Last night on The Colbert Report, there were two shocking bits. They both mean a great deal to me personally. And interestingly, they both involve the silly writing that I most enjoy doing. The first has to do with Richard Nixon. The second has to do with shocking news about Pabst Blue Ribbon.
In the first bit, he did another segment of “Better Know a District” with California’s 2nd congressional district with Jared Huffman. It was probably the best one I’ve seen, and it included Huffman making a very good joke himself.The district includes the Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio, which is a men’s club that has been around forever. I grew up just a few miles from it and lived basically next door to it on one occasion. And there is so much folklore associated it, it shocks the mind. You would think people were doing satanic rituals inside. Mainly, it is just a place where very powerful men go to hang out.
In talking about how women are not allowed, Colbert said, “Sorry ladies, you missed your chance to see Richard Nixon play naked horseshoes.” This went along with the following image that is just too great. As you may know, I am obsessed with the Nixon White House, and I’ve written a number of puppet plays about it. Richard Nixon as a puppet is just the perfect character ever. But Nixon as a nudist is pretty close. That might make a good graphic novel, “Nudist Nixon!”
Pabst Blue Ribbon
In the B-segment, Colbert reported that Pabst Blue Ribbon had been purchased by a Russian company. You could have knocked me down with asthmatic’s breath. To understand, we must go back over two decades when I wrote my first screenplay with Andrea. It was titled, “The Pabst Conspiracy.” It concerned a young documentary filmmaker, Skip, out to prove that Pabst Blue Ribbon was nothing more than generic beer. But little did Skip know that disgruntled ex-beer-taster for Pabst, Tonto Leftame was really behind it all. It was a revenge thing to get back at Pabst who he blamed for destroying his life. Throughout most of the screenplay, we think that Tonto is dead because he staged a fake death to make it look like Pabst had him killed to keep him quiet. (Oh, where is Oliver Stone when you need him?!) In the end, Tonto is discovered in an action packed chase through Wally’s Water World (where you get wet, but not in a fun way) in Scappoose (an actual place), mostly for the purpose of making a lot of bad puns.
But are you ready to be shocked? Tonto Leftame was a Russian immigrant.
So the Russians got the last laugh. The truth is, I always felt that we could have gotten Pabst to invest in the film. It was on the very cutting edge of the “Pabst is hip” movement. And the film was in many ways a two hour advertisement for the beer. But now that the Russians own it, the dream is dead. Because I’ll tell you something: I am not changing Tonto Leftame! In my mind, he was rather like Dr Strangelove in not being entirely in control of his actions. And he used to repeatedly crush empty beer cans on his forehead when he was stressed or frustrated. Although, in the context of the film, he was pretty normal.
Oh well. We’ll just have to add that to my long list of missed opportunities.
For the record, the script was finished. It was just that I was never happy with it. (I’m like that.) We went through over 70 revisions before Andrea refused to work on it anymore. In fact, it is because of this that Andrea won’t much work with me on anything. She’ll edit. And she’ll punch things up. But that’s about it. I can’t blame her. But years later, she did come up with a brilliant idea to fix many of the plot problems. The biggest problem is that I’m very much a character writer. I’m good at coming up with characters. I don’t care that much about plot. And that maybe why I’ve given up writing screenplays. But if I can find a version of “The Pabst Conspiracy” I will definitely post it. If only to annoy the Russians!