a sheep in fluorescent wolves clothing: the tall tragic tale of an animal on the brink

A solid cloud of smoke stifles the air. It dances and swirls in the strands of light emanating from drawn curtains of a cheap “pay by the hour” motel room.  Through the limited amount of light available remnants of beer cans, discarded bottles of various whiskeys, and ashtrays filled to the gills can be made out.  There is an alarming amount of white residue left on faces of mirrors and compact disc cases strewn about the room.   Discarded panties and bras adorn the interior of the room.  Draped over lampshades and hanging from an off balanced ceiling fan that fights to disperse the constant stream of smoke filling the room. Smoke rolls off the tip of an endless cigarette clenched nervously between two furry orange fidgeting fingers.  Occasionally, the glowing ball of an amber tipped cigarette floats through the murkiness and pulls bright at the edge of a gaping mouth. Adorned with jagged teeth, surrounded in a mop of shaggy pink facial hair.  Along with the steady billowing smoke cloud is an occasional word or Neanderthal grunt, limited to a lexicon of; woman, drum and food.  There is a constant tapping of fingers and feet, drumming to an unheard tune.  Drowning out the steady hump of that offbeat ceiling fan.  A rattling noise of a large metal chain dragging against the wood of a bedpost that it is firmly anchored to bruise the air.  The chain stretches out from the post and slithers gently across the floor, quickly arches up across his feverishly tapping leg, and safely secured around that chimney pipe of a neck.

As the end of another cigarette comes near, a fresh one is introduced to the tip of a lit butt.  A set of wild eyes becomes illuminated as he pulls hard to light the smoke firmly attached to his lips.  That mop of untamed fluorescent pink hair falls forward, and the endless chain of smoke continues.  As I pull my head away to find a possible gap of fresh air in the room I notice piles of broken drumsticks littering the room.  Alongside these sticks I see press release forms, backstage passes, and coffee stained contracts for movies, spin-off television shows and likeness rights, all bearing the same one word name.  The living chimney I am seated across from is no other than the infamous Muppet, drummer for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and full-time madman, “Animal”.  He seems subdued for the moment, and the thought races through my mind that I may be in the eye of the storm.  At this point, I become extremely grateful for that chain tightened around his neck and keeping him out of arms reach from myself.  Another cigarette is produced, and starts it’s journey to his lungs.  As he exhales a plume of smoke he mutters a single word, “Begin”.

Paul: How have you been sir?

Animal: I’ve been better. I am currently shitty.

Paul: Honesty is as they say a good virtue.

Animal: Eh.

Paul: So it looks as though you have a new movie coming out…?

A: Yes, that’s what they say.

P: How is it going? Working with everyone again, since the infamous falling out?

A: Eh.

P: Well it had to be nice seeing Kermit and Miss Piggy, and all your old band mates again right?

A: It is what it is, a healthy paycheck.

P:  Should be a good amount of those coming in now-a-days right? This has kind of injected life back into your career.

A: Let’s not talk about injecting anything, please.

P: Oh, No no.  I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.

A: It’s fine, I’m sure we are both fully aware of my past.

P: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.  So is that a taboo topic for you?

A: Taboo nothing, but if you want to be “that guy” and bring it up, then go right ahead.  After that I’m sure we can dredge through my closet and see if there are anymore skeletons you care to drag out, or any open wounds you care to poke and prod at.

P: No, it’s fine it really is.  Let’s just start off with something lighter.

A: I don’t see why now.  Why back step now and beat around the bush.  The cat is out of the bag.  The nerve is exposed.  Don’t be afraid, I don’t bite.

P: Well now that’s not entirely true now is it?

A: Ha, I suppose not.

P: You seem to have a track record for violent outbursts.

A: Guilty as charged.

P: So care to shed some light on your spat with the original Arthur, Mr. Dudley Moore.

A: I am not legally “obligated” to speak on that matter, but I will say that was a rough patch in my life.  I was hanging out with a rough crowd, and doing “things”, copious amounts of “things”.

P: Was part of that crowd the famous author and infamous heroin junky, William S. Burroughs?

(graphic by: jeremy schuler)

A: Yes, William was a good friend of mine.  We were almost inseparable.  Attached at the hip, and tied at the arm, so to speak.

P: How did you first meet Burroughs?

A: In a junk house believe it or not.  Fozzie Bear was really into the beatnik scene, and of course with most comedians comes a troubled and twisted look on society and depression and whatever kind of terrible shit you can dredge up on the sea floor.  So naturally, he fell into heroin.  What ended up happening was that he took me with him one night to score, and when we get to the house there’s Burroughs, cooking up a fresh batch.  He instantly became paranoid about the fact that a talking bear wearing a polka dot bow tie and a fedora accompanied by a pink shaggy haired orange creature were walking about.  By the end of the experience, I vomited on him, he urinated upon me, the whole thing was an extremely awkward first encounter.

P: And how exactly did you two become friends after a meeting like that?

A: Through the heroin mainly.  But he really liked that I was a  fan of his writing and a bit of a writer myself.  Said it “Baffles my mind at how prolific and real a fuzzy orange creature could be.”

P: That is quite a compliment.

A: Somewhat.  I still believe he thought I was a figment of his imagination.  He was pretty strung out.  He’d call me his “little apparition from God”.  It’s one thing to be so strung out and see little creatures running about, but for it to be real and having it sharing needles with you. I just think he had a difficult time swallowing that pill.

P: You said Burroughs enjoyed the fact that you were a writer.  What kind of writing did/do you do?

A: A lot of poetry mainly.

P: Any samples?

A: Sure, here’s one of Borrough’s favorites:

                 

                  Wo.

                  Man.

                  Woe.

                  Man.

                  WoMan.

                 

                  Click your feet.

                  Heel. Toe. Heel. Toe.

                  Click your feet.

                  Drum. Beat. Drum. Feat.

 

                  Go.

                  WoMan.

                  AloNe.

                  No Wo.

                  No Man.

P: That was beautiful.

A: Eh.

P: Now you also had quite a friendship with the movie star James Coburn at one point, correct?

A: Yes, James and I were a volatile pair, regardless of the transcendental meditation.

P: To say the least.  The both of you physically assaulted the majority of the cast of The Muppet Show, on air, no less.

A: Ha, yes.  We most certainly did.

P: Any drug use involved there?

A: I’ll just say, that it was most definitely “snowing” at the time.

P: Gotcha. And that stunt, if I’m not mistaken, resulted in your termination with not only The Muppets, but also got you annexed from your band Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

A: Somewhat.  It was the reason for me departing with The Muppets, but was only the tip of the iceberg for the Electric Mayhem.

P: Is there any truth behind you attacking Dr. Teeth with a broken whisky bottle during a studio session.

A: Again not entirely legally obligated to speak on the matter, but yes.  Like I said, tip of the iceberg.

P: So I’m curious about your relationship with Jim Henson, many things have been said, some good, mostly bad. Care to shine a light?

A: It…. It… was… i…

(At this point Animal becomes noticeably uncomfortable.  He begins shifting wildly back and forth in his seat.  His eyes dart around randomly and he begins pulling on a cigarette as if he were trying pull fire straight into his lungs.  I now worry that it may have been a sodium dagger in an open wound.)

P: So, it’s a fairly strong rumor, fact even, that you are quite the connoisseur of women.

A: I wouldn’t call it a connoisseur “situation”, truth is I’m a sex addict.

P: Really?

A: Yes, I’ve been apart of sex therapy groups and sexaholics anonymous for years.  More than I’d care to think about.

P: This explains the relationship with the likes of Courtney Love.

A: That’s a can of worms not even a fish could stomach.

P: I must say, I’m quite surprised how, well, well-spoken and mild mannered you are.  Growing up I saw you on the Muppets and at shows and you were, well, a Neanderthal.

A: Yeah well you try and operate like a well adjusted civilized human being when the inside of your veins are coated thick with black-tar, and your nose is raw from a steady flow of dope.  Of course I came off as an “Animal”.

(i have no association with jim henson studios, or the muppet show. all prior writings are meant for shits and giggles, blah blah blah legality terms and what not)

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