Life imitates Cartoon! Dishonest John’s Dismal Land begat Banksy’s Dismaland

Look What those clods are doing to my Dismal Land!
Sometimes life imitates cartoon. We now have one of those situations.
Artist/Provocateur Banksy with the help of friends like Damien Hirst and Jenny Holzer have ridiculed the Disney brand
with his theme park located at the seaside town of Weston-SuperMare in south-west England. Banksy
seems to have gotten his inspiration from the dirty work of Beany and Cecil cartoon character
Dishonest John who built his Dismal land on the moon 52 years ago. Admission is 5 bucks. Nya ha ha.
Dirty deeds can be done dirt cheap and can keep on dissing!

RIP Stan Freberg in Comedy Nirvana

imagesStan Freberg was a brilliant performer, writer and satirist. Freberg puppeteer and voice artist on the daily live puppet show, “Time for Beany” perfectly captured the range of character in Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent that made Cecil a great comic hero. When Freberg inhabited Cecil’s character, Cecil might be slow to get his dander up but watch out when he did! Freberg also brought out a fun side of the character and the way he could sing popular tunes of the day including what became Cecil’s theme song, “Raggmopp.” Stan Freberg and Daws Butler (the voice of Beany) contributed greatly to “Time For Beany” winning three Emmy Awards for best children’s program in the early 1950′s. There was nobody like them. RIP Stan Freberg.

Ethereal, 8-foot-long ‘Sea Serpent…

Ethereal Sea Serpent, Start video at 5 min. mark.

This sea serpent may not be “both” 10 feet tall and wet like Cecil, but he or “she” is described as 8 feet tall.

They found this creature 200 feet down in the ocean. It was described as an Oar fish complete with dorsel fin. We like one scientist’s description that this sea serpent was also referred to as “King of the Herrings” because it is sometimes caught with Herrings and has a crown. Or as us cartoon conspiracy theorist fans like to speculate, this beady eyed Herring might just be under the influence of one “Staring Herring”. At the end of this amazing video this Ethereal sea serpent took off suddenly like shot from a cannon.

Cecil Imitators

What’up with all of the Cecil The Sea Sick Sea Serpent Imitators? And what happened to this guys suction cup nostrils? D.J. would probably refer to him as a refugee from a puppet show. In fact, this ancient eel really does look like an early Cecil hand puppet!

Beany Boy’s Own Private Nightmare, The Halloween Edition

The perpetual smile on Beany’s face belies his extreme feelings of terror. For starters, Beany finds that he has landed in the lap of the spawn of Cecil, a she serpent with a bust and feminine arms and satin pants. When Beany looks up, the ceiling is so low a feeling of claustrophobia sets in. The party balloons lined up can’t mask it. The captain to Beany’s left looks like a refugee from Groucho’s Freedonia. Maybe the real Captain Spaulding? Speaking of refugees the two figures on the left of the picture, a middle aged Miss Muffet, and some kind of cross between a radioactive pig with a fully filled water balloon like udder in disguise as Lawrence of Arabia, pre – David Lean movie by years makes one want to give up costume parties altogether. The piece de resistance is a really creepy Dishonest john directly behind Beany.

Hope all your Halloween’s are as scary as this one obviously was for Beany and freaky scary as this looks to us.

Flora, Fauna, Gaga, Beware of the Clinging Vines

Cecil says, "The fauna is all right, but Flora's got me!"

Recent Lady Gaga Fauna and Flora fashions in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. Lady Gaga is a pop star that Bob Clampett would have loved to caricature again and again. With a headress like that how can you miss?

Another of the signs that made the Beany and Cecil cartoons such a long lasting culturally relevent show.

Guardian Angel?

Cecil Says, “A friend in need is a friend indeed… maybe even when you are a six foot shark.”  Huh?  Read on.

Fisherman adrift for 106 days in Pacific says shark led him to rescuers

A man who survived while adrift in the Pacific for 106 days is crediting a shark for helping to save his life.

Toakai Teitoi, 41, a policeman from the Central Pacific island nation of Kiribati, had been traveling with his brother-in-law on what was supposed to be a short voyage, beginning May 27, from the Kiribati capital of Tarawa to his home island of Maiana.

But the mariners decided to fish along the way, and fell asleep during the night.  When they awoke they were far at sea and adrift in their 15-foot wooden vessel.  They soon ran out of fuel, and were short on water.  “We had food, but the problem was we had nothing to drink,” Teitoi told Agence France-Presse news service.

Dehydration was severe.  Falaile, the 52-year-old brother-in-law, died on July4.  That night, Teitoi slept next to him, “like at a funeral,” before an emotional burial at sea the next morning.

Teitoi shared scant details of the ordeal after arriving in Majuro, in the Marshall Islands, on Saturday.  He said he prayed the night Falaile died, and the next day a storm arrived and, over the next several days, he was able to fill two five-gallon containers with fresh water.

Days and weeks passed, however, and Teitoi, a father of six, did not know whether he’d live or die.  He subsisted mostly on fish and protected himself against the searing tropical sun by curling up in a small, covered portion of the bow.  It was on the afternoon of September 11 that he awoke to the sound of scratching against his boat.  A six-foot shark was circling the boat and, Teitoi said, bumping against its hull.

Not the same shark Teitoi saw but generic. You get the picture.

“He was guiding me to a fishing boat,” Teitoi said.  “I looked up and there was the stern of a ship and I could see crew with binoculars looking at me.”

The first thing he asked for after he was plucked from the water was a cigarette, or “a smoke.”  He was given food and juice and his rescuers continued to fish for several days before delivering him to Majuro.  Teitoi, who seemed in good health, said he booked flights back to his home island, adding, “I’ll never go by boat again.”

The record for drifting at sea is believed to be held by two fishermen, also from Kiribati, who were at sea for 177 days before coming ashore in Samoa in 1992.

Teitoi returned with an amazing story of survival. This story although much more dramatic with intense situations of life and death as well as mysticism and spirituality, also reminds of the overriding themes from the Time For Beany puppet show and the Beany and Cecil Cartoons. Guardian Angels and higher powers might not just inhabit cartoons.

What is this? Screws loose in a Steinway? A John Cage Composition.

Portion of a piano's interior showing loose screws and simple items from a hardware store placed between the strings to alter the piano sound providing more percussion and other types of sounds. This was the configuration for the Cage Sonatas and Interludes (1946-48) performed by Adam Tendlar in celebration of the John Cage Centennial.

Why loose screws and a story about the avant-garde composer John Cage on the Beany and Cecil site? John Cage (born September 5, 1912 and died August 12, 1992) and Beany and Cecil creator Bob Clampett (born May 8, 1913 and died May 2, 1984) were about eight months apart in age and spent a good part of their childhoods in Eagle Rock California. The comparisons do not end there. Both began to show their future talent by the age of twelve. Bob Clampett had a cartoon of his published in the Los Angeles Junior Times. Later, Clampett was offered a contract as a comic strip artist by the Los Angeles Examiner. John Cage came up with the idea and hosted a radio show on KNX in Los Angeles where he brought attention to great music by having it played on air and he reported on Boy Scout events.

John Cage as a young child on the left with the dog and Bob Clampett about the same age saluting. What was up with the sailor suits?

Cage a quick study skipped three grades and was Valedictorian at Los Angeles High School before attending Pomona College at age fifteen. Clampett had to drop out of high school during his senior year to go to work and help support the family. He did get to attend Otis Art School a couple of years later. Cage was influenced by animator Oskar Fischinger and his unusual approach to sound. The Clampett family later got to know the Fischinger family.

We do not know if Cage and Clampett ever met and are also curious if they happened to attend the same school. Clampett attended Eagle Rock Elementary School in the twenties. Cage lived on Moss Avenue in Eagle Rock about a mile from the school at that time. If anyone reading knows the answer to that question, please let us know. One item in the Bob Clampett archive might shed some light on this. There is a panoramic shot of all of the students posing for their class picture at Eagle Rock Elementary. We might be able to match the childhood photo of Cage seen above with the group panoramic. (We will post here the results of that search)

Cage and Clampett were two innovators who made significant contributions to their chosen fields within the arts.

We pay homage to an innovative thinker and musical giant John Cage on his Centennial.

What were you up to in 1969? Here is what we were doing.

Ruth aged nine with pointer on the rebus board, Cheri aged six dancing and the 20th Century Fox and Willy the Wolf perform I M 4 U during the Clampett Family puppet Show.

In September 1969 our dad Bob Clampett came to us with a proposal. A club resort in Indian Wells California wanted a Christmas show for their members and were willing to pay a sizable fee to have the Clampett puppets appear. Dad would accept the offer and give all the money to us kids Ruth, Cheri and Rob under the condition that we treat this as a serious commitment. We would have to rehearse every day after school up until the performance on Christmas Eve.

After considering the pros and cons a bit we all accepted. The experience turned out to be one of the best that we can all remember. Why? First of all, it was a great family experience. Our mom Sody was also actively involved. She helped work the puppets. Even our grandmother Dossie got involved by sewing our costumes and the stage curtains. Most significant it was the first time that we could see our dad for an extended period of time in his element. Bob Clampett gave this little puppet show his full attention as the director. He envisioned it as a show of puppets, live action and even a full sized Willie the Wolf in a full body suit. He put together a pre-recorded track that really worked as a musical comedy live show. He opened the show with his big guns Beany and Cecil and Clowny doing a comedy bit from the puppet era of Time For Beany where they teased the audience by having Clowny pretend there was not anybody in the audience. Then Alvin and the Chipmunks did their Christmas song. These were the same puppets that dad used on the Ed Sullivan Show with Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian. A Maurice Chevalier animal puppet sang Thank Heaven For Little Girls to a six- year old Cheri Clampett. Nine- year old Ruth Clampett perfectly kept pace with pointer following the rebus drawn by Bob Clampett for the song I M 4 U. (see photo above)
The audience loved it but not as much as we loved doing it even though we rehearsed it on a stage every day after school for two to three hours for a full three months.

The Clampett family and puppets circa 1969, left to right: son Bob, Jr. holding Willy the Wolf, Bob, Sr. holding Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent, daughter Cheri holding Chipper, wife and mother Sody holding the 20th Century Fox, and daughter Ruthy holding Marilyn Mongrel.

It was such a success that we ended up doing it several years after that. One Christmas we even performed it for all of the Southern California Bank of America employees and their families. Looking out from the stage there were a few THOUSAND people and all I could think was that the Cecil hand puppet must have looked pretty small to the back rows.

We are reminded by the passing last Saturday of Neil Armstrong that 1969 was the year of the first Lunar Landing. It was also the year of Flower Power, Woodstock and the anti-war protests. For us it was that watershed moment, The Clampett Family Puppet Show. Priceless!