Shatner's Rocket Man
I taped Shatner in concert last night on TVLand. You know, the one with Joe Jackson and Ben Folds. During the early part of the show, they were revisiting the multifarious and multidimensional masks of Shatner in his mythical Joseph Cambell-esque personae. The most shocking and astonishing footage was from the 1978 Science Fiction convention, which was broadcast here in So Cal on KTLA channel 5 live that night. I, of course, sent up this in Forkush and Ward and our comedy routines in the late eighties. But to see it again, and then to Google it and watch it in it's entirety, is even more frightening, hilarious and grotesque then I remember it as a mere 16 year old. Clearly it burned like a brand into my subconcious mind but my memory of it did not do justice to what I actually saw today. I watched it without sound, non intentionally but that's just the way it is at work sans audio, and was awestruck by Bill's hyperdystopia, his incomprehensible absurdity that Kafka, Beckett and Ionesco themselves would have pined for in their productions. This classical post-modern disaster/triumph before post-modernism was almost Cubist, Futurist. A Las Vegas Victory of Samothrace.
I was flabbergasted! Does anyone really understand the timelessness of this mans expression? His Tweedle Dee duet with Nimoy on "Plato's Stephchildren" still floors me, but Rocket Man stands alone. I feel honored to have recorded Rocket Baby with Jack Vees for his CD, maybe a small paean to this untouchable artistic stench. And I say that with great honor. It should be mandatory viewing for all semiotics classes and anything having to do with Baudrillard, Focault and Barthes. I dare anyone to erase the memory of this most radical of acts onstage. Maybe Jarry modeled Ubu on a premonition of the future existence of this former Hasidic sage of Canada.