May 3, 2022

The Top 10 Beefcake Murals of U.S. Post Offices

The people who deliver your Netflix envelopes and Amazon boxes were once responsible for a lot more.  They brought paper copies of your bills, magazines, and even messages from friends, written on pieces of paper and enclosed in an envelope.  If you wanted to send a message of your own, you had to bring it to a building called a "post office" and buy a "stamp" to pay for the delivery.

There are still post offices around -- older people still use them.  And if you happen to drop into one, you might get a surprise: naked men!

1. A muscleman felling the forest in Kenova, West Virginia.

During the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal put dozens of artists to work painting murals and friezes on the walls of hundreds of post offices all over the U.S..  They were very serious, naturalistic works, showing extremely muscular pioneers taking their shirts off to "tame the wilderness" and go to work in in agriculture or industry.

2. A boatswain in Plymouth, Pennsylvania.

3. A rugged farmer making hay in Hammond, Indiana.

4. There are naked men, too, mostly muscular Indians who are solemnly handing over their land to the white settlers.  This one in Des Plaines, Illinois depicts Spanish conquistadors impressing the natives, I guess cloth.

5. Though sometimes the Indians are memorialized as violent savages: this fully-naked dude is trying to defend his, I mean attack a wagon train in Melrose Park, Illinois.

More after the break

May 1, 2022

"Southbound": Five Interlocking Stories Set in the Purgatory of the American Southwest


Southbound (2015): This is the highway where your sins catch up with you. Five interlocking stories about "sin, punishment, retribution, atonement."  Let's hope some of the people seeking atonement are gay.

Story 1 ("The Way Out"): "Fuck this shit!"  Two bloody men , Mitch (Chad Villella) and Jack (Matt Bellitini-Olpin), driving down a desolate highway in the American Southwest. Mitch looks at a picture of a young girl; Jack explains  that "We did this for you and for Katherine."   A mysterious ragged figure, like a dementor from the Harry Potter series, watches them.   

They stop at Roy's Cafe and Motel to use the bathroom, get gas, and gawk at the regulars, none of whom are surprised at the sight of two bloodied men (almost as if they've seen them many times before, hint hint).  Suddenly there's an earthquake, but none of the other customers notice.  They drive away, several mysterious figures floating after them, and end up right back at Roy's Cafe again! 

You know what's going to happen next, right?   

Story 2 ("Siren"): Another room at Roy's Cafe and Motel.  Three teenage girls get up, complain about being hungover, and drive away in their hippie van (lots of gross bare-leg shots).  Suddenly they get a flat tire.  They call AAA, but the dispatcher can't find them; the GPS on their phone isn't working.  A strange male-female couple in 1950s outfits offer them a ride in their 1950s station wagon (have the girls gone back in time, or are the male/female couple dead?).  The nearest auto shop is closed until tomorrow, so why not come home with us?  Heck, no!   They reluctantly agree.

That night the Strange Couple has another Strange Couple in 1950s costumes and their robotic twin sons (Max and Nick Folkman) over for dinner.  One of the sons is surprised that there are three girls; where's the fourth?   He is shushed.  They say grace -- to Satan!  -- and serve roast beast.  

This ending is obvious, too. The girls, by the way, are being punished for leaving their friend behind to be killed by a hit-and-run driver.

Story 3 ("The Accident"): Middle-aged Lucas (Mather Zickel) driving late at night.  He gets a call from his wife to demonstrate that he's heterosexual, then hits one of the girls from Story #2, who was standing in the road.  He calls 911, but Dispatcher Sandy and the EMT on staff can't locate him, so she advises him to drive the victim to the hospital in the next town.  But the hospital is deserted!  The EMT advises him to operate himself.  He tries -- lots of blood!  -- but is unsuccesful.  And the doors are locked!  They laugh maniacally at his plight.

Having a change of heart, they tell Lucas that he if he finds the locker room, he'll be able to leave.  He showers, changes clothes, exits as they promised, and drives away.  We discover that Sandy the 911 Dispatcher was actually talking to him from a pay phone booth.  

I don't understand this one.  What was Lucas being punished for?  Was Sandy using him to cover up her own hit and run?  Then how did she manage to clear the hospital?  And who was the second voice on the phone?

Story 4 ("Jailbreak"):
Sandy from Story #3 goes into a bar and orders a beer, but Al the Bartender (Matt Peter, left) tells her to go back and latch the door.  she refuses.  While they are arguing, the elderly Danny (David Yow, from the punk band Jesus Lizard) bursts in with a gun.  They advise him to leave; this always ends badly for him -- but he insists that they take him to his sister Jesse, who disappeared here 13 years ago.

One of the patrons turns into a monster and attacks, but gets his hand chopped off.  Al the Bartender offers to take him to Jesse.  They drive to an ice cream stand and go through a hidden door in the back.    

 It's a mysterious waiting room full of robotic, staring people; obviously the entrance to the afterlife.   Inside, Jesse is tattooing a cute shirtless guy (finally, some beefcake!).    She hasn't gotten any older in the 13 years since she disappeared, obviously.  She says that she doesn't want to leave, but Danny shoots Al the Bartender, grabs her, and heads out.  There's a dementor road block, so Danny drives out into the desert, in spite of Jesse's warnings: "You can't be here!  This place isn't for you!"

Jesse explains that she's here because when they were kids, she killed Mom and Dad, and she needs atonement. "This place found me, and I love it here."  Suddenly naked guys (including Omar Camacho, top photo) pull Danny from the car and start stripping his clothes off.  Jesse drives back to the ice cream stand.

She passes a girl leaving the ladies' room.

Story 5 ("The Way In"): 
 The girl, Jem, goes to the front of the ice cream store and joins her parents for "one last weekend of fun" before she starts college: "games and puzzles."  That's their idea of fun?  They drive off into the night and stop at a sort of resort apartment.  Dinner's in an hour (But they just had milkshakes!).  While Jem unpacks, Mom wonders if she is "ready."  Dad (Gerald Downey, left) avers that no one is ever ready, but it's time; Jem has to prove herself.   Uh-oh, Satanic initiation coming up!  

Mysterious figures in masks star banging on the doors.  It will take 30 minutes for the police to arrive!  Jem manages to escape, but not the parents. 

One of the intruders shows Dad a picture of Katherine (Mitch's daughter from Story 1 ) before killing him.  Then they tell Mom what he did to deserve death; she's horrified.  They kill her.  Wait -- I though this was all arranged as part of Jem's initiation.  If it was arranged, why are Mom and Dad surprised?  If it wasn't, what was all that "she's not ready/ no one is ever ready" about?

Jem returns and kills one of the intruders, but the other two escape -- sort of.  They turn out to be Mitch and Jack from Story 1!  Everything resets.

Beefcake:  None. The naked men who pull Danny from the car would be cute if they weren't zombies.

Heterosexism:  Heterosexual romance doesn't fuel any of the stories.

Gay Characters:  The bloodied guys from Story #1 don't express any heterosexual interest, but Jack tries to abandon Mitch, so no gay subtext.  Danny in Story #4 has the goal of saving his sister, not his wife or girlfriend like usual in these stories, which automatically gives him a gay vibe. Plus he's pulled out of the car by naked men, suggesting a ironic punishment.  

My Grade:  "The Way Out": B; "Siren": D; "The Accident": D; "Jailbreak": A; "The Way In": C.  More points if this were Halloween.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...