Friday, January 8, 2016

Show Notes for HMOTD 020: I Want You to Be a Golf Pro

0:44 "It's like the every-other-decade theory, right?" From the classic Dazed and Confused of course, as Marissa Ribisi muses on how much the 70s sucked and how great the 80s are likely to be. Irony overload!

3:15 St. Jerome: Growing up Catholic and then becoming a medievalist means that there are certain (literally) iconic images that are burned into your brain, and Jerome in his study is one of the big ones, especially for a medievalist, given that Jerome gave birth to a thousand years of exegesis with his literally authoritative Vulgate Latin version of the Bible. My favorite version of the Jerome in his study image is, probably no surprise to those who know me, Albrecht Dürer's.

4:02, 7:10 "Well, first of all, she's black." Listener and friend of the podcast Mandy Leetch posits that this joke is an old joke by 1979 and probably springs from the early Mad Men-era/Madison Avenue Lenny Bruce-adjunct-hipster early 60s. Good call, I think: cursory Googling seems to indicate that it's been told in a few contexts, including the idea of a NASA astronaut coming back from space after having seen the face of God, and this bit from the autobiography of Fred Wesley, a musician for James Brown.

5:50 "Ooooo!" I let out two Nessmanesque "ooooo"s in this episode. Tsk.

7:30 "I guess I sort of agree with Spinoza and Einstein." Here's some quick primers on Einstein (Albert)'s religious views, on Spinoza's God, and Paramahansa Yogananda on his meeting with Gandhi in 1936, fascinating stuff there (let's keep Yogananda, Indian spirituality and its historical interaction with the West in mind when we hit the golf portion of these Notes). You need Wikipedia to be able to go out on a date with Bailey Quarters and hang in there, fellas. Sadly, there was no Wikipedia in 1979.

9:55 Vacation Bible School: I love how Rob just has all these arcana of the American evangelical experience at the tips of his fingers.

12:50 Son of Sam: Here's some stuff on David Berkowitz's confession and revelation that the neighbor's dog was possessed by an "ancient demon." The clip is from Spike Lee's Summer of Sam; definitely not a essential Lee joint, in my opinion, but it's evocative of its time and place. Yes, that is John Turturro as Harvey the dog.

14:40: "Ooooo!" Second "ooooo." Damn you, Les.

14:47 "Big hitter, the lama. Long." All right. This is a long note. So a few weeks back I happened to find a book at my local occult bookstore, Seven Stars, about the foundation and history of the Esalen Institute, which we've referenced in earlier blog posts. This book, Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion, was a fantastic, detailed, and thoroughly engaging story of the birth of the human potential movement in the hot tubs of Big Sur. I highly recommend picking it up. Anyway, in the process of reading this book, I became acquainted with Esalen co-founder Michael Murphy and his journey to the East to seek knowledge... and to become a golf pro. No joke! Murphy has written books, both fictional and non-fictional, about the intersection of Eastern philosophy/spirituality and that possibly most white, Western, and Cartesian of physical disciplines, golf. On the fiction side, Golf in the Kingdom (now a major motion picture) in 1971 introduced us to Shivas Irons, the Scottish golf pro who just so happens to be a mystical guru. (This trope of the mystically-attuned golfer probably found its pop culture apotheosis with Caddyshack's Ty Webb and his Zen exhortations to "be the ball" and in Carl Spackler's round of 18 caddying for the Dalai Lama.) On the non-fiction side, if you've ever said that an athlete is "in the Zone," congratulations, you are using Murphy's own terminology, which has its roots in his 1978 (!!!) The Psychic Side of Sports, co-written with psychic researcher Rhea White. So in the late 70s, the idea of golf being a meditative practice with mystical overtones was definitely... A Thing.

22:30 Oh, God! I think one of the reasons why Oh, God!, the original, stuck with me over the years is how uncanny it is. The miracles that George Burns springs on poor John Denver: voices over the radio, rain in his car, a 27th floor (27 = 33, three trinities!) of an office building with only fifteen floors, the implication from this clip about how Jerry's mind would be utterly destroyed if he saw God in his unfiltered form... that speaks to the Weirdness and uncannyness of direct divine contact. Rob's riff on a Gnostic version of Oh, God! gets my mind spinning and gets me thinking about the obvious Cathar conspiracy at the center of all of film history.

25:12 "Ooooo!" Sorry, correction, three "ooooo"s. *shakes fist at Les*

26:06, 30:58, 34:42 Terence McKenna: All these clips in the bicameral mind segment of the podcast are of Terence McKenna speaking about Jaynes's theories with a fair bit of incredulity, not because they go too far, but as you'll see as we get into hallucinogens in the third clip, because they arguably don't go far enough. I miss the Weird Druggy Cyberpunk 1990s, with that lovely Venn overlap of McKenna, Art Bell, and Grant Morrison. Timewave Zero forever, no sleep 'til 2012!

27:25 Hypnopompic hallucinations: Hypnopompic hallucinations are tied in with the slower reaction time of "sleep inertia," which we've probably all experienced, but knowing what we know about Johnny's brain chemistry and reaction times, it makes sense he'd be sensitive to extranormal intrusions on waking.

28:12 Julian Jaynes and Bicameralism: Here's a Wikipedia summary of the idea. And I know Rob and I come down fairly hard in thinking this has no basis in scientific thought, but have you read the stories that have popped up the past few years about the perception of color in the ancient world? Intriguing stuff.

31:40 Schizophrenia and shamanism: Here's McKenna on schizophrenic shamanism, a Washington Post article on West African shamanism aiding Westerners experiencing schizophrenia, and of course Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.

37:05 Tim Reid's script: Tim Reid also came up with the story for Season 3 episode "Nothing to Fear But..." which was about a robbery at the station and co-wrote Season 4's "Circumstantial Evidence," in which Venus is personally framed for a robbery. The intersection of African-American life and the presumption of criminal guilt, big issues that are obviously on Tim Reid's mind. Depressing how little things have changed.

41:15 "I don't play hits, I make 'em." I love that retort from Venus. We've not gone deep into radio formatting and de facto airwave segregation much on the podcast yet, but from my youth, this issue was pretty evident. For instance, ever read about the awful racial politics of MTV's pre-Michael Jackson Thriller years? Interesting stuff, especially the revelation that Rick James, today a punchline, was on the vanguard of fighting for black representation on MTV.

[Rob: Something that got cut from the podcast for time: the cold open of "Family Affair" has Johnny playing a song and making a big point of naming the song and artist, and even riffing on the title a little bit. It's called "Lie To Me," by The Durocs. Neither Mike or I remembered them, but they seem to have been a pork-themed New Wave duo who released just one album in 1979. (A duroc is a breed of pig "known for its keen ears and large genitalia.") Plus there's a Durocs poster on the door of the booth, in this episode and a few others later this season (it shows the hindquarters of a pig). Somebody at WKRP was going to the mat for the band, though I'm not sure how much good it did. They can't all be "Heart of Glass."

Whoa, Wikipedia has a lot more on at least one of the guys behind The Durocs: he made promotional videos for MTV in the 1980s, released a live pig in the Capitol Record building, recorded with everybody, and played "Fluke Starbucker" in the Star Wars parody Hardware Wars. I'm guessing Friend of the Podcast Dan Miles (check out his music podcast) already knew all about them.]

45:20 "I'm sure that Egg is a very nice person..." You can't knock Egg over.

49:40 Herb is on crutches. My mistake: Frank Bonner was actually out parasailing, not hang-gliding. Also, yet another disaster that Les is responsible for/gets to describe humorously after the fact.

55:20 Olympic Boycotts: The Summer Olympics in 1980, and the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. That Simpsons episode, "Lisa's First Word," is just classic. "We should point out that many of the other women represent countries that don't have swimming pools." "Boohoo! You're breakin' my heart."

57:25 Chemicals! Hear that music in the background of the CHEMICALS commercial? That's the Monday Night Football theme, also known as "Heavy Action." I knew that without looking it up, by the way. Cast your mind back to 1998, in the infancy of the World Wide Web. Yours truly was a "New Media Assistant" at New England Sports Network, writing West Coast baseball game summaries at 2 am and programming our AOL pages (not, actual dial-up AOL). Anyway, since this was the early days of mp3 files (SO OLD GUYS), and we all obviously loved the unabashed old-school NFL Films-style bombast of the Monday Night Football theme, the day we found "Heavy Action.mp3," it became a bullpen in-joke to play the opening notes any time something epic or worthwhile or awesome or football-related happened in the office.

59:25 Red Dye #2. A Soviet study, can you believe that? Was this some kind of KGB plot to destabilize the American snack industry and thus American consumer morale? Was the idea it was "red" dye that caused cancer some kind of Kremlin in-joke? Man, I am really going full Nessman this week.

1:01:55: "You don't remember it, neither does Stephen King." I always love a good Stephen King cocaine joke. Speaking of Stephen King cocaine jokes, here is the classic trailer to Maximum Overdrive.


  1. I'm sure both of you already know this but I didn't notice it in the notes so I'll chime in: Stephen King does not actually remember writing Cujo, according to his semi-autobiography, "On Writing." So, yes, it is a joke, but it is also not a joke. The dude was fucked up.

    1. Exactly: the dude was fucked up! I wasn't (just) taking Steve's name in vein, I was reporting the truth. Just as I did in telling the Fruit Brute story on that date in 1999.