Country of final manufacture:
Excerpt from book:
We lied to the casting agent to get the job: band members in the film Radioland Murders. John was a master of the stand-up bass. Mike played the trombone. At five in the morning we exited the house, got in a shitbrown 1982 Cadillac, and drove to the studio. George Lucas had arrived to direct the end of the film, and there was a "buzz" on the set. Grips and electrics chowed breakfast burritos and bacon and eggs off the catering truck.
We got in line, moving with incredible patience, just a hand's reach away from victory, from the steaming vats of hash browns, biscuits, omelets...and then it crumbled. A production assistant had spotted the advance, kindly removing us from the procession and directing us toward the extras' tent. Ah, it was only a matter of time before we would once again gaze upon our bright-eyed colleagues. A potpourri of senior citizens, idiots savants, hopeless aspiring actors, and genetic mutants, puncturing and drop-kicking each other over a table of glazed doughnuts and water. All dressed in 1930's period attire.
Opening the flaps of that tent was a moment that cannot be explained. Suffice it to say that there come those points in life when you get a dose of perspective, look around, and ask yourself the big question: How did I end up dressed in tum-of-the-century formal wear in a tent in North Carolina, baked out of my mind, and about to be exposed as a bogus big band musician?
It was on that day, in the parking lot of Carolco Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina, at five-thirty in the morning, that we hit rock bottom. But it was also on that day, in the midst of the existential ennui, that we resolved, once and for all, to conjure the idea that would spring us, forever, from the impoverished, Kraft-macaroni-and-cheese lifestyle of doom.
The concepts were remarkably crisp, considering the circumstance. Plans for a roving troupe of bingo operators, foraying amongst the extra tents and hosting games for the bedraggled masses. A long-needed innovation designed to alleviate the stress of watching other guests eye your previously claimed cheeseburger at summer cookouts--Burger Flag, small, golf-course-looking toothpick flags with all the major names printed upon them, simple and ready to stick in your burger once you throw it on. Imagine, your burger, grilling away nicely with a little BILL or JENNY flag in it. Go ahead, have a game of softball, taunt young infants, sneak into the woods and masturbate. Your burger is safe.
And there was one other idea: an extremely high concept for a book that no one would publish. A book for all our friends and roommates--the couch-ridden and irreparably baked. A book that reviewed movies in terms of their quality when seen high.
The bingo troupe wore off after we stopped smoking bowls. Burger Flag still seems to make sense somehow. But the Baked Potatoes thing had potential. We typed up a proposal, sent it to an editor we knew at Doubleday, and waited for the reply. A year ago, we had assembled a collection of short stories with him, and this new idea really upped our stock as literary hopefuls.
They liked it, but were tentative. Was it legal? Wasn't the whole country into this "say no to drugs" thing? How are the "couch-ridden and irreparably baked" going to get up and buy the book? This last one was an especially good question. "Couch-ridden" is not the market you are going for when writing your book proposal. Shit. They wanted evidence that there was broad support for the cannabinoid cause. Cheech and CFrom undeniable Classics to mind-grating Bad Seeds. From elusive Unsung Heroes to risky Risky Calls. Complete with an easy-to-use five-pot-leaf rating system, incisive self-indulgent babble, troubleshooting procedures for the Bad Seeds gone berserk, and much much more, Baked Potatoes arrives in a blaze of glory, rating and reviewing over 150 films and videos for the discerning high.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Blade Runner, Bambi, Repo Man, Superfly, Time Bandits, Highlander, 2001, Evil Dead II, Ganjasaurus Rex, Freaks, Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke, The Maltese Falcon, Ronald Reagan's 1984 State of the Union Address, Gates of Heaven, Story of Ricky, The Blizzard of Aahhhs, Meet the Feebles!
Why say "No" when you can just say "Fine, I have a problem" and be done with it? Why read fiction when you can read strange but easily digestible sound-bite reviews written by marijuana users? There is no reason.
Join us for a picnic on the fried cinematic playground.
John Hulme and Michael Wexler are the editors of Voices of the Exiled and creators of the nationally syndicated radio drama Vanishing Point. Writers, filmmakers, and radio producers, they have been friends since high school.