Thursday, March 19, 2009
Subterranean adolescent blues. The wit of Michael O'Donoghue
Old Ivan, straddling three generations, and yet, still, somehow in love with the Great Bitch, the Great Unattainable. Idyll. She? Did I want to be Rider Haggard?...Well, there have been women I would have loved to have ridden haggard. Again and again, the adolescent image. Alice in Chains long before the rock group? Was it the idyllic woman or the unattainable novel that I sought? I was certainly stuck on my novel. Nowhere near the real Great Bitch.
Norman Mailer:The novel is the great bitch of your life."
He could have added, "Write the novel and you get the 'bitch.'"
Years later, the cad had seduced many a "bitch" with his novel.
Ah but there was Phoebe Zeitgeist.
Here was wit, here was genius in four-colour form, comic book form, actually, a gorgeus idyll, though often (gasp!) in chains. And in situations that stopped just short of bondage and discipline. Oh scorn the porn!
Oh-oh. Is porn in the eye of the scribbling beholder?
"Porn is in the groin of the beholder", an ad saleman explains whil I am trying to do this column.
My reseach started in the late Sixties, A comic book collaboration between SNL genius Michael O'Donoghue and comic book artist Robert Springer, "The Adventures of Phoebe-Zeitgeist", a gorgeous drop-dead Moonbeam McSwine, almost out of old Al Capp, perhaps-- but nothing McSwinish about Phoebe- Zeitgeist. She is beautiful, especially when drawn nude and in extremely stressful situations.
She is a Serbian debutante, an aristocrat, really--I don't want to mention Raquel Welch and Phoebe in the same breath, but she is certainly as gorgeous as Britney, but younger, and very, very sexy, in no matter in what scene, or at what level of chains and degradation.
Heh. Am I turnning some of you pervs on?
Phoebe-Zeitgeist, the belle of any ambassadorial ball, is suddenly kidnapped and captured by a series of bizarre characters, such as crazed Eskimos, Nazis, Communist Russians, Chinese foot fetishists and lesbian assassins.
She does have a hard time of all this.
She is variously rescued, recaptured and rescued again. How I would have loved to have rescued Phoebe from the clutches of those evil Red Chinese, Russian Communists, Chinese foot fetishits and all the assorted rejects of Katmandu.
I was fresh out of liberal arts school, still high on old Hegel's notions on the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, that old German shepherd seeming more abreast of the times even today, than he was during Bismarck's reign, where a united Germany seemed to be the actual zeitgeist. And Hegel had all the brains. Until recently, America from the Sixties on, seemed to be short on that commodity. But there were seers.
Bob Dylan: Don't let Henry Kissinger tie you in a knot...When you gonna wake up?)
But cut to the chase: I was just out of the liberal Arts school, a former army guy, like James Blunt, guitar handy, sitting in front of a radar console to look for Russians, a real Norman Mailer character, inspired by the best art of my time, like Howl, by Allen Ginsberg, Advertisments for Myself by Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac and, especially Michael O'Donoghue. His was the "Mr. Bill", plasticine puppet on Saturday Night Live, always being dismembered by some sadistic ogre-puppeter.("Oh, Oh, no! Ooooh!)
I was half in love and on the way to writing a beautiful novel about Toronto, and if not that, at least I hoped to meet my personal Phoebe-Zeitgeist. Beautiful elfin women are a magnet for losers like me.
And the image of a naked woman in chains, political correctness be damned,was a huge turn- on for a young horny fool who wanted to write.
I had to be as good as Michael O'Donoghue. I had to find a love object as beautiful as Phoebe-Zeitgeist. Ah, but what is wit? Mine couldn't come close to the master.
Three novels later, I found myself in the unenviable position of an old balding guy in love with a woman out of an erotic coming book, the very epitome of some pimply guy as in the illustration above.
Always the Phoebe- Zeitgeist comic strip. In old Evergreen, Grove Press and even Playboy.
Michael O'Donoghue's perfervid imagination, a Diogenes not with a candle in his hand, but with a candle on the top of his head, the picture of his chained porn queen firmly embedded in the demented seeker's brain, and he had to get her. "Gotta get!"
Well, I typed and sweated.
Well, I was done. The book was done.
And wouldn't you know it? The Idyll appeared.
And didn't she ride me haggard?
Or is it "I wish?"