and we realize, to our horror, that the bastards are inside the house and they are not done with their “hijinx.”

Pushed beyond all limits of physical and mental endurance, Jennifer still ain’t having it and manages to not only fight back, but she also motherfucking clobbers Stanley in the skull with a small table before being once more subdued and damned near knocked out, which allows the now-emboldened Matthew to climb atop her and attempt to get it up. As his friends cheer him on, the horny retard still can’t get the job done, so he is unceremoniously pulled off of Jennifer as Stanley sits on her chest while taking a long pull from a whiskey bottle. She seizes the opportunity to plead for her life, telling her assailants that she is badly hurt and to please not rape her anymore because she just couldn’t take it, even offering to use her mouth if that will do. Stanley contemplates that for a moment…before forcefully lodging the whiskey bottle up her tortured vagina and forcing his sorry excuse for a member into her bloody mouth. He then jumps off of her and begins to viciously kick and beat her in a display so off-putting that it even outrages Johnny and the rest, all of whom haul him off of Jennifer. They then leave her on the floor and order the slow-witted Matthew to take a buck knife and do her in once and for all. The redneck assholes step outside and leave Matthew to murder our girl, but he chickens out, rubs her blood onto the knife figuring she’ll just die anyway. I mean, nobody could possibly live through such abuse, right? So the mental defective goes outside and tells his friends that he’s offed their plaything, and they all leave, happy as a tree full of birds.

Needless to say, Jennifer survives all of that unspeakable horseshit and the viewer once more suffers along with her as she cowers, shivers and sobs, back against the wall in a corner, eventually gaining the strength to recuperate. Gone is the wood nymph who is innocently comfortable with her sexuality; that goddess has been replaced by a hardcore spirit of righteous, black-clad retribution, and from now on all bets are off.

The most affecting part of this segment is when Jennifer drives past a cemetery and the viewer looks at the tombstones as rather obvious symbolism, but that idea gets blown out of the water when she turns off the road and pulls up to a church. She walks in with a noticeable intensity, kneels before the altar and quietly says, “Forgive me.” She stands up, crosses herself and walks out. If the Judeo-Christian God is in any way as just as he claims to be — that “vengeance is mine” bullshit notwithstanding — as of now Jennifer is pretty much granted a free pass when it comes to turning those ratfuckers into mulch.

In short order, Jennifer lures each of the violators to horrible deaths: Matthew is granted his fondest wish but is hanged at the moment of his first orgasm, Johnny has his ween removed in a scene guaranteed to make every male in the audience clutch his stuff and scream like a four-year-old,

and the remaining two animals are dispatched on the lake with an axe and their own outboard motor. Once they are all dead, Jennifer guns the engine, the boat now symbolically representing a motorized phallus of death, and sets off upriver to an uncertain fate, a slight half-smile playing on her lips.

Now does that in any way sound like a film that glorifies rape, makes the viewer side with the violators, or portrays the woman as a socket that just sits there helplessly and takes it? I think not, and I honestly wonder whether Siskel and Ebert saw the same movie I did, since if they really had they would have made all of the same observations that I just shared with you. And what’s doubly galling about Ebert's review is that he has gone on record stating that LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT is one of his favorite “guilty pleasures.” Then again, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since the guy actually recommended COP AND A HALF…

Not enough can be said about the sparse but powerful cast: Camille Keaton is simply amazing as Jennifer, giving a completely believable performance that required total nudity for a large chunk of the picture, to say nothing of being on the receiving end of the pretend rapes. It’s an incredibly brave and rough role to essay, and it makes me sick that both Jodie Foster and Hilary Swank were lavished with massive critical kudos and Oscars for following in the footsteps of a trail blazed by the far-lesser-known Keaton.

And I don’t know how in hell the guys in the film could work up the moxie to even pretend to do any of the shit that their characters pull in the movie; all four are great for what they have to do, but Eron Tabor’s Johnny and Anthony Nichols’ Stanley are so heinously evil that you want to jump into the frame and kick them to death with an iron boot. Richard Pace’s turn as Matthew gets across the child struggling with the basest of male urges, and you almost feel sorry for Matthew when he gets killed because you have to ask yourself just how responsible he was, what with being slow and all that. Sadly, a film of this nature turned out to be pretty much a surefire career-killer, and most of the actors never worked again.

So, there you have the skinny on one of the most controversial films ever made, and while I cannot recommend it to the casual viewer for obvious reasons, I urge you not to listen to the virulent screeds against it that choke the internet; at the barbecue joint I recently discussed I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE with a very sweet lady who comes in every now and then, and because I was reading a book on the making of the FRIDAY THE 13TH SERIES she brought up Zarchi’s film as her favorite horror film and expressed a wish that if ever she could come to the defense of any one misunderstood flick, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE would be the one that she would champion.

Amen to that, sister. Amen.

Monday, July 03, 2006


New York City, and Brooklyn in particular, is a place where people just love to wear superhero emblems and related images on their t-shirts. Usually it's some character that everybody recognizes, such as Superman, Batman, the Flash, or Green Lantern, but now and then you can separate the true geeks from the civilians when they sport the emblem of Professor Zoom (aka the Reverse Flash) or some other nugget of four color obscura. Here are four examples of t-shirts seen in my neighborhood and at the barbecue joint, so see if you can spot the true geek out of the lot.


I know that movies and licensing go hand-in-hand, but this almost made me puke. I tell ya, I didn't need to see Supes shilling for potato chips...

Saturday, July 01, 2006


With all the running around I have done lately I hadn’t had a chance to leisurely read the ever-growing mountain of comics and books that I accumulate on a weekly basis, so for this installment I just dove in and slammed myself with reading material for the past few days. So, here we go:


I never, and I do mean NEVER, liked the Black Panther when I was a kid because even though he was one the handful of black heroes at the time — thereby making him a mandatory read for us wee highly rhythmic individuals — it was blatantly obvious that he was being written by people who nothing of the Black experience. In other words, well-meaning white folks. Thankfully, these days we have a lot more of us hardcore unemployables making headway in the four-color field, and the Panther is now being scribed by none other than well-regarded film director Reginald Hudlin, a guy who has obviously given a lot of serious thought to what needed to be done to make the Panther a truly viable presence in the Marvel Universe, rather than just being the obligatory noble Black dude; you know, sort of the Sydney Poitier of comics. Prince T’Challa of the super-scientific and uber-badassed African nation of Wakanda finally really comes across as a figure to be respected and even feared, with Hudlin providing him an appropriately regal air of the type not seen in Marvel’s legitimately royal characters since the Sub-Mariner when portrayed well (only the Panther isn’t a stuck-up prick). I read the initial six issues of this series with great enthusiasm and was worried that the high level of entertainment quality could not be maintained after the departure of John Romita, Jr. on art duties, but month-by-month I have been blissfully surprised. The current story arc has to do with T’Challa finally getting off his black ass and finding a bride — what’s a royal bloodline without heirs? — and not just any bride, but none other than Ororo Munroe, better known to you as Storm, the X-Men’s resident weather witch/goddess/hottie/bad motherfucker. Hudlin has worked minor miracles with this development, taking the romance angle and making it genuinely fun and frequently quite funny, with the Panther and Storm proving to be perfect for one another, true equals, a mating of eagles if you will. This current chapter focuses on Luke “Power Man” Cage’s efforts to organize a balls-out bachelor party for our hero with guest stars in tow, and Ororo’s girl-time moments with Kitty Pride and Sue “Invisible Woman” Storm. It’s a fun ride all the way, and I’m very curious to see what happens at the wedding itself; the template for this kind of thing goes back to the wedding of Sue and Reed Richards way back in FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #3 (1965), and since that story featured a shitstorm of nigh-incomprehensible action and mayhem that guest-starred damned near every single character in the Marvel Universe at the time, that’s the superhero nuptials to beat. And considering what has gone on since the Panther’s relaunch, I have no doubt that Hudlin and whoever illustrates the event will make it a tale to remember.

CIVIL WAR #2, FRONTLINE #2, FANTASTIC FOUR #538, NEW AVENGERS #21- I have to admit that I was very skeptical upon hearing about Marvel’s latest big crossover “event” since such stories are more often than not anything but, DC’s horrendous INFINITE CRAPFEST, er, CRISIS being a blatant case in point, but I am now officially on board for CIVIL WAR after the first two issues and the few connecting chapters in other Marvel books that I have read. As you may recall, the series deals with a law being passed that requires all superheroes to register with the government for training and to publicly reveal their identities or else face outlaw status and legal/federal retaliation after a disastrous situation in which the New Warriors botched the apprehension of a bunch of bad guys, resulting in the deaths of six-hundred civilians, including children. The first two issues saw the lines being drawn between the supers who support the legislation and those who oppose it for a variety of legitimate reasons, with two major pieces of fallout: Captain America telling the government (in this case represented by the super-espionage group S.H.I.E.L.D.) to stick it up their collective ass when he is ordered to hunt down any of his colleagues who won’t comply, and the shocking (to say nothing of potentially stupid) move of having Spider-Man reveal his true identity via unmasking on live national television. Both of these incidents have already had major repercussions for the heroes in question (unlike the bullshit in INFINITE CRAPFEST) and I am solidly hooked. Cap is now a wanted fugitive who has re-teamed with his old pal the Falcon (a black mutant who has the mutant ability to communicate with his pet falcon, Redwing. You call THAT a superpower?) in an effort to establish a group of like-minded supers who will take the fight to the government, while Peter Parker once again takes it in the ass for doing what he thinks is right; after revealing his identity, with the full approval of his wife and his aunt, he’s relentlessly hounded by the media, has a five-million dollar lawsuit filed against him by the Daily Bugle for “misrepresentation, fraud, breach of contract, and several other related charges,” and gets a real fisting when that dickhead Tony “Iron Man” Stark — an utter fucking asshole of a character who I have loathed since childhood, cool armor notwithstanding, that prick! — suddenly informs him that he’s part of the new anti-unregistered-super Gestapo. Marvel has been at the forefront of the superhero-story-as-soap-opera genre since 1961, hell, they invented the shit, and this current epic brings that element back in spades, both well written and well drawn. More, damn it! MORE!!!

And on the Fantastic Four front during all of this mishegoss, Johnny “the Human Torch” Storm has been beaten into a coma by a group of hooligans in the wake of the anti-super sentiment, and Ben “the Thing” Grimm — one of my top three favorite superheroes of all time — must wrestle with the moral implications of what the superhero registration act means for him and others of his community, and which side of the battle he falls on. Being a Jew, he can see the similarities to the start of horrors directed against a certain ethnic group in the not-too-distant past, and that does NOT sit well with him, especially since Reed “Mister Fantastic” Richards, one of the core of the FF, supports the shit with his usual clueless brilliance.


For all intents and purposes this book should just admit what it is and be call WORLD’S FINEST, but since it is one of the most inconsistent books out there, perhaps its current name is all for the best. There’s nothing here to give a shit about other than some of the liveliest art that Kevin Maguire’s done in some time, but the hook of this particular story is that Superman and Batman have had their minds transferred into the bodies of Power Girl and the Huntress, and while that idea goes absolutely nowhere, I just love the idea of Superman having to adjust to lugging around Power Girl’s legendarily huge jugs.

SOLO #11

DC’s hit-or miss SOLO series devotes each issue to a spotlight on the talents of various individual artists and sometimes yields gold for the discerning comics fan; previous issues have given us a solid forty-eight pages of such luminaries as Jordy Bernet, Richard Corben (one of my absolute favorites), Scott Hampton, and the incredibly dubious inclusion of Damien Scott (Mark, what the fuck were you thinking?!!!?), but his time around we get Sergio Aragones SERGIO MOTHERFUCKING ARAGONES, indisputably one of the greatest naturally talented cartoonists ever to draw breath, let alone pictures, and if you don’t go out right now and buy this issue I will hunt you down and pull your scrotum over your face by way of your useless ass crack. Yeah, there have been a zillion collections of the guy’s work, but this one is particularly interesting thanks to Sergio illustrating various true stories from his career, along with a couple of his signature silent tales.

BLACK LIKE YOU: Blackface, Whiteface, Insult & Imitation in American Popular Culture

In short, this book is an exceptional history of what blackface and minstrelsy mean in relation to whether or not it is a racist attack or a genuine expression of love toward black people and our culture. It’s a complicated issue, and author John Strausbaugh sets the record straight with a cornucopia of verifiable facts and general info. No joke, this is the best history book I have read since I don’t don’t know when. Jared, say hello to your birthday present.