Showing posts with label Bubblegummed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bubblegummed. Show all posts

Sandy Filler

The current teaching quarter is kicking my before the next real post, please to enjoy this trio of sand related videos. 

thanks to Jacob Smith for bringing this wonder to my attention.

Bonus Sand:

Teen Beat Refuse 1979 (Part IV)

Eric Roberts mysteriously defaced by unhappy reader.

In an odd and no doubt futile attempt to transform the pasty duo of "Steely Dan" into teen idols, here they are featured in a "spot the errors" contest.

Who is #1.  This reader cannot decide as Andy, Shaun, Leif, and John are all "so cute!"

Leif Garrent before photoshop, cut out with scissors and placed before a sickly spot-color field of orange.

Adam Rich, star of Eight is Horrifying, experiences a seizure after making several hundred dollars at a car show. 

The Bay City Rollers forced to participate in "punning" promotional shot, one that cruelly mocks working-class sanitation workers by drawing unwelcome attention to the Rollers ability to make good money by singing "Bang Shang a Lang." 

Teen Beat Refuse 1979 (Kiss Edition)

Electrifying Kiss Jacket with fabric by DuPont

Gene Simmons with Adam Rich licking unknown child's head

Gene Simmons tricking Brooke Shields into mimicking his famous simulation of cunnilingus.

Gene Simmons contemplates licking Adam Rich's head.

Teen Beat Refuse 1979 (Part II)

Jimmy McNichol with Akai Cassette Deck and waterbed.  Note too the stylish cassette tape briefcase on top.  State-of-the-art teenage seduction fantasy for 1979.

Famous movie-dog Benji posed aside his stuffed doppelganger, structurally similar in many ways to the "shaggy" adolescent pop stars elsewhere in the magazine.

Grotesque photomontage in support of new Burt Reynolds publication.  Given that Reynolds had only a few years earlier posed nude in Playgirl, his appearance in a teen magazine is particularly odd, perhaps even alarming. 

Teen idol Shaun Cassidy in hypnotic dream state, transfixed by telepathic transmissions of adolescent love.   Is he thinking about "you?" 

Leif would like to "please you."  You love Leif enough to do the things you know will please him, and he loves you enough to want to please you!  Strikingly candid play on the line between "pleasing" and "pleasuring."

Teen Beat Refuse 1979

Musical Gator and Disco Frog T-shirt Advertisement

 Anson Williams posed with symmetrical hounds.  

Child star paid with ABC promotional items.

  Ricky Schroder beneath a canopy of rub-on transfer stars. 

 Lit Life                                        

Improbable Teen Idols of 1979

Sugar Toothless


I will not assert that the interpretation of dreams due to dental stimulus as dreams of masturbation (the correctness of which I cannot doubt) has been freed of all obscurity.  I carry the explanation as far as I am able, and must leave the rest unsolved.  But I must refer to yet another relation indicated by a collquial expression.  In Austria there is in use an indelicate designation for the act of masturbation, namely: "To pull one out," or "to pull one off."  I am unable to say when these colloquialisms originate, or on what symbolisms they are based; but the teeth would very well fit in with the first of the two.

Sigmund Freud
The Interpretation of Dreams

"Satan's Sleepover" (2013)

Back when Johnny Cash had ambitions to follow Elvis into the movies, he starred in the woefully confused cheapie Five Minutes to Live, shot during an extended lunch break in 1961.   Better known today as Door-to-Door Maniac, the film centers on a bank heist masterminded by Vic Tayback (later to flip burgers on the CBS sitcom Alice).  Tayback hires Cash as sociopathic muscle to hold the bank president’s wife hostage at her home so that Tayback can waltz into the Savings and Loan and demand the cash quick, clean, and simple-like.  Complications ensue, of course, and most of the film centers on Cash menacing the wife with threats of sexual assault, stabbing, gunfire, and post-sync guitar strumming.  There is some additional gimmick about Cash having to answer the phone every five minutes (thus the original title), or else the wife gets it, but the film is so poorly directed that I found it very difficult to follow the logic here (Door-to-Door Maniac is “bad,” not in the spectacular Ed Wood school of cinematic disintegration, but in that much less satisfying mode of failure where everything—script/staging/acting—is just tepid and slightly off, like the entire movie is taking place under water.  The most competent moments in the film come courtesy of little Ronnie Howard as the terrorized wife’s kid.  At 8 years old, he was already more of a pro than anyone else on the set).

Just a few years later, Ann Margaret co-starred with John Forsythe in a somewhat similar film, Kitten with a Whip (1964), made at Universal with more money and much better equipment.  Although Margaret had already been in Bye Bye Birdie (1963) and Viva Las Vegas (1964), Kitten was to be her first “dramatic” role and thus a crucial stepping-stone in making her a bonafide “star.”  Based on Wade Miller’s pulp of 1959, the film is a surprisingly unrevised nightmare about the fragile social constraints designed to keep appropriate male sexuality appropriately channeled.  Forsythe plays David Stratton, a rich middle-aged San Diegan, happily married, who is on the verge of announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Senate.  With his wife away for the weekend, Stratton comes home late one night unaware that 17-year old hellion “Jody” (played by Margaret) has broken into his home to hide from the police.  When he wakes up the next morning in what he thinks is an empty house, he finds the magnetized jailbait asleep in his daughter’s former bedroom.  But Stratton is a gentleman and has a political future to worry about, so he agrees to buy the bad girl some new clothes and put her on the next bus to her hometown--anything to get her the hell out of there before his better half returns from her trip.   But this act of kindness backfires as it convinces the emotionally unstable Jody to stick around and live the good life for a few days.  In between threats to commit suicide or go to the police to file rape charges, Jody prances seductively around the Stratton home in a twisted bid to make "daddy" love her.  Things get worse when Jody’s friends arrive for a night of partying.   As the jazz plays and the liquor bottles empty, Stratton must hide the entire affair from both his wife and potential political donors. Worse yet, a weaselly beatnik lectures Stratton in nihilist philosophy while his meat-headed sidekick repeatedly threatens to beat Stratton to a pulp. 

Will Stratton throw away his marriage, life, and career by succumbing to the temptation of Jody’s seemingly indefatigable gyrations?  Will he be murdered by the Leopold and Loeb of Redondo Beach?  Will his wife and potential political backers discover that the sexual tension brewing in Stratton’s mind is so intense as to make an underage Ann Margaret physically materialize, in a negligee no less, in Stratton’s home?   Many dismiss this movie as marginal trash, but I think you would be hard pressed to find a more terrifying expose of the Eisenhower libido cowering at the threshold of the ‘60s sexual revolution.  Kitten with a Whip is less a “suspense” picture than an index of another  “whipping” that lurks unrealized just beyond both the plot and the title.  Universal clearly understood this, as should be most evident by the publicity still that features Ann Margaret continuing to torment Forsythe with her pussy, even during a seemingly candid moment away from the set.

Both Kitten with a Whip and Door-to-Door Maniac have their roots in The Desperate Hours, the 1955 adaptation of the famous novel and stage play by Joseph Hayes about a suburban family held hostage by a trio of escaped convicts.  Why use this premise to introduce aspiring dramatic actors like Cash and Margaret to the screen?  Acting gives me the hives, but if I had to guess, I would imagine it’s easier for a novice performer to play borderline crazy than something more naturalistic.  What better way to channel the nervous energy of an awkward and unpolished actor than to have him or her pacing around the set in a state of constant agitation? It's not bad acting, it's an electrifying performance!

Which makes me think of Justin Beaver.  Sadly, this particular rite of low-genre initiation no longer exists anymore for aspiring young actors.  Make no mistake about it, one day that Justin Beaver kid will want to be in the movies, and when he does, whatever synergistic overlord has Beaver’s bloody signature on a contract will stage an appropriately high-profile vehicle to get that kid’s hair up on the screen.  There will be a full media tour and simultaneous CD/mp3 drop, followed by extended warbling at the nation’s most profitable tweener strongholds.   No, Justin Beaver will never have to pay his dues in a series of creepy and potentially embarrassing genre films.  Unlike Jennifer Aniston, he won’t have to fight off a homicidal leprechaun for the right to get a shot at a network sitcom, he’ll just have his people drive him straight from the recording studio over to the main stage at Paramount. 

Which is a shame, because that kid would be great in a straight-to-DVD psychopathic hostage-taking movie, even if it did mean watching him perform a couple of mid-tempo dance numbers in some terrified family’s living room.   Actually, to work, the formula probably would need just a few tweeks to make it more age-appropriate.  For example, Beaver wouldn’t be all that convincing holding an entire family or any actual adults hostage inasmuch as he looks like he would be easily distracted by no more than the promise of a root-beer float.  Until the voice drops and he hits the weight-room, he'll need to tangle with more managable fare.  Teenage girls, perhaps, maybe at a slumber party?  But of course he couldn’t really threaten to go all Speck on them, so the narrative stakes would have to be changed somewhat.  Rather than play a true psychopath or criminal, perhaps he could merely be “troubled”—sent away to military school by his abusive father.  Maybe mix in a touch of dyslexia or a dead brother so that tweener girls feel extra sorry for him.  Then, like kitten before him, the Beaver could escape and seek refuge in a seemingly empty house.  But let's face it, no one would take him seriously as a hostage-taker, even if it was a nursery run by elderly blind nuns.  So here’s the twist: he finds himself taken hostage, perhaps by a gaggle of 13 year old girls who arrive unexpectedly for a secret slumber party. Everything seems innocent at first. Milkshakes and pillow fights, followed by Beaver opening up with the girls about what a creep his father is and how he just wants to sing, which he would then do.  Truth or dare?  Sure, why not?  The girls dare Tina, clearly the misfit of the group what with her glasses and unhighlighted hair, to give Justin a French kiss.  She's humiliated, he slightly embarassed...but somehow their eyes meet in tortured sympathy. 

Truth or Dare gives way to “light as a feather, stiff as a board” which then gives way to a Ouija Board.  Beaver gets worried as the questions and answers become increasingly freaky and cryptic. Something weird is going on here.  Just as he tries to make his excuses and leave, he feels woozy and blacks out. A mickey in his milkshake!  When he wakes up, the girls have removed the tarp from the pool table to reveal a pentagram hastily scribbled onto the green felt with pink bubblegum lip-gloss.  Bound and gagged, Beaver watches in astonishment as the girls don black robes, light candles, and coax a goat down the basement stairs.  His only hope is Tina--who has fallen in love with the troubled little mop top at first kiss.  Loosening his bonds while the other girls begin their Latinate chanting, she tells Beaver she's a good girl and never wanted to worship Satan in the first place.  That was all Ashley's idea!   Their destiny is clear. Tina and only Tina can save him from the fate of human sacrifice and a life of troubled, tussled brooding.  

Not only would this make for a brutally frank unpacking of the entire sexual economy informing the teen heart-throb racket, it would also make for great post-midnight Showtime fodder. 

Length: 79 minutes
Tone: From Justin to Kelly, if Kelly worshiped the Prince of Darkness.
Rating:  PG, obviously.
Budget: Can be done very cheaply.  Really only need about 15 million for a convincing suburban basement set and the appropriate hair care products for Justin. 
Estimated global box-office: pre-sold to cable, baby, can’t fail.

Please send whatever residuals you believe are fair to my home address.   

(P.S. I am aware the singer’s name is actually Justin Beiber, but I prefer calling him Beaver as it is funnier and more befitting of his luxurious coat). 

Gaga Hoo-Haa Defies the Penal System

There seems to be a great deal of controversy of late as to whether or not fashion-horse Lady Gaga does or does not possess a penis, so much so that the clothesplate has taken on the issue most explicitly in her new music video for "Telephone."  When first we meet Ms. Gaga, two rather stern-looking guards are escorting her to a cell in lady jail.  As per protocol in women's prison, they throw her roughly on her bunk and strip off all of her clothes.  Locked-in, a feral Gaga leaps onto the prison bars to reveal 1). a surprisingly tasteful homage to the late Wendy O. Williams as the pioneer of black electrical tape nipplewear, and 2). Lady Gaga's disputed hoo-haa.  As the guards walk away, one is heard to say, "I told you she didn't have a dick," to which the other replies (somewhat inexplicably, as we appear to be on the set of Chained Heat), "too bad!"

Case closed, right?  Well not really.  Said hoo-haa has been digitally scrambled, so who knows what is really going on behind those perplexing pixels.  I don't know if an uncensored version of this video exists, but even if it did, it's not like that would resolve the issue either.  Given current configurations of desire and digitality, no "proof of pussy" is to be trusted.  And really, it's not even a matter of hi-tech digital chicanery.  As any burlesque star knows, a few more inches of electrical tape could sustain this illusion for even the most discerning eye.

On the surface (which in this case appears to be everything), the "Telephone" video certainly seems like an earnest plea to shore up Gaga's biological claims to femaleness. She enlists fellow popster and undisputed uber-femme Beyoncé to co-star, commandeers a pink pick-up truck dubbed "The Pussy Wagon" (courtesy QT), and punctuates the 9-minute opus by emblazoning a Venus symbol over the closing shot.  In this respect, the video appears to be a bid for this generation's "Sisters are Doing It for Themselves," only with higher levels of cleavage, more vacant staring, and a string of gratuitous movie references. 

But the question here is not whether or not Lady Gaga is actually a lady, or a drag queen, or a hermaphrodite, or any of the other memes her corporate enterprise might plant out there for us to think we have discovered, but rather, why are we so easily suckered into playing this game over and over again, as if each one of these new gender panics were somehow spontaneous and "authentic?"  Does Gaga really want us to think--with absolute certainty--that she is in fact a "female?"  Is this really in her best professional interest?  Of course not.  Everyone compares Gaga to Madonna, but the more relevant model here is Marilyn Manson.  And look what happened to his career once Jennifer Tilly broke his heart and revealed him to be no more than a little boy jilted before the junior high school prom.  He was much more fearsome when he wore the white plastic neuter suit and drove putatively straight guys crazy for reasons they probably could not fully articulate even to themselves.  Having any kind of identity nailed down for Lady Gaga only closes down future marketing opportunities.  

This should be obvious in Gaga's use of the women-in-prison film (WIP) as a vehicle for making a faux-definitive statement as to her alleged genital status.  Ever since Ladies They Talk About (1933), wherein a devastating Barbara Stanwyck cruises through prison as both subject and object of desire, smoking cigarettes and beatin' down them bitches that needs beatin', the WIP genre has been one of the precious few popular forms where sex and gender could be so explicitly disarticulated.  The genre's continuing relevance over some 80 odd years now is a testament to just how many sexual imaginaries the premise can accommodate.  So it is a perfect forum for Gaga to continue cultivating her sizable gay constituency while also speaking to whatever remnants of grrrl power still exist out there for any additional mp3 downloads. 

In the old Madonna days, we would have called this "polysemic."  But at this point in pop history, who exactly still finds Gaga and Beyoncé's unending parade of snatch jokes indecipherable?  The entire thing is "coded" to the point that its only effect is to revel in its state of coded-ness (which of course dissolves any pretense of a code in the first place).  In other words, the video seems to postulate a "naive"/gender-normative viewer who no longer exists, peering-in from an "outside" that long ago collapsed into the vernacular of camp.

Even though Gaga appears somewhat perturbed every time these body rumors are brought up, she couldn't possibly want this speculation to simply vanish.  Her business model is obviously to become the Cher of the millennial generation, a quest that will require a continuing amplification of the too much and an ongoing hesitation as to who she really is.   But, even if Gaga is the least bit "sincere" (whatever that might mean in the context of this video) in this proclamation of "pussy power"--hoping to keep at least one foot in a mythically "straight" teenster pop market somehow untouched by the lexicon of camp and drag--I hope her audience continues to entertain the fantasy that she might have a penis, for no other reason than that would be a more interesting world to live in. Plus, rather than allow pop stars to continue orchestrating their own bids for polysemic proliferation across the marketplace, isn't it about time audiences resisted these campaigns of calculated ambiguity and manufactured controversy by taking back control over this process?  If pop stars don't entertain our fantasy structures, why have them around in the first place?  So, no matter how hard she may grind her cooch against cell bars, or even if she streams her ob/gyn appointments live on-line, I for one will continue disavowing whatever it is I have or haven't seen in order to write my own fictions around her.  Is Lady Gaga a man or a woman?  How boring is that?  From now on, I will maintain against any and all proffered evidence that she is in fact the reincarnation of Lillian Gish and a harbinger of a coming ascendancy for the Mormon faith--and I vow to read all of her videos/songs through this prism for as long as we both shall live. 

(My thanks to Olivia Mascheroni for bringing this masterpiece to my attention). 

Rock 'n' Roll's Waterloo?

Here are this year’s nominees for induction to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, which, by the way, is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary.

LL Cool J
Jimmy Cliff
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Stooges

This list raises a pressing question.  Has the time come to shut down the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in this its 25th year of operation?  Many purists would argue opening such a venue was a totally un-rock ‘n’ roll mistake in the first place, that the best way to achieve the status of a true rock legend is to  O.D., whip your cock out on stage, eat a shotgun, get arrested on a morals charge, or—in a pinch—bite the head off a bat (even if it was only accidental, as Ozzy so often claims).

Of course, opening a Hall of Fame for “rockers” always had more to do with tourism and commerce than any actual grassroots demand to honor “rock ‘n’ roll,” so complaining about its induction process is probably a waste of precious outrage,  not unlike Kanye West passionately defending the integrity of the VMA’s obviously specious criteria for honoring the creative visualization of inane pop songs.  Still, even fake awards and wholly manufactured honors need to maintain some pretext of credibility.  Without at least the illusion of informed authority, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame might quickly find itself outflanked by a particularly well-appointed Hard Rock Café.

This year’s nominees threaten to bring down the entire house of cards.  Consider:

ABBA: Okay, everyone, or almost everyone loves ABBA, and the band has converted many an ironic smirker into a bonafide afficiando.  “S.O.S.” is one of the greatest pop singles of all time precisely because it so deftly mixes crystalline production and phonetic English with such an intensely blank sense of emotional crisis—something really seems to be at stake in the chorus, even if it is actually nothing at all.  But to call it rock?  Sadly, the market probably won’t bear a Pop Hall of Fame, where ABBA would be a slam-dunk on the first ballot.  And shouldn’t their already dubious rock credentials have been revoked at the precise moment the first line of  "Mamma Mia" emerged from Meryl Streep’s mouth?  

LL Cool J:  They’ve already inducted Run DMC and Grandmaster Flash, so this is part of a trend—the trend of having a business model that extends beyond aging white AOR listeners of the 70s. But shouldn’t there be a Rap/Hip-Hop Hall of Fame by now?  I say this, not as a musical crypto-segregationist, but out of sympathy for these architects of the most vibrant of post-rock popular aesthetics.  Any institution that groups LL Cool J and Ricky Nelson under the same roof either has no discernable logic or no shame. 

Jimmy Cliff:  Ditto for reggae.

Genesis:  Awesomeness is in the ear of the beholder, a relative, subjective judgment of taste—except when it comes to Genesis, who are just flat out horrible.  I say this as a veteran of the prog-rock seventies, as someone who can still anticipate most of the gratuitous and inordinately difficult time changes in a Yes record.  How Genesis gets through the doors before Yes, or Jethro Tull, or even Rush for that matter, is beyond all comprehension.  I used to hate Rush—but the wisdom of age has finally made me realize that even though Neal Peart is a Randian fascist who still makes his poor roadies needlessly tote windchimes and a gong on every tour, I would rather have “Tom Sawyer” drilled into my skull every day during rush-hour than, say, “Land of Confusion” or “No Reply at All” or “Taking It All Too Hard” or any number of the other Genesis songs that make anyone with a soul want to drive off the overpass.

Kiss: Against all reason, Kiss somehow outlived their own embarrassment and that of their fans to actually enjoy a series of freakish comebacks.  They are the ultimate nostalgia bubblegum costume act, fondly remembered—not for their music of course—but for reminding a generation of man-boys what it was like to be twelve years old and anticipating how awesome it would be to reach sixteen--that magic age when boys believed they’d finally get to drive, spit blood, and  understand what it means to be “workin’ hard” and deserving of “a deuce.”  What’s next for the Hall of Fame—the Banana Splits?  Josie and the Pussycats?  Gwar? 

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Has any band ever gone so far with such a terrible lead singer?  Whats-his-name never met a note he couldn’t miss. Obviously there are a lot of “non-singers” in rock history that are fantastic—Mick Jagger, Alice Cooper, Dylan, Hilary Duff.  But whats-his-name is clearly not of this caliber.  The secret to not being able to sing is to avoid trying to sound like you’re singing--but this truism has escaped whats-his-name.  If he can get within even a quarter-tone of the alleged key, a grateful sound engineer is apparently willing to call it quits for the day.   Particularly horrifying is that video where whats-his-name walks around L.A. for three minutes in the grips of some agonizing beatitude and then tortures an entire choir by forcing them to back his flat, overwrought croakings.  I don't wanna feel like you did that day either...just please stop.

The Stooges:  Surely the Stooges are worthy, right?  Absolutely.  So much so that they should have gone in long, long ago-- so this is only more evidence that no one there actually knows what the hell they are doing. Fleetwood “Tusk” Mac got in before the “Search and Destroy” Stooges?  And they call themselves a “rock” hall of fame?  The Stooges probably made it this year only because a hip intern from a college radio station shamed them into it.

As the criteria for “rock” excellence has become so completely ridiculous and/or meaningless, there obviously needs to be a new way of picking the inductees.  My vote is for band on band knife fights, or drinking contests, or seeing who can hang in there the longest on a collective rendition of “Sister Ray.”  Any institution that would enshrine The Clash before the Sex Pistols, The Ventures instead of Dick Dale, or Simon and Garfunkel in any capacity whatsoever clearly needs to have its license to rock revoked.  

If anyone is offended by the opinions above, I apologize...but in truth, you have horrible taste in music.

They Had a Dream They'd Go Traveling Together...

Been thinking a lot about hippies lately, and not because of Ang Lee’s new contribution to the Woodstock nostalgia industry.  I'm sure it was great to be all muddy and stoned and such, but like most people in the "close-but-no-cigar" boomer generation, I have little interest in the lore of flower power.  By the time I was a teenager, that philosophy had pretty much devolved into contemplating interminable prog-rock jams while staring holes through a Roger Dean poster. Instead, I've always preferred the other hippies--the dirty, sick, twisted, perverted hippies who never properly adjusted to their fling with repressive desublimation.  You know, the ones who spent summers of love sprawling around the Spahn Ranch or on ABC Friday night television.
First of all, as some may know, former Manson A-Teamer Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme got sprung from prison last week. “Squeaky” did 34 years for pointing an empty chamber at President Gerald Ford in 1975.  Popular lore has it that she was trying to get Manson out of jail, but in fact she was actually hoping to raise awareness about Manson’s main cause after his imprisonment: ATWA (Air, Trees, Water, Animals).  Yes, recycling hybrid driver, Charlie went “green” way back, and Squeaky thought political assassination might be the best way to advance his agenda.  
Then, over the weekend, I finally had a chance to see Dan Graham’s 1984 film, Rock My Religion.  Here’s how MoMA described this piece at a recent screening:

With the "reeling and rocking" of religious revivals as his point of departure, Graham analyzes the emergence of rock music as religion among teenage consumers in the isolated milieu of 1950s suburbia. The music and philosophy of Patti Smith, who made explicit the trope that rock is religion, are his focus. This complex collage of text, film footage, and performance is a compelling theoretical essay on the ideological codes and historical contexts that gave rise to the cultural phenomenon of rock and roll.
All and all, it’s a fascinating film, maybe more so for what it says about the early 1980s (and the hypnotizing power of Patti Smith over all her cohorts) than for what it says about the ‘50s and ‘60s.  Although it occasionally takes on the tone of Craig Baldwin’s super conspiracy riff, Tribulation 99, the film does make a compelling argument for the post-war transmigration of religious ecstasy into the profane body of the writhing suburban teenager—who, as various social historians have argued, was ready for the more immediate pleasures that come with secularization, disposable income, and birth control. 
When Graham gets to the late ‘60s, the argument takes a more (anti-)Oedipal turn.  Whether Graham had actually read Deleuze and Guattari going into the project, I don’t know, but his thesis certainly resonates with that particular theoretical moment.  The hippies, he argues, created erotic economies that challenged Oedipal structures that had dominated familial/sexual life since the nation’s founding.  "Free love” was thus meant to be truly free, as in liberated from the financial and reproductive economies of American Puritanism.  Of course, one could say Freud had the last laugh here, as most of these free spirits eventually went running back to good old Oedipus, either by getting married or--in the case of Squeaky's "family"--by embracing the truly psychotic Name of all Fathers: Manson, the Son of Man. 
Which takes us, finally, to a third moment in my recent encounters with the hippie resurrection.  After the Graham screening, I finished reading my fourth Partridge Family novel (The Ghost of Graveyard Hill--1971).  The book is one of seventeen novelizations based on the ABC television series that ran from 1970 to 1974.  For those somehow unfamiliar with this benchmark of bubblegum counter-culture, the Partridge Family followed the adventures of a widow and her five kids as they tried to balance everyday home life with their rising career as America's hottest new pop sensation.  Mostly it became a vehicle for David Cassidy, who along with Donny Osmond, Bobby Sherman, and a certain Michael Jackson, became top teen idols of the early '70s.  

The Partridge Family is fascinating for a number of reasons, many of which have already been discussed in Aniko Bodroghkozy’s Groove Tube, the definitive history of hippicus televisionicus.  Reading this novelization in the wake of Graham’s film, however, made me rethink just how truly strange this show actually was. 
Were The Partridge Family hippies?  Maybe in the same way “Jesus Freaks” of the ‘70s were hippies (for those who have never met a true Jesus Freak, these were generally young men with long hair and fringed buckskin jackets who trafficked in a groovy edition of the New Testament that was "cool" with rock, pot, and Christ).  Like other hippies, the Partridges drove around in a type of pseudo-psychedelic bus and played “rock” music of some ilk.  Eerily, this is also how Manson got his start, commandeering an old school bus to cruise up and down the California coast serenading teenage runaways.  And of course, both were families with musical ambitions--one suburban, fatherless, and climbing the charts,  the other itinerant, patriarchal, and apparently ready to murder double-crossing record producers.  
If Graham sees Oedipal “Dad” as disappearing with the hippies so that they might become more freely “perverse,” and Manson came to be Father as a return-of-the-repressed (often telling his conquests to think of their Dads while having sex with him), the Partridge clan are some wounded third term in this Oedipal wasteland.  Bio-Dad is gone and Rueben Kincaid doesn’t count (especially in the novels—he is completely absent in the Ghost of Graveyard Hill), leaving behind the asexual matriarchy of Shirley and the kids.  
The only episode I remember with any clarity is the one in which the family makes a “wrong turn” in Detroit and Danny Bonaduce ends up joining the Black Panthers, which is fairly atypical.  More often the show revolved around various members wanting to quit the band, or a skunk getting loose in the bus, or an ill-fated hamster breeding scheme, or Laurie dating a guy named “Snake,” and so on. 

The novels, however, are relentlessly gothic in their approach (again, based on the 4 of 17 I’ve read—but titles like The Haunted Hall, Marked for Terror, and The Phantom of the Rock Concert suggest this was the favored treatment throughout the series).  The Ghost of Graveyard Hill seems fairly typical.  The Partridges try to cross the desert at night and end up stranded in a Nevada ghost town. Gradually they begin to suspect they are not alone.  They feel like they are being watched (and they are…by counterfeiters!), a mysterious portrait of Shirley appears in an abandoned hotel room (“who drew this?” they wonder), and when Kitty or Cathy or Tracy or whoever the little girl in the family is gets lost in the desert, she is brought back to camp by a mysterious Boo Radley character (just like Scout!)  There’s always the hope it will turn into The Hills Have Eyes and someone will at least cannibalize the drummer (they did have two, the first kid got fired after season one), but sadly, everything basically turns out okay in the end. 
The gothic slant in TV novelizations of this era is worthy of investigation. The Partridge Family was not alone in this respect—many novelizations of the period take a similar approach.  Even That Girl had a brief fling with her own Heathcliff (during a Don-less summer in Maine).  Part of it may simply have been an attempt to piggyback on the success of the gothic’s return as a mass-market romance genre in the ‘60s, suggesting that these books were also targeted primarily at teenage girls (in training, perhaps, for darker objects of desire than Keith Partridge). 
That the gothic is a genre of high Oedipal drama is almost a given.  In his book on Gothicism, Richard Davenport-Hines even goes so far as to argue Freud was the last of the great gothic novelists, that psychoanalysis does not give us a paradigm to understand Gothicism so much as the history of Gothicism allows us to understand the birth of psychoanalysis.  I don’t know about all that—but what I can say is The Partridge Family novels are all about weird family secrets—gothic, Freudian and/or both. 
For example: 

David Cassidy (who played Keith Partridge) was the real-life step-son of Shirley Jones (the widowed Mrs. Partridge), allowing a somewhat creepy “you’re my Mom but not my Mom” vibe to inflect the whole franchise.  The fact that Keith and Shirley are the de facto parents of the Partridge clan only reinforces this Oedipal streak, as does the intertextual contamination of knowing Florence Henderson was cougaring Barry "Greg Brady" Williams over at the Paramount lot. 
The Partridges are constantly getting lost in that damn bus.  As they don’t occupy a “horrible house,” a la Hawthorne, they have to go on the road in each installment and find a new one. And like their Radcliffian canine cousin, Scooby Doo, they most often discover that some form of thievery,masquerade, or dispossession is behind all the mysterious shenanigans.  In one rather amazing "family romance" installment, Danny discovers he has a doppleganger who is actually a rich prince in hiding!  Do they switch places?  Do complications resulting from familial confusion and denial ensue?  Yes and yes.  

With no Bio-father in the bus-house, the family works together as a communal "hippie-like" democracy.  The Ghost of Graveyard Hill goes into great detail about this, Shirley boasting (in her interior monologue) that she is proud of how the entire family comes to a consensus about important decisions, and she only rarely has to intervene as the parental authority.  With no father to lay down the law, the entire family thus exists as a kind of incestuous blob.  Keith, Laurie, and Mom all have suitors from time to time, but these relationships are all doomed because of the imperative to collapse back into the family.  
If we are to believe Graham (and others), the boomers slayed Eisenhower so they could go on a ten-year orgy of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll. The Partridges, on the other hand, are forever on the road searching for a new father that will allow them to resume their “normal” psycho-sexual development.  Until someone comes along and tells Keith he can’t keep sleeping with Shirley, they are all doomed to sing anemic bubblegum anthems about the vague feelings they have about something they cannot yet fully understand. 
Sound crazy?  Consider the lyrics of their biggest hit, “I Think I Love You.”
I was sleeping and right in the middle of a good dream
Like all at once I wake up from something that keeps knocking at my brain
Before I go insane I hold my pillow to my head
And spring up in my bed screaming out the words I dread
I think I love you
This morning I woke up with this feeling
I didn't know how to deal with and so I just decided to myself
I'd hide it to myself and never talk about it
And did not go and shout it when you walked into the room
I think I love you
Now this is one twisted “love” song.  It begins as a dream, drives the dreamer “insane,” and makes him wake up screaming “the words I dread”—I think I love you!  Love/Dread: It’s a feeling he doesn’t know how to “deal with,” so he keeps it secret and never talks about it…until “she” walks into the room.  Now who typically walks into a young boy’s room right after he wakes up?  Racquel Welch?  I think not.
So the sixties, it seems, were somehow about absent and/or pathological fathers; an anti-Oedipal recalibration that allowed most hippies to rock, others to conflate sex and murder, and TV to trap a hippie-lite family in a circuit of infantile repetition. If only it were possible to conduct a commutation test between real history and television history, then we might get to the bottom of these suggestive links.  For example, instead of getting stranded in the Nevada desert, what if the Partridges had stumbled upon the Barker Ranch, Manson’s hide-out in Death Valley?  Would this Father of Fathers have been able to seduce them into his own family (or would only Laurie fall victim to Manson's charms)?  And what if "Squeaky," all those years ago, had ditched Manson to front a bubblegum act, rechanneling the perverse potentiality of hippiedom back into a sitcom of endless displacements?  An impossible exchange? Certainly. And yet some form of conversation between these two families appears to have taken place, if only unconsciously.  
For more on this general topic, see "XXX: Love and Kisses from Charlie" in Moya Luckett and Hilary Radner's excellent anthology, Swinging Single: Representing Sexuality in the 1960s.