By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Bopp 'til you drop
Recently a reader called Buzz to task for speaking negatively of trailer-park folks. It seems that a comment linking radio shrink Dr. Laura Schlessinger to "sycophantic fans in trailer parks" rubbed Bill Parrish the wrong way.
"OK, I don't know what sycophantic means, but I know a put-down when I read one," Bill complained. "If you and James Carville persist in demeaning people who live in trailer parks, you will soon create another protected class. We will all have to amend our language again. Soon we'll be forced to call them 'Mobile Americans.' We'll have to listen to them explain how it's not a lifestyle choice, but a trait inherited from their 'wheeled ancestors.' So please, criticize them for their views, not for where they live."
Normally, we would have advised Bill, whom we suspect is a junior-college sociology professor somewhere, to blow it out his ear. (Who the hell is James Carville?) That, of course, was before the Heaven's Gate gang decided to check out of this plane of existence. Buzz couldn't help but note that the mostly college-educated, mostly twentysomething computer programmers--you know, leading the charge onto the information superhighway--were found dead in neat rows in a mansion. After scrutinizing the news footage, we confirmed that this supremely moronic act didn't go down in a double-wide in Gun Barrel City, nor did anyone in the sect appear to be wearing tasteless cowboy boots.
Say what you will about trailer-park folks--as fired up as they can get about Jubilee, light beer, and Dodge pickups--you won't find them goin' to Jesus over an intergalactic Slurpee that makes a smudge in the evening sky. And, sweet jesus, don't even think about castration as a religious sacrament. Snake handlin' and speaking in tongues are plenty, thank you.
Before we get off the subject, though, we have to laud some of the Heaven's Gate commentary on local radio talk shows. One minister sadly referred to the victims as "lost souls," amid general hilarity about the cult's belief in moving up to a higher plane in connection with a UFO that they believed is riding shotgun with comet Hale-Bopp. Ha. Ha. No, they sure don't have rational religious beliefs like virgin birth, transubstantiation, holy celibacy, and stigmata. No siree.
Speaking of things religious, Buzz was startled last week when a theology student at Duke University contacted us--as a primary source for a research project. Buzz in a footnote? Once again, we need to establish that we are not kidding.
Elizabeth Moss, who is doing a paper and a presentation for her Contemporary Jewish Thought class on "over-zealous Jews who denounce other Jews," frantically e-mailed Buzz about Dr. Laura's infamous Dallas visit: "Help!" her e-mail began. Moss saw Buzz quoted on the extremely scholarly American Journal tabloid television show. (Some religious researchers learn ancient languages and use their computers to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls, others e-mail Buzz. So?)
Moss, who is majoring in religion with a focus on Judaic studies, has been a regular Dr. Laura listener, but found the reports of the radio shrink's rudeness in Dallas disturbing and "offensive." Moss, who is Jewish, was astounded to hear that many of Dr. Laura's listeners around the country reacted with an anti-Semitic edge to the doc's tearful explanation that the reports of her boorish behavior while collecting a $35,000 check for an appearance at a Jewish relief fundraiser were the work of some gossipy Dallas women.
Of course, Moss isn't going to base her entire paper on Buzz--what kind of school do you think Duke is? "I'm going to get the tape of her crying on the air," she says.
Psst, Liz. We hear Dr. L's been invited to do a group session on the UFO behind Hale-Bopp.
Beam us up, Ron
One last comet-castration note. We couldn't help but notice that recently ascended Heaven's Gate leader Marshall Herff Applewhite (Does the name have "cult founder" written all over it or what?) is a graduate of Sherman's small but respected Austin College. Austin College's other famous alumnus is, of course, Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.
Coincidence? You obviously haven't been watching enough X-Files.
Consider: Applewhite called himself "Do," and his late wife went as "Ti," in reference to celestial music. Mayor Ron, through his self-serving dealings and financial arrangements with Dallas' power structure, has certainly earned the moniker "Me."
Consider: Ron has desperately been trying to get "sky boxes" built in Dallas, a quest that has become increasingly more frantic with the approach of Comet Hale-Bopp!
Finally, consider: The mascot of Austin College is the fighting kangeroo.