Santa Dog’s a Jesus Fetus: A Look Back at the Residents, Part II

By Ben Arzate

Read Part I Here

Dedicated to Hardy Fox 1945 – 2018

Despite the premature demise of their American Composers Series project and the death of their good friend and long-time collaborator Snakefinger, the Residents continued to work on new projects. In 1988, the Residents released what is, in my opinion, their best album, God in Three Persons.

While the spread of CDs as a format was a contributing factor in closing the American Composers Series, as it was planned with the format of vinyl records in mind, they embraced it with God in Three Persons to make it their longest album up to that point.

The album tells the story of Mr. X, a greedy huckster who meets a pair of conjoined twins with magical healing powers. He becomes their manager and takes them on the road, eventually falling in love with the female twin. He later learns that the twins are not fixed as male or female, but able to change their genders. Confused by his intense feelings for them, he eventually comes up with a plan to separate them.

The album is sung in a talking blues style by the main singing Resident with guest singer Laurie Amat acting as the Greek chorus and singing the opening credits. It used the organ riff from “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love” by the Swingin’ Medallions as a musical motif and marked a departure in their sound due to virtuoso guitarist Snakefinger passing before he could record his parts for it.

From the ashes of the Mole Saga and the American Composers Series, the Residents next developed and began performing a three-act musical show called Cube-E in. Each of the acts, titled “Black Barry,” “Buckaroo Blues,” and “The King & Eye” traced the development of rock and roll through song covers. Act one covered soul and gospel songs, act two covered country songs, and act three covered Elvis Presley. The covers from the third act were recorded as an album of the same name in 1989.

Ever adapting to new technologies, the Residents spent the first half of the 90’s developing three CD-Rom projects. The first one, Freak Show, was a multimedia project that involved a concept album released in 1990 where each song talked about a circus freak and a CD-ROM released in 1994 with interactive pictures and animations of each character.

Gingerbread Man, their first actual foray into computer multimedia art, released in 1994, had a similar concept. The story of the album followed the Gingerbread Man of the fairy tale as he met various curious characters on his run. The album was released as an enhanced CD that included pictures and animations of each of the album’s characters like Freak Show.

In 1995, they released a full-fledged game called Bad Day on the Midway. Like the prior CD-ROM projects, it involved a character-driven story, this time about the various people at the midway of a fair. The player could switch between the characters to learn more about their story and solve various puzzles. It received praise from the gaming press and a TV show adaptation to be directed by David Lynch was optioned but never made. The soundtrack was released as a stand-alone album as well under the title Have A Bad Day.

Technology changes continued to be both a friend and enemy to the Residents as CD-ROMs soon became obsolete with the rise of the internet and computers upgrading to the point of no longer being able to play older ones. Another CD-ROM was in the works called I Murdered Mommy!, but it was eventually scrapped with the music for it being released in 2004.

For a time, the Residents turned back to music and performance. In 1998, they released Wormwood, an album of songs based on strange stories from the Bible such as the beheading of John the Baptist and the murder of Abel by Cain. The project was controversial due the Resident’s humor and irreverent lyrics of subjects considered by many to be holy.

The disclaimer that they had no intention of trashing the Bible but to get a better understanding of it at the beginning of the shows for the album’s tour didn’t prevent a backlash which culminated in one of the members being pelted in the head by a rock during a show in Greece.

In 2002, the Residents released Demons Dance Alone. A response to 9/11, this proved to be one of their darkest and most depressing albums. In my opinion, it’s also one of their best, second only to God in Three Persons. None of the songs make direct reference to 9/11, but all of them are about grief, loss, and regret.

Its linear notes contain a note saying, “The Residents have left the building.” It goes on to say that since no one claims themselves to be a Resident, as they are an anonymous band, then all people have the potential to be a Resident. They would explore this idea more thoroughly later.

The 2005 follow-up to Demons Dance Alone was Animal Lover. Another downbeat album, the songs on this one are also a set of stories about various sad characters. The linear notes contain an accompanying written story for each song re-telling the songs from the perspective of a different animal. Sometimes a companion, other times simply a bystander.

Exploring yet another new medium, the Residents released a five-episode podcast series, later released as an album, called The River of Crime. In the tradition of radio plays, the podcast told a series of hard-boiled stories about a young boy fascinated with crime as it seems to follow him everywhere. The album version came with the instrumental only backings of the podcasts as a bonus.

They would continue in this storytelling vein for the albums Tweedles!, The Voice of Midnight, and Bunny Boy, released between 2006 to 2008. Tweedles! tells the story of a sex addict whose flings often hurt his partners and lead to regret.

The Voice of Midnight is an adaptation of a short story by ETA Hoffmann about a man with a deep fear of the mythical character Sandman. Bunny Boy is both an album and an ARG. The ARG had the titular Bunny Boy in a Youtube series where he asked his viewers to email him so they could help locate his brother who had disappeared on the island of Patmos in Greece.

In 2010, the Residents still continued with their storytelling with The Talking Light tour, but with a major change. The band was now presenting themselves as a trio rather than a quartet with individual names where before they had none. The singer called himself Randy Rose, the keyboard player Charles “Chuck” Bobuck, and the guitarist Bob. Randy claimed the fourth member, Carlos, had quit to take care of his mother in Mexico. The Talking Light, rather than being a tour to support a new album, had the Residents performing new renditions of older songs in between ghost stories told by Randy and other guests.

The new individual identities also saw Randy and Chuck trying their hands at solo projects. In 2012, Randy presented Sam’s Enchanted Evening. This one-man show was about an old man from Louisiana recalling his life and singing the various songs he remembers fondly. Chuck released his first solo album called Codgers on the Moon, a collection of spacey, gamelan inspired instrumentals.

The Residents also released what would be their last studio album for five years, Coochie Brake. This was a more ambient album inspired by a Louisiana swamp of the same name. Carlos returned briefly to do Spanish vocals for the album.

The major release of their 40th anniversary in 2012, however, was The Residents’ Ultimate Box Set. This was a set with every album, EP,and single the Residents released up until that date as well as several other items, including one of their original eyeball masks, all housed in a large refrigerator.

They also offered a “mystery item” in addition for $5 million. Ten were available, but because of its very steep price of $100,00, only one of them sold with another one being donated to the Museum of Modern Art. The mystery item was never bought and what it was remains unknown.

Chuck would retire from touring in 2016 and, shortly thereafter, from the Residents altogether. He continued to release solo albums, however, and did work on their 2017 album The Ghost of Hope. This first new album after the five-year gap was a collection of songs which each told the story of various train disasters. While this album was being promoted, Randy himself also retired from performing as the singer and a new quartet of Residents began to tour.

At the end of 2017, Hardy Fox, a manager of the Cryptic Corporation, came out and admitted to being Chuck Bobuck and the primary composer of the Residents since the beginning of the band. Tragically, Hardy Fox passed away Oct. 30th of this year from brain cancer.

It’s been an open secret among many fans of the band that the Cryptic Corporation managers and the Residents are one and the same. This is especially true of “Randy Rose” and Homer Flynn who have the same voice and look very similar but for the mask and wig Randy wears. Though Homer has yet to confirm he is Randy, it’s likely he’ll do so in the very near future.

Despite that, does losing the “original members” mean we lose the Residents? One of the projects they released this year is I Am A Resident! which consisted of seven remixes by the Residents and twenty-four covers submitted by fans. They took the idea that everyone had the potential to be a Resident to heart. Four wannabe hippies from Louisiana have created something far too big to contain just them.

It seems less appropriate at this point to ask what the future holds for the Residents and more who are the Residents, really?

Well, one of them just might be you someday.

The Mind of Logan Paul

by Blaine Flawson

Illustrations by J.A. Burnett

People have been a special kind of mean to the Pauls. First, Hollywood cast Aaron Paul in the desperate Fast & Furious rip-off, Need for Speed. Then Urban Dictionary called the youngest Paul a “coconut water drinking plutonium eating man baby thing that is doing no work for the world.”

But perhaps no Paul has had it quite as hard as Logan Paul, Jake’s elder brother and a social media personality whose YouTube subscriber count tops 15 million but whose number of enemies is too great to count.

Paul has made some unfortunate mistakes in the past year, including his hapless decision to mock a suicide victim on camera or the teensy mistake of bouncing back from his brief redemption tour with a rather luckless vlog post of him trying to revive a dead rodent…by galvanizing it with a Taser.

These minor moral hiccups seem to be threatening the maverick artist’s brand and costing him followers, but is this all really necessary? Should the world shun Logan Paul as yet another online narcissist with too much money, too much hair and not enough of a soul? Or is this witch hunt distracting from the real boy inside the slick Logan Paul package?

These are the burning questions I felt needed answering, which is why I endeavored to create the following series. After dragging ass and talking to lame nobodies thrice removed from Logan Paul himself for the first three weeks, monetization finally came in and I was able to proceed with our one-on-one time.

Alas, monetization meant I would need content in which to place our sponsor’s ad, so now you’ll have to read what a lot of other bozos think about Paul before we get to the meat. Nevertheless, I think you’ll agree that you’re in for a heavy dose of awesome sauce.

So, buckle up and step inside the mind…of Logan Paul.

Day One

I am sitting on a twelve-thousand dollar Herman Miller Eames sofa with an angled profile, rubbing my eczema-afflicted chin with one hand and clutching a Missoni Tabasco Decorative Pillow to my bosom dramatically. Our cameraman is videotaping me for the site’s vlog, so I furrow my brow because I’m, like, totes perturbed by what I’m hearing.

Across from me, in a Eurotech Seating NUVEMBLK leather office chair, sits Maxine Albright-Gaines, a 28-year old therapist who knows all that there is to know about narcissists…thanks to the handy tome she holds in her lap.

At my urging, Mrs. Albright-Gaines, nay, Ms. Albright, formerly Mrs. Albright-Gaines leafs through the pages of The Epic Simpleton’s Guide to Psychological Disorders until she finds a section regarding sociopathy.

The artist formerly known as Mrs. Albright-Gaines reads aloud for my Olympus miniature voice recorder and Todd the Videographer to hear. “Narcissists and sociopaths have an unyielding desire for attention which makes them predisposed to sharing their projected personae on camera.” She pauses and elicits a throaty “uh” before going off book. “So, uh, like, what this is saying can, like, totally apply to social media.”

I gasp. “So you’re saying that the people I work with could actually be narcissists?”

I try not to look into Todd’s camera as I say this, but the urge is too much. I lose myself for a moment, at which point I switch gears and start talking about my childhood. Ms. Albright fixes me with a mock-empathetic gaze, the pro!

After leaving Ms. Albright’s office, I don’t know what to think. I’m at a loss, I feel like my head is going to literally explode.

I need to decompress. Time for Chipotle.

Day Two

Today, we’re in the heart of San Fernando Valley, talking to a former music video director and full-time pornographer who used to be part of Logan Paul’s alleged pussy posse. Otto Ballz, brother of YouTube sensation Skylar Ballz, claims not to have seen Logan “in a minute,” but on his coffee table I can quickly spot several framed photographs of Logan teabagging Otto as he sleeps.

In the photos, Logan is grinning wickedly at the camera and flashing the devil horns. Otto’s sleeping face is glistening with grundle sweat and he wears a serene and oblivious smile.

“Those weren’t taken last weekend,” he says. “I don’t even know how they got there. Probably one of my bitches.”

In between pulls off a monstrously large vape pen, Otto assures me that Logan Paul is not a narcissist but a misunderstood artist who is poised to change the face of pop culture.

“He’s a living legend and everyone’s gonna want to work with him in the future if they don’t already. Seriously, bro. Dude is fire. They’re gonna be offering to suck his toes for a chance at a collab.”

“Then why aren’t you working with him anymore?”

Otto looks panicked when I ask this and he swiftly cracks open an energy drink, bringing it to his lips to give himself enough time to muster a phony answer.

“Hey,” Otto says, changing the subject after a fine belch. “You ever see Logan’s charity challenges?”

I shake my head in the negatory. Otto shows me videos on his phone, videos in which someone who looks curiously similar to Logan Paul takes shots of goat urine in an effort to raise money for sickle cell anemia.

“He’s a philanthropist,” Otto says.

“Or a philanthropiss, as it were,” I say.

Otto doesn’t find this funny and wastes no time in escorting me off of his property. From there, I hit up Logan’s ex-girlfriend’s joint, a lovely two-story home in the heart of Beverly Hills. She won’t come to the door, so I keep leaning on a bullhorn until she finally steps out on the balcony.

I yell up to her, “What can you tell me about Logan Paul and narcissism?”

“Nothing,” she brays. “I don’t fuck with a Logan Paul and I don’t know who Marc Issism is. Now, get off my lawn, loser!”

Bully!

[For the sake of brevity, we are offering the rest of this groundbreaking series in an abridged version]

Day 4

Mostly I just talk about Logan’s brother Jake Paul today. For awhile, I watch re-runs of Breaking Bad and wonder if Aaron Paul ever did a 23 & Me to make sure he’s not related to these fuck boys.

For the next few days, I gasp a lot at everything people tell me about Logan because views and thumbnails.

Day 15

Logan Paul meets me in a Taco Bell parking lot. He is behind the wheel of a Day-Glo pink monster truck. On his feathery blond hair, he wears a Fargo hat…even though it’s 98 degrees out.

As he climbs down from the truck’s cab, I find it striking how much smaller he is in person. This is not the beast that came back from his apology arc with a pay per view boxing match. This is a lanky, gaunt young WASP with the features of a young Eminem impersonator. His pointy nose and thin lips don’t suggest the presence of a multi-millionaire superstar so much as a sickly Polish heroin addict.

Before he reaches me, he’s downed two gallon containers of spring water and tossed them asunder. As I approach him, he lunges and traps me in an awkward bear hug. “What’s up, bro? I love you!”

I tell him I love him too and, for a moment, I think I actually mean it. Logan doesn’t have time to suffer fools gladly, so he hurries me over to the Taco Bell storefront and abruptly drops trou. As a cameraman materializes out of nowhere, Logan spreads his ass cheeks apart and presses his butthole to the restaurant’s window.

Looking through the glass, I can see several patrons laughing and holding up their iPhones. They’re getting a kick out of Logan’s shtick which is just what he wants.

I ask him what he’s doing and he tells me that he pretended to kill himself in front of a bunch of thirteen-year old fans at this Taco Bell earlier in the year and this is his way of making it up to them.

“But you can’t actually believe that those same fans are in there now without any advanced knowledge that you were gonna be here.”

“No,” he says. “But that doesn’t matter, they’ll see it on my channel and they’ll know what’s up.”

Already I have seen a side of Logan that I didn’t know existed, a gentle and caring side, one that seems genuinely contrite. Logan removes his ass from the glass and pulls up his drawstrings. Turning around, he sees the outline that his cheeks have left on the window. He takes out a Magic marker and signs his signature in between the two cheeks.

“That’s immortal, bro.” He repeats himself. “That’s immortal.”

As I follow Logan through his daily routine of chugging water, hitting the gym and annoying strangers, I discover a disciplined young man who knows how to care for his body and soul in ways that most of us would not understand.

“Did you ever hear of Lay Oh Tee Zoo,” he asks me as we do Naked Juice shots on a Persian rug in his massive living room.

“Huh?”

“Lay Oh Tee Zoo. He’s some old chinky dude like that dead guy I taped.”

Later in the day, I remind Logan about this earlier conversation. His face lights up with a manic passion. “Oh yeah, bro! Lay Oh Tee Zoo says, ‘Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.’ That’s how come I gotta parkour over these rooftops and land on that fat couple down there.”

Before I could ask him what he was talking about, Logan leaped off the ledge of the rooftop on which we were standing and somehow landed on a roof two doors down. From my vantage point, I wasn’t able to see what he was doing, but he showed me a video later on wherein he flails off the roof, lands on an obese husband and wife, and begins making farting noises in their faces. The video ends with him flashing them the peace sign before running away.

Logan was kind enough to let me stay in his guest house for the evening. Unfortunately, the toilet in the guest house no longer functions properly since he set off M-80s in it as part of a crude prank.

At around midnight, all the Chipotle has gotten to me and I sneak into Logan’s house to use the bathroom. As I’m heading to the john, I hear whimpering. Making my way to the end of the hall, I can see the faint glow of a television from beneath Logan’s bedroom door.

The whimpering becomes more guttural and grows in volume as I carefully turn the knob and peek inside. Logan is sitting, naked, at the foot of his bed. The Wolf of Wall Street is playing on the wall-mounted plasma and it’s up to the scene where Jordan Belfort and his thieving staff have to vacate their offices.

“All that money and power,” Logan sobs, choking on the words and spitting up on himself.

The next day I ask him why he was crying and Logan immediately puffs out his chest. “I wasn’t crying, bro! I was pissing out my eyes.”

Day 16

After sleeping restlessly, I am awakened by Logan dumping a bucket of ice water on me and hosing me in the face with pepper spray. He cackles for what feels like an eternity then apologizes and invites me to breakfast.

In the kitchen, I get what I was promised—an intimate sit-down with the YouTube legend. There’s only one problem: Logan Paul doesn’t have anything to say. The only insight I can glean is that he wants to be a billionaire before he turns 30 and he hopes to die before he gets fat.

“My body’s my temple, bro. If I’m ever not swoll no more I’ll eat a gun…probably on camera.”

When I inquire about what makes him tick, he takes a moment to consider it. Finally, he fixes me with dumb eyes and answers in the form of a question. “My heart?”

I ask him if he’s genuinely contrite for the mistakes he has made. He begins to piss out of his eyes again, only this time nothing really comes out. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, know what I’m sayin’? I, like, don’t mean any harm. People are so soft.”

When pressed about what he means by this, Logan takes his shirt off and begins pounding on his abs. “You know?”

No, I don’t know and I suspect that I never will. Probably Logan won’t either.

“Are you a sociopath?”

“I have sociopathic tendencies.”

“Meaning?”

“Sometimes.”

“Are you a narcissist?”

There’s that blank stare again. “I don’t know what that is,” he says. “I know I’m a star and that’s all you need to know. I’m a fuckin’ boss, know what I mean?”

“Do you get off on pissing people off?”

Logan shrugs. “I don’t know, I’m an entertainer. Does that answer your question?”

“Are you afraid of death,” I ask.

“I’m afraid of being poor.” I came here to give you an inside look at the mind of Logan Paul, but I’ve come to find that this is an impossible feat since Logan Paul doesn’t have a mind. But he does have a fight coming up and tickets are available for pre-order. Get yours today!

 

B.F. 2018

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