Episode 183: "Starship Truthers"

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September 12, 2014


Steven Hammel

Origin of the episode title[edit]

Julie briefly mispronounces 'truthers' as 'troopers' and notes that Starship Truthers would be a very different film.


This week's episode features artist STEVEN HAMMEL! Enjoy this chat about design influences, the 1940s, tiered cakes, the bicentennial, and FARM WIFE magazine.

Also! A disturbing thing to hear mid-massage, what Joan Rivers's funeral was like, a theory about audience participation and dancing at parties, The Big Chill, and how it is the most horrible movie, and a tie between Nev Schulman and the employees of AREA 51 TATTOOS for worst living humans. Plus- why French women don't get fat. Hint: It's because they're the opposite of Jewish!

Enjoy, enjoy.

Trivia and References[edit]

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Episode Link


These are people who sent money through Paypal to klausnerama@gmail.com to help keep the show ad-free.

Monologue Transcript[edit]

Transcription by Amy

Hi everybody it’s Julie Klausner back for another episode of HWYW. Happy 9/11.

There are a couple of 9/11 related things you’ll be happy about.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned sort of shamefully, I was sort of ashamed of it but also felt like I had something to talk about that I didn’t see on TV, more interaction in the world-ish? Do you remember when I was countering my apartment’s lease off for the new year when they wanted to raise my rent a certain amount? I said, how about you raise it less? If you recall I invoked 9/11. When I spoke to the management on the phone I said, “You know I have been here a long time. When I first moved into this apartment I could see the Twin Towers from the living room.” I thought at the time that it wouldn’t do anything. They were going to raise the rent. Well they did raise the rent but they didn’t raise it a lot. Maybe it was all worth it.

The other thing about 9/11 that you’ll be happy about is, I don’t know. It’s 13 years from 9/11, not a lucky number. I have a massage therapist who is so good. He is so talented. I see him for the congenital-what does it mean- chronic? Maybe. I have some stuff with my neck (it’s not interesting) and I have been seeing him almost a year now. He’s great. I don’t know him terribly well. He’s kind of a weird guy. I like him. As I mentioned he is incredibly talented. My lower back was in spasm recently and I couldn’t move it for 24 hours and he was able to make it better which is never the case. I am never the recipient of a miracle. YAW! That was the worst Christian Charlie Brown ever. ‘I am never the recipient of a miracle” then Lucy takes the football away.

When I first met my massage therapist he name-dropped Mandy Patinkin and told me that he worked on him. I misunderstood what his deal was. I thought I guess this guy is just a name-dropper but he’s not. He’s a very specific kind of New Yorker, and odd Italian New Yorker, I don’t know how to put it. I will say that this week he told me his favorite musician is Frank Zappa. The other thing he told me apropos of very little, he was describing a friend of his to me, and as he was working on my shoulder said, “Oh my god, something just occurred to me.” “What is it about my traps?” “No my friend, who by the way is a total 9/11 Truther, which is a total by the way, he brought her up and I think her father wrote an old movie like Too Many Dogs or something. That’s a bad example because if it were Too Many Dogs I would have seen it. Although dogs were different back then, there were only two kinds—bulldogs and terri-airs.

He brought up his friend and said, “By the way she’s a 9/11 trooper, truther. Starship Truthers would have been a different movie. I said, “What did you realize that is related to your friend, daughter of Too Many Dogs screenwriter Joey Joeselstein?” He said, “I just realized the reason why her theory doesn’t make sense,” as you know the Truthers say that there’s no way the plane that exploded at a temperature hot enough to melt steel girder and so forth, “I just realized that even though she was taking the fuel and the butane in the plane into account what she wasn’t factoring in was the human fat of the passenger being combustible. “ I said, “Please don’t talk about this right not.” It’s not that I was at a spa or getting the kind of massage where I just want to forget my day and indulge in some ‘me’ time. That wasn’t that kind of mommy-blog experience. It was a sports massage, yah sports. Everybody loves those sports, right? You never want to hear about human fat being combustible in a massage environment and arguably ever. I will also mentioned that because I am, even then, in situations macabre, I will be girly. So after I said, “WHAT! STOP!! What are you talking about? Please No, that’s upsetting and disgusting. I also hope that the notion of human fat didn’t come into your mind because you were working on my fat back.” “No, no, no” “Ha, ha, ha-just kidding.”

We can never let go of our gender shackles. Gender, gender, gender.

He also told me that when he saw Frank Zappa at Madison Square Garden Frank Zappa played the audience which meant he assigned parts to sections, you guy in front make this noise (budabudabuda)—he basically described my worst nightmare which is crowd interaction, not just where are you from? Or come on stage and be my assistant, but I am giving you a job to do. Not only is it a job but the result of it will be horrible. You’ll hear something worse than you planned on tonight. Here’s a question, are you the kind of person who sings along when a person tells you to sing along from the stage? Or are you the kind of person who, concerned what your companion will think about you doesn’t/are you the kind of person who if say you are alone still won’t sing along because you just don’t want to? Don’t write to me with the answer.

Are the people who sing along when asked are you the kind of person who will dance at a party? If you don’t sing along are you the kind of person that won’t dance at a party? I’ve got my theory that they’re connected.

I went to Joan Rivers funeral on Sunday. I was very, very, very honored to be invited. I didn’t know if I was going to be invited. I felt very privileged to be invited. I went with Billy Eichner and was dazzled by the scene. It was like a New York event that was so monumental it felt like in scope the first SNL after 9/11 when Giuliani did that bit with Lorne in front of the firefighters and they made a joke. Do you remember? Fine. It was such a New York experience walking past so many people stuffed behind barricades, and paparazzi, it was incredible to see Joan’s life command the kind of A-lister attention that she always wanted when she was alive.

Once I went into the synagogue, which by the way was like the Sistine Chapel of synagogues. I’d never been inside Temple Emanu-el and it was not at all like a dive bar. I went in. Billy looked at the program and said, Julie. I looked and saw Audra McDonald would be singing and Hugh Jackman will also be singing. Then Cindy Adams will be speaking as will Deborah Norville. The Gay Men’s Chorus was singing Hey Big Spender while people take their seats. This was all just what anyone reasonable would expect. We went into the shul and sat in front of Paul Shaffer and next to Barry Diller. Two rows in front of us were Kathy Lee and Hoda who did come together, which is adorable. They seemed to be real friends based on their body language. Who doesn’t love that? It was a veritable who’s not here.

I saw Geraldo Rivera’s mustache glisten in the daylight. That was intense. I never expected to see him in natural light. Diane Sawyer was sitting near us. Everybody was there. You saw right? There are lots of photos of the event. After the Gay Men’s big gay chorus choir stopped singing a Rabbi took the stage and said some nice rabbi things. Then he said look in your programs and there was the excerpt from her book saying she wanted her funeral to be insane with Meryl Streep crying in different accents. She didn’t want a babbling Rabbi and he said, “I will not be that babbling Rabbi.” He stepped down off the Bema and Howard Stern came up.

Howard Stern, YIKES! Holy Shit. He wasn’t on the program. He proceeded to say to a tense crowd after the Rabbi had been sincere and traditional, Howard said, “Joan Rivers had a dry vagina.” The whole congregation thinks Holy Shit! Billy is squeezing me. He says, “I know this because she told me a couple of months ago when she was on my show. Not only was it extremely dry as she mentioned but whenever she would go into a bathtub it would, like a sponge soak up all of the water. And if that were not enough, Joan Rivers also said if Whitney Houston had a vagina as dry as her she would still be alive. “ I hate that I am reviewing it…

Who knows Japanese for ‘Show, don’t tell’? I’ll get it tattooed on my forearm. Howard Stern gave an incredible speech about Joan Rivers. He was so smart and funny and honest, real, and true. It completely invoked her spirit. It was like Joan was there. He talked about how they’d do his show together and doing bits playing off of each other. He talked about her timing and how even without an audience she always knew when it was time to change the subject, when to drop in a joke, when it was time to barrel through something or draw something out. He said that every once in a while she’d say something really bad, but before she would say it, she’d get a gleam in her eye. The two of them had a rapport where they knew when they were killing. They knew they were bringing out the best in each other.

It moved me. I have to say. His speech was so true. He said, “Even though she was 81 it seemed like she’s gone way too soon.” It’s true. A big fuck-up. A big mistake Joan Rivers dying, don’t tell me that it wasn’t. Howard Stern spoke and then Deborah Norville took the stage and talked about her husband Carl a lot. Deborah Norville was friends with Joan and they used to go on vacations together. It did not feel like a funeral, it felt like a celebration of Joan’s life. Not that it wasn’t somber, people were sad. On 9/11 I don’t want to say that an 81 year-old passing away was tragic, but it really was horrible. Is that better than tragic? Does tragic denote things that are aberrant? I don’t think it was meant to happen with Joan. I have all of these ideas, they call it ‘shoulding’. I have a lot of ‘shoulds.’ You can always tell when it’s somebody’s time, like Michael Jackson. I don’t mean to sound callous but I’m so glad he’s dead. Thank god. He had suffered for at least ten years too long. He was done. When he passed, oh thank god! Now we can begin.

It was a celebration of Joan's life. Deborah Norville told stories about funny things Joan used to do and there were a lot of them. She would pull a lot of pranks on her friends. Joan also loved money, and loved living beautifully. She liked her creature comforts. She was a particular kind of creature. That lent itself to stories the Deborah told that would begin with, “We were on a hot air balloon with the Forbes brothers one time.” What? That wasn’t the point of the story. The point was the balloon was weighed down by the wind and Joan said, “Oh my god, I lost the baby.” It was funny and also so ahead of its time.Deborah Norville talked about Carl so much, so so much. Joan used to call her and Carl Ken and Barbie. Is that a compliment?

Joan’s friend Margie Stern spoke. Her daughter made the Joan Rivers documentary which is fabulous. Cindy Adams spoke beautifully. She was funny and great. Cindy Adams also mentioned in, in passing, that Judge Judy and Joan Rivers used to take vacations together including to but not limited to Colonial Williamsburg. Let me repeat that Cindy Adams, Joan Rivers, and Judge Judy Sheindlin would go to Colonial Williamsburg together on a girl’s trip just the three of them. Can you imagine being the town crier, the summer stock actor going to your job as the town crier and then seeing Joan Rivers, Judge Judy and Cindy Adams? Good Morrow…

Hugh Jackman sang a song from the Boy from Oz about Judy Garland. Oddly enough it wasn’t the gayest thing I saw that day. Finally the NYPD Troops, men with gigantic furry hats, bagpipes and kilts who were very serious came on stage and played Amazing Grace. It was really loud and really intense. It was very emotional. But also such a spectacle you had to laugh. They marched down the aisle. After they did Amazing Grace, they did New York, New York, they did Give My Regards to Broadway then went out onto the street. I though holy shit Joan River’s life was every Thanksgiving Day Parade, every Statue of Liberty; it was a New York City event. Her life was remarkable. It’s weird that she’s gone and there will never be anyone else like her.

In between the funeral and going to her apartment for a service I went downtown and watched the Big Chill for the first time. That movie, I will tell you this, is garbage. If you have the nerve to say to my face that the Big Chill is a good movie I will say, “Stuff it Gramps.” It may have once been perceived by baby boomers as a good movie. It is not. It is a Robert Frost poem top white people. It’s like an ode by a heavy handed schlock artist. Why kick Robert Frost? Let’s say…no fuck Robert Frost, throw him under the bus.

The Big Chill is about white people getting older and having a very hard time of it. Kevin Kline wears very short shorts and attempts a Southern accent. He’s married to Glen Close who does her thing of just looking really blessed out and slit-eyed throughout the whole movie, but she also bakes and cries in the shower at one point. At the end she gives Kevin Kline permission to fuck their friend because she wants a baby. That’s horrible because she says, “You can spend the night with her.” Then they are smiling at each other knowingly and you think ugh! Burn it to the ground, honestly, give the keys to the millennials. Jeff Goldblum is disgusting in it. He keeps trying to have sex with a constantly stretching Jennifer Tilly who looks like the Vietnamese lady boy that William Hurt’s character brought back from Vietnam. William Hurt plays someone who is mysteriously impotent. We are never told why he’s impotent. We just know he went to Vietnam and his dick doesn’t work. He does coke and he has an earring. That’s enough for the math. That movie is a lot. I hated it. The Motown is so patronizing.

Can you imagine the chutzpah to score your white person circle jerk with the songs of black people you grew up with and had nostalgia for, yet knew it belonged in its place as background music while you did the dishes joyfully. I hate every song in that movie because it was in that movie. I grew up listening to the Big Chill soundtrack in my parents’ cars. They had the cassette and I loved those songs as a kid. I listened to them too much. I over stretched my taste tendons. Having returned to the original context from which they were birthed, I spit on the ground.

I did however like Glenn Close’s hair. I liked her perm. Her bangs could have been longer. Mary Kay Place—I don’t have anything to say about her that haven’t already said or implied on this podcast in the past. There’s a lot of smoking inside of the house. There’s a child in the first scene, he never comes back. There are sneakers. It’s so stupid. It’s stupid and it sucks. Nothing means anything.

Then 9/11 happens. Are you equipped because you know Whiter Shade of Pale? You don’t know anything. These baby boomers, I’ll tell you. You’re killing yourself over something that isn’t real. Growing up is so hard because you have to let go of authenticity. Was there ever authenticity? Of course there is. We’re authentic. Then there’s a line, “You were always the pretty one.” Oh my god, none of this is real. If you related to an aging group of friends but thing, “She was always the pretty one.” Fucking kill yourself. I don’t even care, if that’s real to you then fuck you. If you exist to have crappy movies resonate with you, you’re ruining everything. Knock it off baby boomers; you don’t know what’s authentic because you haven’t known what’s cool since Bob Dylan and the Beatles. You really haven’t.

You didn’t know that Abba was awesome. You still think Phillip Roth was a better writer than Valerie Solanas. I don’t want to rail against baby boomers, but god was that movie bad. William Hurt is someone who should be my type but isn’t my type.

Nev Schulman is a monster from hell. He’s the host of Catfish. This is not new. I’m not Breaking Bad. I’m not blowing any minds by saying Nev Schulman is a douchebag. But Tara Arian has been retweeting him for quite some time. He has a new book out. On Tuesday he tweeted a photo of himself in an elevator clutching his own heart. The elevator door was being propped open by groceries. He in referring to Janay RIce, her husband that jerk. Why isn't he in jail? Why didn't we throw that guy in jail? I didn't watch the video. I don't need to watch a video of abuse to know how I feel. I don't watch animal abuse videos. I also don't watch animal abuse videos because I am not emotionally equipped to handle what would happen to me if I did. Nev tweeted something, oh my god he deleted it. What a putz. It turned out he punched a woman when he was at Sarah Lawrence. There was a photo of him in the elevator and Nev Schulman tweeted 'Cowards make me sick. Real men show strength through patience and honor. This elevator is abuse free.' #respect. Gawker called it a joke but I don't think it was a joke. I think he was being sincere because after I learned about the Sarah Lawrence incident I went back to his timeline.

Nev Schulman has zero self-awareness. He tweets things like, 'Get busy living or get busy dying.' That's not a thing that you can tweet. You can't go on twitter, quote the Shawshank Redemption and then go about your day. What else did he tweet? 'Dare to care.' That's another Nev Schulman tweet. ‘Immature--a word boring people use to describe fun people.' ‘Someday is today.' Rent lyric or Nev Schulman tweet? 'Phones shouldn't be allowed in clubs of bars, we should be there to meet new people not text people we already know.' He is everything I am afraid and why I don't leave the house or go to clubs or bars. I'm afraid of meeting someone like him. I'm afraid of meeting someone in the outside world who talks about how people need to put down their cell phones and be in the outside world. That's my number one nightmare.

'What makes you happy? Why aren't you doing that every single day?' I don't know Nev Schulman and I don't need you judging me. That’s the last thing I need. Can you imagine if Nev Schulman judged you or acted really invested in your happiness and asked, ‘Why are you getting in your own way?’ I would jump off a bridge. He seems like someone who would give the advice, ‘Just breathe through it, breathe. If you are going to be sad just feel that sadness, breathe through the sadness.’

Richard Kiel is dead. I didn’t know he was alive. He was the star of To Serve Man Twilight Zone and many Monkees episodes, in addition he was also Jaws.

There’s a premium of the last live show coming out on Monday. If you don’t have a premium subscription you should get one. It’s ridiculously cheap. Then you’ll have access to the archives and be able to get the premium and be able to hear the knighting ceremony of Danielle Henderson and Nellie McKay singing beautiful songs and Jake Fogelnest and I talking about the motion picture Crazy People and you’ll also hear Spoony sing Garbage Dump by Charles Manson. That’s coming out on Monday.

There’s a show called Epic Ink. I watched an episode of it one night I couldn’t sleep. What did I eat that night, Coco Krispies? Anyway, Epic Ink is a show about a tattoo parlor called Area 51 Tattoos in Oregon. They are the subject of the show Epic Ink on A&E and it is terrible. I am unable to experience guilt, but if I did have a guilty pleasure it would be reality shows about tattoos. This is one of the many reasons that baby boomers and their notions of authenticity are such bogus garbage because there are very depressing insights into counter cultures like the denizens of Area 51 Tattoo parlor that are just as dim-witted , obnoxious, under-educated and incapable of or abstract thought ad any of the squares that they think are not cool because they don’t have tattoos. Do you know what I mean?

There are so many people from counter culture that are depressingly as uncool as the people they think they are cooler than. That’s always a unique shame to me, as someone who is so deeply and incredibly cool. The people at Epic Ink Area 51 Tattoo Parlor like to identify themselves as nerds, and how cool it is to be geeks is a very important idea to them. They like all things geeky such as the Simpsons and the movie Goonies. There was an episode that I saw where, I don’t know how they found so many overweight men in the particular length of shorts they like to wear, but there was a heavy gentleman who went in to get a tattoo of Arnold Schwarzenegger and he needed to have a slice of pizza before he could keep going. The guy with the forked tongue said, “I think we’ve got a fainter.” Ugh, everything is awful.

There’s another one with a pretty blonde girl who looks like a butter stick that could talk. She’s the Marilyn Munster of the series. She works there and says, “I’ve never seen the Goonies.” “What?” The owner says, “Strike One.” It is the most annoying show I have ever seen. It is awful. It is garbage person palooza and I strongly recommend it. For the rest of the episode they made this blonde girl—who doesn’t work there- watch Goonies. They don’t have the rights to Goonies so every once in a while they show her looking at a laptop not over her shoulder, the other angle. Then someone got a tattoo fo the Goonies kid. That’s Epic Ink.

I want to thank Amyg. Howwasyourweek.com exists but more importantly Howwasyourwiki.com exists. Howwasyourwiki.com is my favorite website because I get to go and look at it, and look at the things that listeners like you, write on it. Honestly it makes my stupid days so much better. It really does. It’s just great. It makes me feel like this show lands somewhere. I put it out there and someone catches it, someone catches me every time I hurl myself into nothingness which is what it feels like to connect a microphone into your computer sometimes. Howwasyourwiki is so funny and well written by people who like this show and I really enjoy spending time on it. That said it is a website that completely belongs to you. I never update it because I don’t know how. Ryan Hotlips Houlihan is not someone who administrates it or runs it, that’s not what he does, he could if he wanted to but he doesn’t. Amyg, who is the best, who I have met in person and is wonderful, has done the formidable task of transcribing these monologues for the archive. If you go to Howwasyourwiki.com and click on episodes under the show, you’ll see a list of episodes. We are up to #183. If I click on #182 when you scroll down there is a monologue transcript which Amy is responsible for.

I encourage you to fiddle with the formatting. Fiddle with it by appreciate her work, which I certainly do because in addition to the transcript of the monologue #182 she has also transcribed #152-169 which is a funny number because of sex. Which is incredible. I guess what I am saying is that Amy is the best. Please help her out. If you feel like transcribing a monologue it would mean so much to me to see it on the website. Why not? Some of you have boring jobs right? Transcribe a monologue or enter an origin of the episode title in an episode, or some trivia. Do you know why? It’s free and it makes me happy. That’s enough.

Katy Perry is fighting with Taylor Swift. I have never felt more like 36 years old. When I think about Katy Perry sub-tweeting Taylor Swift and saying something something Regina George, I think ugh, can’t we just all lie down and watch Heathers again? I know you like Mean Girls, I’m not judging you for that, I’m just saying things were different back in the olden days when we all listened to WDRE at our…I don’t know.

I walked around the East Village the other day and there was still a bar on the corner of East Village and Avenue A that’s logo was a rockabilly devil. I thought, aw, not all of my past is dead. My childhood still lives on in some from in the East Village, by childhood I mean my experience at NYU.

We have one guest…