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‘The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be’: Crispin Glover’s concept album, 1989
06:39 am


Crispin Glover

In 1989—not so long after he starred in River’s Edge, tried to kick David Letterman in the face and published his first book Rat Catching—Crispin Glover released an album. More than a mere new wave or spoken word record, The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be presented itself as a riddle. On the back cover, above a collage of nine items including photos of Hitler, Charles Manson, unidentified clowns, and Glover as Jesus crucified, these lines of text dared listeners to reach out and touch someone:

“All words and lyrics point toward THE BIG PROBLEM. The solution lay within the title: LET IT BE. Crispin Hellion Glover wants to know what you think these nine things all have in common. Call (213) 464-5053.”

(It was rumored that Glover sometimes picked up, but every time I dialed this number I got the answering machine of his press, Volcanic Eruptions.)

Recorded with Barnes & Barnes of “Fish Heads” fame, the album included readings from Glover’s books Rat Catching and Oak Mot; indelible interpretations of “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze,” Lee Hazlewood’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and Charles Manson’s “I’ll Never Say Never to Always”; and originals that ranged from a ballad about hygiene (“The New Clean Song”) to a rap about masturbation (“Auto-Manipulator”). Promotion (*cough*) seems to have been limited to a video for “Clowny Clown Clown,” whose lyrics referred obliquely to Glover’s character, Rubin Farr, in the excellent cult comedy Rubin and Ed. At the time, the reference was all the more oblique because the straight-to-video movie did not come out until 1991, two years after the release of The Big Problem. In the video, Glover appears dressed as “Mr. Farr” at the appropriate moment in the song.

The entire album is now up at UbuWeb. Wikipedia and UbuWeb both report that the phone number printed on the sleeve has been disconnected. However, they fail to mention that Glover’s—or that of Volcanic Eruptions—current number, (310) 391-4154 is posted on his website. Why don’t you give him a call? The nine items on the back cover of The Big Problem are:

I. The killing and maiming of defenseless animals?
II. Cleanliness?
III. Indignant, righteous, self manipulation, with discrimination against others?
IV. Clowns?
V. Getting out of bed?
VI. Boots?
VII. The daring young man on the flying trapeze, who might just as easily be called a gloating woman seducer?
VIII. Charles Manson never saying “Never” to always?
IX. Oak Mot?
  A. Adry Long circa 1868?
  B. Adolf Hitler circa 1932?
  C. Adry/Hitler in the minds of history forevermore?

What do these things have in common? If you find out, let us know.

The video for “Clowny Clown Clown”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Video rentals of the Famous: Crispin Glover’s Blockbuster receipt, late 80s
07:54 am

Pop Culture

Crispin Glover

Around the time that Crispin Glover was making his infamous late night TV appearances and David Lynch fans were in Hollywood Blvd. theaters watching him stuff cockroaches down his own underwear as demented “Cousin Dell” in Wild At Heart, Crispin could be found literally down the street picking up his home video rentals for the week. Glover was an occasional customer at the Blockbuster video store on Sunset Blvd near Fairfax Avenue in the late 80s/early 90’s. The one that used to be near the KFC and the liquor store.

Glover exhibits incredibly good taste in films, his rentals include John Huston’s adaption of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Rebel Without A Cause and the classic expose on conformity The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit.

Posted by Moulty | Leave a comment
The Beaver Trilogy: Young Sean Penn & Crispin Glover in drag in weirdo 80s cult film(s)

Maverick Salt Lake City-based indie filmmaker Trent Harris (who made the quirky cult favorite Reuben & Ed with Crispin Glover and Howard Hesseman) was working as a cameraman at a local TV station in 1979 when he met Richard LaVon Griffiths, AKA “Groovin’ Gary” (Griffiths’ CB radio handle). Harris was in the parking lot testing out a new video camera that the station had just bought and “Groovin’ Gary” was taking pictures of the station’s news helicopter. Their meeting, caught on videotape, would prove to be a fateful encounter for both men.

As he is initially revealed in the film, “Groovin’ Gary” seems to be a Jeff Spicoli-esque, late 70s stoner-type. He’s even got blond “feathered” hair. Gary is a bit of a ham-bone and describes himself as Beaver, Utah’s answer to Rich Little. He (somewhat inexplicably) seems to see his impromptu time on camera as an unexpected showbiz “break.” After doing some terrible impressions of John Wayne and other celebrities, he takes Harris over to his car and shows him his AM/FM stereo 8-track tape player—of which he’s very proud—and the engravings of Farrah Fawcett and Olivia Newton-John he’s had put on the windows. It’s banal, yet weirdly compelling.

“Groovin’ Gary” then invites Harris (via letter) to a talent show he’s producing at a high school in Beaver. A pageant that Gary himself will perform in. In drag. As his alter-ego “Olivia Newton-Dong.” He suggests in a letter that Harris might want to get to the local mortuary (?) at 8A.M. to shoot his hair and make-uo session.

During the make-up application (done by the mortician), he discusses his profound love of Olivia Newton-John. Even in full drag, he somehow does not come across as gay, more like someone who thought that they were about to do something just totally hilarious.

We see the talent show itself, with some truly soggy “talents” on display. Then “Olivia” is onstage and it’s weird, ending with a strange-looking masked man picking up Gary and carrying him offstage. To say that it’s a riveting performance is an understatement. Keep in mind as you watch this, that he orchestrated the entire talent show just so he could do this!

Afterwards “Groovin’ Gary’ happily recaps the event with Harris in his car. Harris drives off. Then the film cuts back to Gary, out of drag, doing a shitty Barry Manilow impression from earlier in the talent show. That’s how it ends.

The video below is out of sync, but it didn’t bother me that much.

Two years later, in 1981, Trent Harris directed a “dramatic” remake of the first video with a young Sean Penn playing the goofy kid from Beaver, Utah. There is an ending now, in the scripted version—based on what really happened or not, I have no idea—of “Groovin Gary” coming to the suicidal realization that perhaps his drag performance getting on TV would not be the best thing for his life in a small Mormon town and he tries to talk the Harris character out of showing it. The second film was made, apparently, for $100, and often recreated the scenes from the original video (Harris does not play himself here).

It’s not like this is the greatest thing you’ll ever see, but it is fascinating to see a pre-fame Sean Penn performing in drag (the short was made the same year Penn appeared in Taps). It seems clear that Penn picked up some tricks for his actor’s repertoire here that went right into his infamous character from Fast Times at Ridgemont High the following year. In many ways, this short was just a dry run for “Jeff Spicoli” and the next film in The Beaver Trilogy starring Crispin Glover.

After the jump, the final installment of The Beaver Trilogy starring Crispin Glover…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When Crispin Glover met William Burroughs
01:30 pm


William Burroughs
Crispin Glover

In a scene from Twister, a 1989 cult comedy film starring Crispin Glover, writer William S. Burroughs appears in a cameo role as the weird old guy shooting guns, a part that must have been written specifically for him…

If you want to watch the entire film online, you may do so here.

Thank you, Jescie!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment