I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus (1971)|
Review from Benway's House of Firesign
And so it begins. The teeth of truth seek to puncture my brain. The Firesign Theatre not only reveals reality, but invites you to discover it with them.
The first sounds you hear are natural sounds, animal sounds; their aural holiness soon to be replaced by holograms popping into being in an "unfair" where
horrible experiments are performed upon animals, and people are all clones, holograms or machines tended by precariously employed humans.
But the animals come before "biting through" throws the I Ching. A more animal-participant world, more animal-friendly. In the world Barney returns to, the
Bozos live peacefully with other animals and radiate consideration for their continued well being. Barney's "I've got to clone" sounds like the ocean saying "I need
I know it was inspired by the 1933 and 39 World's Fairs, but "Bozos" strongly evoked the 1964 World's Fair for me. La Brea man reminded me of the Traveller's
Insurance and Ford pavillion's cave men. The mechanical president reminded me of Lincoln in the Illinois pavillion and the GE pavillion's history of GE appliances
seemed a natural segue into "Hideo Knutt's Boltadrome." All that electricity. We can take on a couple of toasters or something, eh? But all the Disney stuff at the
NY World's Fair then went to Disneyland where the FT would have seen it. I visited Disneyland shortly after it opened in 1955 (and many times thereafter) as well
as half a dozen World's Fairs and their effect on me no doubt contributes to my enjoyment of "Bozos," at least peripherally. More important is the question they
ask: is the future fair to anybody? The only thing we can say for certain about the future is that it includes our death. We spend our lives as sentient creatures
seeking to retreat to a "lower" lifeform where knowledge of our death does not permeate our consciousness. Forget it, tape head. Revel in the now.
"Pluck the duck" wasn't the phrase I first heard. It does sound like Donald being dispensed with in a superior version of Disney's imagineering skills put to good
use. Walt's dead now (oops, we goofed) and the little sailor is weird with a beard - definite proof he doesn't work at Disneyland.
The bus can be seen as scientific progress, called "Further" perhaps, and we're all clowns on it. Cloned clowns. We think we know everything about the past, but
this is an illusion. Animals act in what are to us, weird ways, beyond our explanations. Worthwhile to investigate; hubristically idiotic to think there is such a thing
as "everything" we can totally know.
There's always new stuff to discover, in "Bozos" and the rest of their vast output. I got a whole new perspective on it from the liner notes accompanying the
"Bozos" CD. The fireboys too discover new things in their old works. The line in "Bozos" is "small, dying creatures" but many years later, a correspondence
between Proctor and John Scialli, M.D. in Falafal #22 introduced them to what Scialli had thought he heard: "diene" creatures. His textbooks explain: diene, a
suffix used in chemistry to denote an unsaturated hydrocarbon containing two double bonds. As a class of chemicals, dienes were those in the early primordial
stew which had to be formed in order for carbon-based life to develop.
Yep, everything THEY know is wrong, too.
One reason "Bozos" is my favourite is that it completes the story, started in "Electrician." The final chapter isn't a favourite because of itself, but because it
completes an entire tale and makes it greater than it would have been without that ending.
The firelad's 70s stage show 'Firesign World' featured Worker explaining why he'd been fired: for getting Dr. Memory to smoke dope; and his attempt to get his
job back. I preferred "Bozos" unexplained, but they had a tour vehicle with "Firesign World" they could promote 4 albums with, or more. Burroughs' cut-up and
endlessly reshuffled firedeck. Sometimes like fire.
Vancouver's summer fireworks echo outside as I write this. Just like the Bozos, just like summers in Kamagaya, Japan. How summer would resonate to that
sound. We couldn't see the fireworks from our home in Kamagaya just as in North Vancouver - just the sound. We know that the fireworks would soon end. It is
their nature to flash in front of us like splashed knowledge in our faces. And then it all goes away, dissipates into the darkness. Our future cannot be known, aside
from our inevitable exits. I take comfort in that.
The fireworks are over. The firemen did their job and would never do a better one. The work of the Firesign Theatre is still lighting the mind and illuminating
wonderous things. Mirrors within us suddenly awaken. A seagull calls...
Cat Simril Ishikawa