Batman Returns 25th Anniversary

 

Wouldn’t you know—“Batman Returns” has recently met its 25-year anniversary so a belated “hats-off” to Burton-ville.

Though nothing will top the “Bat-mania” craze of summer ’89– that season of pre-internet innocence when everything marketable must have been emblazoned with the neon-yellow BAT-LOGO.

One good turn deserved another. Like “Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money”. As the joke went, it’s the merchandizing that makes this stuff happen.

THE FRANCHISE—and what a series it was. Toys, games, BATMAN CEREAL even as families push strollers up and down through the malls of America.

The first one was fusty, noirish—knobular, even. Like sheer black atmosphere and nighttime menace as taut as the molded-rubber muscle suit. Dank, too—with the claustrophobic sets as steam rose from the street-grates. Glopping, green toxic chemicals and the sheer wetness of heat-steam in fevered corruption for the heart of the city and the Gotham underworld.

A singular, “stand-alone” summer blockbuster. Its world of conventions now established– and leading directly to the stylish, underperforming sequel.

Okay, then. The second was different—really different.

Like a dark, molten take on Christmas and whirling snowflakes against a moon-blue sky-line. Ookey green/white stripes and red bows for a revolting orgy of shopping district vandalism as the misfits came out to play, a twisted side-show circus. You thought of Mardi Gras “on the midway” with MTV artifice.

Precise and flashy, a more cluttered movie rife with competing villains and intrigues– wrought vividly with new intensity with Tim Burton’s free hand at the drawing-board. It came from a sleeker era of channel-surfing and ever-shorter attention-spans as you got a lot of bang for your ticket.

We spilled out from the slums and shanty-towns—street urchins, gamins skipping-about, the vulgar classes (– or their “slumming” upper middle-class compatriots) up to low-brow shenanigans as popcorn tumbled from its golden, buttery tubs like manna for a low-man’s lyric and matinee-hour leisure.

Scarfing-it down with mischievous, bright-eyed awareness like an amusement-park ride of demented mechanical novelties.

Of interest was a lampoon of a corrupt Gotham bigshot and property-developer, old New York banking dynasties not far from the self-importance of Trump towers. Now finding himself bound by murky intrigue in the cold, dark watery lair of the Penguin, who seeks nefarious political fortune.

A statement on the age of “spin” and the tabloid press—verily, a coronation of stage-managed media events. And you think how politics becomes like the proverbial sausage-factory– if you like either you shouldn’t watch its packaging and manufacture.

Meanwhile Cat-Woman prowls along the rooftops of buildings to steam up Batman’s nights of crime-fighting in a factious triangle for the upper-hand.

Boisterous, vulgar good fun and high box-office draw—general admission seating as true to the spirit of “democracy’s forge” as anything experienced at a turn of the century old-time Vaudville hall or Nickelodeon arcade.

And the swing of the tides—tit for tat, measure for measure as favor swung back to each principal to the exultant roar of the crowd—like a waltz of gloating villainy.

To wit: a gruesomely-comic scene in “Batman Returns”—The Penguin “NOW UNMASKED” and loping through a snowy park in his coattails and top-hat, “dissociated from all of humanity” as he grunted dementedly and the police gave sordid chase. Then, in rotund form toppling off a snowy bridge into a low-sunk pond and vanishing from sight with an undignified exit.

Not the impression McDonald’s wanted. Ever skittish to public opinion, vulnerable in defeat—they pulled out of the promotion to distance themselves from this unseemly public disturbance.

And here we were, like herded cattle “following a script” of assembly-line customer satisfaction. At once, a target-audience for fast-food tie-in’s and commemorative plastic cups.

Living hand-to-mouth, raise your burger and munch.

Everything was supposed to be, you know—ENTERTAINGLY BLAND.

Fear of contagion—like a bolt of wildness shot through the electrified mob goaded on by these ribald, subversive truths.

Master in numbers. . . . . . the rabble. . . . . . the proletariat. . . . . . ideas leaping from apathetic corners to overtake public order.

“A threat to health, wealth, and morals”.

Whatever it was, “bad for business”. As if rioting mobs would knock over the temple of commerce amid the megaliths of “The Golden Arches”, themselves.

And maybe we weren’t supposed “to get many ideas”.

(OVERTHROW THE STATE)

Whatever our glee, or out “running wild in the streets” or just getting loud at a table our power began and dead-ended here in public “like 13 steps to nowhere”.

Roving minds wouldn’t be corralled quite so easily. . . . .  but we already know how the story goes.

The low-rent district. Yep, and there was the lone McDonald’s. This was the K-Mart economy with wide seas of parking-spaces, if even a bulk super-discount warehouse as we drove past.

The battered ole’ American dollar had seen better days as we pulled our coats a little closer to ourselves in the biting, hungry wind. Me and my brother—elementary-school wise-guys “taking in the sights”.

If even out by this south St. Louis shopping center—a fizzling community-redevelopment project down by the railroad trestles and abandoned factories that had mostly turned into a civic embarrassment.

Mom was down here hunting for a carton of “Virginia Slims” at the discount smoke-shop, a piece of transplanted New Jersey. She had an easy repoire with the world-wise shopkeeper, bars on the windows inside that licensed, complicated thing called grown-up sin.

A moral gray area. Grey as the smoker’s lungs or yellow-striped cinderblocks or fading, chipped paint.

Pick your poison, citizen/customer. A dubious, serious profession of nicotine and excise taxes as it was a free country, after-all. One of neon cowboys and rugged mountains on the aisle-display racks like the greatest nation on earth.

Bikers lumbered through in bandannas and leather-jackets, pushing out through the exits with packaged liquor stuffed into crinkly brown paper bags. Domestication was a bedroom of dirty clothes and indebted paycheck-to-paycheck. Maybe knocking back paper cups filled with water at a drug and alcohol treatment center, amid “the fast lane” of pizza parlors and roaring bikes and pawn shops.

You could easily picture the act “Guns n’ Roses” sitting parked in front of a liquor store and posing in their leather motorcycle hats and t-shirts.

It was still the world of the payphone—as Winona once played a world-wise cabbie in a Jim Jarmusch movie called “Night on Earth”. Cradling the receiver to her ear, her cap turned backward as a cigarette hung from her mouth as life took an easy, malevolent spin. Chewing gum, smoking Marlboros as she casually steered– her eyes peeled straight ahead as she half-contemplated and talked back to her astonished customer, a wealthy, successful L.A. casting agent fresh out of the airport.

One foot in the world of the old Jersey “bridge & tunnel crowd” and passage to “the city of the world”, maintenance men shoveling lime & ash and resigned to their fate like street dogs. Even as Gotham’s statues looked on like impassive stone angels and pondered over the trials of man.

Easy come, easy go—the newsstand and comic-book shop for whatever the dregs of cultivated free-form grime. The new/used chop-shop where prices were neither fair nor exorbitant but coolly-appraised with a price-tag. One jaundiced look from the clerk could weight it for what it is—maybe Winona herself in the cabbie’s gray cloth jacket and t-shirt. Half-glowering with a hardened face like a sooty, snotty dumpster-fire as a cigarette sits tucked behind her ear—this bazaar of low-culture on clearance.

 

Nodding to music, a tinny disturbance, that plays out of a little portable tape-player. Some underground cassette of bug-juice skate-rock noise, true to the fast trade of “buzz” on the street corner.

This, as the customer was left to browse and ask for customer service “quite sparingly”.

You had airbrushed pin-up models styled after World War II, or a goblin-storm of fantasy art, and other schlock true-to-genre as attentions and loyalties shifted in a tribal free-for-all. Testosterone was on the wane, as heavy metal and meaty WWF Wrestlemania were getting pretty played-out, if not overshadowed by the new breed of angsty alt-rock aesthetic.

(– And the workplace being taken-over by computers)

Even as we gamins skipped-about, practically with rolling spark-hoops and tossed firecrackers.

Whatever you said, it was still the greatest country on earth—according to the silvered long-view of your veteran New Yorker “holding forth” with pale, watery blue eyes. Be it a neighborhood butcher in an apron, or a porter down at the docks, or even the shop-owner who sold Mom her cigarettes. A hint of Norman Mailer— or a call back to Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, or mayonnaise and lox and Charlie’s Tuna along a crisp, presentable breakfast table of New England sunlight.

Standing next to our mother, we’d nod and agree “like good boys”.

It was the age of the cribbed catch-phrase off the television, “Yadda, Yadda” and “Bing-botta-Boom” or even a kind of proto “Make America Great Again” in the national lexicon, if not Donald Trump in a hard hat giving “the thumb’s up” at a steel mill or construction site.

You thought of Danny Devito’s speech as a corporate take-over artist in “Other People’s Money. Forever, the hard-trudging MARCH OF PROGRESS and slogging market correction. If “under new management”, hopefully not the Japanese as wave your little American flags.

“An overhaul” was long due—  “the ole’ charm offensive” for a distressed property as we observed with young, open faces.

Power belongs to the future youth, new life springs eternal.

As for those for whom it was too late, throw some meat to the schmoes with Batman and other feel-good vigilante entertainment.

Our role in this? According to “the script”, we boys were to study hard, “make good”, and go to college with specialized fields without asking too many questions. Pat you on the back, chuck your chin like a senior Mafiosi “in the old neighborhood” steering kids towards THE AMERICAN DREAM.

Immigration, possibilities in flux as a little flower sprouts in between the cracks of the broken sidewalk.

Like a daffy gaggle of Slavic immigrant children knocking back Coca-Cola, wild and snaggle-toothed and doing a funky-monkey immigrant dance like truest golden assimilation within the American life.

(– Miming Batman in a martial arts flurry of arms, they’d figure he was some kind of leather-clad “fruit” though you weren’t supposed to let that register. Adults just shook it off.)

“Keepin’ it real”. . . . . you know—with a shrug? Like 4th generation “street-cred” lifted from the ghetto, repackaged, and sold back to “we young defilers”. We were less loyal to school work than “keeping on the same side” of the mellow, laid-back and popular. Middle-class, rich kids’ anxieties. . . . . . maybe endearing your way out of homework with a bold, mousy excuse only an 11 year-old could get away with.

And mind that “you don’t forget your old friends on the street corner”, wrestlers and rock star alley-cats “down on their luck” and singing like drunks in the midnight choir. Leaner, meager times.

It was the long twilight of dying forms. . . . . . mostly-discredited and how most of the retail space still sat, unleased.

You could tell the difference between happy cashiers offering up your tray in the McDonald’s commercials and then what we had here—a rocky, unfriendly economic environment as the gray skies hung overhead with the future but a looming mystery.

Just links in the grinding crank-shaft of poverty’s chains. . . . . .

If revolution would start, like a child run over in the spattering mud and the high cost of a loaf of bread like in “Tale of Two Cities”. Rich man, poor man, American man.

Tensions might come to a head– this public cut-off valve of the service counter– “letting off steam” in this local McDonald’s outpost of franchised misery, staffed by low-wage service workers.

Flux, change, revolution, possibility. . . . . . sequels?

But mostly not.

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Batman Returns 25th Anniversary

Serfdom at “Wally-World”

 

Wal-mart. . . . . box-store of enchantment. And number 1 employer of what you and I know as “THE RED-STATE EXPERIENCE”. Never has someone had to show such gung-ho, merry customer service for serfdom as you otherwise have employees in blue-vests singing “Zippity Do-Dah” out of their assholes, “Mousketeer” style– with a kazoo.

Maybe “working for someone else” is merely getting yourself forced along “by someone’s obsession”, be that customer service or the retail mission statement like giddy “Jim Jones” cults for customer savings. Indeed, irony has little place here and even Beetlejuice has to “get with the program”.

Cribbing a bit from the fellow Warner Bros. property, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” you had “Wally-World” standing in for Disneyland with a cartoon moose as company spokesman. The happiest place on earth– open 365 days a year. Only in the movie, the family straggled in to find the park closed for a couple of weeks for maintenance and repair. . . . .

But make no mistake, Wal-Mart is open 365 days a year.

Why not call it “Small-Mart”? Yeah right, the largest box-store of its kind that stretches several football fields in length. You’d better keep Beetlejuice supervised amid all that “moral hazard” and easy thievery.

Smile, you’re on surveillance camera! Believe me, if someone thought of it– store security has set-up countermeasures to stop “shrinkage”. Think of a poster in the break-room of a troll-toothed bulldog brandishing a hockey stick and batting away “free scores” to keep the larger “goal” of staying competitive. Rolllff!

Of course, that doesn’t stop some mischievous cretin to hacking into the intercom system and playing the sound-FX from pornographic-movies while the manager scurries-around, trying to shut-down the public address system.

All sorts of stunts back there in the stock-room. Nailing a wallet to the floor and tricking some sucker into bending-over and straining his back.

Or kicking-around empty boxes like a deranged soccer match as the electronic board side-sweeps “Work is Fun!” across the sign. Tape up a piece of cardboard with work is (F)ucked squiggled in with a marker to give it an entirely-different meaning.

They don’t even have the easy jobs anymore where a retiree sits in a wheelchair and greets customers at the wide front-doors. Instead you have receipt-checkers halting customers to prevent “more shrinkage”. Such, such are the ways of the corporate retail world.

Lower prices, happier savings. . . . . ALWAYS.

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Buy American. We send prices down to hell

Serfdom at “Wally-World”

When Hell Freezes Over. . . . .

snow_storm   roach_reverse

Greetings from St. Louis. Either your little piece of “cloud-9” or your mere ice-cube lot besides the cold Midwestern heart of hell.

Yes—we’re frozen-solid down here. Which means—time for blogging!

Trapped in the house—as I can’t help but share this little item from our local alternative newspaper that describes the fickle heart in our “state of emergency”, usually called-off in the due course of things.

http://www.riverfronttimes.com/artsblog/2017/01/12/the-15-phases-of-a-st-louis-snowstorm

Read it, know it, feel it. It’s about all summed-up there.

We have the street department out in force, and Beetlejuice serves his purgatory working for the local street department in the salt trucks. There—sbadowed in the cab and taking a sip from a hip flask of whiskey in a parka—his hair tangled-up in a nimbus as the gray afternoon darkens into nightfall.

As you know, dead souls “die” in whatever smooshed death and pay their dues for the fee of reincarnation. If it wasn’t being devoured by a sandworm, he may as well be gnashed in the teeth of Satan, himself at the very bottom circle of hell—the giant devil frozen in ice who mewls at the bottom of all nightmares.

Oh, well. Instead, this is just an inner-suburb of St. Louis with the overpass, railroad trestle, and corner of bargain commerce. A gas station—a discount clothes outlet in the same expansive parking lot as the American Contacts & Eyeglasses, the DMV, and “Little Caesar’s Pizza” by a little dog-walking park and trickle of a sunken stream by the hilly, wooded houses.

He could do way worse—WAY, WAY WORSE.

The fate of the community lays with men like Beetlejuice and he’s paid well for his 12-hour shift.

No—don’t park there! Pulled across the street from the pool-hall as a prostitute opens the door and climbs in the cab.

Just a slow day—as hell freezes over. Dead season—and cause to stay indoors.

Beetlejuice knocks his gloves together and lights a cigarette under the halo of the streetlight. Just a barnacle on the underbelly of civic business. The night is his home and soon he’ll be alone again with his festering thoughts.

THE KING OF BEERS.

And so long as you’re snuggled in. . . . . . we present you a teaser for the Beetlejuice 2 script BEFORE HELL FREEZES OVER. Pass it out far & wide like the billowing snowflakes across the region. And enjoy it as the dark necromancy of “he-who-cannot-be-named” leans against the tombstone with his ankles crossed. KILLING TIME.

Click on this link here. . . . .

bj2_teaser_1point3_wga

hooverville  raccoon

When Hell Freezes Over. . . . .

Rock & Roll Star

lydia_contour   puke

Rock & Roll Star

Modern Commercial Folklore

meetmrproduct   noni_christmas

If we not otherwise told fairy tales around the knee of our mother or taking part in a local village festival, homegrown culture is a rich, organic thing.

However, things really took off with the advent of modern advertising. The creation of brands and logos—and mascots—that all told a back-story or legend about a product.

Say, you see “The Quaker Oats Man” made popular by the illustration you know what that immediately connotes—or even if you see Ronald McDonald everyone knows that stands for “a good time, great taste” AT MCDONALD’S.

Like “the pure essence” of an idea—how just a symbol conjures up a vast world of associations. This stuff borders on “casting magic spells”,

if you think about it. Dr. Pepper is “weaker” compared to the full-borne majesty of Coca-Cola as power comes in billboards and sponsorships.

A franchise is not just a product—but a monopoly on AN IDEA where people ward off each other with word-games and idea-projections like summoning the very spirit of an idea and impressing each other. Much of this involves the subconscious or deep brain-structures many are barely aware of—as you might as well be casting demons inside a mental soul-space of extreme projection.

It all lives up in our heads—and some take it a step further.

You have Lydia Deetz, who I envision as “a witch in her own right” with a fascination for design and imagery. Or changing the world—one copy-machine at a time. She’s a little trickster adept at word-games and inverting the order of pictures to tell a larger, subversive story. Some people blindly follow and may never pick-up the difference while her young brain hyper-fires on all cylinders like Harry Houdini willing his way out of “a question-box”.

Punk culture exists to be obnoxious and explore the possibilities of working inside your bleak, ordinary environment. It’s why people put out their own “homebrew” fanzines and web-logs, mostly to keep themselves entertained.

For it’s “Lydia’s Trunk of the Strange & Unusual” like the most sordid, uncanny collection of relics and old throw-aways as she casts back a hand to her forehead, there in her shapeless rags and presumes to amuse, enlighten—if not entertain in the pale blue moonlight of her gothic affliction and tribe of motley friends.

Television and advertising becomes the shared culture, like old Saturday morning t.v. recorded on video-tape. Such a silly-string explosion of disposable whimsy as it beomes an item of midnight cult-recital to sing these jingles and repeat those catch-phrases.

For what is life but shared appreciation? FOR TELEVISION-HELL.

And how all those ideas and brands and mascots exist in their own “spirit-world”. You wonder about the netherworld of ghosts and restless, departed spirits maybe only one cemetery over in the bone-yard of ideas. Ready to spring loose—as Beetlejuice will hit the biggest vein of product-placement paydirt ever.

As they say—it’s hard to be original—and what are ideas but standing on the shoulders of giants and stamped with a copyright symbol? Lydia asks about “fair use” in collage and montage as there’s a whole argument around “copyrights” and “copywrongs”.

But if you write-it-in, in a flattering way—maybe you can get some kick-back’s from some branded sponsors. Slyly, the whole movie would be a running commercial poking fun at itself in a clever way like a long-form joke. . . . . better than the bare 30 seconds most commercials last to establish a premise, a problem, AND A SOLUTION.

So yes, creativity and commerce can mix. I wouldn’t even call it “A SELL-OUT” except we sold out of movie tickets for an audience paying to laugh at itself and the commercials it watches—all while selling a story and advancing BEETLEJUICE.

Very “Meta” or even “metaphysical” but we’ll take it.

Wouldn’t you?

enjoy_capitalism  lydia_toothesome

bat_bat_ruleth  wpid-wp-1444570636018.jpeg

Modern Commercial Folklore

Halloween Birthday Omen

Winona Ryder was born on this day, two days before Halloween in 1971.

What a tribute, more fitting– than her cameo appearance in the wacky, rockabilly video that ended up getting banned on MTV. . . . . None other than “Debbie Gibson is Pregnant with my Two-Headed Love-Child” which is about the kookiest thing you’d ever seen.

There, with mischievous energy like a Romanian punk princess in fairy tales “funking-out” in a wedding dress and a Spuds McKenzie look-alike, the dog from Budweiser commercials. Mojo Nixon, The Dead Milk Men, Tom Waits, and The Replacements are some of her favorite acts as it speaks to alt/indie cred like cerebral noshing on guitar riffage and authenticity.

Two-headed, like a sequel. . . . . . a labor of “love”, right?

To her unconventional graces, we salute her birthday. She turns 44 is was always “a big kid, at heart”. She’ll return in “Beetlejuice 2”, surely as folks live their alternative death-rock lifestyles well into later years. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A link– to the essential core of her movies, best known. . . . .

http://decider.com/2015/10/29/the-essential-winona-ryder/

winona_arms_crossed   wpid-wp-1444570645969.jpeg

Halloween Birthday Omen

Halloween Make-up Tips

When you wish upon a star. . . . .

Halloween Make-up Tips