Savannah: The Weird
edited: Friday, August 08, 2008
By Larry Rochelle
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2005
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Savannah can be weird.
Savannah: Who Is Good? Who Is Evil?
A Partial Investigation into the Mom-Thing
by Larry Rochelle
In the beginning, there was god and there was devil. Then came good and then came evil. Somehow those words echoed through my frontal lobe as I reflected that maybe, just maybe, Savannah would clear my mind and separate my left brain, the sinister part, from my right brain, the right-thinking part, and I’d become a Republican, voting for Dole-Kemp and thinking how nice it would be if only everyone could wear a white shirt and a power tie and think clean thoughts and smile a lot as if the trickle-down theory actually did trickle down.
Abruptly, however, the rough, bouncy landing of my Delta 727 at the Savannah International Airport crushed the Republican out of me and my thoughts dwelled on Jim Williams, the head guy who was my boss at JCCC and Jim Williams, the intriguing murder suspect in John Berendt’s bestseller, MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL. How could two people with identical names be so far apart? How could one, the suspected murderer, be so evil, and my boss, the real twin Jim Williams, be so good? My task at the 25th Annual Culture Conference in Savannah was now before me. I would solve the dilemma of good and evil in the world by attending as many seminar sessions about evil as I could, thereby gaining a knowledge of evil and finding out if, indeed, EVIL WAS A LIBERAL DEMOCRAT LIKE CLINTON.
Entering Savannah on Route 21 in my little, white Toyota Tercel, I noticed that the major arteries of Savannah’s part of the world were clogged by dust, smoke, scum and seemed to be littered by contemporary signs of the decay of modern society. I passed McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Shell Gas, used car lots, and a variety of Metcalf-Noland Road-type junkiness, not quite sinful, but definitely ugly and jumbled. One might say “progress” in a modern way, the way that PULP FICTION reflects the best of our culture today. Part of me feared being stopped at a stop light and being pummeled about my left brain with a large window washing squeegee.
But Savannah itself was anything but a republicanized, free-market, scorched earth. Trees lined the streets and my little Tercel purred with the rhythm of the Ben Tucker Trio, now playing at the Pirate’s House nightly, and I wended around city square after city square, Johnson, Reynolds, Warren and Washington, all on the way to the Pirate’s House. Then, after a taste of Peach Ice Cream Pie, I felt refreshed enough to enter the downtown, river front Hyatt Hotel and get down to some serious research into the evil that must permeate the city.
SQUARE ONE: EVIL FEMMES FATALES
One of the first seminars I attended concerned the very evil and manipulation I was investigating. “Film Noir: Night, Falcon, Forest, and Kane” promised a definitive search of the 1930s and 1940s films which depicted one aspect of evil, the femmes fatales lurking near the glazed over, rain covered, steamy city streets. Bogart, Greenstreet and sexy women proliferated in these dark films, with evil often escaping with the lives of its victims. The one thought that I was left with by this seminar concerned women and how to avoid their scheming. Could men ever avoid being manipulated by these sinister, yet attractive, humans? Obviously, liberals like Clinton might be dumb enough to fall for the lies and deceit of conniving females. So, I came to the conclusion that a male either has to be like Bogart, tough, hard-headed, hard-edged or like one of my, probably, Republican colleagues I met at this convention who always dressed in a starched white shirt with a red power tie each day---I think this is the outfit we liberal males need to fend off the femmes fatales. No more relaxed jeans and tufted tennis shoes. I now recall that this professor had no females around him at all. What a protective disguise! Now, if only Bill Clinton could have been at this session during some earlier epoch, he could have learned to fend off Paula Jones easily.
SQUARE TWO: EVIL NICOLE
Related to the “women as provocateurs” theme, my next seminar’s focus attempted to unravel the O. J. Simpson debacle from an African-American viewpoint. “African-American Actors and O.J. Simpson” discussed the role of the media in the Simpson case, “a feeding frenzy,” and enlightened me about certain roles that the book writers, such as O.J., Shapiro and Cochran assumed in reporting their reactions to the O.J. phenomenon. Dennis Russell from Arizona State used a codified mechanism to prove to us that O.J.’s own book depicted him as a hero-winner, and also as a fool-as-victim. In the hero role O.J. sees himself as a winner, who will win over this whole Nicole situation where he, not Nicole, has been victimized. As a winner, he will move on victorious to the end. But at the same time, O.J. depicts himself as a put-upon fool, being castigated incorrectly by the media who have victimized him, not his dead wife, who should receive much of the blame in her own killing. Again, I draw the conclusion that Bill Clinton could learn a lot here. Wearing his white shirt, red tie, Bill might say that the media is causing him to look bad, that Paula Smith is the femme fatale and that he, THE PRESIDENT, is merely a fool as victim, but as the comeback kid (a hero winner) will defeat all evil forces.
SQUARE THREE: THE EVIL ZONE
Now, with my focus fully developed with film noir and O.J. noir in mind, I proceeded to the “danger zone,” the zone where men and women, blacks and whites, liberals and conservatives, aliens and suburban children come together and try to work things out. “Policing the Contact Zone: Ethnic/Gender/Racial Identity and Popular Film” posed a number of interesting questions:
1. Was Darth Vader a WASP?
2. Were women film warriors like men or just assertive?
3. Is David Mamet saying that ethnicity should assert itself over loyalty to job?
4. Is the alien E.T. really a stand-in for Native Americans?
Trying to apply this “contact zone” to Bill Clinton and other liberals, I can only shout, “WATCH OUT!” The ZONE can mean miscommunication, misunderstanding, death.... and even lawsuits. According to Ingrid Fields from Transylvania University, loyalty to one’s ethnicity is noble, but might lose you your job as police officer. Caught between his Jewish ancestry and the Homicide Detective job he holds, Joe Mantegna’s character, Robby Gold, sort of, kinda, chooses both ... and loses his job and his Jewish contacts. Thus, the moral for Bill Clinton is similar. Coming into the contact zone with Paula Smith or various other gender oriented dangerous liaisons, Bill might wear his red tie, blame Paula Smith..... and hire a good lawyer like Johnny Cochran, who also is reported to have had some of his own liaisons in his past. Thus, Bill comes out fighting, even though he cannot use the racial card as Cochran might like to do. But, Bill should be prepared to lose his job in November as well his contacts with his liberal allies.
SQUARE FOUR: THE EVIL MOTHER
Assuredly, when it comes to the “contact zone,” liberals and conservatives, men and women, blacks and whites and every other ethnic, gender, political and moral dilemma must be researched carefully. In the last seminar to be analyzed here, southern women voiced their concerns over societal ills of many conflicting and conflicted pattern. “Southern Women Playwrights” focused on women in the south, their problems and concerns. According to Linda Paige from Georgia Southern University, many southern women playwrights are concerned about their relationships with their moms. The mother/ daughter relationship can have conflicting roles, conflicted goals. Should a southern woman maintain the elite, prim southern girl image, or should she become more assertive? When making a decision, why does the daughter always seem to be battling the views and desires of her mother? Must guilt be all-pervasive in this relationship? And, we might add, is the mother/ daughter relationship also a dangerous “contact zone” where the evil mother must be defeated before she can be understood? Can moms and daughters ever just be friends? The southern writer, Nancy Friday, has written in her book, MY MOTHER, MYSELF, that a woman cannot really love a man unless she has resolved her relationship with her mother.
I’m not sure how to apply all of this mother/ daughter conflict to Bill Clinton. He seems to revere his own mother quite highly. I do not know anything about Hillary’s mom, nor the mom of Paula Jones, but if these women have not yet resolved their conflicts with their own moms, how can we expect them to be able to love Bill Clinton properly? How can Bill be seen as responsible for ALL of his problems in the contact zone with women? It is obviously not his conflict at all. The evil mother influence has scarred these women, and Bill has never realized it. He can not be called to account. Mothers must face facts. They are responsible if Bill is not elected. It has always been MOM’S FAULT!
I found it rather comforting to blame my own, dead, sainted mother as I ensconced myself on the narrow, uncomfortable Delta airline seat and prepared myself for the long flight home from Savannah: most of the world’s problems have been decided, are being decided and will be decided solely on the basis of the mother/ daughter relationship. Femmes fatales exist because they have tried to compete with MOM for the world’s supply of men. Paula Jones tries to scapegoat Clinton because she never got along with her MOM. Hillary is so, so very LIBERAL because she never adjudicated her conflict with her MOM.
And, of course, O.J. had his troubles with Nicole because of Nicole’s MOM. It is all so easy for me now. Contact zones, hero-winner-fool-victim constructs. They’re all the result of MOM’S doing, her evil nature. I came to Savannah looking for the answer to the good and evil paradigm, and I have successfully discovered it.
Bill Clinton should not worry. He’s not evil. He’s just some poor, victimized liberal, who cannot even blame his Mom anymore because she’s dead.