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The song co-written by DEVO and John Hinckley Jr., Ronald Reagan’s failed assassin

If you look carefully at the credits for DEVO’s 1982 album Oh, No! It’s DEVO, you will spot a name that doesn’t ordinarily pop up in the DEVO universe or even the music world generally. The name is John Hinckley, Jr., and he is best known to the world as the man who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981, in a batshit-crazy attempt to win the amorous affections of Jodie Foster, then still a teenager. Hinckley was strongly influenced by The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and, far more pertinently, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, in which Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle considers assassinating a U.S. Senator named Palantine but then opts to murder the pimp who has rights over a teen prostitute portrayed by the selfsame Jodie Foster.

When Foster enrolled in Yale University, Hinckley moved all the way from Texas to New Haven, just so he could be near her. He engaged in a lot of creepy, stalker behavior that if you saw it in a movie, you’d think it was overdone, enrolling in the same writing class as her, leaving all kinds of poems and messages for her, and calling her repeatedly. Eventually he would squeeze off six rounds outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, wounding two Secret Service agents and Reagan’s press secretary as well as (via a ricochet) the president himself.

According to Rolling Stone, DEVO got in touch with Hinckley and acquired one of his demented love poems to Foster and adapted it into a song called “I Desire.” Here are some representative lyrics:

I pledge allegiance to the fact
That you’re wise to walk away
For nothing is more dangerous
Than desire when it’s wrong

Don’t let me torment you
Don’t let me bring you down
Don’t ever let me hurt you
Don’t let me fail because

I desire your attention
I desire your perfect love
I desire nothing more

The stunt not only annoyed Warner Bros., who learned that they would be obliged to send Hinckley royalty payments for the song, but also, according to Rolling Stone, won DEVO the official attentions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

As Mark Mothersbaugh recalled, “[Hinckley] let us take a poem that he had written, and we used it for the lyrics and turned it into a love song. It was not the best career move you could make. We had the FBI calling up and threatening us.”

In November of 1982, Hinckley wrote a letter to the “Morning Zoo” crew of KZEW, a Dallas radio station, in which he professes his love for “New Wave music” (hey, me too!) and requests that the station play “I Desire” a total of “58 times each day.” Here’s the full quote:

I like New Wave music, especially Devo, since I co-wrote a song on their new album. The song is called “I Desire” and I want you to play it 58 times each day.


In the letter Hinckley also writes, “I used to listen to the song ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie when I was stalking Carter and Reagan. It got me in a strange mood. ... In March and April of 1980, I hung out at Peaches Record Store on Fitzhugh.” Peaches, which used to be on the intersection of Cole and Fitzhugh in northern Dallas, has, alas, bitten the dust.

Below, listen to “I Desire,” the only new wave ditty ever co-written by a presidential assassin:


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Behind the scenes of ‘Silence of the Lambs’

Hannibal Lecter’s second appearance on the screen was in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, the film that allegedly helped sales of chianti, fava beans and skin lotion. Based on the novel by Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs starred Anthony Hopkins as serial killing cannibal, Doctor Lecter, and Jodie Foster as FBI agent Clarice Starling.

Though he can be chilling, I always found Hopkins interpretation of Lecter far more cartoon-like than the nuanced performance given by Scottish actor Brian Cox in Michael Mann’s first Lecter film Manhunter. Cox as Lecter (or “Lecktor” in the film) seemed believably sane, normal even, but allowed enough glimpses of the deadly psychopath lurking underneath to make his Lecter far more menacing. Interestingly, Demme originally had another Scot in mind for the role, Sean Connery.

As for Clarice Starling, Demme had wanted Michelle Pfeiffer for the role as they had worked well together on Married to the Mob. But the actress was nervous of the subject matter and turned the part down. It then fell to Foster, who had read the book and was keen to make the role her own, which she did. The film proved to be a major hit and cleaned up at the Oscars deservedly winning awards for the actors and director. This selection of photographs gives a sneak on to what was happening during the making of The Silence of the Lambs.
More behind the scenes photos after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Jodie Foster, age 9, for View-Master
10:29 am


Jodie Foster
Henry Fonda

jodie foster
I abidingly loved my Viewmaster when I was a kid. If you’re not sure what one is, I feel badly for you, but it’s the descendent of those old stereoscopic photo viewers, evolved over a century to become a brilliant children’s toy. My favorite slides were the Hanna-Barbera character tie-ins, which, looking back, were of VASTLY higher quality than the cheaply ground-out cartoons themselves. I also quite loved the travelogues - I may never have been to the Alps, but by god, I saw them in full 3D glory when I was five! I’d love to wax rhapsodic at length about these things, but DM’s Paul J. Gallagher beat me to the post by about a year. It’s a wonderful post, you should have a look.

In this Viewmaster ad from 1971, Jodie Foster, a full five years before her show-stealing performance as an underaged prostitute in Taxi Driver brought her to America and John Hinkley Jr.’s attention, similarly (though far less scandalously) stole the show from the venerable Henry Fonda!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
15-year-old Jodie Foster sings a Serge Gainsbourg tune
01:57 pm

Pop Culture

Serge Gainsbourg
Jodie Foster

A 15-year-old Jodie Foster sings Serge Gainsbourg’s “Comic Strip” with Claude Francois on French TV in 1977.

Foster speaks French impeccably and pulls this off beautifully.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment