Episode 143: "The Crime of Being Delicious"
November 29, 2013
Origin of the episode title
While attempting to explain the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation to a Puerto Rican woman, this is how Julie responded to the question of what crime the turkeys - Caramel and Popcorn - were being pardoned of. Julie's joke elicited no laughs.
This week's episode of HWYW features a truly fascinating interview with STEVE YOUNG, Letterman writer and co-author of EVERYTHING'S COMING UP PROFITS: THE WORLD OF INDUSTRIAL MUSICALS. Steve is here to explain to us exactly what Industrial Musicals are and were, and to share and explain a few songs that illustrate some important concepts from that genre, including "My Bathroom," "Tires to Sell," and "Kinney Manager's Song."
Also, Julie has some ideas about Disney, fatherhood, post-WW2 America, and the jingoistic notions that fuel our patriarchial society! Seth MacFarlane flexes his power muscles! And why Baby Boomers's stories abou where they were when JFK was shot are only getting more predictable.
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Gobble, gobble-- Hi everybody. That’s not how turkeys sound. It’s Julie Klausner back for another Episode of HWYW. As I speak to you it is Thanksgiving Day. As you listen to this it may be black Friday. It may not be black Friday. Clinky-Hi Mr. Makers. Please, call me Mark.
I am thankful for…what am I thankful for? Is that terrible? That is a terrible thing that people go around the table and you can’t eat until you say what you’re thankful for. How American families choose to make each other miserable, it seems like there are a finite amount of ways and yet they always irritate you as though they are the first you’ve ever heard of or experienced them. In other words your family can do the same thing it has done for ages that everyone’s family has done for ages whether it is being invasive or cruel and you are still like, “Why does she do that? She’s doing that.” You react. The shock that your brain registers it may as well be, “Hi I’m Thomas Jefferson and I invented electricity.” Who was it? Benjamin Franklin—white guys, white guys, everywhere are white guys. Listen, I am speaking to you on Thanksgiving at 8:45 pm. Is the Thanksgiving Peanuts special on? I don’t know. Is Lady Gaga’s special on? I don’t know. I will say that the Peanut’s Thanksgiving special makes me…what? Hungry for jelly beans and popcorn. Although that scene where Woodstock feed his tweety bird friends goes on a little long. I hope you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving. I am thankful for Spoony and I am thankful for Ryan Hotlips Houlihan. That’s it. Just kidding.
I want to talk about white guys because I have been thinking a lot about them.
We have a great guest, we have a great show. We have Letterman writer Steve Young. He is a collector of records that are the scores of industrial musicals that are internal company propaganda that are made or commissioned by corporations to boost the morale of their employees. This began after World War 2 when America had way too much money. I’ve been thinking about this, not just because Steve Young wrote this book and he’s going to be on the show but because I saw Saving Mr. Banks this morning. I know it didn’t come out yet. I’m very fancy. I went to see Saving Mr. Banks at a WGA screening. Do you know why? Because I’m part of the Writer’s Guild of America. Do you know what that is? It’s union for writers who write for TV and Film. Do I write for TV and film? Sometimes. Do I get to go to screening so I can vote for the WGA awards? Are they a big deal? You bet. In fact, you can’t go to them unless you buy a ticket. How much are tickets? Unreasonable. But I get screener every winter which is nice because now I have a copy of The Dallas Buyer’s Club in my home and I get to go to screenings which are nice to do on Thanksgiving mornings when it’s good to vary your activities. I am going to watch Cabaret again. Then I start ruminating on the fact that you only have two choices as a woman which are getting an abortion and going back on stage in a seedy nightclub before the Nazis take over or getting married, becoming a housewife, returning to the English countryside, the Nazis will take over, or you lose your husband to the war, and you’ll lose your husband to the war, and you’ll become a fat house wife and who gives a shit?
Oh I said fat. There is my inner demon surfacing that’s my dichotomy—that conflict.
Nothing made me understand the concept of pro-choice more than Cabaret. Anyway I saw Saving Mr. Banks at my fancy WGA screening theater this morning. Saving Mr. Banks is about the lady who wrote Mary Poppins and how Walt Disney managed to cajole her into giving him the right to make her books into this very dippy movie from the mid-60s. Have you heard of it? It’s called Mary Poppins.
Why am I describing Mary Poppins?
If you have seen the trailer, which I recommend you see, you’ll know that Emma Thompson plays the lad and Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney. Disney made this movie. It was interesting. I saw with with my pal Phil Morris and afterward she said this was kind of an industrial musical. Kind of. It really was 120 minutes of Disney propaganda but it wasn’t target internally to staffers. It was not targeted to the imagineers. But it was and is in the business of rewriting history. It deals with storytelling and narrative. It also deals with the outsider. It deals with the post World War 2 malaise of returning veterans. Bear with me, let’s say it’s World War 2 because I definitely know what the journey is on this, I don’t know where it end, I never know where things end. They usually don t end. They go into other tributaries but it all leads back to Lemonade Lake. Forget about it Jake. It’s Candy Crush.
Listen, Saving Mr. Banks explores the period of time after World War 2, as our guest does in a minute, when men came back from the war. They come home to their wives and a country that is doing pretty well without them which is shocking and upsetting in order to make men feel like they are not useless what does American do? America lets them get it pregnant, hence the baby boom. American throws money at its face. Steve Young has a shocking statistic, 2/3 of all the manufacturing stuff was coming out of this country in 1955 a la Back to the Future.
This whole thing I am talking about frankly has to do with the patriarchy. This is a country with fake dad. Let me explain. Walt Disney is an example of one of the founding fathers if you will of this country, which is to say he personifies a corporation. Corporations are people too. Corporations are men. Walt Disney had a mustache. What is Saving Mr. Banks about? It’s about six minutes too long. Most of it takes place in flashbacks. Paul Giamatti is in it. It’s fine. Saving Mr. Banks is about the woman who wrote Mary Poppins coming to terms with her alcoholic father’s death, sorry-SPOILER.
It’s about a woman dealing with her memories of a father who she loved. It’s about dads. It’s about dad, dads, dad. Mr. Banks is, as you remember, from Mary Poppins the dippy dad with the moose-tache who is married to Glynis Johns. I haven’t thought about him until I was forced to this morning in a WGA screening theater. Apparently to her, the woman who wrote Mary Poppins, the whole story is about him. She wants to redeem him. She loves her father because her father, as you man was a man and so like God and created the earth. He was an alcoholic and didn’t really provide for the family. The mother was probably in charge of the safety of the family. There’s a part where the mother almost commits suicide in the water. I’m probably ruining Saving Mr. Banks. Oh shit! Do you know what? I’m probably going to get in trouble. I probably can’t tell you anything about Saving Mr. Banks; I’m going to tell you. If I get sued I’m going down with my boots on. I bet there’s a WGA thing I signed. I didn’t sign anything. I did sign in. Hmmm…I’m going to keep talking about it. Let’s keep this between us. Don’t say Julie revealed the plot of Saving Mr. Banks on Twitter. If you do, I don’t care. Where was I?
Saving Mr. Banks is about Mr. Banks this insignificant character in Mary Poppins. The movie is about her rediscovering her dad. Basically Tom Hanks has a speech at the end of the movie after he flies to England to knock on Emma Thompson’s door to say please let me do this story right by you. I will make sure your father is represented in an incredible way; it will inspire children around the world. We have the opportunity to save Mr. Banks. Ugh, anyway she gives him the rights. He makes the movie. Fine.
What does this have to do with anything? Well I’ll tell you. We live in a patriarchal society in which men are assumed, conditioned to believe that like god they created the world. But they didn’t. Women have always been alongside men. There are 50% of this. The point is we did pretty well when the guys were overseas, Rosie the Riveter, etc… Post war baby book era flush with money America was, to me , the most terrifying era in which anyone who was of color, or weird, or gay , or female, or black, or Jewish, or Communist could ever have been living in because it was horrible. And everyone is telling you it’s fine. Not only is it fine, it’s great. America has so much money why are you upset? I’m not Walt Disney, that’s why. I’m not a creepy white guy with a mustache who has a photo of himself riding a choo choo train in his office, that’s why.
The idea that Disney made this movie to glorify the example of this patrician character that Tom Hanks, America’s father, Tom Hanks, America’s Anglo-Saxon father because as we know James Gandolfini was America’s immigrant father and he’s dead. We’re left with Tom Hanks, slightly chubby, doing a drawl, neglecting to mention Walt Disney’s fascination with eugenics. I didn’t come into this theater expecting the whole story. I didn’t come into the theater expecting a documentary about Walt Disney that was objective, although I would have liked this better if it were a documentary. BJ Novak is in it also. He has to walk with a cane. He plays a veteran who was injured in the war. He has to walk with a cane. That’s his only job, to not move one of his legs during a sequence in which they all dance to Let’s Go Fly a Kite, he moves his fucking legs. Ugh.
Walt Disney is infamous for killing off the mothers in all of his fucking shim-sham shows. He never cared for Jews which is incredible considering how well he did for himself in entertainment. There’s also a biography of him on my bookshelf. I am looking at it right now. I haven’t read it. Here’s the thing with my bookshelf. It contains books I haven’t read. The books I have read I give away. Isn’t that interesting? That’s an interesting story. It’s not but when people come over—I am looking at my shelf right now to give you an example and Here Comes Amazing You by Carol Sue Gershman is a bad example because I read that from cover to cover. How is The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer someone might say? I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to crack it. The answer is I have had plenty of time to crack it. I don’t want to. Why? Because I don’t read fiction. How come? Because I don’t have imagination. I read one novel a year, that’s usually around Christmas. Christmas is coming, it’s probably here.
I don’t hate men. I love men. I just think historically that Walt Disney gets to write our story, our story meaning the story of America, about pop culture, about everything we know, right and wrong, good and bad, male female about foxes and penguins, we learn from this random guy from Missouri-yuck!-sorry if there are people from Missouri listening to this, meaning I’m sorry you’re in Missouri. I have never been to Missouri. Is Branson in Missouri? Oh, it is, I’m sorry. I want to go to Branson, there’s a documentary about Branson.
I’m a little more manic than I usually am. I just came out of my Thanksgiving meal and I also am off of my show at Joe’s Pub. Thank you everyone who came. My twitter and my life will go back to normal. I hate myself when I am plugging shows constantly. Oh you hate it? Well you do it a lot. Yeah, well it doesn’t’ mean I like my life. Now I’ll go back to being a human about something to sell. That’s nice. That’s something to look forward to. I missed the parade. I feel bad. I missed the Thanksgiving Day Parade. What happened in it? Did Roxy Music play? Kinky Boots had a float. That show was so artless. Here’s a list of artless things: Kinky Boots, The Newsroom…
Saving Mr. Banks—about the patriarchy I can cross that off my list. Did I cover that? You know what I am saying right? President Obama pardoned two turkeys before the Thanksgiving… that was yesterday. Yesterday was Wednesday. I went into the office where I am working right now and MSNBC was playing behind me. I was filling out get me paid paperwork. I brought my passport in. I was sitting at a Dell Computer making the loudest clicky-clicky noises typing on those gigantic keys when I hear Obama, with his I’m just joking around kind of voice, it turns out he’s pardoning two turkeys, their names are Caramel and Popcorn. The woman sitting to my right while I am filling out forms that say I live in this country and I have never been the cannibal Cop, the woman to my right says, “What’s going on? What is he doing to those turkeys?” It turns out that she is from Puerto Rico and she’s never heard of a President pardoning a turkey, let alone two. Then I found myself explain to her and the whole office, everyone could listen. None of us work in office with any semblance of privacy anymore. It’s all cubicles. Everyone hears everything. So I take it upon myself to explain the President every year pardons a turkey so that it won’t be killed for Thanksgiving.”Does that mean it just won’t be killed that day?” No they won’t be killed ever, they’ll retire to a farm. “He should really pardon them of a crime.” “Yes, they are pardoned for the crime of being delicious.” Nobody—I’m not saying it was the funniest joke, but nobody laughed. She was so entrenched in the logic, I had already taken her hand and led her down the stairwell that she trusted me, and I took her down… I do see her point. How can you pardon someone if they have committed no crime? In retrospect it wasn’t a joke at all. That is the crime, but the irony of it is that turkeys suck. Turkey is not a good food.
Do I like a turkey sandwich? Fine, it’s fine. Fuck a turkey. I’ll take a chicken. Tie its little feet together, put some rosemary. I have some terrible tea that smells like a rosemary chicken. It’s good for your chest, not your breasts, but your breathing area.
They killed the dog from the Family Guy. Great job! Seth Macfarlane is really demonstrating his power. He’s flexing his muscles. He may not be hosting the Oscars this year but that doesn’t mean he can’t kill of a cartoon dog when he damn well pleases. So I commend him. I don’t know what that means. I saw stuff on the internet that they killed the dog. Why? Then I thought this is the most time I have ever spent thinking about the Family guy. The Family Guy is vulgar.
Alec Baldwin’s show is cancelled. I want his show. I have said that before. I mean it. There’s not enough pomade in the world to get my hair into a single spike but I will say this. He is a real New York looney tune. Alec Baldwin has now earned his…if there was a New York walk of fame with all of the dubious local celebrities that New York has such as the Cannibal Cop, such as Tawana Brawley, such as Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa, such as Doctor Zizmor, Alec Baldwin would be on that god damn Walk of Fame. He’s calling people fathead. Didn’t he blame the fundamentalist gays for getting him fired? I don’t know if there are fundamentalist gay people, but if there are I want them working for me. If I get a show I will hire anyone who claims, not anyone, you’d still have to send me a packet, but I will give you special treatment if I find out that you are a fundamentalist gay radical activist, or a black panther. I want to hire the following people: Black Panthers, Women’s Libbers, Gay Fundamentalists, and witches in general. I don’t care if you do black or white magic.
Are you guys watching Housewives of Beverly Hills? I am because I have to write about it for Vulture, but I would also be watching it if I didn’t have to write about it because it’s really good. It’s a good show. This year they added Carelton who’s a witch and Joyce a former beauty queen from Puerto Rice. She is pretty boring up until this week we learn she is just stupid. It made me sad because I found out I do give women the benefit of the doubt. In general, I find that women are smarter than men. We have intuition. We have emotional intelligence. We beat ourselves up so we actually take ourselves down. The extra edge we have over men, we actually beat it out of ourselves by feeling terrible about how fucking fat we are. With the exception of certain comedian’s wives, who I have had to eat dinner with and follow the twitters of, I think women are smarter than men, in general. But not Joyce. Joyce is a real dum-dum. She comes from a beauty pageant culture which I don’t have a lot of familiarity with. I’m not saying I want to but I am curious as far as the history of beauty pageants is concerned it came directly out of the state fair tradition or if there were any interlocking elements of vaudevillian culture. Basically entertainment. I’m pretty sure beauty pageants did not come from the immigrants that were stripping, clowning and the carnies. Carnies are mostly immigrants right? There is not a Mayflower Carnie, right?
My point is that because Joyce is such an idiot it made me think about, she even said, “The stereotype is that beauty pageant girls are stupid but were not.” Oh boy. It’s like someone saying, “I’m really happy.” Why did you bother to text me ex-boyfriend who I don’t really think about anymore? Beauty pageant culture comes right out of State Fair logistic to me because it’s not just because when I was in Minneapolis I went to the state fair and there was ‘Best Cow’, ‘Best Zucchini’ and then there is the ‘Butter Queens,’ so it’s best goat, best tomato, best girl?’ The stuff about talent…none of them can answer questions. Are they morning show hosts? Weather girls? What comes of them?
I will say I don’t have a single bad thing to say about Kate Shindle. She is really talented. That’s something I have been thinking about. We put up an interview with Kathleen Hanna on Monday, How was Your Kathleen Hannah, you need to spend some measly amount like six dollars a year and get all of the premiums a year, go to howwasyourweek.libsyn.com. You can do that and listen to the Kathleen Hanna interview. It is one of the best interviews ever. She’s an inspirational awesome person. I can’t stop thinking about Charles Manson’s impending nuptials. I finally get Bridal Culture. I finally understand the whole ‘What kind of cake is she going to have?!!!’ ‘What do the invitations look like?!!!’ Down to the, ‘Show me the shoes!!! Show me the shoes!!!’ Because when Star walks down the aisle she is going to look so crazy in the eyes that she’s going to make Charles Manson look like Chris Evans.
Chris Evans, Captain America. I found out recently that they have already made Captain America movie, they are coming out with a Captain America sequel and that I know that embarrasses me. I feel ashamed. Captain America, really? We make movies like that now?
Charles Manson is getting married. I have no idea why True TV doesn’t have a Manson Getting married show, a special, anything. Why aren’t my eyes full of this girl Star? If you don’t know who Star is, she’s 25. She looks like Shelly Duval crossed in the headlights with Sadie Susan Atkins “Sexy Sadie Atkins”. She’s a lovely young woman. Does she have an X carved into her head? I think she did at one point, she shaved her head and had an X carved into it. Now Charlie, what does he have a swastika? He’s got a good head of hair. Anyway he looks really happy. I’ve never seen him look happier. I am doped every day. I wake up and say, there’s a great selection of photos on the Daily Mail website of the two of them together. It’s really important to see the two of them together. Even though they are still photos, it doesn’t matter, they say so much. There’s one of them laughing. It’s really, really important. I have no idea why tabloids covered the Royal Family…not that…what’s a dumb wedding they covered that I didn’t care about? Alicia Silverstone, Reese Witherspoon…what’s the one on the beach and she doesn’t wear shoes? Celebrities, they’re just like us. Don’t get married on the beach. I’ve never felt completely comfortable on a beach. I don’t wear glasses so it’s not that. There are places that make me become inexplicably depressed suddenly, the beach is one and Park Slope is another. They are as I said, (?), they are like the never-ending story swamp, and I am the horse, and I sink every time I step into Park Slope. I don’t know why I get really depressed; it has nothing to do with the culture. It‘s not, “Oh these women my age have babies.” That never occurs to me. It’s not a source of consternation. I don’t want a baby right now. I don’t want a baby.
If I had a baby right now in my apartment I would call the police. First I would put Jimmy in my bedroom and close the bedroom door so he wouldn’t get hurt. Then I would deal with the baby, meaning call some sort of emergency squad to come in and deal with it. Thank god people like Spoony and his lady wife are having a baby because they’re prepared. The great thing about a woman’s pregnancy is that she has some time to think; oh I’m going to have a baby. Right? Her body reminds her of that.
Hi everybody, my name is Joel Ostein, and I’m going to help you reach your weight loss goal. JFK was killed 50 years ago. Baby Boomers will never not be excited to tell you where they were when they heard and the stories are just getting more boring as they are getting older. They are all the same story now buddy, the same story. I was in school, the teacher told us. I was sad, confused and a little scared. The first time I ever knew the where were you when JFK was shot thing was a thing was when I saw it in When Harry Met Sally. All of my pop culture references, and I don’t want to speak for Billy Eichner but I have a feeling his is a similar experience; we sort of picked up on reference we knew we needed to know because Jewish comedians were already using them as reference points. Then Dennis Miller came along and ruined everything.
Thank you for putting up with me this week and my energy, my cagey, cagey energy. I am very excited to introduce our one and only guest for this week’s show…