shaken & stirred

welcome to my martini glass

11.12.2004

don't blame the south

In today's WaPo, Peter Carlson examines how Terry Southern pioneered the concept of corporate torture reality shows in his novels.

As fans of what Southern used to call the "quality lit game" will no doubt recall, Southern was into sadistic billionaires tormenting money-grubbing weasels back when prime-time TV billionaires Donald Trump and Richard Branson were still schoolboys.

Back in the '50s and '60s, Southern was famous, the author of "Candy," a comic porn novel, as well as the screenplays of such classic movies as "Easy Rider," "The Loved One" and, best of all, the brilliantly demented Cold War comedy "Dr. Strangelove." Southern had a dark, sardonic wit and he traveled in the hippest of circles, hanging out with the Rolling Stones, Allen Ginsberg and Lenny Bruce. He was so cool the Beatles put his face on the cover of their "Sgt. Pepper" album.

In 1960, Southern published a novel called "The Magic Christian," the comic tale of Guy Grand, a billionaire who amuses himself by staging elaborate pranks that cause people to reveal how much they're willing to degrade themselves for money.

In the book's most famous scene, Grand buys a building in downtown Chicago, demolishes it and builds a gigantic vat perched atop a huge gas heater. He fills the vat with 300 cubic feet of manure, urine and blood purchased from the Chicago stockyards. When this hellish cocktail is nice and hot, he stirs 10,000 $100 bills into it and puts up a sign that reads "FREE $ HERE."

And then. . . . well, people will do just about anything for money, won't they?


Southern's website is worth a look, with links to interviews and other press, plus a full life's worth of blurbs.

We'll be dedicating our next game of Book Lover's Trivial Pursuit, in which very little money-grubbing is done, to the memory of Mr. Southern.

2 Comments:

  • At 2:15 PM , Blogger CAAF said...

    Ooh, I'd never heard of that Trivial Pursuits edition before. Do you recommend?

     
  • At 2:25 PM , Blogger gwenda said...

    Completely addictive! I'm planning a review post with sample questions. It just came out.

     

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