By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Speaking of cults, John Hattan, the "UberShamen" of the First Church of Shatnerology, based in Watauga, Texas, has devoted an entire site to the bloated greatness that is William Shatner at http://www.freespeech.org/shatner. Everybody knows about or has heard the Shat-man's brilliant spoken-word renditions of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Mr. Tambourine Man," but you really haven't lived until you've heard his version of Elton John's "Rocketman" ("And I'm gonna be...HIIIGGHH'"). But he's not making fun of Shatner -- not much, anyway. The site, dedicated to the great one's "magnificent toupee and girth," is all about setting the record straight on the divine aspect of Canada's greatest living export.
With that in mind, Hattan has offered up dozens of sound clips in the slightly less controversial RealAudio format, as well as links to other Shatner-related sites. (Need a Shatner look-alike for your next Bar Mitzvah?) Becoming a Shatnerologist costs you nothing, but if the Web page has any truth to it, your IQ will drop 100 points, and you'll grow soft and pimply buttocks. Shatner's people declined to comment at press time.
"The whole thing actually started as a gag on a Scientology newsgroup," Hattan explained in a recent e-mail exchange. "Just to stir the pot, I posted a top-10 list of why William Shatner would make a much finer Supreme Being than L. Ron Hubbard. Number one, he's still alive." Hattan has been spreading the gospel all over this big, blue marble, appearing in newspaper articles as far away as the U.K., where the press seemed to miss the overall gist of his message and attributed the gag to an actual organized religion. Bloody Brits.
If your tastes run a little closer to the dark side, maybe you should check out the recorded rants of Francis E. Dec, Esq. of 29 Maple Ave., Hempstead, New York. You can listen to his wild, politically incorrect screeds at http://www.ubu.com/sound/dec.html. I was first turned on to Dec during a party a few years ago, when a friend played the eerie, reverb-drenched monologues to me on a tape that he had copied for my unhealthy amusement. Dec apparently was a disbarred lawyer who lost it sometime in the early '80s, but I don't think anyone knows for sure. Embarking on a letter-writing campaign of sorts, the poor fool blanketed unsuspecting recipients with photocopied fliers that are all but unintelligible, spouting colorful doggerel about "THE 'MASTER RACE' FRANKENSTEIN RADIO CONTROLS BRAIN THOUGHTS BROADCASTING RADIO EYESIGHT TELEVISION" and "PARROTING PUPPET GANGSTER SLAVES."
In actuality the person on the recordings is not Francis Dec, but a Los Angeles DJ named Doc on the ROQ. While in the employment of WZUU in Milwaukee back in 1985, Doc had the good fortune of receiving one of Dec's infamous mail-outs. A year later, when he moved to Y-108 in Denver, he decided to record them, out of boredom, mixing in bits and pieces of musical accompaniment to achieve the desired ambiance. The effect is so perfect, you just might start identifying with Mr. Dec as he takes on the the Kennedys ("Playboy scum on top"), the CIA (they, of course, beat him bloody), and even his own brother. Completists may want to buy a CD copy of the collected works available from local label Trance Formation at http://www.fringeware.com/~melba/catalog.html or try Forbidden Books on Exposition. Not for the faint-hearted or culturally sensitive.
So you see, kiddies? The Internet can be a vile place. A place where danger lurks behind every HTML document, JPEG file, and AVS Check system. But it's also a place where you can find a blissful amount of aural oddities at absolutely no cost to you, the consumer. If downloading the latest questionably legal Christina Aguilera or Hole track to your Seagate isn't your thing, fire up your browser and try one of these URLs for size. And please, take it easy on the porno.
T. Erich Scholz plays bass for the Tomorrowpeople, contributes to the Dallas Observer, and is the Webmaster for various "adult" sites on the Internet in his spare time.