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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Socks, Seats and White Russians ...

... we live in a society where the concept of creating our own culture, our own heritage, something that grows and ferments throughout generations after generations, that concept of creating your own culture with time and effort, that has died, finally bowing on the feet of consumerism and pop culture and tivo. Pop culture has now taken over our entire sense of heritage in that the way that we look at ourselves and our society, the ideas that we used to hold dear snd the way we look back at our past, that has all been taken over by Oprah and Jay Leno and annoying conversations that begin with "Do remember that one 'Sienfeld' episode where ..."

We have no American heritage now. It has been bought and sold to movies, television and eventually the internet. And no one could be more happier than me. After all, in an era where our history is being forcibly defined by epic three hour long movies that hope to "define" an undefinable moment in history, the idea of a skinny mexican guy with a religion firmly rooted in bad cult movies doesn't seemt too far off.

In our pop culture-oriented society, sometimes you may find yourself feeling like the only person in the world who is into something. It's incredibly easy given the mass amount of crap that filters through your television and your computer and everything else digital in your house. And it has happened to me a countless amount of times. I mean, theres no way that anyone can say "God, am I the only one into Lost?" But it's easy to say that about a million other shows out there.

And I'd like to talk to you about those times in my life where I've thought I was alone in my nerdity obsessions. And about "the fest" I simply must go to.

I saw the first episode of Sifl and Olly when it premiered on MTV in 1997 and I was instantly hooked. The mix of sock puppets, catchy music, honest and refreshing ad libs, computer generated effects, a bizarre cast of characters, and children's show content perfectly mixed with incredibly offensive stuff (you gotta love legless dogs) made it my absolute addiction from 1998 all the way to now, almost ten years later, Emerald can sing along to "Did you get the name of the girl in the spooky car" and Isabela, almost seven months old now, will stop all her cries and tears if you put on my old videos of the show. I felt like I was the only person who liked the show then and I still feel like that now.

Wikipedia on Sifl and Olly

Sifl and Olly clips and full episodes on YouTube

I now realize that the majority of fans of Sifl and Olly, the few that there were, were nothing more than fickle MTV fans. When the show first aired, a whopping boatload of web sites popped up. Two years later those web sites, sites which said things like "I am the world's biggest Sifl and Olly fan ..." and whatnot, overnight they changed into Tom Green sites. Suddenly Sifl and Olly fans were Tom Green fans. I hated Tom Green for years because of that. But he got his. And I'm not talking about the whole nut cancer thing, either. Those Tom Green sites were eventually changed into Jackass sites and Green went the way of Sifl and Olly.

That's what he gets for being Canadian.

MTV does an excellent job of telling its viewers what is cool. Tom Green, Jackass, and the Osbournes are a fine example of that. It's good that they have somehow found a way to look hip and young throughout the twenty plus years that they've been on the air. The negative part is that, well, they were created to be the home of music videos. Now they're the home of crass commercialism, crappy preteen drama, and ignorant African American "pimp" ideals. And while MTV limps around showing us their bling and tries so hard to make us believe they're still cool, they're sitting on a wealth of television shows that were brilliant, subversive, and altogether awesome. They had great television once: The State, Sifl and Olly, Liquid Television, The Jon Stewart Show, and even the Pee-Wee Herman wannabe Just Say Julie. They have some amazing shows under their belt. But they don't care. And in an age where tv companies are tripping over each other to release every television show that ever aired EVER onto a three disk special edition dvd, we will probably never see any of MTV's amazing former shows on DVD anytime soon.

I used to feel like the only person in the world who was into Sifl and Olly. And I still feel that way to this day, sitting here watching "Calls from the Public" and wishing for a DVD release that will probably never come.

Modern day television has given me a repeat of the Sifl and Olly days with Cheap Seats, a Mystery Science Theater meets Sportscenter show that airs on, of all places, ESPN Classics. Yeah, not the place you'd expect to find the world's most awesomely subversive and amazingly cool comedy show presently on television. The best part about the show is that, despite it being on an ESPN network, you really don't have to know anything about sports to watch the show. Two twins, Jason and Randy Sklar, take cheap pot shots and showcase their rapid fire comedic talents over the back catalogue of bizarre ESPN shows like Spelling Bees and Lumberjack championships and Hot Dog Eating contests.

Cheap Seats web site (featuring some hilarious clips)

Cheap Seats on YouTube

The best part of the show comes when, and you can only assume that Randy and Jason have some massive respect in the world of comedy, a special guest pops up, usually in a very well done filmed piece. And we're talking the absolute BEST in modern day comedy ... Matt Walsh, Ed Helms, Jon Benjamin (from Home Movies), Matt Price, Carlos Alazraqui (from Reno 911), and almost every member of The State. The show is hilarious and you can tell that they're brothers in the way that their comedy comes, a rapid fire series of jokes that never fail to connect.

Every episode is amazing. There's even an episode where the boys from Mystery Science Theater 3000 show up out of nowhere and "MST3K" Cheap Seats. Which makes perfect sense. What Cheap Seats is doing is taking the heart of MST and taking it further than Mike and Joel and the 'bots ever dared to go.

It's an incredible show. What it's doing on ESPN Classic I have no idea. It's destined to die there, I think, leaving me with yet another show that I alone am fans of.

I saw The Big Lebowski the day it came out. I watched it with my girlfriend at the time Sarah, a young, sexy, angry, innocent little plumper who eventually banged two other guys while we were dating, then broke up with me to dyke it up in Fag-staff. I went with Sarah, her mom who was at the time suffering from stomache cancer although she didn't know it then, and her father whose lifetime battle with alcoholism left him clinging to life. Not the best group of people to go see The Big Lebowski. But I didn't know what I was getting into with this film, which is rare in a world where previews tell you the entire plot of the movie before you even see it. I went into The Big Lebowski not knowing a thing about it. I did the same thing at a preview for Garden State and I loved it, although I wouldn't see myself ever dressing up like Largeman and going to a Garden-fest.

I became obsessed with Big Lebowski for about two years after it came out. I drank a lot of white russians, started smoking bud again, and even took a bowling class as Arizona State. Tom and I, my semi-heterosexual lifemate at the time, we could quote every line of the movie and sing every note of the soundtrack. We were obsessed with the movie, me more than Tom. I don't know why I liked the movie or why I obsessed with it the way that I did. And still to this day I have no idea why I love it so much. I guess its becxause its a pot smoking bowling crime drama comedy. Apparently I like those.

But, like with Sifl and Olly, I thought that I was the only one in the world that obsessed with The Big Lebowski. And then I found out about Lebowskifest.

Official Lebowskifest web site

Jeff Bridges at Lebowskifest West 2005

Lebowskifest. A celebration of all things Lebowski. People come from all over the planet for these things and dress as their favorite characters and talk and discuss The Big Lebowski and drink white russians and bowl. Think of a Star Trek convention but with alcohol and weed. The 1st annual Lebowskifest occurred in Fall of 2002 in Louisville, Kentucky and the 2nd one took place 2003. Then they moved to Las Vegas, which makes perfect sense, for the first Lebowski Fest West in 2004. Then they had the 3rd Lebowski Fest in June of 2004 which had over 4,000 attendees (who call themselves "achievers") and it even featured an outdoor concert with the band My Morning Jacket. Lebowski Fest New York was held at the end of 2004 and in 2005 Jeff Bridges attended.

And this scares the hell out of me.

I mean, to suddenly realize that there are thousands of other people like you all over the world who are as obsessed, or maybe even more so, as you, I don't know but suddenly I feel nervous and intimidated. Am I enough of a fan? How many times have I seen the movie? God, how long has it been since I've had a good white russian?

I'm not an achiever yet. But I will be. Soon.


Gregorio said...

man... ive totally got to go to lebowskifest -- i keep missing it. maybe next year? you're welcome to crash down here if you wanna go...

Reverend Steve said...

Dude, next year, we will TOTALLY crash at your place. Awesome!