Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Count, Action Heroes, Cold Rides

Before the widespread use of cable television in DC, there were 5 basic stations available: the three big network affiliates, the public broadcasting network, and WDCA - Channel 20. WDCA was at least a few rungs above public access TV, but maybe a few rungs below the Big Three in terms of quality of equipment and talent. Mostly. Mostly, that is, with the notable exception of everyone's favorite perverted political pundit and vampire, Count Gore de Vol. Creature Feature starring the aforementioned blood-sucker, aired late night Saturdays in the late 70s and, after a five year hiatus, from 84 to 87. The Count would present such illustrious films as "Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism", "Corridor of Blood", and "Zombies of Mora Tao" (the latter title firmly cemented my deep and abiding fondness for zombies AND pirates) to an audience of mostly happily terrified children, potheads, and insomniacs, all the while attempting to get his little vampire in the cave of some scantily clad model with too much makeup and some preposterous Gothic outfit. His Hallowe'en specials were legendary: huge-breasted be-costumed models, cheap rubber-chicken jokes, political jibes for the beltway crowd, the television equivalent of Circus Peanuts, you know they are awful but you can't stop eating, a strange and tacky flower in the otherwise carefully tended arboretum.

Television held very little that could occupy Punks. The action heroes were steadfast supporters of the status quo, fighting the good fight, wronged little old ladies menaced by mustachioed gangsters, poorly dressed unshaven B-grade actors in stylized programs, long Hollywood stares into the camera accompanied by a pithy line or two, absolute drivel, cheap electronic Rock & Roll over unimaginative dialog. We would hunker down in the basement rooms of our friends, homemade Black Flag posters, worn skate decks, the cheap cassette player distorting, no conversation, no introspection, readiness unlabeled and unnamed, X Men comics, headless GI Joes, spray paint and Beta tapes of the Young Ones, "...New York's all right if you like tuberculosis, New York's all right if you like art and jazz...", the musicians we listen to are not our heroes, never were anyone's heroes, they don't want to be famous, they are the slashers in the film not the coeds, a riot without purpose or aim, unmotivated abdicative rulers, a force of nature.

A few Punks stand around the station-wagon, hands in pockets, it's cold, staring at the shattered glass of the rear windscreen, cursing the rednecks or wiggers or other nefarious assholes responsible, quick hits on the cigarettes, shivers, UK Subs were good, man, yeah that was intense, we are gonna freeze, those assholes are real dicks, we gotta get to Dave's, a cop car drives by, oblivious to the crime, the driver punches up a middle finger at the back of the patrol car and slaps the handcuffs hanging from the rear-view mirror, easing out onto V St., picking up speed, a laugh from the back as a beer bottle smashes on the asphalt, the Beltway looms ahead, potholes and orange drums, the tinny speakers screaming with the the awkward rhythm of rebellion.

As always, until next time.

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