STANLEY KUBRICK WANTED A TASTE OF TERRY SOUTHERN’S LAMB-PIT
I love fucking Terry Southern. That came out wrong. I never fucked the writer, at least not proper fucked. But I have been fucking him intellectually, off and on, for a few decades now. By that I mean I’ve read his literary work: Flash and Filigree, Candy, The Magic Christian, and Blue Movie, on several occasions, going deeper each time. But no matter how deep I go, Southern’s satiric send-ups, lyrical lines, crazy characters, and demented dialogue always leave me hard. I never fully come to a satisfying climax. I’m always left with the feeling that I could go deeper. That I could explore more of the birth canal that is Terry Southern’s sardonic vision of America.
So, just the other day, after eating a few dozen oysters and taking some Ritalin, I read Lee Hill’s biography of that writer I love fucking so much called A Grand Guy. I mean that writer I fucking love so much. And, sure enough, it acted as the satisfying climax to the intellectual stimulation Southern’s writing induces. It’s the kind of stimulation that makes you hard for days, novel after novel, the kind that only a grand guy like Southern has the ability to induce.
He induces it through the TV quiz-show called What’s my Disease? In Flash and Filigree where a panel of semi-celebrities ask questions of a diseased contestant until they discover the undisclosed ailment and reveal it to an audience that then lets out “a great audible gasp of astonished horror,” before “bursting into applause.” He induces it through the beautiful and innocent title character in Candy when a hunchback buries his hump between her “legs as she hunched wildly, pulling open her little labias in an absurd effort to get it in her,” because, as she tells herself, “it means so much to him.” He induces it through the Dog Show scene in The Magic Christian where Guy Grand, the eccentric millionaire Southern wished he was but wasn’t because of the IRS, buys the three largest kennel clubs on the eastern seaboard so he can introduce in disguise a dog named Claw, not Claude, that wasn’t “a dog at all, but some kind of terrible black panther or dyed jaguar… so that before the day was out, he had not only brought chaos in to the formal proceedings, but had actually destroyed about half the ‘Best of Breed.’”
Even though Southern was indebted to the IRS for most of his life and, as a result, never got to pull off the pranks of The Magic Christian’s Guy Grand, who spends millions a year indulging in his hobby of making it ‘hot’ for the entire world, Southern did manage to make it hot for himself: his satisfying climactic biography, A Grand Guy, reads like some kind of biblical story of a literary action hero who jumps through decades and influences generations. Altering his mind with the likes of William Burroughs, he was one of the most head-bobbin’ Beats in Greenwich Village. As one of the original contributors to The Paris Review, both his writing and his crabs were alive and well in that postwar Paris literary scene of the 1950s. While at the center of London’s Swinging 60s, he hit the road with The Rolling Stones and, according to Tom Wolfe, invented what is now called New Journalism. Although Denis Hopper was too hopped-up to remember, Southern wrote the majority of Easy Rider and was responsible for the quality that came to be expected from American films in the 70s. Then, in the 80s, he wrote for Saturday Night Live when both the laughs and cocaine were still pure and powerful. Finally, just before his death at the beginning of the 90s, he lectured at several esteemed universities where I imagine he spread the last of his seeds like a fiend.