/ Scholarship / K. Symbols /
This new years day, yesterday, my head was teeming with semiotic points, today I launch a scrapbook on the crowd. I’m glad my life is running down and out though I also wish I had another dozen lives in which to try to actually accomplish something.
A line popped into my head the other day: “And then he’ll radish us.” A second later I was able to blurt the source to Jan: The World of Henry Orient! The spoiled girls from the fancy prep school traipse around Manhattan flashing their thighs and their crush on Peter Sellers’ vulgar pianist as he tries to seduce Paula Prentice. The girls fantasize that he will “radish” them. They half hear “ravish” in their minds, substitute a vegetable for a rape, don’t know what they’re saying but aren’t entirely wrong. They’re smart enough, in fact they’re precocious. But they’re young, no matter how much they know it falls short of what they need to know to remain alive while stalking Sellers in Central Park.
Decades ago I established “Sgt. Pepper” with my son as pk’s symbol for profligate symbol use where the speaker/writer only knows a fraction of the meaning of their references. Our lives are full of crosses, bleeding Jesuses, suns, moons, phalluses and female curves ‘n crevices. No one knows it all, no one of normal intelligence is completely wrong or completely ignorant. Almost anyone recognizes the cascade of references the Beatles put on their Sgt. Pepper album cover.
Your average PhD won’t adequately explain the lot. You need an encyclopedist.
But an encyclopedia won’t help you if you don’t recognize WC Fields, Marlon Brando … Even if you ID Poe, and Bob Dylan, and Marilyn, how about the chevrons on the sleeves? or the tassels on the shoulders?
How much did the Beatles themselves know, or their guides? They were far too young, however quick and eager to have gotten deep into much of their uses.
I’m reminded of the mimeographed rant I, like all faculty members, received in my department mailbox in 1968. The writer was raging against what he saw as impingement on his freedom of speech: college/institutional hypocrisy. The paper was chockablock with four letter words rendered obscene by the omission of letters: s—, f—, c— … More letters were missing than were present. What made me laugh out loud was the inclusion of the word “fellatio”: it was included complete: and I thought, this guy doesn’t know what it means: he didn’t censor it because he didn’t recognize it.
And that reminded me of the cute buxom girl in my neighborhood around 1950, aged ten or so, who gave blowjobs but wouldn’t permit French kissing: the nuns had told her not to let a boy put his tongue in her mouth, the nuns had said nothing about the boy’s cock.
CBGB, Nazi Recrudescence
I’m going out of my way these days to stream documentaries and dramas on music styles I ignored while they were happening. I’d heard of but ignored The Talking Heads, Blondie, Iggy Pop: the film CBGB caught me up a bit. Still, till last week or so I couldn’t have told you that CBGB was an acronym for Country Blue Grass Blues. The film depicts “punks” gathering in this loud club on the bowery. One group displays swastikas, some Jews object, the swastika-wearers don’t know why! They recognize the symbol, adopt it, without having any idea why!
CBGB reminds me of something else: a couple of decent looking young women present themselves to the owner and to the nascent bands as publicity agents. So then they’re there a lot, knocking back the shots, being punks. Some guys are on the stand, thumping their guitars, skinny-hipped ragamuffins: and the one girl, the secondary girl, says “You wouldn’t! You wouldn’t dare!” And the primary girl says “You dare me?!?” And she goes up onto the stage, pulls the lead singer’s pants down around his knees and starts blowing him!
The audience continues as it were, as though this behavior is standard. But the girl is also armed with whipped cream canisters: she’s sucking cock and spraying the jernt with white foam.
And that reminded me, that’s a Muddy Waters routine. Muddy, before his accident, in the days in Chicago when he was on his feet with his guitar and his voice, he would pull a bottle of agitated beer from his pocket, pop the cap as he sang “I’m a man!” Spray the joint with white foam!
Ah, but did the CBGB kids know that? Of course not, not more than they knew who or what the Nazis were, what the swastika “meant”.
Speaking also of youth, if I were younger I might be tempted to map that Lonely Hearts Club Band image for figures depicted. There are books where you can see the disciples named: is there a web site that names the Sgt. Pepper figures? I never knew 100% of them: I know fewer of them this year as my eyesight deteriorates than I would have still known last year.
2016 03 16 https://www.yahoo.com/news/recall-issued-mom-discovers-pedophile-144446471.html
Mom discovers pedophilia symbol on toy truck: means ripe for rape: heart inside a heart.
Sgt. Pepper Symbols