Monday, March 31, 2008

An (In)famous Icon

He’s a tall, angular figure, and with his mop-topped head hunched forward, his arms bent sharply at the elbows and his hands bobbing and swimming awkwardly in front of his waist, he looks like a man rifling through a filing cabinet while waiting desperately to use the toilet. There is nothing smooth, rhythmic or graceful about his dancing. It seems to exist in its own world, completely divorced from the music inspiring it. --David Peisner, Blender

This month’s issue of Blender*, as it turns out, has a feature on St. Louis’s very own Beatle Bob. The reason? The slated-for-2008-release on a documentary film about the man.

I had no idea.

In the teaser (above), everyone one of the interviewees when describing Bob describe him as though they would a retarded son or disabled brother, with the adoration only one would have for someone severely damaged; save for Jello Biafara, who almost seems to envy his way of life. (How very punk of him.) It’s as though these people only like him because they pity him; well, that, and the myth that with his appearance comes fame.

I was just surprised to see that he had such national acclaim.

I am disappointed that the teaser didn’t touch much of the subject matter of the film; which, while it is largely about Bob’s super-fandom, it’s also the shrouded enigma that is the person himself. Who he is, what he does, where he lives. It all seems to be a long strand of lies; and while most speculate it’s due to some sort of psychological disorder, no one knows for sure.

It’s bizarre to me that someone so phony can get by based on ... charm? pity? ... alone; little to no questions asked; or even with questions asked and faux-answers given, and yet still be so highly regarded by so many.

The feature in Blender shed far more light, basically making him out to be a bold-faced, though somehow excusable, pathological liar and thief. Even Lisa (Andris, the former manager of the Hi-Pointe), gets in on the action in defending his shenanigans; something I recall her doing even back in the days of the Beatle Bob v. Baton Bob Non Prophet sketch.

I just don’t get it. He’s an annoying jerk who hinders the music experience for anyone nearby at a show; I remember the first time I saw him, Superdrag in 2000 at the Galaxy, I was amused. The first time I really got annoyed and even angry with him, though, was when I saw the Decemberists in the Duck Room back in 2006. It was an art-nerrrd show and a lot of the younger, super-fans of the group were sitting on the floor in front of the stage as the band began to play (they opened with "Shanty for the Artethusia," if memory serves correctly); less than half the song in, guess who apparates down in stage center, doing his voodoo/card-shuffle jig. It was distracting, and not at all in the spirit of the performance; which, if you know the Decemberists, you know is more cerebral and theatrical than anything.

Even now I feel like I’m giving him more credit by just discussing, thinking, or even reading about him. I guess that’s just it; he’s an intriguing figure, love him or hate him. But I definitely know that I find myself wanting to see this movie now.

*This guy’s blog puts it perfectly in describing what Blender is ... it is total pap, but just sort of randomly started showing up in Brian’s mailbox one day somehow; and how can you cancel a subscription you never subscribed to?

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