CURIO ARIZONA: The reputed disappearance into the desert near here of a largely successful American comedy troupe which has recently taken to styling itself A Group No Longer Calling Itself The Firesign Theatre, is causing waves in the local press, and on talk radio and the Internet as well, especially following on the heels of the mass suicide of the Flying Saucer Cult in Rancho Muerto, California recently. The persons involved are believed to number among them at least some of the original members of what has until recently been called The Firesign Theatre, a thirty year-old recording and performance group of odd (they prefer the word "interesting") comedians, writers and actors who together have put out over two hundred record albums, several films and countless radio broadcasts. Their exact number is unknown, although literature on their website and communications from them in recent years puts the figure as high as 5,000 and as low as four white males.
Mysteries abound on the Internet and a persistent rumor says that the Four or Five Crazee Guys! as they are known in Japan, have sent email to followers in Hokkaido bluntly telling them that they will henceforth be known as A Group No Longer Calling Itself The Four Or Five Crazee Guys.
"We are confused, but thankful," said Hilario Yoshida, the self-styled leader of the band of Far-Eastern faithful. "We are sure it is them and they are changing the names on things for reasons that we are sure are probably profound," he said valiantly. He said he is trying to think of a new name for himself, but says he has already purchased airline tickets to Arizona under his old one.
Mrs. Judy Ossman, 28, wife of Dick Ossman, a longtime member of the group, said by telephone from Whigby Island, Canada that, contrary to these rumors, her husband was sitting right in front of her, watching TV and playing with their fifteen or sixteen children. She declined to have him speak to this reporter, although a childishly gruff voice was heard to say "Get rid of Cox, Mom." Mrs. Ossman denied that it was the voice of her oldest child, Pressman, although to this reporter it sounded just like him. She said that Mr. Ossman often calls her Mom, for reasons she said were entirely private and personal.
It seems doubtful to this reporter and to many of their followers that the group is going to attempt either a mass suicide or a rendezvous with a space ship. One would be hard put to imagine a really funny mass suicide and the Firesign Theatre (I can't bring myself to use the new name) has always put great store in trying to be funny. Space ships, we understand, are overcrowded lately anyway and have had to throw people overboard, as they try to scratch and claw their way on board. The spaceships have to leave to follow the Comet Hale-Bopp, which is receding from us at great speeds, as we are told by Professor Gary T. Sikher out at College of the Desert. Sikher lived with the group under cover in the middle seventies and has written a book about them (Fiery Lunacy, College of the Desert Press, 1981).
"The spaceships are worried that Hale-Bopp will just melt away," said Sikher in his office at the College last week. "They have to get going. They can't wait around for every lunatic with a plastic bag and a prescription for Mexican phenobarbital. I'd say The No Longer Calling Themselves The Firesign Theatre is out in the desert looking for the eggs of the aliens." He also reports that the group's website (www.firesigntheatre.com) seems taken up with the talk about the so-called Little Guy, a mythical figure of the Hi/Lo Desert Area. ("Smooth all over, like a baby, wearin' women's shoes, climbed up out of a well, sounds like a real nice guy, they took him to the Swiss Picnic and he choked to death on a piece of cheese," as editor Lem Ashauler recalled, citing newspaper reports of the last century.)
LOCAL BITS AND PIECES: Since the comet of '74 hit near here, on the Arizona side, area business has been slow to rebound. But the addition of a large national concern to the local business scene is raising hopes all over the Hi/Lo Desert Area of California, Arizona and Nevada that much-needed jobs are about to be added to the local economy, such as it is. A huge mega-giant corporation called USPlus has located its international headquarters in Heater, California - just across the Chile Colorado River from Curio, Arizona. They've created quite a stir here and everyone says the employees from out of town are real nice. There has been a lot of talk about local hiring and many people are hoping that the promised jobs will open up soon. Bo, the company president, has been seen on the links with his friend Yo, a vice president and everyone says that they were surprised to find that they are "just like real people, except they only have one name," says Bud Er, owner of Channel Six (The Hot One!), Heater's local network affiliate station. In an article about USPlus last year, The Wall Street Journal outlined many of the interesting and even odd management concepts used by the massive corporation. Making its employees take only one name reportedly saves USPlus millions of dollars and promotes worker solidarity as well.
"After awhile, you don't really notice how white they are and I think the purple robes are kind of neat. And those big black Nikes are good for golf, it turns out, " said Er. "They kicked the shit out of me and Sheriff (Luger) Axehandle in eighteen holes, but they didn't offer us a job either. They are always smiling and looking up and that's a great way to be," he avowed.
UNCONSCIOUS VILLAGE - CULT OR MATTRESS STORE: Everyone's asking the question, but no one knows the answer. ("Lord") Eddie Beaverbrook, the owner of the sleepware chain, was in town last week, but declined to admit that he even knew what anyone was talking about. At the Main Street store in Heater, he fielded questions from this reporter with disdain. "What the fuck are you talking about?" he asked. "You fuckin' New Age Loonies are driving me crazy!" He declined to state for the record if he had been driven so looney that he would seek help at the famous Split Elms Mental Spa over in Sedona, Arizona. "Leave me and my family alone!" he stated.
Seen at the Everything You Know Is Wrong Expo at the Hollywood Fairgrounds over the weekend: (Hollywood is a small outlaying farming community just north of Heater, on the California side of the river): Bud and Mrs. Er, Dr. Happy "Harry" Cox, Sheriff and Mrs. Luger Axehandle, the editor of the Heater-Democrat, Lem Ashauler, The Krumhungers, The Strawcoffees, Oona Austin (whose hair is blonder than ever), Pat Hat, just in from Vegas, Art Holeflaffer, the man in charge.
There will be a meeting of The Funny Names Clubs Of America, local 217, at the Grange Hall over near The Hole on Friday. Pot luck supper (you'll be lucky if anyone's got any pot! Ha, Ha!) Discussion by the Rev. Dr. Me, of the Church of Me out in Bluing, Ariz. titled We're Not A Damn Cult!
JUST A THOUGHT (and it's not from Planet Proctor): If we're immortal, you'd think we'd know it!
OUTDOOR DOINGS: Forest Ranger Elmo Chorzwanger, who mans the entrance station at The Hole National Monument over on the Arizona side says that tourists lately have reported noises coming from down inside The Hole itself.
"They're imagining things," he said. "Most of them are French and those people have vivid imaginations. Some guy told me the other day that "Rocket" Reebus Khanibus was going to come out of The Hole and lead them onto a spaceship that would take them to my anus. I laughed like hell at that, because being a stupid Frenchman, the guy didn't know how to say Uranus," he chuckled.