What if we just made the same drink, over and over again?
Perhaps that simple conceit was the seed for ROX #40. A quarter century later, I can only puzzle over the evidence.
We'd all been living together in that big house on Dunn for a couple months, but ROX #40 is the first episode that shows us hanging at the crib. J mixes a drink on the back porch, and then we circle through the neighborhood, eventually coming back for another round, again and again. J mixes the “Apple B.J.” five times in all.
It's kind of like an impromptu dance. The themes of circularity and cyclicity just keep coming back up, with variations. There's a structural elegance to this episode that I still find compelling, with form and content producing an overall unity of effect. The spinning camerawork might eventually induce nausea, but that only reinforces the sense of becoming inebriated. J certainly does a good impression of getting drunker as the show progresses. In this case, at least, it's an act. We'd have been well and truly sloshed if we were drinking real booze, but for once our claim of “simulated alcohol” was true.
The true mind-altering ingredient was of course cannabis. The herbal infusion was administered midway through the show, resulting in a boisterous improvised jam session. If the cigarette lighter motif doesn't tip you off, note that we're sitting around a hookah in the middle of our living room. Kelley commandeers the camera at Andrew's apartment for a meditation on shapes that feels downright trippy. (Note the formative nomenclature: Kelley and Andrew would become known as Worm and Mr. G, respectively, in just a couple episodes.)
Again our interest in the sheer ugliness of modern life is on display, but this time it finds a surprising counterpoint as we stumble into Wylie House — built in 1835, it's now a historic house museum just steps from our rental. We're given a guided tour by the curator, quite by random accident. As a journalist noted later, this segment has an “almost reverent” tone, a distinct shift from our usual mode of operation. I'll wager this is also one of the few times Cypress Hill and Joni Mitchell are juxtaposed in the same soundtrack.
Despite touching on some serious and even dark topics toward the end, this show has a light and airy feel. It seems so casual and offhand, an effortless trifle. Nevertheless it did generate some ripple effects.
1) Our call for new gods was answered. See ROX #44.
2) Our neighbor Chance made a “chance” appearance, and this came back up in ROX #46.
3) We sang the name of a local photographer to the tune of “Ride of the Valkyries.” It was a moment of pure silliness, but the woman in question tracked me down and confronted me while I was editing at BCAT. She hadn't seen the show herself, but her journalism students had — a lot of them, apparently. She associated Wagner with Nazism and thought we were trying to smear her name. I apologized and explained we were actually ardent anti-facists, and so we shook hands and parted on good terms.
Footnotes: A remark from Xy indicates this program was shot on 19 September 1993, the Sunday before our wedding. The third installment of Anarchy Diary is the only segment that was (possibly) not taped on the same day. Terry's musings on credit cards and bankruptcy foreshadow my own bankruptcy five years later. This segment would not appear again until our third season, though ROX #55 (when he finally took on the alias of TBlack) should probably have been presented as a fourth installment.