March 11, 2014
I woke up early this morning to locate a pirated DVD version of Timothy Carey’s film “The World’s Greatest Siinner," with an original score by Frank Zappa. I never was a fan of Zappa’s work, because his humor was always too obvious for me, but on the other hand I was always intrigued by Carey. I first discovered him as a kid watching Stanley Kubrick’s “The Killing, ” which I must have seen ten times over the years. It is among those films that I play but only in a special celebratory mood, which believed me, doesn’t often come upon me.
II’m usually lucky to locate pirated DVDs in the Shinjuku area, but the nature of the business is sometimes sketchy, and the storefront that is set up in an almost deserted office building can be gone like steam leaving a boiling pot of water. I have a bad memory of names, especially if it is Japanese, and also I don’t read Kanji, so I have to guess what floor the shop is, and on top of that, if I’m wrong, I go to each floor till I find it. So by the time I get to the 9th floor and I can’t find the shop, I’m putting it mildly feeling a little bit of a disappointment coming upon me. It is like each floor that I go to, as I get higher, I become a low.
I’ve been intrigued to see “The World’s Greatest Sinner” ever since I was a teenager and my dad told me about it. Carey invited him to a screening sometime in the mid-1960s and after seeing the film, he could never stop talking about it. To this day I don’t know if he actually liked the film, but he liked and admired Carey, even though they weren’t close friends. More of a friend-of-a-friend type of thing. The one thing that I never forgot is when my dad told me that whenever anyone shook Carey’s hand, he would give out a loud fart. At first it was kind of funny, but after doing it on a regular basis, it becomes slightly and disturbingly weird. Also one might think that he was making a comment on the people he was just meeting. My dad wasn’t insulted and he always wanted to see the film again, but like the fart that leaves the ass, the smell is there, but not the actual fart. I guess for a while now I have been looking for that ‘fart, ’ even in Tokyo.
Timothy Carey passed away in 1994, and the only other story I know of him was when I was going out with a girlfriend in the 70s and she was the waitress at a Sambo’s diner in the San Fernando Valley. She worked the night shift, which at that time was midnight to dawn. Carey would come in around 3AM to eat breakfast, obviously he was a man who kept his own hours. It went against the rules, but during her break she would go out with him for a drive on Ventura Boulevard. She told me that he would have a 8-track tape of Henry Cowell’s music with the volume playing at full-blast. It was not possible to have a conversation with him, and he didn’t talk, just drove from one end to Ventura and then make a u-turn and take her back to her work. Surely I thought something sexual happened between the both of them, but that didn’t appear to be the case at all. He just enjoyed the company while playing Cowell’s music in the car.
In our household, my father had this weird obsession of watching the squarest program on TV, The Lawrence Welk Show. At first I thought it was a joke, but he seemed to like the music, the production, and the aesthetic quality of Welk’s performance and his music of course. My dad had exceptional insight into pop culture and all of its weird side-effects on our world. I loved him for it, and to be honest, I love him for bringing Timothy Carey’s film to my attention. It may be a film that I will never see, but for sure, I will never smell a Timothy Carey fart.