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(Blogged at 4am...please pardon any typos or any other rambling unreadables!)
Tonight, or more accurately yesterday, was the 20th Anniversary of Andy Kaufman's death (or "death", depending on your point of view). If this is your first time hearing about this, check this entry first.
If you're caught up on any of this, you know that I was too late to purchase the $50 SRO tickets for the "Andy Kaufman Dead or Alive?" event at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. Here's a report from someone who did see the show. Well, "Act 1", anyway...apparently the only one I missed.
Orchestrated by Andy's co-writer and friend Bob Zmuda, the show was to have let out at midnight and so I was keeping on eye on some of the Message Boards and Chat Rooms where some of the folks who did have tickets (and were flying in from across the country to see the show!) were supposed to report in as soon as the "event" let out to report if, in fact, Andy had showed up.
As of 12:15pm, nothing...and I mentioned to someone in the Chat Room that I should just drive over there and see what's going on. Suffice to say, I was then harranged by the folks in the room to do just that.
Despite having just taken a coupla Exedrin P.M., my curiosity got the worst of me, and I headed over.
The street in front of the House of Blues was quiet, but I found one person who had just gotten out of the show. He said they moved across the street for "Act 2" - Milk and Cookies at the Comedy Store (Andy had done the same thing for his audience after his famous Carnegie Hall show). He also told me there was a wrestling ring set up.
I found a place to park, and walked right in to the "After Party" at the Comedy Store.
There were girls in the first room, which was mostly empty, offering Milk and Cookies. The crowd was in the next room where Tony Clifton was introducing some wrestlers.
After 15 minutes of three guys in chicken suits wrestling a couple of hispanic queens, four women came in and finished them all off. Somehow the chickens came back, however, and so Jerry Lawler (famously having pile-drived Kaufman many years ago) came out and finished off all the chickens to much approval by the Kaufman fans assembled.
Clifton then came back out and told folks that Andy not only brought the Carnegie audience out for Milk and Cookies after the show, but he then invited anybody who wanted to show up at 8am the next morning for a ride on the Staten Island Ferry. About 30 folks showed up, and Andy bought them Chocolate Cake.
Clifton would out do him, he told the crowd, as he announced "Act 3"...wherein the legendary porn star Ron Jeremy came out with a sign, also held by Dennis Hof, who is apparently the owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada. Act 3 will be tomorrow night (actually tonight, I guess) for anybody who can make it to the Bunny Ranch for free....whatever you like...between 8pm and Midnight.
Before you run up there, please note, you'll need to show your ticket stub to receive your freebie. (I don't have one, since I didn't get to the actual show, so it looks like I'm outta luck). A few Bunny Ranch denizens then took off their top and invited everyone to come on up tomorrow night for all they could eat.
Clifton then thanked everyone for coming and wished everybody a good night.
10 minutes or so later, as the crowd had thinned to about a third of it's original Act 2 size, Clifton once again took the mic, and said that "now that all the loooosers...who hadda go to be had left"...he was pleased to announce "Act 4"! Right now.
Whoever would like to join was invited to grab a candle for a vigil on the sidewalk. And then, anyone interested was invited to take the 10 minute walk down to Andy's old apartment, which is now apparently a condo. The owners were kind enough to allow folks to come on up, as long as everyone was quiet (mind you, we're now talking about 2am on a Sunday night / Monday morning).
I took the walk with the 75 folks or so who were still game down to Fountain and La Cienega. Only 20 or so could go in at a time (Suite #409 for you die-hards), where they had brought a bunch of old Andy memorabilia up there for display (original Tony Clifton costumes, original Foreign Man costumes, photos, scripts, etc.)
While waiting to go in, "Clifton" answered all questions about Kaufman and told various Andy stories. Most of which I'm too exhausted to report to you tonight. Suffice to say "Clifton" (a character played by Andy, now inhabited by Zmuda) was very generous to all who where there. (And at the prices they charged for the show, where Andy never showed up, that's the least he could be!)
Oh, yeah, Andy did show up...but it was Andy Dick, and he was trashed as he also hung around with Clifton and the crowd on the streets in the early Hollywood a.m.
Suffice to say though, it was an interesting night...especially since I was reporting on the phone much of the time to someone who was in the Chat Room that had volunteered to type away as I described what was going on. That unedited Chat Room transcript is here if you'd like to slog through it for the real blow-by-blow as "ks76r" (aka Mike) was kind enough to transcribe it all to the room from his comfortable post in Topeka, Kansas --- apparently where he was up all night folding laundry as the sun was rising
Unless he shows up at "Act 3" tomorrow night (not an unreasonable place for Andy to show up) it would appear that --- as of this hour --- Andy Kaufman is still dead.
Thanks for the memories, Uncle Andy. And for the milk and cookies.
The BRAD BLOG Andy Kaufman Compendium:
re: The Andy Kaufman situation...
If you haven't been following along, then reading this entry first will get you all caught up...
Okay, after I blogged that article yesterday, Joel, a user on the message board I referred to in the story, noticed that I had given the name "Stephen Maddox" of Greenwood, IN, as the owner of the AndyKaufmanLives.com URL. I had found that information by doing a standard Internet WHOIS search to get the owner of the domain.
Joel just posted the following in regards to that name...:
Okay...this is gettin' kinda creepy now...
He is correct. It was a 1963 movie...
Something is whacky here...either that, or the entire world, including History and the entire Internet itself, is conspiring to play one tremendous joke on me. (Andy, of course, likely would have loved it I suppose.) [ed note: "would have loved it"? or "is loving it"?]
Ever since the pictures broke from Abu Ghraib, the consistent unanswered question has been "who was in charge"? Who where these "kids" getting their orders from? Who told them to do what they did? Who gave those orders from "military intelligence". And ever since, the silence has been deafening on those questions.
As Josh Marshall likes to say, the wheels are now officially off this cart.
Seymour Hersh, who last week broke the news on the Taguba Report, cracks it wide open again in this week's New Yorker.
According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon's operation...encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld's long-standing desire to wrest control of America's clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.
I'll not bore you with the details as I suspect you will be getting them ad nauseum all week from here on out. But here's the deal. Even if, as some of the Administration "dead enders" will undoubtedly try to argue this week, that important information was needed and was indeed gained from this operation, it's still too late. All week, the Bushies have been referring to those pictures as "horrendous" and they have been claiming that "those responsible will be prosecuted". Well, they're gonna have a hell of a time crawling out of the corner they're in now.
By the way, the "few bad apples" cover they've been using was devised in January when the Pentagon first found out about the monster they'd unleashed. Hersh reports on a "senior intelligence officials" account:
You'll get much more of all of this soon. But suffice to say, my guess is that this is the straw that breaks Rummy's back. If he survives another week color me amazed. Or color George W. Bush really a fool.
6:00 PM - Opening Prayer led by the Reverend Jerry Fallwell
6:30 PM - Pledge of Allegiance
6:35 PM - Burning of Bill of Rights (excluding 2nd amendment)
6:45 PM - Salute to the Coalition of the Willing
6:46 PM - Seminar #1: Iraq Strategies-Voodoo/DooDoo WMD
7:30 PM - First Presidential Beer Bong
7:35 PM - Serve Freedom Fries
7:40 PM - EPA Address #1: Mercury--It's what's for dinner!
8:00 PM - Vote on which country to invade next
8:10 PM - Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh
8:15 PM - John Ashcroft Lecture: The Homos are after your Children!!
8:30 PM - Round table discussion on reproductive rights (MEN only)
8:50 PM - Seminar #2: Corporations: The Government of the Future
9:05 PM - Second Presidential Beer Bong
9:10 PM - EPA Address #2: Trees: The Real Cause of Forest Fires
9:30 PM - Break for secret meetings
10:00 PM - Second prayer led by Cal Thomas
10:15 PM - Lecture by Carl Rove: Doublespeak made easy
10:30 PM - Rumsfeld demonstration of how to squint and talk macho
10:35 PM - Bush demonstration of trademark "deer in headlights" stare
10:40 PM - John Ashcroft demonstrates new mandatory Kevlar chastity belt
10:45 PM - Clarence Thomas reads list of black Republicans
10:46 PM - Third Presidential Beer Bong
10:50 PM - Seminar #3: Education: A Drain on our Nation's Economy
11:10 PM - Hilary Clinton Piñata
11:20 PM - Second Lecture by John Ashcroft: Evolutionists: The Dangerous New Cult
11:30 PM - Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh again.
11:31 PM - Blame Clinton
11:55 PM - Laura serves milk and cookies
11:57 PM - Closing Prayer led by Jesus Himself
12:00 PM - Nomination of George W. Bush as Holy Supreme Planetary Overlord
That Bush has only two issues left on which he is leading Kerry, must be sending Rove to the edge of a cliff right about now.
That Kerry has closed the gaps --- virtually to margin of error numbers --on what had previously been runaway "trademark" Bush issues like "Terrorism" and "Moral Values" (for example, in March, Bush lead Kerry on "Terrorism" %60 to %33) is likely pushing Rove right over the cliff right about now.
Worse still for the Bushies there is a fair number of "Undecideds" in the poll graphed above. With "Undecideds" historically breaking to the challenger (and doing so in enormous numbers right now), Rove better be wearing a pretty big parachute!
Hopefully the usual Bush Bashers and Kerry Haters will pardon a brief pause for my continuing flight of fancy over this Andy Kaufman thing. It should all be over one way or another by Sunday (theoretically). So feel free to scroll past this long item if you're looking for the red meat!
I've been kicking myself all day for waiting so long to decide to buy tickets to the "event" around the corner at House of Blues this Sunday to mark the 20th Anniversary of Andy's Death (and possible re-appearance?), as there is now no more $50 SRO tickets. So it looks like I'm SOL instead.
So in lieu of it all, and noticing an alarming number of "Andy Kaufman" searches that have hit this blog in the last day or two, I went about a bit of armchair detetive work on the whole thing, and found a tidbit or two along the way.
If you're lost at this point, please see my "Andy Kaufman Returns?!" piece from last week for background, and then feel free to return.
Anyway, here's a few items of note as Sunday nears...a website called AndyKaufmanLives.com was begun last September 2003 by a guy known only as "Enrique". It's one no-frills continuous page where "Enrique" muses on his belief that Andy could have faked his death. He does so by periodically posting skeptical questions that folks may have and then goes about answering them. For example...
Yes, that is how most people get caught. Many people fake their death so that life insurance can be collected. Any hint of possible fraud and insurance companies conduct an investigation.
I have read that no life insurance policies were collected.
Good enough...then suddenly the 9/16/03 entry is in a different font and color:
**********Message from the owner of the URL**********
Hello, my name is Steve. I am the owner of Jetelectro cartoons which owns this URL.
I have received many requests for info on Enrique and this web site. Many have asked who he is, where does he live, and how can we reach him. The answer to all of your questions is, I have no idea. I will explain briefly how this came about and why I am no help in getting you answers.
Awhile back I received a phone call from someone who identified himself as Eric at first, then by the end of the conversation he said his name was Enrique. He said he got my name from a friend of a friend in the animation business, although he never said who. He asked how much I would charge to buy the URL, set it up with a hosting service, then type periodic updates for roughly 1 year. A few days later I received a money order with no return address. So I bought andykaufmanlives.com. About a week after that I received a CD, no return address, containing the original HTML document to put up on the site. It came with typed instructions that I would be getting faxes every once in awhile, and that I should add them to the document exactly as typed.
So once again, I have no idea how you can reach him. I don't even know if he will be reading this (although I assume he does to make sure I copied his faxes correctly). I don't know why he wishes to stay anonymous, although I assume it is to avoid criticism over his views. I have received a few of those kind of e-mails also.
Okey doke...Odd enough. But then as I was highlighting the above text to copy it here, I discovered that hidden throughout the page, which has only a plain white background, there is text in a white font so that it can't be seen. Frequently just "Andy Kaufman," or sometimes more elaborately: "Andy Kaufman, Latka, Andy Kaufman lives, Taxi, Andy Kaufman Lives, Andy Kaufman, Andy Kaufman Lives, Latka, Andy Kaufman, Taxi, Andy Kaufman Lives"
That's a trick frequently used by websites that hope to get their page listed high on the various search engines when people might be searching for example, for "Andy Kaufman Lives". Search Engine "'bots" see that text - and add it to their index - even while normal humans don't. But if the above message from "Steve" is to be believed, and he was only suppose to transcribe "Enrique's" typed faxes verbatim, there would be no invisible text to be retyped.
So either "Steve" is lying to "Enrique" about simply retyping what he's sent (in order to up the hit rates for the page - which doesn't carry any ads in any case) or the whole thing is a swell sham and "Enrique" actually is "Steve" since supposedly "Enrique" claims that he doesn't know enough about HTML to do it himself, and therefore, would be unlikely to use the old "hidden keyword trick".
For the record, searches on both Google and Yahoo find no such company as "JetElectro Productions". However a "Stephen Maddox" of Greenwood, IN, is the owner of AndyKaufmanLives.com according to a WHOIS search.
But let's move on...In February of 2004 "Enrique" makes his last post for many months. In that post, he points to a message board, (which he had also pointed to and posted on some months earlier). The message board is ostensibly dedicated to the hardcore Andy fans, and of late is all about the 20th Anniversary "re-emergence" stuff.
More on that message board in a moment.
No more posts from "Enrique" on AndyKaufmanLives.com since that February 28, 2004 post, until today - a post from "Steve" again:
**********Message from the owner of the URL**********
Hello, I am Steve from JetElectro Productions
We have received many e-mails asking if Enrique will add new entries to this site. For the longest time I did not know. Yesterday I received a new fax from Enrique with 3 new questions and answers. He requested that it not be posted until this weekend. Also, we at Jetelectro think it is interesting that Bob Zmuda will be interviewed on Air America radio this evening. If you find that interesting go to www.airamericaradio.com and click on listen live. He is scheduled to be on "The Majority Report" this evening, Friday May 14. 8pm in New York. 7pm here in the Midwest.
And then this final post on the page, today, again from "Enrique":
No. As much as I would love that to happen, I do not believe it will. A fake death is absolute, as absolute as a real death.
So he will not be at the tribute in Hollywood?
I did not say that, I said he would not reveal himself. I do not believe he would appear at the tribute as Andy Kaufman, or in a costume, or any other suspicious fashion. I would say that if the man we knew as Andy Kaufman was at the tribute, no one would know.
How would no one know? These are his close friends. Are you suggesting plastic surgery? A sex change? Reincarnation? A House of Blues employee?
I wouldn't know
"Enrique" is starting to sound more and more like Andy's Co-Writer and current inhabitant of Andy's "Tony Clifton" character Bob Zmuda if you ask me.
Now back to the message board I mentioned previously...An hour or two ago, a new post there from "Anonymous" (which is what "Enrique" seems to go by when he posts on this board, apparently...though he hasn't posted for months...until today):
Message: has returned with some interesting news. stay tuned to his page in coming days. thank you.
There is, of course, a "Link to Enriques' Site" at the top of this message board.
An alert poster there, also noticed the following from a 10/30/03 post on "Enrique's" site:
Why not? I was on the island of Aruba last week and no one knew or had even heard of him. I talked with cab drivers, store owners, hotel clerks, pool boys, bankers, waiters, and tourists. The name meant nothing to them. So how easy would it be for him to be a retired American living in a beach house?
The reference to "Aruba" is notable, given this exchange from last week's LA Weekly article on this whole affair:
So there you have it...Just about all I've gleaned in the last hour or two while avoiding the mess that is Iraq, the Whitehouse, and everything else.
Oh, except for this last piece of business found by one of the message boarders in the "fine print" at the bottom of the Comic Relief page (Bob Zmuda is one of the founders of Comic Relief) advertising the event:
Hmmm...Odds are the joke is on me for having even paid it all this much attention (And you! For having read this far!) But that was, after all, largely the point of whatever the hell it was that Andy did. We were the show. And so I'm glad to play my part yet again for Andy...20 years later.
We'll see what --- if anything --- happens on Sunday. But, as the song says, "If you believed they put a man on the moon..."
In re: my earlier pieces (here and then here) on Bill Kristol and the other NeoCons and their policy break from Bush as seen in his recent Weekly Standard piece. Is it just me? Or did Kristol appear truly dejected on last night's Daily Show? While, as he said, he was "trying to put on [his] game face" during the interview with Jon Stewart, his slumping body language suggested that he's truly been up against it, as he referred to "a really tough week, and a really tough last six weeks".
He's has been up against it, I'd imagine. And it showed. He was one of the original NeoCon architects (along with Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle etc.) behind this whole Iraqi Misadventure. One that far pre-dates 9/11. Even the most militant of Hawks should by now be able to see that these guys got their fair shot at it, and --- frankly --- have just blown it all in one single Mesopotamian Misjudgement. Now can we move on to Plan B already?
In re: my previous rant (or rants) at Sean Hannity. Even the NY Post has picked up now on the outrageously politicized, remarkably hypocritcal and astroundingy poor taste airings of the full "uncut" audio of the Nick Berg beheading. What I had forgotten to mention, as an ironic sidebar, is that his flagship station in NY (WABC), his station out here in LA (KABC) and many other stations in between, are owned and operated by a little company known as Disney. You remember them...the ones who opted against distributing Academy Award winner Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11 because it was too political and they "don't wish to alienate" the "families of many political stripes" that they cater too. I guess that only applies to films and not radio for Disney? (Films like Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction mind you!)
In related unsurprising news, there's still no word on how the FCC feels about a "live" beheading being played over the public airwaves in the middle of the afternoon.
In re: Andy Kaufman's imminent return to life this Sunday. After hemming and hawing about it for a week or so, we finally decided to fork out the $50/per SRO tickets to the big show on Sunday at the House of Blues being put on by Andy's co-writer, Bob Zmuda, and girlfriend Lynn Margulies. Sadly, though, by the time we finally got around to trying to purchase tickets, all the $50 SRO tickets were gone. Next available ticket: $99.95. To rich for my blood, I'm sorry to say.
I do believe though, it's virtually assured now that Andy is indeed alive and well and will be making his glorious re-appearance from the dead this Sunday --- since we won't be able to be there to witness it.
"The POWs I expect to be treated humanely, just like we're treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely. If not, the people who mistreat the prisoners will be treated as war criminals."
- George W. Bush, as the US was invading Iraq, March 23, 2003
"That's a violation of the Geneva Convention, those pictures you show, if, in fact, those are our soldiers."
- Donald Rumsfeld, on Face the Nation, March 23, 2003
Source: Reuters, "Bush warns Iraq over Prisoners"
The gospel according to Reuters...
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