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The Producer

Categories: Case Histories

By Mark McFadden, (c) 1999

Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1999

The party was strictly low rent, hiatus and wannabe. The 70’s were shambling like some rough bell-bottomed beast towards fashion to be reborn. Outside, the surf cheered in waves, like the mob at a corrida.

He stood apart from the press of restructured flesh, surveying the room from a clear space that curiously moved with him. His handsome, generically perfect features, expensive dark tan, and trim, Gold’s Gym build obscured him like a chameleon’s skin.

Although no one looked at him directly, through sidelong glances and pantomimed promises to call with imaginary acquaintances across the room, the various pilot fish determined that a Player was in the room. Chitchat went freeform as all participants ceased pretending to listen, focused instead on determining their new place in the food chain.

Some members of the herd earned valuable insider points by giving a name to the ineffably familiar face.

Ethan Tyrpalo. Alpha male at Sony/Warner’s/Universal. Just replaced what’s-his-name, the one with the Golden Parachute and the harassment suit. No, the other one.

He made money appear from thin air. He introduced people. He made suggestions. He whipped some into a frenzy, and put the fear of gods in everyone else.

He was a producer.

Blandly, casually, his gaze swept like radar, freezing the more sensitive posers like rabbits in headlights. Others instinctively displayed primate submission. Some nearly pissed themselves in canine frustration, wanting to worship the powerful man, wanting to run until their feet bled.
He wondered why he had come to this party. The pickings looked slim.

Occasionally, something in their eyes would catch his attention. Some reptilian sociopathy, or predatory fire. Or perhaps a vital spark that would nourish despair and pain for a gratifying length or depth.

Come to me.

And the chosen one would leap to obey, or timidly approach.

You, the beach boy.

Good Vibrations

The Beach Boy’s party had been much the same. More room, but the clothing was similarly trendy and ludicrous. The pharmacopoeia differed in ratios and country of origin, but otherwise was much the same. Needles were treated more casually.

He let his choice continue singing his pathetic ex-con blues. It wouldn’t do to crush his dreams of musical stardom, they would be useful. They just needed grooming. Some enlightened husbandry.

“Charley. Elton Harpaty, Permanent Records. Can we talk business in private?”

They found a room that wasn’t in use.

“Come in here, dear boy. Have a cigar. You’re gonna go far. You’re gonna fly high, you’re never gonna die. You’re gonna make it if you try, they’re gonna love you.”

It didn’t really matter what he said. The real conversation wasn’t verbal.

“Well I’ve always had a deep respect, I mean that most sincere. The band is just fantastic. That is really what I think. Oh, by the way, which one is Tex?”

Something about the eyes; unblinking and incandescent, black as the abyss. With better nutrition during childhood or better odds from the gene pool, this one could have been a champion. But, form implies function. This one’s work would be transcendentally bizarre, vulgar, messy and pointless. It had a beat and you could dance to it, but it needed a hook.

“Charlie, have you ever really listened to the White Album?”

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

The beach boy scampered to front and center, averting his eyes in supplication.

Pathetic.

But something about the eyes. Some shameless greed for notoriety, an almost feral opportunistic gleam.

This one will bend. Again, and again, and again.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

He was Tony T. Raphael, and she wasn’t resilient at all.

He had taken his time, and was mindful of his strength. He had left no scratches or bite marks.

He sprang to his feet. Good sex always put a spring in his step.

She had made a nest of the bedclothes and was shivering in a little blonde ball.

“Tell me, was I as good as Jack?”

That got a rise out of her. Something in her eyes smoldered with the white trash strength that had taken her from the toolroom and made her America’s wet dream. Champing at the bit, not completely broken.

Sometimes you use the spurs or whip, but expert trainers agree that the best results come from love.

“If not, I can come back tomorrow night, and the night after that. Practice makes perfect.”

Much better. She really was a fine piece of ass.

Dupe du jour

And the eyes have it. True to his roots, the beach boy was reciting his life like Today’s Specials. Unburdened by self-respect or a rudimentary understanding of the situation, he was making the most of the opportunity. He was the prototype of a modern evolutionary process, the fittest survivor of an industry town. He was adaptable as a rat and ubiquitous as a cockroach.

Bored with the stultifying banality of the parasite’s existence, the producer went to an open balcony, still accompanied by his entourage of one.

It was good to be outside. He always felt more comfortable among the stars.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

“Ron, we’ve known each other since the Hollywood Canteen days, so you know there isn’t an un-American bone in my body.”

That was literally true. But then, he had no American bones in his body either. A half-truth always serves better than a full lie.

Wealth = virtue

Proper training requires attention, patience and endless repetition.

“The damage Communists could do to America from the Pentagon is nothing compared to the treason they could spawn from Hollywood.”

Small rewards will reinforce the learning experience. In this case, jellybeans.

Americans worship winners. They will not waste their votes on someone who will lose.

This one feigned understanding and interest well. And his simple faith in authority could be mistaken for patriotism.

“I want to show you something, Ron. You probably haven’t seen this. Heck, you’re an artist. Why would you? Me, I’m in offices all the time. I saw this tacked up on a bulletin board and I haven’t slept since.”

Again, literally true. He hadn’t slept at any other time, either.

It was mimeographed. There were several holes from thumbtacks, and it had been folded and refolded many, many times.

“The Communist Rules for Revolution”

These rules were captured in Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1919 by the Allied Forces:

1. Corrupt the young, get them away from religion. Get them interested in sex. Make them superficial. Destroy their ruggedness.
2. Get control of all means of publicity.
3. Get people’s minds off their government by focusing their attention on athletics, sexy books and plays, and other trivialities.
4. Divide the people into hostile groups by constantly harping on controversial matters of no importance.
5. Destroy the people’s faith in their natural leaders by holding the latter up to contempt, ridicule, and obloquy.
6. Always preach true democracy, but seize power as fast and as ruthlessly as possible.
7. By encouraging government extravagance, destroy its credit and produce fear of inflation with rising prices and general discontent.
8. Foment unnecessary strikes in vital industries, encourage civil disorders, and foster a lenient and soft attitude on the part of government toward such disorders.
9. By specious argument cause the breakdown of the old moral virtues, honesty, sobriety, continence, faith in the pledged word, ruggedness.
10. Cause the registration of all firearms on some pretext, with a view to confiscating them and leaving the population helpless.

Take time to think – seriously – of all the above. Then draw your own conclusions. Frightening how far we have permitted them (the Communists) – even helped them – to progress, isn’t it?

Ron didn’t ask what obloquy means. Perfect. This one had the makings of a champion.

“Get control of all means of publicity? They almost have. I’ve got interests in all the studios, and everyone in control of the money has a name that ends in -stein. There are entire departments, and I mean in all the studios, where if you’re not a fag you might as well quit and get it over with. Out in the open! They don’t even try to hide it. And everyone just laughs, you know, like what did you expect? And the writers! Buncha bohemians, smoking reefer and listening to jazz and writing petitions and getting all sanctimonious about those zooters at Sleepy Lagoon during a war. While our country was at war, Ron!”

Something about the eyes shined with newfound worship. Right on time. He locked eyes with his adoring guest and stood up. He held the gaze for a beat, until Ron’s wavered.

People want an Alpha male. That is because their fathers were imperfect.

He paced and gestured expansively. He spoke loudly. His every posture and gesture and tone announced, I own this room, I’m running this conversation and I am in control. Ron, with his head at a lower level, seated, assumed his role.

“The directors are a bunch of foreigners, and I don’t mean just Brit Socialists. The rest are all East European refugees or yids. Except for the ‘good’ krauts and the Russkis. The trades are run by unions, and you know what that means.”

Once the relationship is established satisfactorily, training becomes a game. The game is Please The Master.

Poor people aren’t working hard enough.

All this work would be for nothing if Ron fell in with the wrong companions. He made a mental note to arrange for introductions to Joe and Roy and Dick.

They are responsible. We all know who They are. How long are we going to let Them get away with this?

Don’t bog him down with details. Give him the bottom line with charts. Bright colors and shiny medals. Reduce everything to Yes\No or Good\Bad.

“Something has to be done about it. Someone has to do something.”

Training is an awesome responsibility. Once you are the master, you are in charge of everything. You become the ultimate authority, and you owe it to your charge to manage their life well. This one, for instance, would need a different mate.

What’s so hard about saying no?

Proper training requires attention, patience and endless repetition. But, the reward is a pet that is happy, alert, and eager to please.

“I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious body politic. We can beat those bastards, and we will. Or my name isn’t Alton P. Thayer.”

Once again, literally true. His name wasn’t Alton P. Thayer.

It’s not just for breakfast any more

“…so I’m staying in the guest house.”

This was why he was here.

“The Juice? Hell of a guy. Good people. How’s he dealing with the separation?”

“Well, you know…”

“…because I saw some waiter cruising around town in his Ferrari. Man, that has got to hurt.”

“Well, I think…”

This had really gone on long enough. Tie things up and get to the next party.

“I don’t care what you think. No one does. Tell Juice that his wife is fucking a waiter, she’s spending his money on a waiter, and she’s letting a waiter play with his toys. Do you think you can relay that message without fucking it up?”

“Y-yes.”

Oh dear. He had perhaps been a bit brusque. Some positive reinforcement was called for.

“There may be a part in it for you.”

Excellent. Fear was immediately swept away by ambition.

“Good boy. You can go now.”

This town. Even a beach boy with a dog’s name gets his 15 minutes.

Above, the sky was distant, unblinking and cold.

He was intimate with the stars.
*******************************************
Afterword:

Good Vibrations

The party was at Dennis Wilson’s place. Dennis liked Charlie’s music and was flirting with producing. Dennis shied away when the entire Spahn Ranch Family was brought along as backup-singers\entourage.

Vincent Bugliosi believed that Charley targeted the Sharon Tate party because he believed Dennis Wilson would be there.

Incidentally, my apologies to Roger Waters.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

The death of Marilyn Monroe is tied to so many memes, she just had to make a cameo. The toolroom girl from the aircraft plant; the wannabe model that posed nude to make the rent and became the first Playboy centerfold. Someday Andy Warhol icon, legs spread, head thrown back in joy as the subterranean wind blasts her skirt, exposing those legs leading to the cynosure of every male libido. Reproduced larger-than-life and towering over Broadway like a colossus. The “late” Marilyn Monroe, caressing herself in the center of Madison Square Garden as she croons “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” one-on-one for the doomed King, as family, the crowd, and cameras look on. History’s most public lap dance. Found in bed, nude, a suicide (for love?). The first thread to unravel in the tapestry of Camelot.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

“The Communist Rules for Revolution” is a real piece of urban mythology. I’ve reproduced it verbatim because I just couldn’t improve upon it. I can’t find obloquy in the dictionary, and I bet you won’t either. It has taken on an ominous resonance ever since I read Ray Winninger’s “Pnomus” in Alien Intelligence.

Armchair psychologists are invited to meditate on the use of “ruggedness” twice in the document as an American trait under siege.

Joe, Roy, and Dick? Joe McCarthy, Roy Cohn and you-know-who. I’m reasonably sure J. Edgar and his S.O., Clyde, would cater the affair.

Ron’s new mate was, of course, Nancy. And the answer to the Trivial Pursuit question in the Canadian edition that is not in the US edition is: 7 months. Apparently, she didn’t Just Say No.

My apologies to Terry Southern for lifting some of the most “inspirational” prose in cinema history.

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