Friday, November 13, 2015

Show Notes for HMOTD 016: Muy Dinero

2:30 "Les decides to make a late-night visit to Jennifer's apartment...": Probably one of the most memorable scenes from my childhood memories of WKRP, especially when Les tries to out-macho Steel with downing an entire martini. "All newsmen drink, Jennifer. That's the kind of rough and tumble guys we are." "Good night, and um... congratulations to the both of you on... your... very fine looks." And again, not to harp on the Les Nessman, Secret Bisexual Swinger thesis, but Les's demeanor throughout the scene is borderline flirtatious with both Jennifer and Steel.

4:15 Logjammin'. Jeff Bridges could just read "...Karl Hungus" quizzically off the opening credits of Logjammin! all day long and I'd be a happy dude.

5:05: Blow-dried hunks in cigarette ads: First things first: if you want to see my TV Guide scans (sadly devoid of blow-dried crispy-haired cigarette hunks), you can check them out on my Facebook, albums 1 2 3 and 4. But yeah, this array of cigarette ads should convey what I was trying to describe.

6:20: Sheik chic: This is another set of symbols that I remember quite vividly from childhood; the image of the Arab sheik meant conspicuous wealth. In fact, before the Japanese were going to own us in the mid-1980s, the Arab oil sheiks were going to own us in the late 70s (sometimes literally, as seen in ABSCAM below) So, as Rob and I detail, there was the second 1970s energy crisis (that one was triggered primarily by the Iranian Revolution and not Arab sheiks, although OPEC definitely benefited). ABSCAM (which was going on right now but not revealed until the early 80s, and yes, I was the one guy who liked "American Hustle" unreservedly). "Rock the Casbah" (another early 80s example). Toledo's own Jamie Farr in The Cannonball Run! And Americathon, such a weird little artifact of this late 70s moment... we'll talk more about Americathon in a bit.

[Edit: And listener and friend of the podcast Adam Sloka reminds us about Frank Zappa's live double album from, yes, again, 1979, Sheik Yerbouti.]

Not sure about the idea of African-American fashion co-opting Arabic dress in the 1970s, but of course there was the return to African fashion among African-Americans in the 1960s and 70s, and sub-Saharan African fashion and culture have of course been touched by Arabic cultural influences over the course of history.

10:00 Americathon. If you like the famous 1970s comedy troupe The Firesign Theatre, this movie was the brainchild of Phil Proctor and Peter Bergman. And yeah. This is yet again another piece of media that I saw at WAY too early an age to understand in any kind of nuanced way, but boy, did it leave me with a great, deep, abiding love of satirical American economic dystopias (*coff*Infinite Jest*coff*). Or indeed, more recently, Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story. America selling off/giving away bits of itself to survive, that geopolitical autophagia sort of thing, is a very powerful metaphor for runaway American consumerism. Americans in the far future of 1997 living in their own rusted-out gas guzzling 1970s cars is a no less powerful indictment, even if Americathon itself is fairly silly. But I think satirical silliness is another crucial part of the American economic dystopia; it's a way of forgiving ourselves for our greatest sins by joking about them (again, the idea of humor being a "benign violation" and a way of laughing away anxieties). As David Foster Wallace says in Infinite Jest, when the Canadian tennis academy students are watching an ironic filmic look at recent history which has dispossessed their country in favor of American "experialism," "This American penchant for absolution via irony is foreign to them."

Whew. That got serious. Let's get back to talking about hunks.

16:40 Rating the super-hunks. No mention of hunks can be made without pointing to Kate Beaton.

18:40 Down With Love. [Rob: The clip is of course from  Down With Love, Peyton Reed's beautiful and I think underrated pastiche of Doris Day/Rock Hudson style sex comedies of the 1950s-60s. Barbara Novak's fictional book Down With Love is a riff on Helen Gurley Brown's Sex and the Single Girl, an ur-text of the kind of Cosmo you-go-girl feminism-lite we're talking about in the podcast. See? Even when we're picking funny audio clips, we're trying to edumacate you.]

19:32 The Burt Reynolds centerfold. We didn't talk about the centerfold much in our Monday Turd Ferguson Burt Reynolds post, because we knew we'd have a lot of hairy-chested Burt Reynolds content in this episode of the podcast. But here's a listicle of 10 facts about the iconic image. Email from listener My Mom this week, in part, tells us young'uns: "Boy, he was sooo big in the 70's. Dinah Shore was probably the first Hollywood cougar, the best thing was they didn't try to hide their affair and because of that people accepted it much more than one would have expected." The Dinah Shore affair was news to me! And related to our Helen Gurley Brown/Tonight Show reference: "P.S. He was a great guest on The Tonight Show. Quick, funny and he was definitely in on the celebrity joke." Incisive 1970s media analysis from Our Moms, everyone.

22:35 Pierre Trudeau, superhunk. Well, hey, if you don't buy our citation of Pierre Trudeau as a superhunk... his son, Justin, recently elected Grand Poobah of the Canadian Dominion (I think that's the proper technical term, but I'm just a dumb American, what do I know) has, in the elation around his recent election, been literally called "hunky" all over the world.

23:30 Endlessly parodied. So here's a few little facts I found in my research about parodies of the Burt Reynolds poster (and by "research," I mean a Google Image Search for "burt reynolds parody poster"). I didn't see Rob's camel but I did see Bullwinkle J. Moose, who also hits our "knobbly, weird-looking lumpy hairy mammal" thesis pretty well.

[Rob: I found it! And if you bid now, it can be yours!]

So, the first hit is for a Harvard Lampoon parody poster featuring... Henry Kissinger, which makes our discussion of him later in the podcast delightfully relevant. But here's the thing: Henry Kissinger himself was a 70s hunk! He coined the aphorism "power is the ultimate aphrodisiac" and dated some of the hottest women of the early 70s, all while hobnobbing with famous Hollywood film producers!

(Please, try to picture in your mind the Kissinger Voice saying the following sentence: "You know I like these HotPants very much." And check out later in that article, 1971 Gloria Steinem's assertion that he is "the only interesting person in the whole Nixon Administration." Also, Henry is a Gemini... ladies.)

Nixon himself told Kissinger to knock it off: "Kissinger [needs] to be more discreet regarding his glamorous young women, especially in public and especially in Washington D.C. He feels it's okay for Henry to be a swinger in New York, Florida, and California, but he should not be in Washington." Heyo!

24:35 Chippendales. Like Playgirl, Chippendales and other male exotic dance troupes are a commodification of male sexuality that could only have happened in the 1970s (that's a great article, by the way; the way straitlaced men of the late 70s react to female desire is hilarious).

26:50 Gay macho. You can Google "gay macho" and you're going to get about half poststructuralist academic treatises and half porn. I think this says it all.

29:15 More Kate Beaton! I love Kate Beaton's 1980s Businesswoman; again, probably because she reminds me of the outfits my mom wore throughout the 80s.

29:30 Annie Lennox. Much ink and many pixels have been spilled over the years on this video and its iconography.

29:50 David Byrne's big suit. I think David Byrne has to be considered one of the most important visual artists of the latter half of the 20th century, in addition to being a great musician. Between the design aspects of the Talking Heads' albums and the motion picture and performance work in both Stop Making Sense and True Stories, he's a true genius.

30:55 "Why are Armenians eating lasagna?" God, I crack up at this EVERY time.

36:05 "We could do that, but it would be wrong." The way I know these lines is from the SNL skit where Nixon reimagines his Oval Office conversations as a big practical joke.

37:55 Phyllis Schlafly and Anita Bryant. Here's some more information on Schlafly, and the campaign to stop the Equal Rights Amendment. And Anita Bryant's key role in anti-gay adoption and teacher movements in Florida and California, specifically the Briggs Initiative. Interesting fact: Ronald Reagan opposed the Briggs Initiative as former governor of California and someone who knew he'd be running for President again in 1980. Times change.

42:35 Busing. You can read my post in the blog about busing here.

45:50 The Carlson poster. Yeah, I'm not afraid to take credit for the concept behind our logo (after all, who says "HOPE" better than the Big Guy?), but the actual graphic design work on it (and pretty much the design of every part of our podcast and blog) is all Rob.

Also, this tweet from our pals at @WKRPQuotes gives you a great image of the original, no-less-goofy "serious" campaign poster.

47:55 Brewster's Millions. I'm speaking of the 1980s Richard Pryor vehicle/basic cable staple, not any of the earlier versions. I'd vaguely remembered that there was at least one earlier film version of the story, but jeez, did you know that Brewster's Millions has been adapted more than ten times for the screen, including multiple Bollywood versions, and the story itself goes ALL the way back to a 1902 Gilded Age novel?? I did not know this before today. I think we're due for a 2010s Gilded Age remake, don't you?

48:25 "Welcome to the Biff Tannen Museum!" In case you missed it on Marty McFly Day a few weeks ago on the podcast as we talked about character actor Thomas Wilson's work as Coach Fredericks on Freaks and Geeks, we also linked in the last installment of Show Notes to the Biff = The Donald revelation. I also liked Rob including this clip for the intimation that one day, all museum professionals like me will probably be working at the functional equivalent of the Biff Tannen Museum.

[Rob: Yeah, this clip only makes sense if you know that Biff = Donald Trump, and we are all living in Biff's timeline. This is only tangentially related, but the best thing I read during the explosion of Back to the Future thinkpieces last month was this essay by Tim Carmody: Back to the Future, Time Travel, and the Secret History of the 1980s. Also recommended: David Wittenberg's book Time Travel: The Popular Philosophy of Narrative. I have seriously considered creating a podcast just about time travel so that I could talk endlessly about Back to the Future and Wittenberg's book.]

49:10 "A long time ago, in a city far far away, Arthur Carlson was born." Hey, Johnny "the Grail Knight" Fever acting as hype man for the Fisher King's special destiny here! Also, I involuntarily giggle every time I hear "In the decade ahead, America will be in space. Arthur Carlson is already there," followed by the cheesy laser gun sound effects.

51:05 Personal memories of Star Wars. Yeah, I'm really sorry I disappointed everyone, both in college and on this podcast, with my childhood ambivalence towards Star Wars. But yes, my early formative science fiction memories were probably... a bit more eclectic. Douglas Adams loomed very large, as did British series like Doctor Who, Blake's 7, The Prisoner, and Children of the Stones, oddball American network sci-fi outings like V and Otherworld and Max Headroom, and of course little-remembered educational TVOntario series Read All About It. My blog post above also cites Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, which I must grudgingly admit was also my jam back in the day. But by junior high and high school, though, I was all about TNG, and then in college DS9.

(Question: is stating "you probably haven't heard of it" more or less hipster than "I liked them before it was cool"? I need a ruling.)

54:00 Disappointment at the Special Editions. It was specifically when Luke, Obi-Wan, C-3PO and R2 come into Mos Eisley and Lucas had cluttered the approach with piece after piece of CG visual garbage. The crowd of diehards at the Boston Common Theatre was just... baffled. I was baffled because they were baffled... so really, bafflement all around.

[Rob: We didn't know each other in 1998, Mike, but I also saw the re-releases at Boston Common. Maybe I was one of those groaning diehards!]

58:15 "I like 70s in my Star Wars." This is probably my favorite minute or so of this episode.

[Rob: There's already been some great discussion on our Facebook page from you the listeners sharing your own Star Wars and other 1970s sci-fi memories. Mike's confusion as to the correct spelling of C-3PO (didn't they used to say "See-Threepio"?) led me to double down even more on my 70s Star Wars vs 80s Star Wars dichotomy: 70s Star Wars had a much more freewheeling, we're making this up on the fly, vibe: phonetic spelling for the droid names, cheap paperback novels that make no sense in continuity, an empty cardboard box being the hottest Christmas gift of 1977, coked-out Carrie Fisher singing the Wookiee Life Day song on the Holiday Special... The geek need to lock down, codify, and systematize everything (which I understand and share, but in my old age and wisdom try to resist) only gains the upper hand in the 1980s.]

[Now then, when are we going to talk about Planet of the Apes?]

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