The Rat Pack--2


The Rat Pack Returns--Part 2


Martinian millennialism

From: Sammy Davis Jr.
Date: 1/11/99

    Well hi there, dahlings! It's me again. Sammybaby. And I'm back for an exegetical encore. With a song in my heart and Vegasoid pedantry out the wazoo. Ya know, I've been sitting here on Cloud Ten in my gold lamé Nehru jacket and my B'nai B'rith medallions and my white belt & white loafers, schlocking up the place with my insufferable low-camp cheeziness. And ya wanna know something? My obnoxiousness is enough to give even ME the dry heaves. But I WILL say ONE thing in my favor. I have NEVER sunk so low as to name-drop Stephen Hawking the way Martin did. And I have NEVER slung any of this pseudo-scientific happy horseshit about redestructionism & post-Andrewmodernism & semiotic homoeroticism. But I DO have a cross-referential long-shot literary theory that I'd like to share with you.

    As you know, Martin likes to play around with names. Ed & Diedrick once explicated the Richard Tull/Tantalus Press joke. "Tull" suggests "total nullity". "Gwyn" contains "win". "Mike Hoolihan" sounds vaguely like "black hole". The medical examiner is "Dr. No". "Trader Faulkner" was a real-life actor who appeared with Martin in a movie called "A High Wind in Jamaica". But the name "Faulkner" implies an additional referent (albeit nothing to do with William Faulkner). And none of you chuckleheads managed to decipher the name "Rockwell". Nobody considered the possibility that her name's referential meaning might be a clue in regard to her motivation. Xenophile recently touched on the answer when she referred to some hineyhead's millenarianism. Ian Nicholls mentioned an Amis quote in a NY Times book review. Where Martin said that "London Fields" is set in 1999. And Ed mentioned Martin's prefatory note to "London Fields". Where Martin said that he considered using the title "Millennium" instead. So that's more grist for my Martinian millennialist mill. (Old mills grind slowly--but exceedingly groovily.)

    Here is the answer to "Night Train": The name "Rockwell" is a cryptonym. "Rockwell" is a punning allusion to a line from a poem. Here is the line: "but now I know that twenty centuries of stony sleep were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle". It's from "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats. Here's the entire poem:

    "Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The falcon cannot hear the falconer;/Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.

    "Surely some revelation is at hand;/Surely the Second Coming is at hand./The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out/When a vast image out of 'Spiritus Mundi'/Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert/A shape with lion body and the head of a man,/A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,/Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it/Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds./The darkness drops again; but now I know/That twenty centuries of stony sleep/Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,/And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,/Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"

    Jennifer Rockwell is the falcon and Trader Faulkner is the falconer. Yeats had his own personal theory about the Second Coming. Here is an annotation I found which explains it: "Fused with the Christian conception of Christ's return is Yeats' private conviction that a regular historical cycle of 2000 years was nearing its end, to give birth to a new era, not necessarily better than the preceding.".....Well here we are at the very end of a 2000-year cycle. And what better way to celebrate the Yeatsian bimillennium than with a crypto-novel with a heavy-handed bit of Yeats for its subtext. An annoying Irish cop and an annoying Irish poem. O joy. (And I can say that cause I'm Irish.)

    Yup. That's right. It's come to this. Martin Amis turns out to be Joan Didion in reverse-drag. I knew it all the time. After Joan moved to Los Angeles and mastered the exquisite sigh, she once wrote the following sentence: "This book is called 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem' because for several years now certain lines from the Yeats poem which appears two pages back have reverberated in my inner ear as if they were surgically implanted there.".....Boy ya know, ya talk about your major obnoxoids. There's nothing like Joan's custom-crafted high-minded catatonic neurasthenia to set my teeth on edge and send me screaming into the night.

    I'm the first to admit that the "Rockwell" & "Faulkner" puns are pretty thin reeds to go on to support this Yeatsian millennialist proposition. (But then again, at least give me credit for not pulling a Leslie Fiedler and hypothesizing about a menage-a-trois subtext involving Mike & Jennifer & Huckleberry Finn.) I respect Frank Seaver for providing ample proof to bolster his child-molestation theory. But I'm not gonna bother to go thru "Night Train" again to find more evidence to buttress this Second Coming shtick. Because even if this theory is true, it still doesn't explain Jennifer's motivation. Why would Jennifer be subject to millennialist dread? How does millennialist dread relate to astronomical dark matter & superstrings? Do wormholes function as more nihilistic information that comes in the night-sky? Remember the last few pages of "The Information"? With the bits about the colliding galaxies and the Man in the Moon? Ya notice how that segues straight into the next novel about the astronomer? What's it all about, Martybaby? Is the Y2k bug a satanic plot? And is Truman Capote indeed the Antichrist?

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MEMO TO: StephenP

From: Sammy Davis Jr.
Date: 1/13/99

    In regard to your suggestion that I post in someone else's name: Do ya really think I'm gonna "break" character for a putz like you? I'm a METHOD actor, dammit. I'm an ARTIST. I went to New York and paid Lee Strasberg ten thousand dollars just so I could get up on a stage and pretend to be a bottle of ketchup. And I damn well intend to put that money to good use. I suffered for my Art, and now it's YOUR turn.

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MEMO TO: Joey Bishop

From: Dean Martin
Date: 1/13/99

    Hey Shmoey. I just got hold of Eric Jacobs' book about Kingsley Amis. Kingsley said that Martin had "gone all lefty and of the crappiest neutralist kind, challenging me to guess how many times over the world can destroy itself...He's bright, you see, but a fucking fool, and the worse, far worse, for having come to it late in life, aetat. [aged] nearly 37, not 17.".....In other words, nuclear ethics is a passing teenybopper phase. Boy ya know, ya talk about your major obnoxoids. I can always count on Kingsley's crusty-but-lovable grumpy-old-fascist-curmudgeon horseshit to set my teeth on edge and send me screaming into the night.

    I can't help but notice that Jezzaroona is fixated on a particular Martinism: "And then there is the information, which is nothing, and comes at night." Which serves as a lead-in to "Night Train". But doesn't that line remind you of another line? A line that preceded Martin's line. From another writer. Surely I can't be the only poltergeist phenomenon who's noticed this. That line sounds like a deliberate echo of Philip Larkin: "And immediately/Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:/The sun-comprehending glass,/And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows/Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless."

    "The amount of emptiness I have accumulated, while keeping my individual status--the miracle of not having exploded under the weight of so much nonexistence!" (E.M. Cioran)....."I can feel the Void pressing in like the dull drone of a distant airplane." (Lars Vanderquist)....."There is always someone above you: beyond God Himself rises Nothingness." (E.M. Cioran)....."I undertook to overtake the undertaker taking over." (Ned Rorem).

     Hey Shmoey. Didja see what Jerry Lewis said about his near-death experience? He said: "There's no Judy Garland there. It's pretty bleak.".....Yeah. So where do I sign up, goomba.....But seriously--I swear I'm not making this up. Shawn Levy said: "The pain he suffered through the first stages of his recuperation was intense, Jerry remembered, but the single most traumatizing thing had been the glimpse he felt he'd been given of the afterlife." Jerry said: "I was gone and they brought me back. I saw the other side. And there was nothing. You know how at the end of the day your TV tube goes *psssh* and goes black? That was it. I was looking for a billboard that said 'Jerry Lewis loves Brown's Hotel'. I should give people hope by telling them there's a yellow brick road and all that, but I saw nothing."

     Okay. Now consider Jerry's reaction: The ur-nerd narrowly avoids the Void and then spastically assumes that his fate is the only possible posthumous scenario. Jerry thinks that everyone else is doomed to the same damnation that's exclusively reserved for unendurable shlumps like him. What a piece of work is Jerry. What a presumptuous arrogant cockhead.....On the other hand--don't be too smug, Mr. Joey Bishop. Ya never know. In fact, keep acting like a yammering yutz and you too get to go straight to Bozo Limbo.....At the end of the dark is a Vegas spotlight and the sick sour croak of a dork.....

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 "Macatitch" is a referential joke-name

From: Sammy Davis Jr.
Date: 1/20/99

    Who can take a Martin. Sprinkle him with pee. Dip him in diarrhea and pluck out the heart of his mystery? The Sammy Man. The Sammy Man can. The Sammy Man can cause he slings it kosherly up here in Lounge Lizard Limbo.

    Hiya squeezypies. It's me again. Mister Wonderful. Boy ya know, it's absolutely marvy to be back in Michigan. It's a real borderline-thrill, lemme tell ya. Albion audiences are the greatest audiences in the world. (With the possible exception of North Platte, Nebraska. Christ, I've played some shitholes. But THAT takes the cake.) Hey. Guess what. I finally got a hold of Diedrick's book. The one with the picture of Diedrick looking like he just ate the Lindbergh baby. (Hey Diedrick. The Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre prop department just called. They want their tweeds back.) Is it just me or does Diedrick look like the unholy love child of John Updike & Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS?

    But listen---Diedrick told me something I didn't know. Namely, that Rachel Noyes's last name is a foul-minded Martinian pun. Diedrick sez: "As befits a novel about self-consciousness, the plot of 'The Rachel Papers' concerns Charles's own obsessive plotting: to achieve his twin, intertwined desires of entrance to Oxford and Rachel Noyes. He achieves both, the first on the first attempt and the second (as Rachel's last name implies) after an initial rejection."

    I don't know if Diedrick discovered this joke himself. My guess is that Dino or Frank or Vic Damone figured it out and then he told Diedrick. Whatever the case, the "Noyes" joke establishes the fact that Martin Amis is an unregenerate word-trickster who knows no shame and will stop at nothing.

    The reason I'm here is because I just identified another one of Martin's degenerate little joke-names. I believe it was Buddy Greco who once said: "The poetry of earth is never dead." Well, the clever-dickery of Martin is never dead either. So let's indulge Martin. Let's take his bait. Let's ride with the ketchup.

    The joke-name is "Macatitch". Johnny Mac is one of the cops in "Night Train". "Macatitch" is a reference to "Titch Thomas". "Titch Thomas" is a sleazoid vandal who defaced a poster in a poem called "Sunny Prestatyn" by Philip Larkin. Here is the poem:

"*Come to Sunny Prestatyn* / Laughed the girl on the poster, / Kneeling up on the sand / In tautened white satin. / Behind her, a hunk of coast, a / Hotel with palms / Seemed to expand from her thighs and / Spread breast-lifting arms.

"She was slapped up one day in March. / A couple of weeks, and her face / Was snaggle-toothed and boss-eyed; / Huge tits and a fissured crotch / Were scored well in, and the space / Between her legs held scrawls / That set her fairly astride / A tuberous cock and balls

"Autographed *Titch Thomas*, while / Someone had used a knife / Or something to stab right through / The moustached lips of her smile. / She was too good for this life. / Very soon, a great transverse tear / Left only a hand and some blue. / Now *Fight Cancer* is there."

    Jennifer Rockwell is the poster-model who was "too good for this life". Jennifer's gunshot wounds correspond to the poster-girl's knife wounds "right through the moustached lips of her smile". Tom Rockwell refers to Jennifer as being "sunny" (page 29). The poster-girl wears "tautened white satin". On page 128, Jennifer "came out of the cabana and walked toward us in her white one-piece". Larkin sez: "a great transverse tear left only a hand and some blue". On page 75, Mike sez: "A woman fell out of a clear blue sky."

    There you have it. Martin subtexted "Sunny Prestatyn" into "Night Train". The evidence is incontrovertible. This theory is unassailable. This theory is now a proven fact. I don't wanna hear any crap from any of you poopyheads. Anyone who thinks that the Macatitch/Titch Thomas connection is a mere coincidence is cordially invited to eat my shorts.

    Here's another possible Larkin/"Night Train" link. A link which possibly explains Jennifer's motive. On page 173, Mike sez: "Ever have that childish feeling, with the sun on your salty face and ice cream melting in your mouth, the infantile feeling that you want to cancel worldly happiness, turn it down as a false lead?" Compare that to another Larkin poem called "Wants" and see if Mike's comment doesn't sound like a deliberate echo of that poem. And that maybe Larkin is speaking for Jennifer:

"Beyond all this, the wish to be alone: / However the sky grows dark with invitation-cards / However we follow the printed directions of sex / However the family is photographed under the flagstaff--- / Beyond all this, the wish to be alone.

"Beneath it all, desire of oblivion runs: / Despite the artful tensions of the calendar, / The life insurance, the tabled fertility rites, / The costly aversion of the eyes from death--- / Beneath it all, desire of oblivion runs." 

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MEMO TO: Sammy Davis Jr.
From: Joey Bishop
Date: 1/24/99

    Sammy, you magnificent bastard: Listen---don't get me wrong. You know damn well that I happen to be Sammy Fan A-Number-One. Your name is synonymous with fine quality entertainment. In the country of the blind, the one-eyed black Jew is king. And that electric-purple tux with the Star-of-David belt buckle is making me drool.

    But I gotta tell ya something right here & now, buddy-boy. And I say this with only the best of intentions: Sammy---you're beginning to give psychosis a bad name. I mean it, dammit. You're almost as bad as Diedrick. Remember Diedrick's breakthrough discovery about the "Wittgensteinian Dialectic of Larry King's Gossip Tidbits in *USA Today*"? You're getting there, Sammy. Slowly but surely. And I'm only telling ya this because I care about ya, bubbelah.

    So please, Sammy. For the love of God and all that is holy: Stop the madness. Cut the crap with the subtexts already. Sammy, I'm begging you: Please put down that copy of "The Golden Bough" and just walk away from it. Just set it down and turn around and let it go. Because there's no telling where it's gonna take ya, Sammy. There's no telling where this pedantic horseshit of yours is gonna end. Keep it up and the next thing ya know---you're gonna be reading Martin Amis from right to left in some pathetic desperate attempt to prove that God's eye really is on the sparrow. Well lemme tell ya something right here & now, Sammybaby: God's eye is NOT on the sparrow. God's eye happens to be exclusively focused on His own frigging navel.

    Hey listen---I just came across something that reminded me of Mike's freak-out at the end of "Night Train". It's from Paul Theroux's bitchfest about V.S. Naipaul. Called "Sir Vidia's Shadow". V.S. Naipaul had a brother. The following quote is in regard to Shiva Naipaul:

    "Both Shiva and I had been shaken by the 1978 mass suicide, in Jonestown, Guyana, of members of the People's Temple commune. To me it was one of the ghastliest events that had occurred in my lifetime. Paranoia could not take a more violent or nightmarish form. The transplanted messiah, Jim Jones, creating madness among his followers, was someone who had triggered my thinking about 'The Mosquito Coast', though my book was very different. Shiva wrote a book about Jonestown, 'Journey to Nowhere'. He often alluded to the grisly nature of his experience, for he had arrived in Jonestown before all the more than nine hundred bodies had been bagged and taken away. He said that he had never seen anything worse. He was dispirited by the experience, and for a while it rendered him mute. He suffered something akin to a nervous breakdown during the writing of the book. I understood then that it was not conceit or vanity or childishness that kept him so insecure, but something fundamental: he had emptied the goblet and in tipping it up had seen fear lurking on the bottom, as in the horrific line from the play I used to teach: 'I have drunk and seen the spider.'" 

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*Beaners* was a deliberate insult, goddammit

From: F. Sinatra
Date: 7/13/99

    Come fly with me, goombahs. Don't take that night train. As you already know, Avis recently used the term *beaners* as a homonym for Italians. And most of you fazools thought it was a mere accident. But not *me*, babycakes. Martin Avis may be a dumb English fruitcake---but he ain't THAT dumb. Lemme tell ya something, ladies & germs. After considered & thoughtful consideration of the circumstances, I have come to the unevitable conclusion that Avis intentionally used the word *beaners* as an insult to the Italian people. He did this deliberately and with malice aforesaid. Martin Arvis knows DAMN WELL that a *beaner* is a spic. I mean Hispanic (sorry). But Avis called us *beaners* anyway for the expressed purpose of insinuating that Italians have some sort of flatulence problem. When Avis said that Italians are *beaners*, he was maliciously & erroneously implying that Italians engage in a lot of overt & extroverted crepitation. That is a WILLFUL and LIBELOUS SLUR on the Italian people, goddammit. The Italian people are a proud & noble race. With a long & glorious history in all of the arts & sciences. The Italian people has produced great contributors to the human race. I'm talkin about fine outstanding humanitarians such as Buddy Greco and Vic Damone. The Italian people are not only great entertainers---they're also wonderful human beings. Italians are human *beings*, goddammit. Not human *beaners*. And if you think I'm gonna sit around here and let some English faggot douchebag insult MY PEOPLE---brother, you don't know nuthin!!

    All right, Avis. It's payback time. You're takin orders from Frank now. And the first thing I want ya to do is to recall every single extant copy of *Night Train*. So that I can re-sell them to the French as toilet paper, ha ha. Then I want you to write An Open Letter Of Apology To Italian People Everywhere and send copies of it to The New Yorker and The Manchester Guardian and The Roman Times Linguini Supplement. Then I want you to turn over every red-cent of your goddam *Night Train* blood-money to a worthy Italo-American charitable organization such as the Sons of Italy or Teamsters Local 237 in Bayonne or Whoopee Guido's Boobs-a-Lot Resort & Casino in beautiful scenic Las Vegas. Don't make me have to twist your arm, Martino-baby. You can do it my way or you can enjoy a one-way trip to the bottom of the beautiful scenic East River. With concrete floaties, heh heh. Ya wanna get cute, Arvis? I'll get cute too. Ya wanna play beanie-weanie games, Mister Hotshot Little Lord Fancypants? I play beanie-weenie games for real. Just remember, punk: when you insult my people you insult me personally. And I'm not about to take any shit from some cheapjack limey punk. So don't you never show disrespect to the Italian people ever again. Or I will personally HAUNT the CRAP out of you myself. I'm warning you, Avis. Make one more anti-Italian crack and I will float right over to Long Island and levitate you STRAIGHT OUT THE GODDAM WINDOW. I mean it, punk. You better watch your mouth, buddy-boy. Because NOBODY fucks with MY PEOPLE. And NOBODY fucks with Francis Albert Sinatra.


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