"You know, if I knew more about computers, I wouldn't be in The Firesign Theatre"
(P. Bergman 2/27/87)

 

PHIL, THE HEART MAN

He was a gentleman clown. he was a friend to all who worked with him. he kept his troubles to himself. Too much to himself, obviously. I knew Phil over a period of twenty years or so, starting with his work at the Groundlings. His "Chick Hazzard" was a natural; even Rocky liked him. He was a brilliant graphic artist and designed the logo for Crosby, Stills and Nash and the cover and poster for The Firesign Theatre's "Fighting Clowns" album. He was a fighting clown.

He was daring but looked so straight. When I saw him doing "To be or not to be" as Jack Nicholson, I knew he was destined for stardom. Soon thereafter, I ran into him at Disneyland with his girlfriend, soon to be one of his wives; and he said, beaming, "It's happened. I'm going to be on Saturday Night Live." It had to happen.

His brother, John, helped The Firesign on the rollercoaster course of our career. Another gentleman.

Last time I saw Phil, I was at L.A. Studios to do several spots for MacDonald's. We ran into one another in the kitchen area, hugged and exchanged pleasantries. He was there, he said, to do some Molson's Beer spots for his firstland, Canada. I was truly thrilled to see him again, gave him my card and told him to call so we could set up a listening party for the new Firesign CD. He seemed so happy and so realised. So eternal.

Now, he's gone. But he'll never be forgotten.

He was, and still is, one of the best.

He has immortality. He has death.

 

AND ANOTHER LOSS

From our dear friend, Cat Simril Ishikawa, this email.

"when i first came to visit you, i was very nervous. you had created great works and i'd only listened to them. then as you were showing me your photographs, you mentioned having a 17-year old daughter. I had a 17 year old daughter too. I was able to relax and enjoy your hospitality.

"last night our daughter Monique was killed in a car accident. you know her only as a voice asking "sleep well, Tutankamun?" in my radioshow, Neal Amid. now she will never awaken. i hope your daughter lives long.

"cat and fumiyo"

My heart weeps.

 

MAY BE NOT

May was National Salad Month! But still, the 6th was International No Diet Day. Also, the 10th saw a celebration of the Poke Salad Festival in Blanchard, Louisiana; the 11th was both Mother's day and National Veal Ban Day; but my personal favorite fell on the 17th -- The Great Rhubarb Festival in Intercourse, Pennsylvania! Let's eat... or not.

 

JUST A SECOND...

BOSTON (Reuters) - If you've noticed the days are getting a little longer, you're right -- and it's not just the change of season. Researchers at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union blamed El Nino for slowing the Earth's rotation by almost a thousandth of a second. "The energy is going from the Earth into the atmosphere and the Earth is slowing down," NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center scientist Dr. John Gipson told reporters. "My guess is that following the current El Nino, we're going to go through one of those periods where the Earth speeds up and makes the days shorter in a La Nina episode," Gipson said, according to contributor Bob Lovejoy.

 

MUSIC TO MY EARS

In the NARAS Grammy Selection Guide this month: "A Taste of Passover" with Theo Bikel, "Opera's Greatest Fathers and Mothers," and my favorite, "Lesbian American Composers."

 

FOR THE RECORD...

Listen for Ray Hamberger, narrating the upcoming "Masters of Fantasy" profile on Firesign friend Harlan Ellison, on the Sci-Fi Channel, the week of June 15th. He needed the work.

RadioNow's Danny Vanilla, RadioNow celebrity stalker, spotted the following bumper sticker: "The Goddess is Alive and the Magic is Afoot." Then, I saw a plate in Hollywood that read "I M NO 1". That's Hollywood, all right. First, you're "Number One," and then, you're "No One."

Also noticed that in a "3Com Bigpicture" video phone ad, it says in small type at the bottom, "Both ends of connection must have a camera to see called party." (Oh, I see...)

My wife purchased a bottled water named "West Hollywood Water" that announces on the label that it's "Polmar mountain spring water with Moxie!" (Wait a minute! Isn't that a drink, too?) And I awoke to the following phrase from a TV commercial on the Today Show last week:

"Just because we grew up on Catalina doesn't mean we don't like a good balsamic vinegar..."

Friends of the North American Indian were offering a feast the other day at a special event: Pueblo Fried Squash Blossoms with Cherokee Corn Cob Jelly; Pawnee Honey Roast Prairie Chicken and Pueblo Beef Stew." No buffalo?!

Last week I sang on the "Knowledgeopolis Alphabet Songbook" to music by Peter Francis Rotter, under the direction of fellow Hoosier, Bobbie Page. Rocky Rococco soloed as the letter X.

And the wicked Sir Will wrote: "While watching an old "Mission Impossible" rerun featuring Wally Cox it somehow occurred to me that if Wally Cox had married Bob Uecker he'd be Wally Cox-Uecker."

 

COMING ATTRACTIONS

This week, Funnk and Mundaigne are acting in Steve Kessler's "The Independent" starring Jerry Stiller and Janeane Garofalo, as parents of a Siamese Twin who gets drafted; and Proctor & Peterson will be warbling in the Antaeus Company's presentation of Gilbert & Sullivan's "Patience" as part of the weekend NoHo Arts Festival, June 13 and 14.

 

NAMELY

Finally, Melinda and I celebrated our Sixth Wedding Anniversary over the Memorial Day Weekend by touring the wineries in Santa Barbara County, "Big without being clumsy..." and during a visit to the remarkable Purisima Mission, I acquired a little book called "1000 California Place Names" by Erwin G. Gudde.

It's filled with fascinating facts such as: Beverly Hills was named after Beverly Farms, Massachusetts; Burbank was named after a dentist; Point Dume was named in honor of Padre Dumetz, but was misspelled on the original 1793 map and was never corrected.

Malibu comes from a Chumash Indian village named "Umalibu" and Magu in Ventura likely means "beach." In Riverside, "Moreno" was so-named when one of the developers, F. E. Brown, refused to permit the use of his name -- so it was translated into Spanish!

I also learned that Mount Wilson wasn't named after a president, but for Benjamin D. ("Don Benito") Wilson, L.A.'s first mayor under American rule "who built a burro trail up the mountain" in 1862; and Ventura is an abbreviation from the 1782 mission of San Buenaventura, which means "Good Luck"!

"If you let that sort of thing go on, your bread and
butter will be cut right out from under your feet."
(Former British foreign minister)

 

SPEAKING OF (HIC) WINE TASTINGS

My God! Check out the legs on that Blue Nun! She needs to open up a bit; stick your nose all the way in. I keep in Sherry on the rack in my cellar. And I've had a 69 with my sister. She caught me sneaking Helen Turley into the house. Me and the guys did a 10-year old Tawny, it was sweet. We're going to be doing it vertically. I was really lucky to get a case of the Clape.

I find the Californians flaccid and the French hard. Have you tasted Joseph Phelps? I'm smelling leather right now. He needs to practice the swirl.

Mind if I check out your screwpull? You have to pull it out slowly, otherwise it'll shoot all over the place!

Ladies, any of you enjoying my Beaune? Let it glide across your tongue. Wow, that really swelled up, can you stick it back in? I'm sorry Madame, but your Pouilly-Fuisse is awfully dry... Spit or swallow!

(adapted from Professor Volokh)

 

"You can say I made a small fortune in the theatre business.
I started with a large fortune. That's the problem."
(Sam Longoria, producer)

 

MIXED SIGNALS

In the latest issue of Signals, which for a while carried a "Department of Redundancy Department" tee and sweat, you can get "Lincoln Bedroom" bathrobes and towels. They sell for $59.95 and $22.00 respectively, or you can get them free with a $10,000.00 contribution to the Committee to Re-Indict the President.

Or -- you can get a "Friend of Bill" sweat or tee (it's got a nice print of Shakespeare on it). But my favorite reads:

"Si hoc Legere Scis Nimium Eruditionis Habes."
"If you can read this, you're overeducated."

 

"You can kiss my ass! If you touch me, I'll break both your legs."
Frank Sinatra to his doctors
(We're gonna miss him.)

 

PISSED OFF?

In Magellan's Travel Supply catalogue, there's a great selection of products for the crapperphobic. Like the "Lady J" Female Urinary Director -- a funnel that lets you stand to urinate "when you're on a safari." Also available, pre-packaged WC kits with seat-cover, tissues and a pre-moistened towelette, and Restroom Seat Sanitizers with germ-killing towels. And for dealing with "squat" toilets, piss etiquette and "dues" for dumping, order "Going Abroad" by Eva Newman. (Call toilet-free 1.800.962.4943.)

And Mr. Dubin sent me this cyberguide to the Best Public Toilets in New York City. http://www.angelfire.com/ny/NYCtoilets/

Ain't that a pisser?

 

"Wish I were back in the jungle where men are monkeys!"
(Groucho in "Animal Crackers")

 

LOST IN THE TRANSLATION

Words of wisdom from "Brecht on Brecht" which we saw recently at the Odyssey Theatre:

"Don't bother me, I'm preparing my next mistake... There's only one way to destroy anything. Outlast it."

"The direction is masterful, but it ruins the play."

Or as Frank Sinatra said many years later, and in English, "An audience is like a broad. If you're indifferent, Endsville."

 

"We have the satellite!!! Drop the lawsuits and
you get your pager service back."
(Mr.Bill@Microsoft.com)

 

OLDE LANGE SYNE-OFF?
(To the tune of Old Lange Syne)

Should old computers be destroyed
Because of bad design?
Should old PCs be thrown away
And Mister Gates resign?

Because of Y2K, oh dear,
Because of Y2K...
We'll know when midnight rolls around,
If we're doomed by Y2K.

Because of Y2K, my dears,
Because of Y2K...
You'd best stay home on New Year's Eve
Because of Y2K.

(PP)

 

"You gotta love livin', baby. Because dyin' is a pain in the ass."
(Frank Sinatra)

 

Published 6/1/98

PLANET PROCTOR
1996/2002 by Phil Proctor