In Which We Turn To The Great Merle Haggard Inventor Of The Bakersfield Sound For Some Clarification On The California-Texas Connection

 

What’s Acceptable

by Molly Lambert

Double Denim is only acceptable on

1) Gay Guys
2) Paul Rudd in Wet Hot American Summer
3) Timothy Bottoms in The Last Picture Show, and by that token all Texans, including John Gruen.
4) Mexican Skater Kids who generally combine many kinds of black denim and favor long Sabbath hair and love Morrissey.

Items 2, 3, and sometimes 4 potentially fall under the heading of item 1.

I finally read All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers at Alex’s urging. I loved it. It’s the best coming of age novel I’ve read since I read Catcher in the Rye when I was 13 or whenever, and about as age appropriate for me now as that book was then. I don’t know if I think Jill Peel is the greatest female character of all time, as Alex may once have claimed on this blog. It’s more that her relative normality is still remarkable in fiction, especially fiction written by men.

In fact, if I think about it too much, McMurtry’s still pulling a classic Emosogynist move by splitting the women into Virginal Mothers (Emma, Jill) and Whores (Sally, Jenny, the Mexican Whore). Sally’s a Whore even as a Mother-to-be, but it hardly counts as character dualism. That plus the whole unfairly idealizing women you admire thing, also known as “putting the pussy on a pedestal” puts Danny Deck in some dangerously Braffian territory at times. Mere steps away from this:

 

Luckily the book’s so well written I didn’t care. It’s not like I identified with the female characters anyway. I identified with Danny, duh. That’s the whole problem. When was the last time you, male readership, seriously identified with a female character of fiction? Other than Lindsay Weir. Get back me to with your answers. I’m seriously interested. Imagine if you were always expected to relate to characters of the opposite gender. Crazy, I know.

Ladies don’t like print mags no more.

“I Am Bound For The Promised Land” — Alfred G. Karnes

I also realized how much I identified with the Texasness of it all. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley is weirdly similar to a lot of Texas. It’s hot. Everything’s spaced really far apart. It’s a total car culture where you spend most of your time in your car driving around and hanging out at bowling alleys. Aimless driving is a big part of most suburban youth-hoods, but in no-snow zones like Texas and California, there is literally no end to summer cruising season.

Maybe that’s also why I relate so much to American Graffiti  and Dazed and Confused. Sidenote: If I were Richard Linklater, I would make a sequel to Dazed and Confused set in 1996, twenty years after the original, and have all the actors reprise their roles as middle-aged versions of themselves living in mid-nineties Texas like Peter Bogdonavich did with The Last Picture Show and Texasville.

As a lover of all Western culture I encompass the Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest into my broad and romanticized view. Texas is practically its own country, but so is California. That’s another thing we have in common, size. I actually have to live in the desert. It’s the only place my hair looks decent. I’m serious.

Red hair is already the thickest. I happen to have very thick curly hair, traditionally known as nappy hair. My hair looks terrible when the weather is at all humid. It also looks terrible when rain or snow or any of the bullshit New England weather in-between gets into it. When my hair absorbs moisture it takes on the texture of a brillo sponge. In fact, it looks exactly like Gilda Radner’s character Roseanne Roseannadanna’s hair:

 

It should be noted that a lot of Jews have nappy hair, and from this comes the Jewfro and the traditional association of Jews and Blacks in culture. Alex and I took a class in college called Jews and Blacks where we talked about the exploration of these issues in the film Independence Day. That should also explain something to you about academics at Clown University. (Out of respect for higher education, I dropped that class.)

I personally think this association between Jews and Blacks is mostly wishful thinking on the Jews’ part, as we are desperate to claim some sort of “coolness” for our naturally dorky race. I guess it’s also because we both shuck and sing for whitey. Thanks to the Beastie Boys, Adam Sandler, Al Jolson, and Gilda Radner, it’s not totally embarrassing to be Jewish, but there are a lot of little Yoshuas out there who need to stop rapping right the fuck now.

Maybe claiming Texas for California is equivalently wishful thinking, though why I would want to claim most of Texas I’m not actually sure.

Here’s a picture of Gilda singing “I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General” with a giant Muppet carrot, which I’m pretty sure is my dream in life. Actually if we’re being completely honest here on T.R., and I think we’ve established by now that we are, I sang “I Am The Very Model Of A Modern Major General” in a Laurence 2000 (my elementary school) talent show one year. I don’t remember what grade it was, maybe third or fourth. O for the memorization skills I had way back then.

 

“Desert Blues” — Cliff Carlisle

Let’s talk a little more about Gilda Radner. The posts on Shia LaBeouf post got me thinking. I don’t things have been quite as alienatingly Zionist as usual recently. We need to get back on track with our Jewish Agenda, the one that the Secret Council of Elders has handed down throughout history to allow us to maintain our brutal domination of pop culture.

I’ll use Gilda to inaugurate a new feature called “Jews We Like.” Gilda Radner is a Jew of particular closeness to my heart. She’s one of the few female comedians you could describe as “physical.” She went to any length of embarrassment or abuse of vanity for a joke, which is the key to comedy and life. Amy Poehler and Anna Faris are the best current female “physical” comedians. Nearly all male comedians are physical comedians, in some way or another.

Rachel Dratch is also hilarious and excels at playing homely characters and grotesques. Her homeliness and the according low audience test scores are why they retooled 30 Rock to have (the hilarious and great in the show) Jane Krakowski as Tina Fey’s best friend. Dratch is now relegated to such bit parts as “The Cat Lady” and “Barbara Walters.” If you think about it, it’s kind of the best Debbie Downer sketch ever. Anyway, back to Gilda:

 

Look at the content of that Rolling Stone issue! A piece on Gilda, the Grateful Dead at the goddamn pyramids in Giza, the motherfucking Kinks, and something called “Peru on ten grams a day”? Alex would probably even read the George Plimpton story on Ali. Were magazines better in 1978 or was everything just better? I mean the Kinks may have been putting out Misfits in 1978, but that album still has the song Rock N Roll Fantasy on it!

This is why we’re out here on the edge, man, where we don’t even need grammar or proper capitalization. We can be right there with you through it all, no need to wait for editing and proofreading and eventual publication in some square rag full of squaresvillians. Magazines are just corporations. We’re like Ben Franklin, handing out the Almanac for free. We’re our own printing press with worldwide distribution. If you can’t deal with that, well then I’m Lester Bangs and you’re William Randolph Hearst. Then again, if I had millions of dollars I would probably also build a pool on the side of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean like the one at Hearst Castle.

“Four Letter Word” — Jon Auer

“Western Skies” — Roddy Frame”

Bangs was born in Escondido, and Hearst in San Francisco. The lives of these two California natives pretty much make up the two halves of twentieth century American journalism. That’s another thing about Californians and Texans. We’re obsessed with our Western history. That might be why I love Deadwood and Alex hates most things cowboy related. Of course everyone’s obsessed with their own particular corner of the world, from my experience, except for people from Connecticut and Indiana. The same way we’re all obsessed with our races and genders and particular beliefs. Because we’re a society of narcissists. Consider that my well-measured diagnosis of humankind.

That’s what fuels my own narcissistic interest in discussing with you, the person who has been kind enough to keep reading this far. I hope you will recognize in my narcissism your own, and be able to relate somehow to my love for Gilda Radner and my Jewish hair problems. I know you have your own Gildas, and your own analogue physical insecurities. I hope one day we’ll be close enough you’ll want to share them with me.

Molly Lambert is the senior contributor at this recording.

 

8 thoughts on “In Which We Turn To The Great Merle Haggard Inventor Of The Bakersfield Sound For Some Clarification On The California-Texas Connection

  1. I am not Jewish, nor do I have nappy hair, but I too love Gilda. Maybe it is my own wishful thinking 🙂

    Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan…now that I have to see!

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