The El Rey Network is showing a multi-day Kaiju film marathon, as is their practice over recent years, and I will be checking in and out over the course of the run to see Tokyo taking on these enormous invaders. For me, monster movies have special holiday significance. They bring to mind the dear friend who coined the term “Zub” and fond remembrance of monster movie marathons we shared. This year will be no different.
My introduction to Joey Lindsey was through the US mails. I was visiting Steve and in the day’s mail he found a strange lumpy envelope, return address Joey Lindsey. Inside? An enormous dead Palmetto bug. I was disturbed--was this some veiled threat? I mean seriously, who mails a dead bug?
But Steve, doubled over with laughter. The whole thing left me thoroughly confused. I mean seriously, who mails a dead bug? Why is it funny? Who is this person? “He’s great! You’ll love him!” I was not convinced.
So I was dubious and not unwary when we finally met up. I remember being entirely guarded. “Why did you mail Steve a dead bug?” I finally had to ask Joey (why this was not coming up already in conversation, I don’t know). “Oh, he was dead? He was alive when I mailed him.”
OK, strike as non-responsive. Why? “I thought it would be funny.” Steve of course was chuckling vigorously during the whole exchange. I am not sure how that inauspicious beginning grew into one of my closest bonds for the next 20 years, but it did. I can’t explain how smart, snarky, funny, sensitive, and unblinking Joey was but what a gift to have known him.But let’s talk about monsters, not just mini ones delivered in the mails.
Ted Turner’s cheesy Atlanta UHF channel, audaciously billing itself as a national cable “Superstation,” filled the airwaves with cheap programming and unusual gimmicks. I believe they ran Godzilla films during the Christmas-New Years couch potato entertainment void as counter programming to sentimental holiday dreck. Steve, Joey, and I shared a few of these marathons, establishing a weird counter-culture family tradition of sorts. Joey delighted especially in the Mothra girls, but he reveled in the cheesy excess of all of it. That passion was contagious. And he kindly answered my questions, so many questions. “Is Godzilla a good guy or bad guy? Who’s that? Is this supposed to be campy?” We were forming a fellowship around the shared experience of this pop culture oddity, the monster movie.
Kaiju, the fancy proper name for this film genre of giant monsters attacking, can be boring, clumsy, and heavy handed. The original Japanese Godzilla, Gojira, is a thoughtful meditation on power, politics, and nuclear morality and war’s consequences. The strange re-edit for American audiences that spliced in Raymond Burr, introduces some US condescension to the proceedings, at least to my mind. There are bad Kaiju, fantastically entertaining Kaiju, with the bulk of the flicks falling somewhere in between.
But for me, these movies bring memories of friendship, sharing, and communal appreciation. I’ll laugh at poor effects. I’ll mock cheesy lines and overblown performances. I’ll fold particularly memorable lines into my own future speech. But mostly I’ll remember the feeling of forging a bond over pop culture shared. That bonding urge is certainly behind this Zub endeavor.
So, I hope you’ll join me and perhaps we’ll share the Kaiju love! I’ll live tweet some over the marathon using the Zub account, @ltdzub
You can also follow the El Rey Network there too. They are already tweeting up a storm about the approach of the monsters.
@Elreynetwork on Twitter: Holiday marathon El Rey-style means 96 continuous hours of Godzilla and friends! KAIJU CHRISTMAS begins Saturday, December 22nd 6a ET and runs through Christmas Day on @ElReyNetwork!
I am pretty sure we won’t need to experience all 96 hours to express our appreciation, but I hope to see what you think!