Back in “The Paleolithic” age of my own elementary school memories…… Well, I’ll tell you.
“Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue”….. I KID YOU NOT.
Imagine having a couple of local t.v. network affiliates and large blocks of syndicated programming along the “bush-league” UHF band and you get to understand the world of video-tape, audio cassettes, and clunky camcorders.
It was basement/bedroom video projects and Nintendo “Game Genie” code books in paperback— as it looked to the school bus set rumbling home unto sun-dappled industrial leather-scent.
Hollywood, here we come!
Or it could be that way “in young imaginations” with vast unknowns.
Life was a lot more “closed-circuit”, our mostly-filtered, curated link to the outside world. With “BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO” as your witness, your only guide to anything exciting was an address in the back of a splashy “junk food” entertainment guide.
Lots of edgy “cyber” covers with 8-bit digitation “wipe-out”— like “surf’s up dudes”—and bad middle American haircuts, mullets mostly.
(– “Write away for contest rules”)
Like, wow. Maybe even a national tie-in with “Pizza Hut”…..
(– “For a limited time, only”)
In 1990 it was earth-shattering. Monolithic messaging, you could say.
In the ultimate cross-over of Saturday morning animation properties—and broadcasting on all channels, simultaneously with industrial-strength emphasis, with a prerecorded message from the very President, himself— it was advertised months in advance, in cooperation with all the networks through a cartoon jamboree extravaganza.
Bringing you this joyless public-service message to “JUST SAY NO”.
Seat-to-seat, back-to-back, admonishing you white little wastrels “to stay off crack”.
Why, “in the name of the very social fabric”—UHF channels of “Praise the Lord”, The Home Shopping Network, and endless rerun commercials for chia pets and “Clap-on, Clap-off” THE CLAPPER for hard-of-hearing senior citizens, if not personal injury attorneys.
Truly, could it survive the era of “The Simpsons” with snarky, smart-ass comments?
The emerging gold standard of humor was the kind of thing starched-shirt parents “tried to steer us from”, a world of corporal punishment and suspendered grandpas singing barbershop quartet.
It was a self-defeating cycle of moral lassitude—thereby using entertainment “to piss off your elders” and the world they tried to shield you from.
Gothic dance clubs where stylish ladies wore leather pants, halter-tops, and sunglasses as they rocked to the thumping beat of laser-light “Batcave” Inferno. THE PEER PRESSURE “could not be beat”.
Wanted excitement? Say his name three times. . . . . REV UP YOR BIKES.
HEMP FOR VICTORY….. Semper-Fi “OR DIE”, “WITH MUNCHIES FOR MISCHIEF”.
“Brats Question Authority”…..
Down a video aisle near you….. according to the forgone graveyard of VHS Flea-Market gems for one’s stupefaction and bargain-basement delight.
A movie about “A really bad movie” shopped around to a sleazy Hollywood Mogul who seeks out a box-office “tax write-off” to dodge the wrath of the hungry IRS.
The filmmaker screens his film and the potential distributor– sitting there pulling his sweaty collar with a giant medallion– is shocked & amazed.
Like he’s privileged to witness the next “Citizen Kane” of drive-in pictures and exploitation bait, “as the market goes”. . . . . and call this a PG-rated grindhouse of zonkers fun.
The poor kid wrote, directed, produced, and edited his “bedroom-tinkered opus”.
It’s the kind of thing Beetlejuice would watch in his scuzzy dirt-mound of a dwelling at 4 A.M. on a Friday. . . . . hitting the road afterward to grab a huge sports mug of French Vanilla coffee down at the local 24-hour Quicktrip.
It’s called NEET– “N.either E.mployed, in E.ducation, or T.raining” across the rolling scrub-lands and apartment complexes of glorious marginality.
Here, the world is early-dawn-gray like a television tuned to a dead channel.
Ahhh, the joys of social-security disability.
Just don’t break into cars and find oneself in the back of a squad car or even featured on an episode of “COPS”.
GOD BLESS AMERICA, “PATRIOT”.
What a bender. . . . . .
Beetlejuice hunched over the toilet on his hands and knees with a party-hat.
The kitchen was just as putrid, down in the ole’ “Beetle-Hole”. . . . . . roach scabs laying around like potato peelings amid mountains of Everclear bottles and a dish of honey-roasted peanuts (– mostly decimated)
May the spirit be exorcised, as Beetlejuice staggers back in and hurls green/puke/gak right into the sink.
He slid, slumped against the cabinets and broke a long, slow wind. His dog mosied by and stopped at the water-dash, slapping up nourishment with the flap of its jowls.
A dog-day afternoon. (3 P.M. in fact)
Out here on the first day of the year—the rest of your lives—FOR AN ETERNITY—“because there was no more room in hell”. Returned to earth in fleshy form, like a swollen and rotted piece of fruit about to burst out of its own skin.
(What a party)
Meanwhile, up in a more ethereal abode—Lydia was more delicate about “the feast of souls”, a few too many wine-cooler’s leaving her curled-up in bed, in her customary gothic pile of rags as her pet pig nestled-up to her softly panting breath and oinked.
It was “Glenn”—her Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named for the singer of “THE MISFITS”. Saved from pork shiskabob as a special boutique pet for the pale and punkishly “OUTLAW”.
Call it whimsical “artistic license” though she couldn’t care much now, whether she’d wear a beret and leather jacket or just the spiky hair-dress and Medieval-apparel.
A hipster photo-blog? Check out FACEBOOK. Or a DIY fashion-channel. Check out YOUTUBE.
The malls “were dying”. (Her kind of place).
Lo, curdled cottage-cheese complexion and arachnid-black acrylic nails.
That place would be called “Hot Topic” or the boutique-chain for disaffected young girls, as if stranded on “The Alien Ant-Farm” of exurban development.
A darting gaze—“eyes without a face” as people didn’t notice the strange and unusual.
In this latter-day, Lydia became (re)acquainted with Beetlejuice in an online chat-room.
(Don’t stare just because you’re fascinated)
Co-conspirators of morbidity, as Beetlejuice “mostly stayed in” some nights and scrawled-out messages IN ALL CAPS.
But she wouldn’t type-it. . . . . or even SAY IT.
“Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice!”.
Better leaving “that genie in the bottle” and keeping it rated-PG.
Of course, Beetlejuice could always dial a 1-900 HOT-CHAT number and get the paid attendant “to say whatever he wanted”.
But it’s just not the same—the spell doesn’t work if the magic words are stated “out-of-context”.
Like a key in search of a locked door. Otherwise, it was like palming the key with no place to put it.
Don’t take that us “a double entendre”, but Lydia wasn’t stupid.
Your Pandora’s box might as well be the shit-show of “contestants” nabbed on “TO CATCH A PREDATOR”.
Even Beetlejuice has to get some credit. Or else this would be “a very unfunny movie”.
Down in his ole’ hole he crawls forward on his hands and knees, as if rising and falling to salute “Elvira: Mistress of the Dark” or at least the cardboard stand-up of her.
That was more “his speed”.
KILL THE SUNSHINE. . . . . and how about “some hair of the dog”.
Well, okay. His dog.
His literal pet-dog—an old, blind poodle in a black-coat with a giant scrotum “that swung gruesomely” and held court like a beatnik hipster.
The one thing for certain is that “Man’s Best Friend” would always be there, “when Man’s FIRST CHOICE” was geographically out of the area “or seeing someone else”.
Click your Ruby Slippers three times, but Lydia sat with her arms folded on the windowsill—staring out over the countryside and wishing “things weren’t as DEAD”.
An emoji for your thoughts, but Beetlejuice was tolerable “in small doses”.
It was a nice place to visit, “though you wouldn’t want to live there”.
Jean-Paul Sartre once said “hell is other people”. She’d agree totally. . . . .
Late-night Talk Radio– THE PROTO-INTERNET for “Lost Souls of RadioLand” and YOU……
“Nightmare Before Christmas”. . . . . and we’re not talking BLACK FRIDAY super-sales and crowd riots.
In fact, the internet has taken much of the bite out of retail shopping as surely as the spirit of Christmas has turned into consumer-crazy pandemonium.
Nothing but jolly Christmas jingles for six weeks straight, scarcely when the forks and knives have clattered down on Thanksgiving plates and Americans are already out the door and descending on the mega-malls and box-stores, products of instant gratification bigger than the maniacal eyes as gloved hands beat against the plate-glass windows, waiting for the stores to open at 5 A.M.
And what about your local retail mall outlet?
Well, some are blessed more than others. . . . . . but this one is nearly-empty.
And there is “our Batman & Robin duo” IN COSTUME
Yes, Beetlejuice subcontracted out as “Santa Claus” with Lydia as his helper assistant, a surly elf in a jingling green cap stubbing out a cigarette as the manager waddles by.
It’s yuletide redneck commercialism, with the jet-black volcanic edge of a punk princess on the far-flung experience of what makes America such a strange, deth-rocker juxtaposition of roof-top aerials, local cable-television, and sin.
No, Lydia won’t sit in Santa-Beetle’s lap but she will stand to the side, her arms crossed and her eyes rubbering around at the cat-calls with her own righteous sense of absurdity.
And there the foul demon sits on a throne surrounded with puffy cotton-snow, knocking back from a bottle of whiskey and ripping his snaggle-toothed, mush-mouth with the back of his hand as he leers, calling out to customers and laughing like a Mardi Gras fiend.
He shakes an empty, wrapped box—festooned with striped-wrappers and a red-bow, and hurls it off to the side where it rolls and knocks in the back of Lydia’s green, buckled boots with the twisting toe-curls.
What did she do to deserve this?
In fact, it’s an extracurricular project for her college anthropology class on the subject of Santa redneck zombies and the American fool. Her dissertation—namely that zombie and monster films “are about keeping the lurching rubes” away from the citadels of civilization, like bourgeois fear of the hard-pitted country yeoman “CRASHING THE PARTY”, eating your brains even.
Not unlike the phenomenon of the Tea Party in American politics, though she puts “the liberal” in LIBERTARIAN as a matter of course, with little skull and “Hello, Kitty” pasties.
In her Christmas canon, Santa is a robot “and lives on the moon”—as derived from a Japanese animated series, dubbed into English and played on her iPhone.
Last year, ole’ Beetlejuice ran “a failed tree lot” when the scheme was basically stealing the Christmas trees right from living rooms when the owners weren’t around, dragging it out the busted window with the scrunch of branches and falling Christmas ornaments and flickering lights as he drug the cord behind him and out to his idling pick-up truck.
PRE-FAB Christmas trees.
But Lydia snapped pictures. Her “strange, unusual friend” and partner in “field research”—more like a dark trailer in the middle of unincorporated St. Louis county on the outer heaths of this Midwestern hell, the river like a sluggish, glinting worm-slick and above it all, the shining star of near-past winter solistice.
“Zombies ate my neighbors”. . . . . or maybe just “fascination” stalls your but, mostly-untyped manuscript as she fulfilled her inner voyeur for the sullen, sordid, outrageous, and vaguely criminal.
An indifferent “second party” to all the madness, as the spherical dome of world & sky “had no comment”, other than her chuffing breath fogging the air as Beetlejuice cussed and swore and violently swept aside the nest, acorns, and squirrel shit that had invaded his aluminum-tin domicile.
Be his name, “SATAN CLAWS” as hapless oaf of dark principalities and Wiccan prayer-god of “smoke, and glowing red coals” like a demon of destruction and vile oaths, like a laughing miscreant flicking a BIC lighter next to an unlit forest fire.
(Maybe it was just the septic tank, blowing-up like a mushroom cloud)
But here at the mall. . . . . MUZAK. The meat-blossom of the fetid air and the hell of subcontracted wages as she could think of better places to be. Maybe the “Meow-Hawns” cat café, where you could play with adoption-friendly shelter cats while glugging down steaming espresso brew and staring off into the endless sidewalk of night on the other side of the glass.
It was said “the mouth of hell” was guarded by a lion—and maybe it was just the blonde, tangled nimbus of Beetlejuice motor-mouthing the anti-climax of the season. . . . . even as “Edward Scissorhands” tended shop at the “Sally Field’s Cookies” in a cap and apron, snipping his fingers together in idle misery.
It was a Tim Burton world, baby. Watch that festive snake-head poke out of the package like a jack-in-the-box jester and freak out the custodian poking at the marble floor with a mop.
Only the guards behind the security monitors “knew if you were naughty or nice” but they were mostly snoozing under a collision of doughnuts and sweets.
That tinsel glow, “just so”. . . . .
A HAPPY NIGHT “IN HELL”.
Hey, it’s the K-Mart Square-Dance.
Huggies, smokes, and campfire kerosene as it’s just a friendly Jeff Foxworthy jaby Yonder “The New South” and a little town called “Hope”, Arkansas.
Don’t Sell yourself short, “Country Folk”– a thick, juicy cut of BBQ’d Pork-Steak and free-market opportunity, full and robust with savory American flavor.
The American Original. . . . . a loaf of wonder bread and a sweating jar of Mayonnaise as You’re not forgotten.
Lost. . . . . . “in the neck of the woods” of something VERY BEETLEJUICE.
The first musical **ever** about a regionally-famous cannibal of the old American West named Alfred Packer. Brought to you by TROMA FILMS (“of courrrrssse”) and reflected by the micro-budget.
Yes, Trey Parker and Matt Stone— writing & filming “what they know” from a small mountain town up in Colorado and one of their earlier works before they got famous for SOUTH PARK on Comedy Central.
So you could see Beetlejuice up in the mountains in a checkered shirt and his wild nimbus of hair “like untreated mental illness” and a fine example of rugged frontier spirit.
Death comes riding down “on the ole’ Thunder-Chief” with plenty of tourists, off-loading with their bags as Beetlejuice befriends them. More are always coming to “Dead-Wood”.
Not only a land of pioneers but the requisite parasites “preying on naïve city-slickers”, be this clopping horse-hooves and a pinch of gold dust as he infests the trading post “prospecting” for victims before “run out of town on a rail”.
America was built “on fast talk” but he’d prefer HOT AIR to “hard labor”.
Why, he just “picks-up” for the next town with a miserable hang-over, plucking out the tarred-feathers and flopping down with the pigs. Living on plunder or absolute poverty “with equal ease” as he chews on a leg of mule-meat, explaining how he gets “hungry as a bear”.