The last detail about The Last Detail, the 1973 movie by Hal Ashby that starred Jack Nicholson, Otis Young, and Randy Quaid, and featured an otherworldly cameo role by Caro Kane as a young, magnificently-maned prostitute with deep shadows around her eyes, is that the book that served as the basis for the movie is called The Last Detail because the lead character “Bad-Ass” Buddusky, played by Jack Nicholson, dies at the end of the detail of escorting a young military prisoner, played by Quaid, to the brig. In the movie, which was written by Hollywood’s archetypal 70s-80s screenwriter Robert Towne, the lead character lives on by walking out with the suffering partner play well by one movie-hit wonder Otis Young. What’s Last about a detail in which all the characters go on as they were, except for incarceration for one of them? The answer is that Americans don’t want death, not to any of their own, and will rather suffer any inconsistency than accept death’s logic of amoral finitude.
That’s what living in the FTW epoch offers in the way of culture and art: amiable, high-tech representations of 50 year-old forgotten classics. FTW, of course, refers in the demimonde to “Fuck the World,” an easy, vacuous expression of full antipathy to all of life, though the letters could stand for the more progressive “Free the World,” if there is such a thing as progressivism any more, and it should stand, in macro-futilist terms, for “Fight the World,” because that’s what we will do, every day, upon waking, and in every macro sense, since all corners and facets and structures of our global institutions are gangrenous with the rot of a collective human drive towards extraction and production of cheap energy.
This is our supersystem, profit-based, murderous and casually destructive of any restraints upon large-scale predations upon other living things or resources. Secular humanism is fine as a theory of social organization, but it cannot contend with the armaments of war and murder, it cannot supersede a tycoon’s monopoly on a public good, it cannot do away with the perquisites of political power held by demyelinated psychopaths. Why should we, the inheritors of an Information Age’s worth of well-written prose and expose, spend our days psychically dominated by the looming cross-cultural global victories of authoritarian loser class of religious nitwits, business criminals, hare-brained miseducated CEO morons, and other highly compensated poltroons?
In contrast to this suckers game of endlessly noting socio-political reality, the debased cheap tantalizations of pop music still can flicker long after their time of origin. What would life be without odes to sex and more sex? How could the traditional abstemious ascetic punishments of religion withstand the assaults of late sixties bubblegum music that produced a top #15 hit as forthright in triumphant youthful carnality (now officially banned in American culture once again) as singer Billy joe Royal’s version of “Cherry Hill Park”? Two studio session guys wrote a song that celebrated the multiple sexual exploits of a young girl in a park, which is not a theme you’re going to hear ever again in Top 40, let alone outside of a sex offender therapy group.
Mary Hill used to hang out in Cherry Hill Park The game she played lasted all day till way after dark All the girls they criticized her But all the guys just idolized her 'Cause Mary Hill was such a thrill after dark In Cherry Hill Park Mary Hill used to love to ride on the merry-go-round All the guys got eager eyes watchin' Mary go round In the daytime Mary Hill was a teaser Come the night she was such a pleaser Oh, Mary Hill was such a thrill after dark In Cherry Hill Park
Wonder what “game” that was? Want to specify the “thrill” proffered by Mary Hill, and care to suggest what is the number of “all the guys”? And would you like to estimate her age as implied by her being sexually evaluated while going on the merry -go-round? The “teaser/pleaser” lyrical dyad gets the song right where it needs to go, but any contemplation of the lyrical pre-Me-Too-era taboo crushing must contend with the superb melody of this bubblegum noir, which is driving, horn-based, intensely sung, dramatically swelling.