Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: Wesley Willis’s Joyrides

Wesley Willis's Joy Rides

Movie: Wesley Willis’s Joyrides (2009)

Directed by: Chris Bagley and Kim Shively

Starring: Wesley Willis

I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time. Shortly after rock and roll hero Wesley Willis died of leukemia in 2003, and not long after the first documentary to focus on the schizophrenic musician, The Daddy of Rock ‘n’ Roll, came out, rumors of another documentary began circulating. A few clips were posted on the internet, but for years nothing more was said about the film. Well, Wesley Willis’s Joyrides is finally out, and as expected, it put a big smile on my face.

As opposed to the first film’s more day-in-the-life perspective of Wesley Willis, Joyrides takes a larger view of the man. The film rides a slow path through his troubled upbringing and his life drawing the streets and buildings of Chicago before arriving at his music career. In fact, it’s Wesley’s art and not his music which provides the neatest aspect of this story, as the creators of Joyrides animated some of his drawings. The effect is just magnificent.

Many people come out of the woodwork to paint Wesley’s story. Many of these folks are close friends and supporters from the Chicago art and music scenes: bandmates, fellow artists, and people who looked after him when no one else would. Yet the telling of Wesley’s youth and many of the terrible things that happened to him falls largely to members of his family. The time the Willis family spends onscreen ranges from informative to disturbing. Two of his brothers are among the film’s best sources in explaining why Wesley Willis was the way he was. On the other hand, Wesley’s father appears to be cashing in on his son’s fame in order for some screen time. The man is described as a horribly neglectful father, which he in so many words dismisses by stating that he “didn’t realize how great that boy was” until everybody else did. Nice.

To be sure, there’s a lot of exploitation and neglect in Wesley Willis’ life. Yet in spite of the many upsetting aspects of his life, directors Chris Bagley and Kim Shively ultimately keep their focus on what made Wesley so endearing and loveable to so many people. Wesley’s freakouts aren’t hushed up, but his humor and delight are far more pronounced, qualities which overwhelm everyone he meets. Even while facing death, Willis keeps his spirits high, singing a song praising his cancer doctor and playing his old classic “The Vultures Ate My Dead Ass Up.”

The film of Wesley’s life is every bit as contagious as the man himself. It’s a hard and lonely road between the joyrides, but Wesley Willis’s Joyrides is exactly what it claims to be.

Operation: Arizona Bay

Bill Hicks Death Robot Initiates Final Phase of “Operation: Arizona Bay”

Bill Hicks: Death Robot

CALIFORNIA (AP) ─ The comedian Bill Hicks, long thought to have died thirteen years ago as a result of pancreatic cancer, revealed his continued existence to the world on Wednesday, in a dick-joke laden YouTube video where he claimed responsibility for the current plague of California wildfires.  In this message, Hicks, whose head had clearly been grafted onto a cybernetic body, disclosed that these fires are but pieces of a horrifying master plan which he dubbed “Operation: Arizona Bay”.

Alleged to be in control of a massive army of drug-zombies, androids, Gideons, and other freethinking ne’er-do-wells, the fascist funnyman unveiled all aspects of his conspiracy to the public.  According to Hicks, the last thirteen years of his existence have been spent in hiding within a Shaftesbury dustbin which he has modified into a top secret supervillian lair.  His cult following, long thought to have been a harmless fringe of pseudo-intellectuals, has transformed over the years into a monstrous collective, devoted almost single-mindedly to the destruction of California and its expulsion into the Pacific Ocean.

Operation: Arizona Bay, asserts its leader, has been behind almost every major catastrophe to strike California since the Los Angeles Riots.  Hicks declared in his missive that his conspiracy has been behind, among many events, the election of governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the wildfires of 2003 and today, and the rise to prominence of graphic novelist Garth Ennis, the rock band Tool, and Facebook.

Hicks concluded this speech with an announcement that the final phase of Operation: Arizona Bay is about to commence.  Its goal: the detonations of nuclear devices placed within all major California fault lines.  He then took a long, slow drag from a Pall Mall cigarette, and gave the camera the finger.

“This is the worst fuckin’ audience ever, man,”  he said, as the video ended.

No demands were made.

Governor, Arsonist, Machine.

Reaction to this omen of cataclysm has been panicked and severe.  Firefighters discovered Governor Schwarzenegger in grasslands northeast of San Diego, where he was engulfing acres of vegetation with a flamethrower.  Police and SWAT officers at the scene were forced to open fire upon the governor, which revealed him to be a death robot.  Schwarzenegger then proceeded to vigorously grope female officers before being lured into a smelting plant by Eddie Furlong and thrown into a pool of molten steel.

Maria Shriver has been arrested and shipped to Guantanamo Bay in retaliation.

The government has wasted no time in combating Hicks’ shenanigans.  On the night of the unveiling of Operation: Arizona Bay, agents of the NSA recruited fellow comedian and television firefighter Denis Leary into a clandestine mission designed to put a stop to his former colleague.  Leary, who has long been accused of stealing Hicks’ act of hard smoking, protest-laced diatribes, has been vouched for by President Obama as being “…the only guy who really knows how Hicks ticks.”

Information has led the United States intelligence services to believe that Hicks has holed up inside the Tomcats Theatre on Hollywood’s Santa Monica Boulevard.  Leary has been dispatched to the area, armed with a firefighter’s axe and a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes.  Unfortunately, the government neglected to gift the hero with any money to pay for parking.

California's Last Hope

“I’m out twenty bucks, you fuckers!” Leary exploded as he parked his fire truck and entered the theatre, the weight of the free world on his angry shoulders.  “If I make it out of here, you sons of bitches are gonna get me a sequel to Demolition Man!

A nation’s lowest common denominator waits, and prays.