TV or Not TV Film

12-5-74 (postmark)

Tom –

Please forgive delay in writing. "No time, no time," etc., or at least not enough time. I don't really have much news that you shouldn't be getting from PP or DO in the coming week. Both will be sending along photos and copy. DO has a great letter on the psychology of fire. (Saw DO Saturday for about an hour.)

Film is coming along fine. Many fine and funny stills. DO is now sorting shots for next book, which will probably include Everything, plus whatever next album develops into. At this point in planning, book will be a departure in format, and become one of those film picture books. Firesign promotions continue to be troubled: no t-shirts are yet available on West Coast. DO, his usual diplomatic self, refuses to imply blame. Bear-Whiz Beer labels have been done now (art by Wm. Stout), and are featured in film, except for scenes shot those first few days. Maybe you could get some for newsletter distribution? Company brew was Coors.

Bill Stout has become the Firesign artist. They love him, communicate well. He has done a beautiful water-color map of the lower desert basin, based on DO's pencil. You might ask for a copy (maybe a slide?). DO also indicated they hoped Bill would do next album cover, perhaps an insert, and cover for next book.

No luck as yet getting dubs from Fred (Birddog) of Crawdaddy interview he did, or other goodies he has – he worked with the guys on local promos for Everything LP, and found the Giant Rat promos in station's dump file. He's implied that the complete Birddog Firesign library may be my Christmas present. If so, it'll be your New Years to Easter present. Fred was "memoed" for playing entire Everything LP in 8-9AM spot last week. KNAC ("LA area's only free form rock station") owner signed memo personally. Fred's now only to play music 6-10AM, and may play up to 10 minutes of spoken word material during his Sunday afternoon spot. A local theatre (downtown Long Beach) has contacted Fred concerning Firesign Funnies as a midnight festival.

Speaking of Funnies, went to "premiere" on the 16th with Fred and a host of others. Jungle Freaks is a brilliant little film, deserves to be seen by more – funny, disgusting, etc. It rambles, however, and becomes a bit long. On a bill with FF, it's great. The absurdities it sets up within the themes of cannibalism, love-lust, Social Darwinism, are continued in Love Is Hard to Get, first of the Funnies.

Love is the only true piece of cinema in the set. Fortunately, it's the only one that pretends to be cinema,

and that pretense...self-conscious satire of self-conscious art as satire – works very well. It is a myth, a fable, a fairy tale told by a child, with a child's openly unconscious Freudianisms – the love of servant for master; the dual role of lover/ape; the super hero (super id?) who conquers the man/ape (man conquering his own animal instincts?); and offers true love to his lady in distress. What makes this piece true cinema is its mockery of cinema. For those who haven't seen it, the best way to describe it is as a science-fiction Samurai love story made by Fritz Lang at Monogram in 1935. The only comparable thing which comes to mind is if A-I's recent remake of Julius Caesar had been an intentional satire. Love uses music (piano by John Simon) predominantly and dialog sparingly. It could have been produced at Monogram's German studio; in UFA's basement; in 1927. I'm sure Anton Greene will never reveal the fact that it was in reality his grandfather who was responsible, along with Peter's father, and a host of other assorted greats and grands who made up the cast, and not the Firesign stock company we know as Bo May, Jack Poet, Mrs. Jack Poet, Cyrus Faryar, etc.

TV Or Not TV is a studio version of the Proctor-Bergman stage act. The material is funny. Steve Gillmor's staging of it for camera (in creative conjunction with P&B;) usually adds to the humor. There's not much to be said about the bits, but there seems to be one problem: the sound. I'm sure it was intentional, but I think much of the humor is sacrificed to the effect (funny as it is) that Fred and Clark have suspended one mike somewhere in the hall of this enormous home studio, so they could perform Roaming Umpire together, away from the master control. It is, of course, a movie souvenir of the act, and could be distributed singly as a bizarre and confusing short, or PBS show. Additional music is by John Simon. Careful reading of credits all evening will reveal many wonderful names, including one A. McKay, who has no small part in the camera direction of Everything.

I don't think you need be told any more about Space Party, third on the bill – full color, all four guys on screen, 500 crazy extras shouting "Not Insane!"

The audience came to see the "Funnies." Many stayed for the start of second showing of Freaks, but left before it was over. The first show audience had only a few empty chairs, many in audience wearing Space Party buttons. Lee McLaren and Glen Banks (original Grass Roots members) were present, along with many familiar faces. Audience both showings laughed, hooted, generally enjoyed all three films. From the response, I gathered many were hearing the P&B; material for the first time. Maybe album sales will pick up.

News from Fred is that Everything is over 3,000 feet, making it officially a feature, short as it is.

George Papoon's 1976 election campaign has begun even before anyone stepped on his Tass Hat (the hat presented to George as he spoke before the Russian ants rushed him out of the Soviet Union in 1972.) Female country (not to be confused with Marlboro) singer Emmylou Harris now proudly sports a "Papoon For Resident" button at all her concert appearances. Emmylou, on tour with Leo Kotke, can be heard singing harmony parts on the new Linda Ronstadt album for Capitol. An early supporter of for George Papoon, Emmylou Harris hits one discord in each show, when she stops singing and speaks proudly of "Pampoon." Only the rats under the stands understand, and gnaw loudly in appreciation. Keep up the good work, Emmylou, the time is now.

Well, Tom, the margin's on the other side, which means it's time to sign off. I do hope this hasn't been too trying an experience. I've forgotten what we talked of on the phone, so I hope you were taking notes. PA suggested I do a first-hand account of "The Leap," but my mind says "not today." Maybe later. If there's something I've left out, let me know. CALL!! Sometimes, it's the only way. WRITE. WIRE. VISIT (new album to be recorded after first of the year!!)

As always, humbly,