If I was to point to the one event in my childhood that started me on the path to my past & current phenomenal existence (being the we all exist within and without phenomena), I would point to one film, viewed in my childhood, and one film alone — the fact that I saw, at the tender age of eight years, the Beatles cartoon musical, Yellow Submarine. And not once, but in the theater four times.
Ok, the telling how this blog got its name “i also went…,” involves a number personal self-confessions. So it’s going to take a moment to gather my thoughts. Maybe have a cup of tea to settle myself. It’s so hard dredging up some of this stuff, you know. Perhaps a belt of single malt scotch. Ah. That’s better.
Now where was I?
Ah yes, the title. Of the blog.
Well, to tell you about the title is to tell a bit about how i came to be what I am today: that is, an over-fed, shaved head, leaping gnome (with apologies to Eric Burdon & The Animals). Or rather, an aging progressive leftist techno-hippie phreaque. For the event that picked me up and plunked me down on this rather delightfully meandering path, I would point to my obsession with this psychedelic, phantasmagorical, musical animated masterpiece.
It premiered in the U.S. around Thanksgiving of 1968, and I threw, I’m ashamed to admit, a veritable screaming tantrum to get my father to take me to this after Thanksgiving dinner. This was a duty he was loathe to fulfill and tried to talk me out of it, as dad was more a conservative Republican rat-packer in the Frank-Dean-Sammy school, and hated rock ‘n’ roll, especially the new psychedelic acid rock variety, like it was the harbinger of the end of civilization itself.But more screaming and tears wore my hapless dad down (I must put flowers on his memorial in remembrance, poor guy), so he relented and took me to a showing in Beverly Hills some time that weekend.
My dad fell asleep in the theater, mid-way through, snoring a bit, as he continued to do at movies for the rest of his life. In kind of the same way that some people like the austere quiet of libraries not for concentrated study but for rest, my dad liked to pay movie theaters to have a place to sleep. This was fine by me, because after the opening and first five minutes, culminating in the routof Pepperland by forces of evil, represented by the “Blue Meanies” (John Lennon’s stand-ins for Nazis), with the theme music kicking in, I had already totally, completely lost it, enraptured and enthralled for the next eighty-five minutes in this magical little psychedelic animated world. That alone set me on the path to mind-expanding hippie-hood.
I mean: Beatles Music! Peace! Love! Freaquie psychedelia! Peter-Max-style Art! Puns galore! What’s not to love?
For those who have not yet seen this feature length animated musical classic — well, what are you waiting for? I highly recommend it, available on Collector’s DVD, and with a lot of bonus interviews and such that really put it all in context now. It contains a lot of what some may consider 60s peace & love innocence, and I am fine with that. I feel the over all art, music, style, themes and general fun of the film still stand, four and a half very cynical decades later. The Beatles’ music at the height of their Sgt. Pepper psychedelic switch-over game, the Peter-Max’d-out art, silly puns galore and the message of love conquering all, even your worst enemies, is just a whole lot of fun and pretty resonant again now, come to think of it. As Elvis Costello said ten years after this film, “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love & understanding?” And the filmmakers try to say it not only can be hilarious fun, but even workable. At least in the magical, mystical, animated world of Pepperland. It is also probably what set me on the road to loving, despite the eye-rolling of my friends, goofy, loopy, non sequitur and punny humor, as most of the film is chock-filled with it —
Old Fred: Oh! Frankenstein!
Ringo: Yeah, I used to go out with his sister.
Old Fred: His sister?
Ringo: Yeah, Phyllis.
Paul: Look, it’s a school of whales.
Ringo: They look a little bit old for school.
Paul: University then.
Ringo: University of whales.
John: They look like drop-outs to me.
…and so forth.
Brit Humor like this, along with the famous Goon Show, featuring Peter Sellers, paved the way for shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus to come down the pike a few years later. As it should be, as they had the likes of Erich Segal working on Yellow Submarine’s script.
However the phrase, “i also went…,” does not appear anywhere in the film. So how did it wind up as the title of this blog and how do i connect it to the film? Ah, therein lies the media hucksterism & marketing synergy…
In addition to being the first feature length animated film based on a popular rock band, and the natural accompanying soundtrack album, this was one of thefirst movies to do that silly thing that many movies after it did — hire some poor hack writer to compose a novelization of the film’s script. That’s right, there was an early paperback graphic novel that was released with the rest of the accompanying merchandising, based upon the film, as part of what is still the hugely profitable Beatles memorabilia machine. But the Yellow Submarine book has something going for it other novelizations of movies don’t — it was an early version of a graphic novel using art from the film, therefore it was actually a fun, quick read, especially for an eight-year-old, and it expands a bit more on some of the fun & silliness of the film. It’s not as fun as actually watching the movie or singing along, more like the kind of fun you get from reading a Monty Python script or reciting the lines you’ve memorized from their routines with your friends, as opposed to actually watching the show or film, but still is a better read, using stills of the animation art and such, than a lot of other hack-job novelizations. Of course, while wandering my usual errant wander through the shops in the then Topanga Plaza Shopping Center in the far west San Fernando Valley of California, the proto-Mega-Mall before all other Mega-Malls and Gallerias, when I happened upon this thin paperback on the shelves of the Pickwick Books store, I had to immediately beg & plead my poor mother to cough up the money so I might have this addition to my full Beatles Yellow Submarine-a-tude in toto.
Here it is, my copy of the very paperback, much the worse for wear, some 42 years later —
The book had many fanciful stills and re-workings of the art from the movie, along with text that went along with the general story, but also had its ownquips and such in its own right. Quite perfect, really, for someone 8 or 9 tender years of age, as I was then, being mostly a picture with caption or word balloon book. I devoured it voraciously and giggled over its contents, over and over again.
One character who was both in the movie and the book, who was not a Beatle, per se, was one Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph.D. (or “Phud,” as Ringo kept mis-reading), a fun, wacky and quite yacky little being who assists our intrepid boys when the Sub motor breaks down after a nasty encounter escaping the Sea of Monsters.He’s rather the self-proclaimed polymath, and doesn’t mind crowing about his accomplishments either:
Jeremy: Eminent physicist, polyglot classicist, prize-winning botanist, hard-biting satirist, talented pianist, good dentist, too!…
… he goes on like that quite a bit.
Despite helping the Beatles out in their time of need, John, Paul & George dub him a “daffy old creep” and a real “Nowhere Man” (que: a song coming on…).
It is Ringo, the old softy, who takes pity upon the lonely Dr. Boob and invites him along with them on their Adventure. Without giving away too much in the way of Spoilers, I will say this little “Nowhere Man” ends up being instrumental in the expulsion of the Meanies from Pepperland and the joining in peace talks thereafter. Not bad for a daffy old creep who just happened to be along.
Also in the novelization, in the “extras” in the form of appendices in the back,there is an entire page devoted to writing about “The Origin Of The Yellow Submarine” legend as a mock, satirical professorial thesis (something Erich Segal would be very familiar with), as if it had been derived from an ancient legend like Beowulf. In it, das Boob is briefly mentioned in passing, a footnote, really, as one who accompanied the Beatles on the journey and published his own memoir about the travels under the title, “I Also Traveled (First Class): An Odyssey.”
That small, silly, insignificant, thrown-away, over-educated joke & mention way in the back of a novelization of an ancient 1960s counterculture animation film has, believe it or not, stuck with me all these decades (that’s what I get for re-reading every last page of that book whenever I was bored — home videos were still be about ten years away). You’ll find I’m like that, after you’ve read these blog’s entries for a while — my mind is like this huge recycling yard where important information I would need for a more successful life has long been carted off and what remains is huge piles of trivia that tickled my fancy at one point or another. But it does come in handy, occasionally — for when I first thought of creating this blog, that title, “I Also Traveled,” and the character of Jeremy Hillary Boob, came back to me struck my mind and heart to the quick with one of those very affirmative YES‘s, as large as the ones throughout animated Pepperland. That’s what this blog should be about, at least somewhat: those who also came along, who were witness and maybe even played a part in events, but were never really remembered well as the more major players. In fact, isn’t that what most blogs and journals are? A chance for all of us to shout into world wide void, “I was there too”?
I did change the wording to “Went,” after doing a poll amongst friends on the Interwebz (it came out narrowly, 13 – 11 in favor of “Went,” with 7 abstaining), but also because I feared “Traveled” would have conveyed to readers and search engines the wrong impression that this was some sort of Travel diary. Travel might be mentioned, occasionally; but, it is not what this blog is really about.
This blog, besides containing my rambling observations and opine, is for and about those mostly forgotten or footnoted in brief as passing characters, like Jeremy. Boobs, as it were, from the past, present and future (im)perfect.These “daffy old creeps,” at first glance, who later prove to come in quite handy and even essential to the outcome, though not really well-remembered. Those just to the far side of the picture of, say, the spike being driven in to join the continental railroads at Promontory Point, Utah — or perhaps they were running up just as the gigantic puff! of the flash went off and never made it in the picture.
Maybe they were the Nasa technicians who helped Buzz Aldrin pack golf balls in his Space Suit pack so he could do some driving range practice on the moon. A stage manager who fed lines to some famous actor just off-stage, on the night they were discovered by a Hollywood producer. One of the crew on Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki that was always sea-sick and throwing up over the side, but proved instrumental in saving the expedition’s bacon when it came to celestial navigation. They could have been the technician at HP who gave Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak some extra circuit parts so they could build the first Apple I. Maybe they helped the Phelps family out when they were busy by giving Michael a ride to swim practice when he was a kid. They were the porter on a UK train who picked up & handed a crumpled piece of paper with the first ideas for the Harry Potter series back to J.K. Rowling as she was deboarding, saying, “Excuse me, Miss, but you I believe you dropped this?”
You get the idea.
They may be annoying or troublesome at times. You roll your eyes at their uncool attempts at humor or camaraderie. You ask yourself occasionally, “Who invited them along?” Maybe you barely remember them, their name just on the tip of your tongue. You’ve saw them at shows or clubs you go to, they were members at the same gym, maybe you took a class with them in school way back when. They were the cubicle mate in your Prairie Dog Farm office cubicles about five spaces over, three jobs down your CV. They’re in that photo, well only about half of them, on the side there, and a bit blurry as they were moving. But they were there. Along for the ride. And perhaps, at a certain moment, proved instrumental. And maybe they never even knew it.
This is the blog for them, as well as my musings. All those other guys. And gals. You know, what’s-their-names.