for 2 October 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Subject: re: Gunga Galunga
While you were on the subject of SNL Alumni, golf, and Tiger Woods, you forgot one of the more memorable moments of the last couple of (mostly lame) years of SNL, the 'Biography' they did of Tiger Woods, starring Tim Meadows as Tiger (complete with disturbingly white teeth) and Tracy Morgan as Earl Woods. Earl goes on about how when Tiger was a young boy all he did was talk about 'golf is great, and I love golf' then it flashes to Tiger saying 'The first memories I have of my father are of him taping a golf club to my hand, he had this crazy look in his eyes'. Back to Earl talking about how great Tiger is 'He's like another Ghandi' Tiger returns with 'Yeah, when I bought him a house he was like 'gee thanks Ghandi' I guess he wanted a bigger house.' As far as I can tell, Golf is still just another excuse to cover up a drinking problem (not unlike fishing) and thats fine, the only golf I ever play kinda resembles polo (drunken golf cart golf--try it sometime--you'll love it, and you'll be asked never to return to the course).
Being the ball,
Yes, Robert, golf carts were one of the best things about golf until its current revival began looking down on them. According to the behind-the-scenes tribute that precedes Caddyshack on Warners' 19th anniversary video of the movie, the oh-so-crazy gang at work on the film had a number of course-grinding golf cart wars in their off hours. I'm surprised souped-up carts haven't been manufactured that can be hitched to SUV's and pulled behind them to country clubs. If they do get around to making them, I'll happily edit the magazine dedicated to them that will inevitably emerge.
Subject: re: Elihu, will you loofah my stretchmarks?
Yep, Slotcar, you hit a hole in one on this one. Another--or should I say, yet another, indice is that Wesley Snipes job in The Art of War, was apparently hunting after gophers for the government of the United Nations. Well, moles, but moles, gophers--what's the difference. Good work!
Richard Von Busack
Everyone has their favorite line. But someone attached to the stretchmarks moment is truly disturbed. The way the film moves from Lacey half-naked in bed to Knight's elderly wife in the shower is one of the film's ickier moments. The whole SNL/Lampoon crowd always showed a fear of aging, and Ramis played that up in Caddyshack. You'd think the Second City-trained Ramis would have a little sympathy for the domestic life of Ted Knight's Judge Smails, but no. In this case I think the Smailses deserved a little better. After all, Knight is the backbone of the movie. In true straight man tradition, he holds the whole thing together for the sketch comics Murray and Chase and the standup Dangerfield. Would that woman really ask her husband that question? Of course mere verisimilitude can't detract from the line's immortality now.
You're the guy who saw The Art of War?
Lots to say about this . . . let me just rattle off a few thoughts as they come to me
. . . first, you're absolutely correct about the historical significance of this film and about its sheer comic genius . . . and these are entirely intertwined. That is, the film plays mercilessly on the most taboo subject in our culture (the codes and symbols of economic status) in roughly the same moment in which we first began to register the dark undertow of the Reagan era, the moment when this most repressed body of concerns came bouncing back up in the wake of "the sixties" to torment us with renewed fury. For the first time in a very great while, people were interested in joining country clubs (and they were anxious about exactly how to go about it and what certain things meant) and those who had never left them were thrilled to discover that they no longer had to be embarrassed about the pleasures of living that way (and yet their relief was alloyed by a roving buzzard-eye wariness about whether or not they were just stepping into a yet more demeaning and complicated prank). Let me say it another way: people who were not "old money" had been enjoying and cultivating the post-war boom for a generation or so (despite the nervey down-turn of the early 70s) and were now looking forward to appropriating some of the symbols of the old leisure class; and the old leisure class had just come through a deep humiliation (the sixties) when it was considered morally suspect to have a lot of money and denim became the uniform of all forward-looking "people." And so you've got a bunch of idiots (who aren't quite sure what they're doing) posturing and preening in the suburban summer sun for each others' benefit. A juicier terrain for big, big laffs is hard to imagine. One thinks of the best period of the old National Lampoon, say '74 to '79 those folks had their eyes trained on the same terrain as the Caddyshack artists.
I think your assessment of Clinton here is dead on the money he didn't learn his schtick in the 60s. The 60s, after all, were a deadly serious time, the stakes were high, and everybody knew that many weren't coming back (I'm trying hard to avoid the cliches of Morrison Hotel here, and its tough, cos even though Jimbo was a jack-ass, he had a knack for acting out, albeit in caricature, what quite possibly were the creepy truths of that disintegrative era, ie Manson, Viet Nam, the Panthers, Hells Angels, et al); Clinton on the other hand is a good-natured cutey with a juanty giggle and sophomoric impulses, whose considerable charm derives from his hang-dog, aw-shucks ability to persevere the way rodeo clowns like Chevy Chase do, all silly tumbles and smug resilience; and the Bush father-son duo is of course entirely prophecied by the Ted Knight / Spaulding dynamic. In fact, the whole film, as you imply, is an act of prophecy. It even has a prophet-like character in Bill Murray. Appropriately, it is he who brings the turd-in-the-pool passage perhaps the most searing comedic tour de force filmed in our life-time to a skull-shattering conclusion by flipping back his white mylex hood and having a hearty chomp on this most excluded, repressed, anxiety-inducing dollop of sweet, chocolatey truth.
The moment is so incredible he's dressed as if cleaning up nuclear waste, dressed in symbolic white, hooded like an executioner, and then he performs an act that prophecies G. G. Allin and the whole punk uprising. The film could have ended right there indeed the entire art of cinema should have take a five-year hiatus to ponder that one moment. For an entire social universe had been mapped and effortlessly annihilated. A permanent landmark in American art.
T. R. Johnson
Your exegesis is sobering and all too accurate. However, I can't sanction the idea that the cinema should've taken a five-year hiatus after the Baby Ruth scene. That would've deprived the world of Jerry Lewis's Cracking Up.
As for Jim Morrison, if he was going to act out the disquieting truths of the Vietnam era, he should have considered doing it in mime.
You mention The National Lampoon. Several readers wrote to chide me for not mentioning the genius of Douglas Kenney, the real mastermind behind Caddyshack. Like all true Kenney-ites, these readers are stealthy, background types. They insisted that their Kenney-promotion not be published. So now's as good a time as any to remind people that Kenney, a comedy writer who made the Lampoon hip and also brought Animal House into the world, is a fading figure in comedy history, harder to fathom these days even as his legend grows. His untimely death in 1980 he fell off a cliff in Hawaii deprived the movies of the inspired underpinning the John Belushi generation needed, and his death gave Lorne Michaels free reign to usher in an era of woeful mediocrity. Perhaps he wouldn't have stopped the coming lameness anymore than JFK would've stopped the Vietnam War, but that's another thing we'll never know.
One might argue that this is just another glib attempt to "Ty" this years presidential election into our popular culture, suggesting that Americans lack a certain "gravitas" in the selection of their political leaders as well as their recreational choices.
No, no Judge. Nobody says that. Not as far as you know.
Although I am partial to the musings of the "40th Street Black", when it comes to crafting an entertaining, thought provoking, down-right funny, quasi-political essay, you're no slouch.
Don't sell yourself short, Judge. You're a tremendous slouch!
Steven P. Sanabria
Well, Steven, with scare-quoted puns like that, I only have one question to ask: What's your handicap? And there's nothing a writer likes more than a letter telling him that although the letter-writer really likes some other writer a lot, he's OK, too. It's kind of like Mary McCarthy getting a letter that says, Although I'm partial to the plays of Lillian Hellman, I thought The Group was pretty kicky! (Not that I'm comparing 40th Street to Lillian Hellman. That's something we'll only be able to do once 40thSB publishes his memoir about his years with Dash.) Thanks for writing, and you're right about me. In fact, I'm slouching right now.
You hit it dead solid perfect. What a tour-de-course!
I watched Caddyshack get stiffed in the Top 100 Funniest Films, too, and I had exactly the same reaction, except I forgot to write a brilliant cultural analysis afterwards.
I recently screened Caddyshack for my 15 year old son. He is a pretty funny kid, meaning he appreciates comedy. He only seemed lukewarm when he watched it with me, but I noticed him watching it again later. In fact, he must have seen it several times, because now he quotes all of Bill Murray's dialogue perfectly. I never would have thought Caddyshack would help me build a bridge with my son, but now all it takes is "Hey, Lama. How about a little something, you know, for the effort....." and we look at each other and laugh like two teenagers.
"Caddyshack is about how a new establishment replaces an old one."
Being the ball,
I like your sneaky reference to the TV-movie Dead Solid Perfect with Randy Quaid. Jaded golf movie lovers everywhere are trying to build it into another Caddyshack. Good luck to them.
I'm glad you and your son can bond over a movie, but life isn't all Bill Murray comedies, you know. Maybe you guys should go rent How Green Was My Valley or something. It may not be a golf comedy, but at least it has "Green" in its title.
I guess I will have to rent it now. Honestly, I've never seen it. I can't tell you how many times I have chuckled, nodded my head and pretended that I got the reference in my lifetime. I was always vaguely aware that it was from "that dumb movie with the annoying gopher". I guess that may be why I've never been much of a party girl. Maybe if I rent it I will finally be able to fit in at all the suburban cocktail parties I attend.
Does Big Pete know you're using his email address to send strange writers praise? I bet you're A-OK as a party girl even if you don't know what people are talking about when they say, Big hitter, the lama. There's more to life than that, as those suburban cocktail parties will prove if they're anything like the ones I go to.
i'm just curious...the letters that people write in to Suck... --especially the lame whiny ones-- are those real?
do you make them up as filler inspirations? or are there really people in the world that would send Suck an e-mail saying:
"Someone said 'Everyone is a critic' and its the truth, so here is my 2 cents. Your comics look great, the words suck. I think you are probably a highly inteligent person. So why do you ramble like a fool? You sound like a lesbian-scientist on crack! My advice... calm down a bit and write something that makes sense.
Andrew Magill <firstname.lastname@example.org>"
is it real? or is he some strange galatical/tactical joker writing in to sound clever? it just sounds so much like someone who i would make fun of in a chat room.
yours truly, long time suckster, occasionally clever but mostly just curious,
Believe it or not, all the mail is 100% real. I would write fake mail, don't get me wrong, it's just that the stuff I get is so much better than anything I could write. Plus, it's much more interesting for me to try to come up with something stupid based on an email than it is for me to come up with a stupid email, then come up with a stupid column to base on the stupid email or, worse yet, come up with a stupid final joke, then write a stupid column on it, then write a stupid email to create a big, stupid excuse for the whole mess. I think John Irving did this with a whole novel once "A Prayer for Owen Meany." You know, everyone's favorite stupid novel. "Oh my God so that's why his voice was so high! It all makes sense now!"
Not only are there really people in the world that would send Suck an email saying what you quoted, there are also people in the world that would send Suck an email saying this:
"Hey gang. Love yer work."
I mean, almost all the mail we get has something weird about it.
Let's just review a letter we ran yesterday:
"Yes I would like to sponser you. I have a pair of gym socks here that well, smelly rather frusty. I insist that you take them as I think that your site has too many scantly clad fish. And yes I know that fish have no feet, but i am thinking that they coulds use it as a shawl. I think that your fish would look very 'mod' with these socks."
Now, what exactly does the word "frusty" mean? And why do they "smelly rather frusty"?
These are the kinds of artistic choices that simply baffle the mind, and keep our reader mail fresh and friendly.
I'm always afraid to write anything to you guys because I might end up just like the folks in today's Filler, but I just had to compliment you on your excellent work. Perhaps it's only me, because I love well executed running gags, but I was laughing out loud nonetheless! And I don't even know what the Hamptons are! Good stuff.
You know, I hardly know what the Hamptons are, either, Jason.
You are not alone.
despite my bad reputation i've never flamed you before. i almost think of you as one of my peers, fighting the good fight against suck.com. as such i'm just going to write you a normal letter like i would write to anyone, not a performative filler thing.
last week when you were talking about psychiatry and the book of revelations and lsd etc you said something like "X number of deep therapy sessions to achieve Y" or "X number of acid trips to achieve Y". well you should have a more careful attitude towards your health. just as much as some strong medicine can have a strong help it can make you suseptible to a strong disease. there's no inherent benifit in a *strong* cure, except to say that IF you observe its correct placement in the entire universe of things going on inside and outside of you you can hit the right notes so to speak, and then they will be loud. going into strength-of-cure without mindfulness of the fullness around you is going to get you sucked into loudness-without-melody which is just a shrieking hell... which of course changes into catharsis, which is good. but the bad side isn't good just because it changes into good when it reaches its fullness. don't create the false impression for your peers that strength in-itself (the very concept of which is false) is worth meddling with.
the other thing i think you should think and talk about more, in the psychological line, is your family, and all your little followers' families. as remarkably simple and obvious as this may sound, the vast majority of the psychological problems of you and your peers are because these are all people who were chased away from their parents by evil forces. as leonard cohen would say, "it begins with your family but soon it comes around to your soul". not to play anthropologist but even the fact that people feel the need to NOT live with their own parents is the cause and symptom of an extremely deep disease. the ideal of the nuclear family, that is. if you could somehow re-position your psychiatric witticisms to allude to the fact that most of this pain comes from not being near your parents (or not being able to be near your parents), it would do a lot of good. you'd have to be subtle about it though -- how far are these people (in their thinking caps) away from thinking that their family is the least bit important.
stay down in it, doing the good work.
Another fine example of the kind of artistic genius that hails straight from our mailbags.
I'll agree with your assessment that a lot of people our age (assuming we actually are peers) put their families low on the totem pole. I'll also suggest that at least a few of them belong there. I'd also like to point out that it's a very big country, so alienation from one's family can sometimes seem inevitable, and once it starts, it's tough to stop. I'd also like to mention that I'd develop an extremely deep disease if I moved in with any member of my family. This is my own fucking problem, really, as I am a bad combination of intolerant and intolerable.
See, whether or not people are close to their families, they have to learn to be tolerant, patient, accepting, and wise in building their own families, so the same lessons are learned eventually. It's tougher for those who can't handle their own families to start families of their own, because they're so out of practice in dealing with other, pesky, bizarre, stubborn, passive-aggressive people. Unless they're social workers. At any rate, most of us choose to put off the family-creation process for as long as humanly possible.
I can't believe I'm talking about important life lessons. What is this, Touched By An Angel?
Out of practice,