In which Jason and Ian Belknap review the trailer for As I Lay Dying.
Hi, Ian. Can I be honest with you? I’ve never even read As I Lay Dying. So I don’t know who’s going to lay dying in this thing. James Franco, maybe? He seems like he’d be good at laying down and dying.
Just ask his widow in the year 2100. If you live that long, Belknap. Not everybody has the mystic life-lengthening powers of James Franco. Want to know his secret? It’s all in the wrists. And virgins’ blood. Which comes from the wrists.
Would it be insensitive of me to stand outside the movie theater and take bets from people like myself who haven’t read the book on who’ll end up laying down and dying in the movie?
They’ll have to be on the honor system, of course. I’ll make them swear on a copy of The Sound and the Fury that they’ve never read any William Faulkner books—or can barely read at all, for that matter. Take that, literacy! Maybe if people pronounced you like “Liberace” you’d still be around.
Anyway, too bad Faulkner wasn’t in the coin-operated Laundromat business. He could have opened a chain called “As I Pay Drying.”
God knows I hate the dryers in my apartment complex. The other night, one of them took my last set of quarters from me and wouldn’t return them, so I had to drive to Kroger in the middle of the night and beg a cashier for quarters. She refused to give me any change at all, saying, “We keep all the big money in the safe.”
Incidentally, keeping the big money in the safe is another way James Franco achieves eternal youth.
So—where do you keep your big money, Ian? Someplace only regular mortals know about?
The plain fact is, nobody has read Faulkner. Not you. Not me. Not the Kroger’s (or Jewel, if Kroger’s not regionally appropriate to you. Or Price Chopper. Or Safeway. Or Piggly Wiggly. You get the idea) cashier. Not the stooped old goblin that seems to run every laundromat no matter where you are. And not your English Lit professor, either. That stooge couldn’t read his way through a sopping fortune cookie. ZING to you, Eggheads Who May or May Not Have Been Justified in Failing Me Back in the Day, Thus Precipitating My Tailspin. Because Honestly? At This Point? It’s Immaterial.
Reading Faulkner is wicked hard. They don’t dole out the Nobel for clarity. They only award that shit to the Massively Important Author Whose Meaning Will Remain Forever Beyond Your Reach, And If He’s A Mustachioed Drunk, Then So Much the Better. This category is not officially recognized, obviously, but do the Nobel math, man. Fully 87% of recipients are Abstruse Mustachioed Drunks. The remaining 13% are Nadine Gordimer.
And of the planet-load of people ill-equipped to grapple with Faulkner, James fucking Franco is LITERALLY the LAST person on EARTH who should be adapting this shit for the screen. And I’m including EVERY ONE of the seven billion souls now on earth – most of whom speak no English, many of whom are blind or infirm or are babies, and many of whom are hobbled by having received a public school education in the U.S. If James fucking Franco legally changed his name to Shit for Wits, nobody would even notice, I betcha. And people are like: “But he’s getting a masters! He’s getting a PhD!” True, yeah. That is true. But he’s pursuing degrees at Starfucker University. Where admissions are based on your ability to pay tuition in full, in cash, up front. And where your attendance at lectures is regarded as some kind of media-worthy event. And every time Gawker gets hold of one of your slack and pointless essays and rakes you over the snark-coals, you get in a fucking flame war with them which essentially consists of your claims that anybody who does not like and appreciate your simpleton bullshit is failing to appreciate your genius. The Oh, Well, See, You Just Don’t GET Me gambit.
As to the issues you face as a launderer, hey man – we’ve all been there. Some of us just grow the fuck up and buy a place that’s got laundry in it, and don’t have to be dealing with the hunt for change. Step up to free laundry, Man-Child. You just gotta pay a mortgage. Utilities. Water bill. It’s a bargain. A real bargain.
When I was a teenager, a man in my hometown of Milledgeville, Georgia put up a hand-painted “PIGGLY WIGGLY DONE MY FAMILY WRONG” sign in his front yard. Unlike most pigs, who do families right by giving up their bodies to bacon or complementing themselves in spider webs for the benefit and entertainment of county fair judges, this particular pig/corporate mascot had done an injustice to this man’s entire bloodline, in the birthplace of Flannery O’Connor, no less. I guess ever since she passed away, a good supermarket has been hard to find.
The sign-maker included a rough drawing of the pig on the sign, as if to say, “This is the pig I was talking about, the one that did my family wrong.” His rendition was probably not up to snuff for the Piggly Wiggly marketing department (totally off-brand, I mean, did he even read their style guide?), but close enough for government work. Hell, I loved his crude re-imagining of an iconic logo—he was the Basquiat of people wronged by a national supermarket chain.
If the sign had gone up in 2013, some hotshot creative director at Piggly Wiggly might’ve printed up “Piggly Wiggly Done My Family Wrong” T-shirts featuring the bizarro pig or even had it painted on the side of the store as a mural, à la Daniel Johnston. These days, advertisers know you’ve got to re-appropriate the message of your detractors, show a willingness to laugh at yourself, be more of a Jean-Claude Van Damme than a Steven Seagal about the whole thing. But whatever the local Piggly Wiggly brass thought of the sign, they certainly weren’t dignifying it with a response.
Ian, I have to wonder—is James Franco your own personal Piggly Wiggly pig? Doing you wrong with his faux-PhD’ing, his misguided Faulknering, his Riff Raffery in Spring Breakers? We’ve all got a pig we’re trying to take down, right? Incidentally, you may want to read or watch the infomercial for my self-help book What’s YOUR Pig? How To Put A Hand-Lettered Sign In The Front Yard Of Success. It may help you with your James Franco problem.
I get the feeling that the guy who made the sign is probably dead by now. Most wars on grocery stores are waged by old people, and that was waaay back in the 90’s. Meanwhile, the Piggly Wiggly pig is still going strong. Hell, he’s just getting started. There’s families that haven’t even been born yet that he’s going to do wrong to. He can do bad all by himself, Ian.
On the other hand, here I am writing about that sign decades later. I guess the message got through after all. Pass it on, Ian. Maybe someone will do the same courtesy for you when you’re gone. Probably not, though. James Franco is really popular.
Fun fact: the ACTUAL pig who was the model for the Piggly Wiggly logo was ALSO the pig from which Travolta harvested the blood they doused Carrie with before she got those crazy Michele Bachmann eyes and killed everybody at the prom. In the original, I’m saying. In the remake they used the blood of the homeless. Cause no animals were harmed.
But I think Riff Raff puts it best when he observes: “Salisbury Steak Sweater.”
Which I take to mean that I should wear the pelt of James Franco à la Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. In that way that cannibals eat the hearts of their fallen enemies to gain their strength and courage for themselves. Except to do this with Franco would mean I would be ingesting his dillettante-ish half-assery and twat-ism. Which reminds me: please check out the link to the trailer for MY self-help book Feasting on the Fuckface: How to Skin and Wear the Skin of Exasperating Celebrities Without Getting Their Stank on You. Had to self-publish. None of the gutless idiots in mainstream publishing would touch it. Punks. Shit-eating punks – the lot of them.
It was gonna be a part of a series, too. The next book was gonna be called Gutting the Shitbirds: Cutting Open the Bellies of Your Least Favorite Celebs and Sleeping in There Like Luke Inside a Tauntaun. But I’ve lost the enthusiasm the project requires.
But it’s OK. I’ve got other interests. Reviving crab soccer. My line of macramé baby slings. My Jan Michael Vincent fan fiction site Parted in the Middle.
But so listen: if you like name-checking, dull-witted, slackly talk-sung, under-imagined horse shit that sounds like the kind of thing Beck might lay down if he’d been locked in the trunk of a car after being bashed in the head with a pipe wrench, then you agree with me that James Franco is a recording star.
But to return to our original thread: Faulkner was an early investor in the nascent Piggly Wiggly chain, and would – when super hammered – pick up shifts behind the butcher counter. When Franco learned of this bit of ephemera linking the world of American letters with the slicing of pork shanks, he started his own artisanal bacon and sausage company called The Ground and the Fury.
Which somehow failed to dampen my volcanic hatred of him. Even now, I am pounding a sign into my lawn. A sign of deathless protest. Cause he done us all wrong, man.
All of us.
In theaters September 27.