While all of this happened, none of this happened…
I came to Hollywood in the 1960s, a startling young upstart with a start-up, upset by the set-up of so many model businesses without a business model. I saw the potential for disaster immediately and knew I would fit right in, disaster realization a personal specialty. Fairly fearless yet flat financially, I fought the thought of not fitting in with the fabulously fortunate – no mean feat for sure. I would be different. My left hand thread would be all the rage in Tinseltown’s right hand threaded morality. If they couldn’t see the light, well, screw them I thought.
In retrospect, the future always looks brighter at night.
I was off. People told me that from the start. I tried not to get on them about it, but it became off-putting, and not in a good way. I had no business in business as I had no mind for it. I didn’t mind, as I knew none of my business would be anyone else’s business as long as they minded their business while I minded my own. This became my business model. Well, after Sandi quit.
I knew my small town roots would keep me grounded. As I was born in Los Angeles, I didn’t have any actual small town roots, so I sent away for some from the back of a trade magazine and they have served me well. After the requisite 5 weeks for delivery. As well the Sea Monkey snafu which cost another 6 months. But soon as they arrived, I felt a whole new connection to the ocean which…wait a second…whose roots are these?
Anyway, I initially cut my teeth in sales and promotion, securing a position with the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Corp., who were very open minded about people with dental maladies. I was the originator of the limited release J. Hoover Grime Fighter, an epic fail which led to my appearance before HUVAC (House Unsanitary Vacuum Assessment Committee) and eventual banishment from the home care industry. Little did anyone know that that single action (preceded by lots of anticipatory actions) would lead to my becoming one of the biggest names in Hollywood: Alexandrovich Grigoriana Pretoreskanova Hudson.*
Like most people I started young, but as I grew old enough to understand, I understood what I was destined for: to write this book. But in order to write this book I would have to earn a lifetime of experience, so as to write what I know and not just a bunch of imaginary crap like so many of the new breed pump out, like so much regurgitant from the open sluice of popular entertainment. To write this book, I would have to live Hollywood, breathe Los Angeles and try to wash as much of the Valley off me as possible.
*Later changed to Charlton Heston for legal reasons.**
**Later changed to present name for safety reasons.
I was originally born in Long Beach, a port town south and more waterly than Los Angeles proper, which allowed for boating and shipping (with actual ships), and which accounts for my abiding love of the C, a wonderful consonant. In fact, for many of my deformative years the C was my consonant companion, creating a complex comforting correlation clear of causality or certainty yet cloistered in clinical cognition conditioned by clarity of concentration. Sure, my close ones told me such behavior would lead me to L, but as a man of letters, I would necessarily end up there in time, or if not, hopefully not too late for afters.*
The real issue was upbringing – how could I train my parents to raise me in a manner which would lead me to this exact time, place and experience set? A wrong move on my part and I could end up a plumber or IT geek working for some second rate corporation. Maybe in sales. Had I failed, this book and its expressed reality could not exist. I had a lot on my plate. At that age even more on my shirt, a big pile on the table and specks about the floor and walls. Even young I consumed life with gusto and considerable flatulence.
My mother, Maria Consuela Elena knee Henderson, was a gentle woman, a rough man and a playful child, often all at the same time. This led to considerable tension and cooing – Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy? – certainly better than tension but still terribly annoying after about 15 seconds. We had a tumultuous relationship, although in retrospect I couldn’t have done this without her – or anything really – she really needed to birth me for me to be of much use to anyone. And owing to her rampant sexuality – she had a vagina – and my father’s deep abiding affection – he liked to fuck stuff – I was brought forth in order to bring this fifth.
My father, Wilhelm Rodrigo von Hammer, was a first generation American, his father born in the old country, moved to a more recent city, then to a relatively established nation, across an extremely damp ocean, all when he was very young and had little to say about it. This initially owing to a lack of vocabulary, then later owing to many wicked smacks across the knuckles for sass and vulgarity. Fortunately for Francisco Claus van Hammer – Grandpa Frank to the kids – as he came from royalty, the knuckles they rapped were usually some poor person’s or service personnel. One didn’t want to wait table when young Frank got saucy, as gratuities often came with smacks on the tips.
Wilhelm – Bill to his friend and people he owed money to – was Frank’s second child (the one he didn’t want) and grew up very boisterous and insecure, compensating delightfully with drunken debauching, mad bursts of extreme violence and 40s pop standards. “You Always Hurt the One You Love” had a particular resonance around the homestead and as kids we often wondered what one did with those they merely liked. At the time it seemed that it had to be a favorable alternative. In retrospect perhaps not as much so.
*British for dessert.**
**presented for Continental flavor.
The vin Hammers were reputedly descended of the Cunard line of Bavaria, though direct lineage was difficult to trace as the family tree had been uprooted and replaced with a hedge by Julio, the new landscaper, owing to a botanical miscommunication. Kraus Diesel ver Hammer was a Scandinavian prince noted for his barbarity and fine cooking skills who ruled in the early to late 13th century, but strangely not during the middle, when he maître d’ed a hof brau in Dusseldork, Germania called Spago. This is where he is purported to have invented Swedish meatballs (from the meat of an actual Swede’s balls) which he called Finnish Swede’s Balls. When years later he learned that they had been renamed and popularized by a Swede named Sven Finderflinkle, Kraus began his late period rampaging, supposedly never to cook again.*
Further evidence of incipient royalty has been presented in the popular 17th century English couplet by Sir Francis Egg, reprinted here with author’s permission:
Where ye drunken royals stumble
Lowly orators doth stammer
To crusheth the rabble’s grumble
Needest thee a bigger Hammer
And of course to the well-read, the Shakespearian antecedent is unmistakable. It is a long noted but little known and even more rarely reported story that his original title for the tragedy of the haunted Danish prince was Hammerlet. The haunted Danish prince he based the story on was none other than Prince Flimmer ven der Hammer, who had a meltdown after his father’s murder in 1372. Unlike Hamlet, Flimmer was 12 years old, which led many in the court to call him Hammerlet (Dan: Little Hammer), hence the original title. It was only owing to fierce lobbying from a pork merchant named Daytona Greer that led Shakespeare to opt for the more widely known Hamlet. In one of the first cooperative marketing cross-overs Greer sold hams and sausage links during the play, which ultimately led to the Bacon Uprising of 1605. Although Hamlet was a box-office success, owing to his sell-out, Shakespeare never regained his earlier reverence among the blacksmith demographic, which cost him dearly during the High Holidays of 1611 when his horse crashed and he couldn’t get it rebooted for sixteen hours.
Wilhelm had little use for royal pretension, primarily because as the black sheep he could really only use it for bordello discounts and weekday video rentals, but to Elena (Maria Consuela), royalty meant the world, as her family tree had succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease and had been converted to firewood, leaving her with tainted roots but no leaves upon which to write the tale of her life. Royalty to Elena meant pole position at Hometown Buffet and Sizzler as well as bragging rights to the Sisters of Social Purity, the neo-fascist group she occasionally chaired, and she readily dropped her facile association with it into every conversation she could.
*Historian Hirolm Flenderfloss suggested that Kraus invented the popular Scandinavian brod while on the battlefield in 1473 as a convenient conflict snack but this is the minority perspective and is probably best ignored.
While this impressed none of her friends – though they would cluck and ahh as if it did – it positively humiliated Wilhelm, who not only doubted his own royalty, but doubted royalty in general, finding its claims of divine anointment ludicrous and puerile, as well as those who succumbed to such notions. This likely resulted from his doubts in regard to divinity in general and utter disregard for human religious institutions, which he saw as destructive and silly.
Elena was ready to believe anything that lifted her above the common rabble, if only through marital selection – Wilhelm wanted nothing to do with anyone that didn’t ultimately involve scraping their reproductive and excretory apertures with his wildly active regenerative member. To Elena’s expanding displeasure, this he did with increasing frequency – often 10 decibels or more – which led to escalating contretemps, as theirs was a relationship far from sound. Here her hateful hurt held high honor while his hearing was harmed wholly honoring her offerings.
This hurt led to a life of painkillers and hospitalization for Elena and grew along with the horrible secret she kept to herself, the burden of unspoken truth twisting and then breaking her over time. Wilhelm couldn’t know; I especially, could never know, and that secret would be carried to the very end of this book – but not on the last page for those with no patience for delayed gratification – someplace near the end, really only appreciable to the astute reader who pays careful attention to every word and especially buys lots of copies of this for their friends and loved ones. Only they would know the horrible secret and it would speak to them throughout the ages. And sequels…
Wilhelm was born in the sleepy oceanfront town of Huntington Beach in what was then Burnt Umber County in Southern California, U.S.A. It was, as we all know, later changed to Orange County at the suggestion of Miriam White after the well-read Settee Council black-balled Blue, Green or Yellow County against the wishes of Mayor Brown as expressed at Greystone Manor. Uninterestingly, Wilhelm had been conceived in the beeches at Huntington Museum, when Frank took Ruby – Wilhelm and brother Roberto’s mother – after viewing L. Gecko’s The Rape of the Cleaning Staff, on loan from Spaghetti Center.
Wilhelm and Frank had a contentious relationship, Frank often referring to Wilhelm with the Native American name he had given him on his spirits quest: Broken Rubber. At first Wilhelm thought this was an indication of some esteem in the perception of his otherwise distant father – Roberto was called In For a Penny – but when he was seven Roberto told him what a rubber was and their relationship nose-dived. When Frank learned his Native American name from the boys – Spatula – he sent Wilhelm to live with his mother, which was odd as she was just in the other room, folding laundry or something.
This could be said to be the very kind of name calling that led to the dissolution of Frank and Ruby’s tenuous relationship, the virtual annihilation of Frank and Wilhelm’s repugnant association and further alienation in Frank and Roberto’s ambiguous affiliation, of course overlooking the years of neglect and abuse. Another marriage in names only. But the convenient and readily swallowed excuse is the other woman, so I’ll deflect the blame to her and she is helpless to stop it. Bwah ha ha ha ha!!!*
Elena had less traditional upbringing. The youngest of a family of red-headed step-children, her father died before she was conceived, making her 50% orphan before she hit the open air of sleepy San Pedro, California. While her relationship remained consistent with her late father, Tomas Nomas, her relation with her mother Alma Maria Conchita Henderson was rocky: sometimes the smooth ones used for massages or skipping off of water, but often enough the real pointy ones that hurt like hell when you step on them. They would often fight late into the night, sometimes with each other, sometimes just with their demons, which seemed partial to the night, though occasionally some of them would pop around on weekends or during the holidays.
Once when pressed by Elena to explaina why all these white-bread red-heads had Hispanic names, Alma blurted, “Just be happy I didn’t run with Czechoslovakian, where they pronounce Elena: Elncqvplnka.” Distressed, Elena responded, “Thanks Mom. You did me a solid. Every job app I submit gets shunted to janitorial. I should just call myself Jan.” It will be little noted nor long remembered that Jan became her professional name, after which she limited janitorial to the home-front, Wilhelm’s brokerage office and the Sisters of Social Purity Redemption Center, twice a month and after ritual purgings.
Things were shaping up for the great work I had in store. If I couldn’t turn these people into literary gold, I’d have to settle for aluminum or get better, much better. Good then that I settled for better, knowing I’d best smelt it before I dealt it lest I suck it and kick the bucket. Another misguiding principle that gains less interest over time than a US Government Bond in the hands of a thirsty drunk on an extended bender in Tiny Town.
After getting nuked during the Korean War – don’t ask – Wilhelm settled in Southern California into vocational drinking and serial debauchery. It didn’t pay well, but the hours were good and the benefits considerable. As one of the benefits, I can state with no equivocation that he considered it more than a few times during our time raising each other. For raising a child into an adult must also raise the adult in their practical life knowledge as well as crippling debt, sometimes that crippling debt practically all they have knowledge of. Wilhelm, while not a man of deep abiding honor, still owned his mistakes. At least the ones he got caught at, like most people. I mean, if nobody notices, why even bring it up? No sense being stupid and sloppy.
*According to the law firm, Pinchuck, Moosebine & Berkowitz, she is anything but helpless to stop it, as evidenced by the attachment of all royalties from the first chapter, lecture circuit and Table of Contentments.
With Elena he was both, and I was ill-conceived out of headlock to a man ill-prepared to raise a son and a woman ill-equipped to contend with a Hammer, let alone a bunch of them. As I was not a ‘for pay’ arrangement – Wilhelm’s check bounced – it was decided I was more a work of art than commerce and thus named appropriately. As Wilhelm was concurrently boinking Alma, the Spanish appellation Arturo beat out Arturock – or whatever horror Wilhelm held in store for me – and I got to start with Art. I know I could have done worse.
Wilhelm made an inordinate amount of money in corporate sales while Elena raised their brood of three. My brother, Esteban Victor, 3 years my junior, and sister Lorena Bambina, 7 months Esteban’s junior, competed for the favor of Wilhelm, which I for the most part held, and the attention of Elena, herself constantly seeking attention: first of Wilhelm, then of anyone who would lend an ear. Eventually when the civilian population tired of her pathetic pleading, the medical staff was brought in with their probes and pills and unguents, offering attentions even beyond Elena’s target ideal. But a finger up the ass is a small price to pay for the feigned concern of disinterested strangers and her hospitalizations increased as the pharmaceutical companies came up with new things that were desperately wrong with her – along with their magical cures.
Wilhelm found release in all the coworkers, clients, friends, waitresses, housekeeping staff, family members and such that he could convince to give it up: his most coveted sales position was between someone’s legs. He convinced many to give it up; many that propriety, decency or even legality would have wisely precluded, and, as most, avoided any external repercussions for his behaviors – though as Alzheimer’s ate his mind over a hard decade at the end, he paid an increasingly higher price from within. Dementia as recompense for abysmal behavior is the equivalent of pummeling your dog 6 hours after it pissed in your sock drawer – the punished have no understanding of why they are being molested – the victimizer becomes the victim. Good then that we as a progressive society are content to bypass need for justification and torture based upon grandiose proclamation, freeing us of any misgivings. “If it ain’t broke, break it. Then fix it,” Wilhelm used to say. At least up to the point he broke and couldn’t be fixed.
After abusing the local population sufficiently, it was decided that a new local population would offer enhanced abusing opportunities and keep the expanding litany of abusees at a more manageable distance; so the family moved north to Santa Begonia,* California, the carnation capital of Soloma County. Santa Begonia – named after Saint Carlos (Two Lips) Begonia, martyred in 1112 by rearrangement – had a slogan, The City Designed for Living. As Wilhelm and Elena’s plan demanded vitality on the most fundamental level, it seemed like it might just be a match made in heaven. Certainly better than 2 cities over in Porkalumet which billed itself, The City With No Discernible Bladder Control.** That place is a real pisser.
*Santa Rosa’s name changed to avoid further legal expenses***
**Later changed to Porkalumet: Relief You Can Smell.
Santa Begonia was a nasty little town divided between rich celebrity land owners, dipsomaniac moralists, muddle management mushwits, and, of course, the disgusting rabble which fed them. Wilhelm saw immediately where he could fit in and set about imposing his ironic will on the unsuspecting denizens, who unsurprisingly rejected most of his brazen advances with their hickish suspicions. Wilhelm learned young the value of the shotgun approach and didn’t allow rejection to dampen his spirits: Gordon’s Gin and Jim Beam. A hundred nos could still yield a Yes and that Yes could very well be the one he sought. Of course, the likelihood was that it wouldn’t be the Yes he sought, more of a yeh or a yup and then he just bugged 100 people for nothing. With the shotgun, very few said no. Wilhelm started making money.
As Elena came from relative poverty – her relatives were poor too – she enjoyed spending money, but distressingly always got the cheapest stuff she could find. The birth of the 99 Scents store became the rebirth of religion in her – there she could worship daily. When she wasn’t hammering Wilhelm for his hammering whomever at any given time, or having him hammer Esteban or me for crimes against nature or whatever, she was prowling the aisles of stores that sold shitty stuff – slightly dented – cheap. She bought stuff she had absolutely no use for because she could get 3 for the price of 1. She was the personification of capitalism’s inherent reality: consuming your life to get rich so you can buy cheap shit with it.
Even the splurges were limp: the powder blue diesel Mercedes, the gutless 240 D, a stripped down extravengance. The Freudian slip of the finger so telling: the extra vengeance of allowing Wilhelm a pussy magnet car and demagnetizing it before he drove it off the lot. The cheapest most expensive car they could find. Like going to the hoity toityest restaurant imaginable and ordering a baked potato and glass of water. “Sure I’ll take sour cream, I’m kicking out the jams here…Chives? Be still my heart.”
This the opposite effect of the much more popular ‘squander your pathetic fortune purchasing the most expensive stuff imaginable, then turn around and sell it at a loss to cover your extravagant profligacy.’ These realities set against the social ideal of capitalism: accrue so much that you just can’t physically spend it all, 20 houses, a hundred cars, solid gold dancers…The dream of so much that you can provide for all your friends and loved ones, those less fortunate than you (Trans: your lessers) tempered by the reality that owing to the exponential growth of friends your largess would inspire, such behaviors would bankrupt you in an afternoon, leading to parsimony where largess loomed large in the imagination. Capitalism: the generosity of potential.
The Sharper Image catalog was not on Elena’s reading list and even though they contended with their lessers – as every greater must – they never felt flush enough to offer them succor without labor in return. Wilhelm and Elena were firmly entrenched in the system and it served them well, at least as to their creature comforts. As their primary creature, I must admit to living comfortably – I did not want for sustenance or shelter. But great books are more than that.
Santa Begonia was/is a fairly uninteresting place. North of San Francisco by an hour as the crow drives, there is little to do there beyond drinking or otherwise drugging yourself into a semi-stupor, then finding something to fuck. Not that that isn’t fun and all; but invariably all the drinking and fucking led to reproduction which, beyond the fucking part, isn’t particularly fun. Frankly it drives people even crazier, coupling the impossibility of having a stronger influence on your children than post-industrial society (driven by the commerce of cruelty) along with the expectation that you will pay for every need and most wants they can manifest, a Sisyphisian task in a society that keeps inventing vital new shit to buy.
Such pressure leads to drinking, which leads to more injudicious fucking, which leads to further reproduction, and the machine chugs forth pumping out more people for society to figure out what to do with, and more families to figure out what the hell they are doing. The problem lives in the short term: parents get all caught up in the kid stuff and then when the little apes hit teenage, they realize they’ll need something to do to keep them occupied and employed for the next 50 or so years. As we know fairly readily, that is all but impossible to do for oneself.
A century ago, parents still raised their children – in some religious sects and hippy houses they still do. But on the mean, the influence of our culture (or horrific lack thereof) on the young is as incalculable (C/Y~+-A-co<p=8^vi+Mu=+#>^<M – See? It just doesn’t add up) as it is pervasive, ubiquity its defining attribute. At the beginning of the 21st century, worldwide, a billion fairly average citizens carry supercomputer telecommunication devices with them everywhere they go. In fact, many feel naked or incomplete without them. Addiction to silicon.
More realistically, addiction to distraction.
Movies and radio both hit around the beginning of the 20th century and they have shaped our societies and behaviors in terrifying and fascinating ways – the early pioneers of media would likely be as astounded by our modern iLiving, plugged in, uplinked and downloaded world as someone in media at the beginning of the 19th century would have been at movies and radio only a century later. Post-industrial society changes hard and fast. Movies and radio provided something our world had never experienced: a direct means into the heads of the literate and illiterate alike.*
Where before a speaker had to be in direct proximity to get into the eyes, ears and minds of the targeted audience, radio and motion pictures created remote access – the audience didn’t know who was really speaking. While early motion pictures were silent (noisy), the visuals were self-evident; anyone with a level of modern cognizance could understand what they were seeing, the presumption being that if you could make it into a movie theater, you’d know what a chair was, or a train.
*Actually eye and ear holes provide the direct access but we still need something to stick in them. As with all holes…
Or perhaps even the importance of racial purity, as Mr. Griffith popularly expressed in his 1915 film, Birth of a Nation, a smash hit and burn among the mildly racist audiences of the U.S.A. That film’s release made it transparent to those in the know who now knew in no uncertain terms that the new medium offered direct access to the willing human mind. And that all human minds were willing. Sluts.
Before long, radios appeared in every home, car, public space, and movie theaters appeared in every city, town or hamlet as the unseen voice expanded its realm of expression through the mouths of highly paid performers – show biz was born. While not a beautiful baby by any measure, its increasing ugliness over the years has certainly offered some visually sound arguments for abortion. Retroactive.
The unseen voice is the voice of remote control – it can affect you but you cannot affect it. It is the silent mouth that puts words into other, noisier mouths, which spread those words as fertilizer over the minds of the public in order to germinate consensus and harvest conformity, which is then served up with turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving, “Those is some fine giblets, Missus.”
The advent of these mediums of perception dissemination became the driving force of what Walter Lippman termed, “the manufacture of consent.” Speech, sound, image crafted, engineered, manipulated to create the perfect citizen: unquestioning, fiercely nationalistic, deferential to authority. The true brilliance by far: convincing the viewer, listener, target of this programming that they are not being manipulated, controlled and used; that in fact this endless slew of irrelevant, empty dreck is thoughtful and informative, often childish and shocking but essentially harmless. Gearing people toward exceptionalism, to racism, hatred and intolerance is never harmless and our media is doubtless a mind-bending behemoth.
I knew my choice to work in it was the right one.