In 1988 I was living in Los Angeles and working for the Writers Guild Of America. That year we were involved in a strike against film and television producers that lasted 6 months. It was at one of our membership meetings -- to update the writers on the progress, or lack of it, of negotiations -- that I recognized Peter Bergman in the lobby. He was wearing the loudest, most obnoxious tie I had ever seen on somebody who wasn't a Bozo on the bus with makeup.
"Peter, " I said, " what a pleasure to meet you in person."
"You know who I am?" He asked. " How old are you?"
"Twenty four," I said. Continuing, "Know You? My friends and I listened to "Don't Crush That Dwarf" in the car on the way to our high school graduation."
I went on to explain how as a beer vendor for the Chicago Clubs, I would unleash Firesign-isms at unsuspecting customers.
Me (yelling out my pitch to fans): "Groat Cakes! Get Your Groat cakes!"
Fan: "Gimme two beers."
Me: "Sorry, only one per family."
And on and on.
Peter was genuinely pleased that he and his cohorts had such a large impact on the next generation. He told me there were plans to make a movie out of "Dwarf", but I guess that hasn't materialized.
I doubt very much that Peter remembers this, but I guess you never know. Without the Firesign Theatre, there would never have been no Simpsons. For that alone, they all deserve to be knighted by Ralph Spoilsport under the old oak tree at the dark of night. Or Something like that.
On and on,
I'm responding to your letter in the latest issue of Discoveries, having been a fan of the Firesign since 1968. I relish the printing of a magazine dedicated to Firesign.
(WRITTEN ON THE BACK OF A PHONE BILL ENVELOPE)
This is probably some sort of rip-off that isn't sanctioned by any member of the Firesign Theatre, living or dead. But what the hell. When ya gotta clone, ya gotta clone! Send me one of them there subscription deals
HOW'D YOU FIND OUT?
Juzt rezeived the info on "Firezine". Zoundz great! Pleaz zend my coez AZAP. Herez my check for Z 10.00. I'd write more but I juzt realized I'm running zhort on zeez and have to go catch a few. (gezundeit) Keep 'em flying Fred.
WAZ ZAT ALL ABOUTZ? GEEZ!
Please lock me up as a subscriber for "Firezine"; it's cheap enough and Grid knows I could use a laugh sometimes... My representation of a promise to pay you 10 dollars should be in here somewhere.
I hope that you have some fun with this, if not success - Slowly Aging Young People need some reminders that there was a point to growing up.
THERE WAS A POINT ALRIGHT AND ITS PEAKING OUT OF MY NOT SO SLOWLY BALDING HEAD.
Yikes! I began listening to Firesign back in the early 70's and if they've taught me anything, it's to cast a cynical eye toward all. For that reason I cast me eye away from Firesign for many years. It seemed that everything I knew was wrong. Firesign, once brilliant, social-political commentators, seemed to transform into a shell of their former selves, churning out pointless puns and oh-so wacky sexual innuendo. In other words...where there once was insight and edge, there now was "Product". Fortunately, I've found that individually, some of the boys have managed to continue to produce interesting work. But now you scare me. There's an "Official" Firezine? Sheeesh! So much for critical reviews of their output. Worse yet, your plea that we "show how much we care... by purchasing the products offered in the magazine" sounds an awful lot like the whole thing might be naught but a marketing tool... particularly when one considers that your short flyer uses the word "product" used no less then 7 times! Are the guys this desperate? Say it ain't so, Joe. Why not just call the thing The Wholesale Ventures Of Fire$ign Theatre's Mark Ettingham? Oh well.. call me a Bozo, but I'm tossing my $10 at 'ya just the same. Let's call it "Tough Love"... Please Make Me Eat These Words!
I HOPE YOUR FEARS ARE JUST A "PRODUCT" OF YOUR OWN IMAGINATION. AS MY FATHER USED TO TELL ME "YOU CAN'T EAT ART." I DON'T THINK THE FIRESIGN IS NEARLY AS DESPERATE AS I AM. I DON'T WANT YOU TO EAT YOUR WORDS BECAUSE THERE'S POISON IN THE INK.
Hell yeah! Here's 10 bucks. Do me.
BEND OVER, DO YOU WANT REGULAR OR PREMIUM?
Thank goodness "Firezine" is only $10 as that's as high as Louis can count. So count me in. Love those 4 or 5 Krazy Guys.
Joan Schwartz (no, I'm not Jewish, but I play one in my marriage)
NEITHER AM I BUT I PLAY ONE FOR BREAKFAST AT THE BAGEL DOME.
Fred & Chris,
Take Sominex tonight and sleep forever under a thick blanket of English industrial smog! (Whaa?....) Thanks for the opportunity to renew my TFT connections! -CDs- we need the rest of TFT's catalog on CD (Hello Legacy? More Sugar?)
SEND SOME ZZZZZZs TO DALE STIVER ABOVE.
Flip that chromium switch and start sending me the issues as quick as they hit. Here is a check in the amount that Mr. Austin spoke of in the e-mail (Is he a paid endorser?). Bless you for this important work. I look forward to wetting my pants (I'm going to anyway, so I may as well be laughing).
All the best,
WE THOUGHT ABOUT OFFERING AUTOGRAPHED DEPENDS FOR THE SLOWLY AGING YOUNG PEOPLE, BUT THE DOLE CAMPAIGN MIGHT SUE US FOR CONTRACT OF BREECHES.
I'm sending my money, I made it selling pencils as part of The President's New Full Deployment plan... call me a sucker or preferably mail the stuff to:
SEND ME SOME PENCILS, I MAY NEED THEM!
Dear Mr. Wiebel,
I received your brochure today, and I certainly want to be the first on my cell block to subscribe to your magazine about the Firesign Theatre. Given the riffraff who live around here I'd say I have a pretty good shot.
I have a question about the Phil Austin autographed premium (please, oh PLEASE, oh PLEASE let me be one of the sacred, first five hundred). What color are these autographed woodpeckers? Perhaps do they come in different colors? Black would certainly clash best with my own personal color scheme. Of course, this would necessitate autographing the thing with a light-colored pen, or crayon. Are these live woodpeckers, or stuffed (like an anchovy with last night's capers)? At any rate, I shall preserve a place of honor for it on the mantra, right next to the Clime Bottle.
Perhaps there might be more autographed items from the boys in the future? Dave Ossman could sign clocks, watches, or other Marktimepieces. Proctor and Bergman might sign bars of not necessarily soap. Hey, it's just an idea.
Nun the less, please enter my subscription to "Firezine". I am enclosing a handsome simufax copy of my personal rubber check in the amount of $10.00 for the first five issues. I'll certainly commit to more when you do. By the way, do I get credit with Ed and Dick towards that eleven million with this? Keep up this great work that you're doing. See you on the Funway!
Sincerely (or what passes for it),
PLEASE SEND YOUR NEW PRODUCT IDEAS TO PAUL KAZEE ABOVE FOR APPROVAL.
O.K., Count me in; here's my hard earned $10. Don't worry about the check, it is made of the finest imitation indiarubber, guaranteed to stretch without bouncing...
Don't you just HATE people that get carried away with their STUPID font collections?
YEAH, SO I WON'T USE THEM HERE!
"Hiya, Freds" - Ralph Spoilsport with a cold.
DOES THAT PASS THE SNIFF TEST?
Please sign me up for the new Firesign Fanzine. I can't get enough Firesign fiber in my diet. And I mean that most Sincerely,
EAT IT! EAT IT RAW!
I read in the newspaper recently about the good things you've been doing. Congratulations! Keep up the good work and best wishes for your continued success.
Very truly yours,
Donald F. Munson
DOES HE REALLY KNOW WHAT I'M DOING?
Sign us up as subscribers. What the hell else can we do with the money anyway? Newt G. wants it to elect Republicans and Bill C just wants it. You seem like a better choice. We're all Bozos here,
John & Linda Chambers
WHAT ABOUT BOB D., IS HE FORGOTTEN ALREADY?
You owe me money you rotten bastard, if I ever get my hands on you.....
WHOOPS, WELL THAT'S ENOUGH LETTERS FOR NOW. HOW 'BOUT SOME...
Got the message. Will share it on alt.slack and appropriate sections of SubSITE. Good luck on that project...
1st Stangian Orthodox MegaFisTemple
Got your e-mail about FIREZINE. You can bet your roots, toots, I want in on this action!
Will send off for a subscription tout suite.
Okay, you win. If you're willing to put my name at the top, then I'll give you the damn 10 bucks. But, my name is "Penn" not "Pen" not that it matters.
The Penn formally known as Pen
Was this sent via one of those bulk mail deals they're constantly sending Email about? Actually, I don't care. I'll bite. My check will be in the mail shortly.
I'm firing off a check right now. Thank goodness I checked my e-mail one last time before jumping off the ledge. Now I have a reason to live. I'm also going to get a subscription for my Firesign-listening friend from junior high school. He's depressed, too. Many thanks. I will spring out of bed (or is it press?) each morning with eager anticipation of the signed letter and the first issue. Am I a sucker or what?
OK, you fooled me. For Phil, anything. Except, of course... The check's in the mail!
I'd love to subscribe to your damn magazine, but I can't figure out how to decode it. Am I missing the special decoder ring from a box of crackerjacks?
yours, from Cyberia,
Ok, I just got back from the Toronto Film Fest, Phil/Fred, and a paid story conference with a nice film producer in the slimy town of Atlantic City. I admit I promised previously to cough up ten ridiculous dollars, and now, you have twisted my arm and warped my sensibilities and I swear, it is in the mail, as of tomorrow. I tell you Fril, this is going to be the best deal since the invention of the free lunch, which, of course, was discontinued by the Republican Congress.
If you could divide the Firesign Theatre up into its elements (but you can't), Phil would be the cute one... no, wrong group. Well, Phil Proctor would be the thespian, Phil Austin the musician, David Ossman the author, and Peter Bergman the conscience. As he said on TV or Not TV - "Yes, Fred, we take drugs seriously at our house." That's Pete - seriously funny.
I wouldn't be working in the audio and radio field today were it not for The Firesign Theatre and I'll never forgive them for it! Their early, funny stuff had a marked impact on this once impressionable mind, but the scars have healed. They created a monster (The Frankenstein Theatre) that has ravaged, pillaged and plundered the minds of America's Youth. May Grid have mercy on their souls!
John Randolph is a famous Oscar-winning character actor (he played Nicholson's father in "Prizi's Honor"), who was Phil Proctor's first producer when PP performed off-Broadway in "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" (1962). Randolph is a dear friend and GODFATHER of Phil's daughter Kristin. When "Electrician" came out, Phil gave Randolph an album and endorsed it in Russian and signed it "Phil." A year or two later this album wound up in a sidewalk vendor's $ 1.00 bin on the streets of Manhattan. A strange and wonderful high school senior, artist and, now, physician used to go through the junk in these bins and he found this album which he bought because of the writing in magic marker on the back. That fall (1970) Lee brought the album he found to college (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) to share with the other freshman, among whom was I, 17. Lee put on that album during an extracurricular horticultural activity (I was auditing, of cough). It was probably following "How to Speak Hip" or one of his Harry Lauder 78s or his OK Laughing Record. Sounded like a comedy album until the railroad came through...right now...and time froze for those of us in the room. Lee was watching and smiling, knowingly. That smile's been frozen on my farce for the past 26 years. It's the smile of a succession of Firesign albums. If my frozen friends could hear me know, they'd know I had gotten on that bus and regrooved for one of my greatest thrills: appearing "opposite" (across the bars) from Nick's Dangler in Down Udder Danger. And Austin is right: together the four of them are a genius. The Russian dedication? Here's the Poop's explanation: "He (Randolph) has been very active in the US/USSR peace and friendship movement, having been BLACKLISTED himself - and that's why I dedicated the album to him. "What it says is, 'LONG LIVE THE REVOLUTION!!' (or at least 33 and 1/3 of them.)"
Spiro Agnew = GROW A PENIS.
To whom it may concern: To whom indeed. Thank you for the first Firezine, I am greatly indebted to your debt. Having been a Theatre fan for years, I am gratified that the song still remains the same. Although I lost my intelligence some time ago, I feel the need to continue the correspondence. Saw the Great Internet Broadcast in the City... exceptional......Can't wait for more,,,,,,Good luck with the Firezine...my subscription is forthcoming......More Sugar......Greetings from
KB and me........Rich G.
Dear Clem Clones,
Without a doubt I'll definitely be needing two subscriptions (even if it's only one tub per family!). I need two so I can sign my brother up also as he lives in LA LA land. If I know him he might already be there sending his cash. We are definitely FIRESIGN FANATICS!! Ever since the dawn of time, we've be into it deeply. After seeing the troupe in Amherst, MA (the first time I've ever seen them) I even had to go out to LA and see the show again. Thank God I got autographs both times on the same picture.
Anyhow, I'll be sending the cash, address and everything in the snail mail. I hope this qualifies me and my brother for the 500 autographed copies. If it doesn't that's ok, I just want the FIREZINE. Keep up the quest for fire!! As the lady said, " I said live it or live with it!."
See you on the funway, in the future.