“Good, clean professional wrestling, the way it used to be!” plus Jesus!
This is one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen on the Internet in… I dunno, at least several hours? Just about every spectrum of goofy is covered in this decidedly unironic clip. About 60 seconds in, when the guy is describing his aches and pains—wait for it—it’s genius. If the actual dialogue here was goosed up maybe 5% by a comedy writer, it would have amazing potential as a sitcom.
But this is real. Get these Christian Wrestling Federation guys a reality show! You can’t say this wouldn’t play to an exceptionally large swath of the American public! Imagine the drama (and ratings!) when one of them comes out! Basic cable gold, these guys. If truTV don’t sign these fellows up, they’re leaving money on the table.
When my friend and label-mate Michael Kentoff of the fine D.C. area band, The Caribbean posted some clips of local public-access phenomenon T.V. John Langworthy to his FB wall I wasn’t quite sure what to make of them. I liked that the line between knowingly funny and genuinely disturbed was truly blurry. So I asked Michael to try to provide some regional context and personal testimony about this hitherto unknown (to me and probably anyone else not living in the greater D.C. area) outsider artiste.
Well, you asked for it.
To the long-time local, there’s something very suburban DC about TV John Langworthy: proudly small-town yahoo just miles from the power center of the universe. It’s difficult to explain, but there he is: TV John (who is a twin!) flaunting his big-headed goofiness involuntarily and in defiance. Suburban DC or not, his similarity to other people ends there. In truth, he’s from a suburban DC on another planet. Television host, songwriter, open mic night organizer, singer, and whatever he does for a living, TV John is both obscure and conspicuous in any place at any time because he is completely and functionally in his own world – and we’re all invited!
Like his legion of fans (the number is anywhere from 17 to 17,000, I’d imagine), I stumbled across the TV John Show, which played to countless carpet-scraping jaws in the early 1990s, on local cable access. His show immediately followed The Music Shoppe, a survey of local music that was morbidly fascinating on a whole different level. Over the course of 30 cable minutes, the TV John Show usually featured two here-today-gone-later-today local performers and, the real pay-off, two lip-synced originals by the towering, flailing, smiling, gyrating host himself. He called them and still calls them “dream songs,” which, he reports, literally wake him up at night and demand to be captured on the nearest magnetic tape tout suite. Sort of like McCartney with “Yesterday” if McCartney woke up restrained by straps and safety pins to a hospital bed. Or if he awoke in a ranch-style house in Montgomery County, Maryland.
I taped a few TV John Shows and would subject unprepared friends to the late-80s video graphics, the parade of oddly matched bands, and, most importantly, to TV John himself – the dream songs and, if we were lucky, a solo comedy sketch that could only be funny somewhere deep inside the cedar closet of John’s brain. Some friendships ended – as if we were laughing at a disturbed asylum escapee, but most people cringed with delight. I, for one, always figured John was in on the joke. He both meant it for real and meant it as a gag. That was his genre (my theory).
Years later, Dave Jones and I went to see him perform with his band at the venerable Galaxy Hut in Arlington. At first sight, John was just a big, dorky guy in his 50s, smiling, chatting, drinking a beer. The most conspicuous thing about him was his giant overly-colorful silk shirt that looked like something a clown might pull endlessly from his left sleeve. Then the music started and TV John emerged – hurling around and singing in poses that almost seemed right out of pro wrestling. The normal big dork did not appear the rest of the night – TV John held sway. It was pretty magical. Definitely entertaining to the extreme. Dave and I chatted him up and showed him some video Dave shot of his set. The three of us laughed. Dave said, “Hilarious, man!” TV John, enormous face, raised two large craggly eyebrows over a giant, toothy smile and nodded, “Sure is!” Knew it.
Many more inscrutable TV John clips after the jump…
Poppa Neutrino (William David Pearlmam) was born in San Francisco in 1933. Neutrino died on January 23, 2011 in New Orleans, LA.
Poppa Neutrino was a friend of mine and one the most fascinating men I’ve ever met.
During the mid-1980s into the 90s, I was booking bands into several music venues in New York City. Poppa had a family band called The Flying Neutrinos fronted by his daughter Ingrid Lucia and son Todd Londagin. They’d been street musicians for years, traveling all over the world, eventually landing in Manhattan. I saw the group evolve from a somewhat ragged ensemble into a world class jazz band with a heavy New Orleans influence. Poppa receded into the background as the group became increasingly in demand and successful. But his spiritual influence was very much alive in the soul of the group. He encouraged not only their art but their fierce independence. Which considering his own wild and uncompromising past was to be totally expected. He was a renegade with a streetwise philosophy and a hustler’s instincts. An American Gurdjieff.
David Pearlman, a restless and migratory soul, a mariner, a musician, a member of the Explorers Club and a friend of the San Francisco Beats, a former preacher and sign painter, a polymath, a pauper, and a football strategist for the Red Mesa Redskins of the Navajo Nation. When Pearlman was fifty, he was bitten on the hand by a dog in Mexico and for two years got so sick that he thought he would die. When he recovered, he felt so different that he decided he needed a new name. He began calling himself Poppa Neutrino, after the itinerant particle that is so small it can hardly be detected. To Neutrino, the particle represents the elements of the hidden life that assert themselves discreetly.
Inspired by Thor Heyerdahl and Kon-Tiki, Neutrino is the only man ever to build a raft from garbage he found on the streets of New York and sail it across the North Atlantic. The New York Daily News described the accomplishment as “the sail of the century.” National Geographic broadcast an account of the trip as part of its series on extreme adventures.
The philosophical underpinnings of Neutrino’s existence are what he calls Triads, a concept worked out after years of reading and reflection. He believes that each person, to be truly happy, must define his or her three deepest desires and pursue them remorselessly. Freedom, Joy, and Art are Neutrino’s three.
As recently as last year, Poppa was still pushing the envelope when he attempted to circumnavigate the Globe in a 37 foot raft with a crew consisting of three sailors and three dogs. But on November 9 their raft was tossed by big surf onto the rocks near Thompson’s Point, VT.
Only a few months later, Poppa died of a heart attack in the city he always seemed to return to, New Orleans. His family is having him cremated and will set his ashes afloat on the Mississippi River. In the words of his daughter Ingrid, “He’s always been free, so we’ll set him free.”
Like many artists and musicians, Poppa had little money and no insurance. If you’d like to contribute toward his funeral expenses go here.
Victor Zimet and Stephanie Silber’s documentary Random Lunacy explores the life and philosophy of Poppa Neutrino. This your chance to meet a remarkable man.
What is the through-line in this batch of tunes I’ve selected to present to you, the discerning Dangerous Minds consumer? Perhaps it’s what Brian Eno refers to as idiot glee. At least that’s the emotional state that these songs tend to evoke in yours truly. That is until the last few tracks when my stock-in-trade taste for melancholic melody and downer sentiment kicks in. Whatever, hope you enjoy being inside my head for an hour. It’s a weird place to be.
Don Van Vliet - What Are We Gonna Do With You ?
Wild Kingdom - Roma-Destiny
Shoukichi Kina - Haisai Ojisan
Rick Grossman - Mellow Heaven Clout
Bobby Brown - Hawaii Nei I’ll Miss You
Lila Downs - Pinotepa
Albert Ayler & Don Cherry - Ghosts
Aksak Maboul - A Modern Lesson
Can - Turtles Have Short Legs (original 7” version)
Vogel - Flaschenzug
Eno (with The Winkies) - Totalled (I’ll Come Running)
The Van Dyke Parks - Do Want You Wanta
T2 - J.L.T.
Toru Takemitsu - Sky, Horse and Death
Nick Lowe - Endless Sleep
Serious video bonus: The internet debut of the only video footage of the band Wild Kingdom that I know of from my personal collection of New Wave Theatre episodes. I’m truly hoping a member or two of this band will turn up and tell me where the other recordings are (or at least what the incredible drummer ended up doing!)
Better yet, keep your Italo disco. Here’s some actual Krautrock. Yes, It’s the Sauerkraut synthesizer, the work of one Gordon Monahan.
Gordon Monahan’s Sauerkraut Synthesizer is an experimental synth, built around fruits, vegetables, and a jar of sauerkraut as voltage controllers for a software synthesizer, built with ppooll-max/msp and an Arduino interface.
The video captures a live performance on the Sauerkraut Synthesizer at the Subtle Technologies Festival, on board a cruise ship in Toronto Harbour, June 5, 2010.
The Sauerkraut Synthesizer is based on a technical prototype using lemons (The Lemon Synthesizer), developed as a collaboration between Gordon Monahan, Akemi Takeya, and Noid, in Vienna, March, 2009.
Witness the majesty of the Lemon Synthesizer after the jump…
The ending to B. S. Johnson’s film Fat Man on a Beach proved rather prophetic, as the author walked fully clothed into the sea, until he disappeared. It was the last sequence filmed for his documentary, and recalls the opening scene to the BBC comedy The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, and, more significantly, Stevie Smith’s poem “Not Waving but Drowning”. Three weeks after filming this scene, in 1973, B. S. Johnson killed himself.
I’ve liked Johnson since I first read him as a teenager, and he is one of the many authors whose books I still return to all these years later. Although I like his work there is something about Johnson that reminds me of the well-kent story of Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman during the making of Marathon Man, where each actor approached their role through their own discipline. Olivier had learnt his technique from treading the boards and performing Shakespeare alongside John Gielgud; Hoffman was a different breed, his muse was Method Acting, where motivation is key. When Hoffman’s character was supposed to have been without sleep, Hoffman decided to stay up all night in order to perform the scene. When Olivier heard the length to which Hoffman had gone to interpret his role, the aging Lord, said, “Have you tried acting, dear boy?”
There was something of the Hoffman in Johnson, or at least, in the shared need to have the experience before creating from it. What Johnson did not do was write fiction - or so he claimed. He saw stories as lies, citing the term “telling stories” as a childish euphemism for telling lies. Johnson did not believe in telling lies, he believed in telling the truth. And it was this that would ultimately destroy him. For once one has abandoned imagination, there is no possibility of escape, or creative freedom.
In 1965, Johnson wrote a play called You’re Human Like the Rest of Them - a grim, unrelenting drama, later made into an award-winning short film in 1967. In it, the central character Haakon realizes his own mortality and the inevitability of death.
We rot and there’s nothing that can stop it / Can’t you feel the shaking horror of that? / You just can’t ignore these things, you just can’t!
For Haakon, and so for Johnson, from “the moment of birth we decay and die.” An obvious proposition, as Jonathan Coe, pointed out in his excellent biography on Johnson Like a Fiery Elephant, one which any audience would have understood before watching. Not so for Johnson the realist - death is the final answer to life’s question, and once realized nothing else is of significance. You can see where this is heading, and how Johnson started to unravel. Though he did go on to write three of his greatest novels after this: Trawl, about life on a fishing vessel; The Unfortunates the episodic tale of a friend’s death from cancer; and the brutally comic Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry, in which the titular hero becomes a mass murderer and succumbs to a sudden death form cancer; you can see the pattern, all three were shadowed with death. However, each is so brilliantly and engagingly written their dark heart is often overlooked.
There is a key moment in Fat Man on a Beach, when Johnson described a motorcycle accident in which the cyclist was diced by a barbed-wire fence, like “a cheese-cutter through cheese.” He explained the story as a “metaphor for the way the human condition seems to treat humankind,” then digressed and said, life is:
“...really all chaos…I cannot prove it as chaos any more than anyone else can prove there is a pattern, or there is some sort of deity, but even if it is all chaos, then let’s celebrate chaos. Let’s celebrate the accidental. Does that make us any the worse off? Are we any the worse off? There is still love; there is still humor.”
This in essence is what is so marvelous about Johnson and Fat Man on a Beach, as Jonathan Coe later wrote as an introduction to the film:
One evening late in 1974, the TV listings announced that a documentary about Porth Ceiriad was to be broadcast. It was being shown past my bedtime (I was 13), but was clearly not to be missed. After News at Ten, we settled down to watch en famille.
Instead of a tourist’s-eye view of local beauty spots, what we saw that evening was baffling. A corpulent yet athletic-looking man, bearing some resemblance to an overweight Max Bygraves, ran up and down the beach for 40 minutes gesticulating, expostulating, reciting strange poetry and chattering away about the randomness of human life, his quasi-mystical feelings about the area and, most passionately, the dishonesty of most modern fiction and film-making. With disarming bluntness, the programme was called Fat Man on a Beach. We could not make head or tail of it.
And yet memories of this film, so unlike anything seen on television before or since, stayed with me, and 10 years later, when I was a postgraduate student, I stumbled upon a reissued paperback novel by someone called B. S. Johnson and realised that this was the same person. Amazingly, it came with a puff from Samuel Beckett, someone not known as a regular provider of jacket quotations. Encouraged by this, I bought the novel, which was called Christie Malry’s Own Double Entry, devoured it in a matter of hours (it’s less than 30,000 words long) and realised that I had found a new hero.
When I thought about the film that we had watched in a daze of collective bewilderment all those years before, I remembered the sense of fierce engagement, combined with a spirit of childish fun, that had characterised BS Johnson’s virtuoso monologue to camera. I remembered his strange, unwieldy grace - the sort of fleet-footed grace you find unexpectedly in a bulky comedian such as John Goodman or Oliver Hardy. And I remembered the wounded eyes that stared at you almost aggressively, as if in silent accusation of some nameless hurt. It was impossible not to recognise the pain behind those eyes. Even so, I had not realised at the time that I had been looking at a dead man.
The writer David Quantick has uploaded this and some other excellent films by Johnson onto You Tube, which I hope will provide a stimulus to reading his exceptional books.
Olympic Papoose Boards solve the frustrating problem of temporarily restraining injured, frightened children (also teenagers and adults) for medical or dental treatment. A struggling, frantic child can be completely immobilized in less than 60 seconds on a Papoose Board. Then, while the patient is securely and safely held, the physician can expose any part of the child’s body for examination or treatment.