September 5th, 2003

james garner

The Grand Guy, the CANDY Man, THE LOVED ONE

Terry Southern is on the cover of The Beatles' SGT. PEPPER album -- he's the guy in the shades, in the vortex between Edgar Allan Poe and Lenny Bruce.

He wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for DR. STRANGELOVE, CANDY, THE LOVED ONE, THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN, and even the '70's adult film RANDY THE ELECTRIC LADY.

After his death, Steven Soderburgh coughed up the dough to have all his papers archived and organized, and may likely adapt one of his many short stories.

There is a webpage devoted to him that can better explain his significance to comedy and literature.

I've been wanting to post this for a while, and finally rememembered, because in the latest issue of CULT MOVIES magazine (#38), there is a great essay by one of his former students during his tenure at Columbia University in the '90's, before his death. I just want to post some of the incredible tales he tells.

*Once, the whole class collaborated on a group screenplay now lost, each writing five pages. Prof. Southern contributes five pages that have no connection to the story, but begin with this exchange:
"How's your ultra-fab clit hanging?" one lesbian asks another.
"Hanging?" the other lesbian replies. "How's it hanging? Glimmering in the sun, maybe. Shimmering, yes, granted. I'll give you that. But hanging, never."

*Grading a student's script, where a transvestite prostitute asks an aroused client, "Want to smell my tasty feet?" he scratches out the line and replaces it with the even more mellifluous-sounding, "Want to shit on top of my head?"

*Mistaking the reticent behavior of a student for drug addiction, he sends a postcard to another student who is in hospital. The postcard depicts an anthropomorphized hypodermic needle -- with legs and a happy face -- being chased by two cherubic children. On the reverse of the card, Southern tersely writes: GET ZIGMAN (the student) OFF HEROIN!

Southern with William Burroughs

Enough. Do a google search and learn about the man who gave us: "You can't fight in here! This is the war room!"