08/31/2004: "Crazy ain't what it used to be."
Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting old but, the other day when, during the
men's marathon at the Olympics, a man in a skirt ran from the crowd and
tackled one of the runners, I though to myself "You know, self, they just
don't make crazy people the way they used to." (My second thought was
"Damn, if this sort of thing happened more often, then I might actually
start watching sports").
The heyday of insanity was, of course, the 1970's when Crazy People were at
their creative and cultural peak. Crazy was cutting-edge back then and
crazy people weren't afraid to experiment with new and exciting forms of
insanity like shooting at, or voting for, Gerald Ford.
Shit, Luther, between 1974 and 1982 you couldn't turn on the news without
seeing some mental case reading a list of demands that totally rocked
("Free the Hong Kong 8... Free the Dubai 12... Free the Jackson 5") while
nervous hostages stood around looking nervous and ...um...doing nervous
To find out more about why the 1970's were such a great era for craziness,
I recently sat down (on a steam vent) with Arthur "The Screamer" Kunkle, a
renowned pioneer in the world of insanity, to discuss the heydays of Crazy.
Rodney Anonymous: You were part of the Crazy movement back in the '70's,
was that an exciting time for you?
Arthur Kunkle: It certainly was. Of course it's always exciting to be part
of new movement, especially when that movement really starts to hit its
stride, but for me, personally, that period was made even more exciting by
the fact that I was being pursued by the Gammamen of Alteris 7 and their
RA: What other crazy people were you a fan of, at that time? Who were your
AK: God, of the secret undersea kingdom, there were so many. Where do I
start? Well, there was "Big Billy" McKean who started that whole "Blacks
are using X-rays to look inside my head" trend. And there was Vic Guillen,
the nun puncher. He was true original. I was also close friends with Tommy
Scott, who killed a lot of midgets, but never really made a name for
himself - I mean other than "The Midget Killer."
RA: What do you think it was about the 70's that allowed Crazy to bloom
from just a few guys sitting outside a feed store complaining about Bigfoot
to a full-blown national obsession, the echoes of which still reverberate
through our culture today?
AK: Sun spots.
So what happened to Crazy? Why aren't Crazy People as fun as they used to
be? Well, as happens with most underground movements, Crazy was absorbed
into the mainstream.
Nowadays, Cult leaders don't engage in mass
suicides anymore, they get crowned in the offices of congress. Religious fanatics are no long exiled to street corners, but welcomed to the White
House. Turn on the news and the odds are pretty good that the guy reading
it off the teleprompter is nuts - and those odds increase dramatically if
you're watching FOX.
If the trend continues we can expect to hear the tagline "I'd cut my balls
off and mail them to the Pope for a Diet Pepsi" before 2010.
In order for Crazy to survive it needs to get back to its roots - taking
nerdy-looking hostages, making unrealistic demands, and "going out on a
blaze of glory", or, failing that, just a blaze. C'mon Crazies, I know you
can do it.
In the words of legendary wave-o band, Red Rider "Lunatic Fringe, I know
you're out there."
Speaking of the fringe, The Philadelphia Fringe Festival begins this
Friday. Those who fail to attend will be killed and their flesh made into
attractive hats, so you'll wanna get your tickets early. I'll be reporting
from the Fringe all next week. Hey, if you go to this show, you get fed.
And the people who did Hatched are back!