February 22, 2017
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars during 2017, on the subject of our favorite squads.
They’re a band with a great R&B horn section. They’re a group of hackers, surgeons, test pilots, and renegade scientists working on cryogenetics and maybe time travel. They’re a street gang with varied weapons skills and demolitions specialties. They produce race cars, comic books, action figures, journal articles, mended brains, and broken hearts. The Hong Kong Cavaliers, Buckaroo Banzai’s hand-picked crew of dandyish comrades for adventures across the eighth dimension (1984) are a giddy mash-up of every all-sorts team of awesome from Doc Savage’s Fabulous Five and the Avengers to their own dark future inversion, Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992).
The Cavaliers can do everything, they are everything: that’s the point. Coded by nickname — Reno, Rawhide, New Jersey, and Perfect Tommy, “the knight of the lesser boulevards” — they battle interdimensional villains from within Banzai Institute HQ in Holland Township. No uniforms needed for these paragons, just an array of riffs on slick early-’80s styling: skinny ties, hoisted jacket sleeves, popped collars. When New Jersey (Jeff Goldblum), a Columbia colleague of Buckaroo (Peter Weller), joins the Cavs at the film’s beginning he shows up wearing an outlandish Tom-Mix-style cowboy rig-out, complete with shearling chaps and vast silk neckerchief. No problem, he’ll fit right in; plus he can sing, and dance a little.
The film is a sublime goof of romance, SF, and comedy, featuring John Lithgow in a scenery-chewing performance as mad Dr. Emilio Lizardo, but its basic message is timeless. The evil Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems corporation (slyly migrated over from Pynchon’s V. ), fronts for the invading Red Lectroids. In Yoyodyne’s Jersey factory a PA message is on permanent repeat: “The only joy is the joy of duty. Work… work… work…” The Cavaliers’ basic mission is the eternal one of idler’s emancipation: if you’re having fun, it’s not work. And remember… don’t be mean, we don’t have to be mean. Because no matter where you go, there you are.
MORE KINGWELL at HILOBROW: TALISMANIC OBJECTS: ZIPPO | #SQUADGOALS: THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | HERMENAUTIC TAROT: THE WARY WATCHERS | KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: HARPER | QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: TAINTED LOVE | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM: NORTH STAR SNEAKERS & GWG JEANS | CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM: OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM: GILL SANS | KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM: Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | Plus: HILO HERO items on Roland Barthes, Muriel Spark, Iain Banks, Slavoj Zizek, Hannah Arendt, Andy Kaufman, and many others.
#SQUADGOALS: Annie Nocenti on THE WILD BUNCH | Alice Boone on PRETTY LITTLE LIARS | Gordon Dahlquist on BOWIE’S BAND | Rob Wringham on THE HOME GUARD | Jennifer Krasinski on WATERSHIP DOWN RABBITS | Annalee Newitz on ROBIN HOOD’S MERRY PALS | Adrienne Crew on THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | Mark Kingwell on THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | Adam McGovern on KAMANDI’S FAMILY | John Overholt on THE CLUB | Greg Rowland on THE VULTURE SQUADRON | Sara Ryan on BETSY, TACY & TIB | Chelsey Johnson on VI ÄR BÄST! | Brian Berger on THE JOHN FORD STOCK COMPANY | Sherri Wasserman on THE WARRIORS | Jessamyn West on FAREYNIKTE PARTIZANER ORGANIZATSYE | Josh Glenn on DADA | Matthew De Abaitua on THE TIME | Mandy Keifetz on THE FOUNDING FATHERS | William Nericcio on ZOOT SUIT PACHUCOS | Deb Chachra on FIREFLY CREW | Matthew Battles on THE ANIMAL FAMILY | Ingrid Schorr on THE HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS | Joe Alterio on THE USUAL GANG OF IDIOTS | Dan Reines on THE BREAKFAST CLUB | Rob Walker on LES TROIS INSÉPARABLES | Devin McKinney on 1975 RED SOX | Steph Burt on DAMAGE CONTROL | Elina Shatkin on THE HOLOGRAMS | Chris Spurgeon on THE ALKALI METALS | Carl Wilson on NEW YORK SCHOOL POETS | Barbara Bogaev on THE MOD SQUAD | Franklin Bruno on THE AACM | Judith Zissman on THE FUTURIANS | Mimi Zeiger on ARCHIGRAM | Jacob Mikanowski on THE RATBASTARDS | Lynn Peril on THE DALY SISTERS | Katie Hennessey on BEAT POETS | Peter Doyle on CORNEL WILDE BOYS | Gary Panter on THE TRIBE OF HIPPIES | Mimi Lipson on THE RUNAWAYS | Ken Layne on THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG | Molly Wright Steenson on BAUHAUS | Anindita Basu Sempere on MEG MURRY’S FAMILY | Jordan Ellenberg on BOUBAKI | Libi Rose on THE ENIAC TEAM | Kio Stark on TBD | Deborah Wassertzug on THE BLOODHOUND GANG | Colin Dickey on ACÉPHALE | Anthony Miller on TBD | David Smay on THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO | Karinne Keithley Syers on BLACK LIPS PERFORMANCE CULT.
KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other neo-noir movies. #SQUADGOALS (2017 weekly): THE WILD BUNCH | BOWIE’S BAND | THE BLOOMSBURY GROUP | THE HONG KONG CAVALIERS | VI ÄR BÄST! & dozens of other squads | GROK MY ENTHUSIASM (2016 weekly): THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF LUNCH | WEEKEND | MILLION YEAR PICNIC | LA BARONNE EMILE D’ERLANGER | THE SURVIVAL SAMPLER | & dozens more one-off enthusiasms. QUIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2016): “Tainted Love” | “Metal” | “Frankie Teardrop” | “Savoir Faire” | “Broken English” | & 20 other new wave songs. CROM YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2015): DARKER THAN YOU THINK | THE SWORD IN THE STONE | OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET | THIEVES’ HOUSE | QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST | & 20 other fantasy novels from 1934–43. KERN YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2014): ALDINE ITALIC | DATA 70 | TORONTO SUBWAY | JOHNSTON’S “HAMLET” | TODD KLONE | & 20 other typefaces. HERC YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2013): “Spoonin’ Rap” | “Rapper’s Delight” | “Rappin’ Blow” | “The Incredible Fulk” | “The Adventures of Super Rhyme” | & 20 other old-school hip-hop songs. KIRK YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2012): Justice or vengeance? | Kirk teaches his drill thrall to kiss | “KHAAAAAN!” | “No kill I” | Kirk browbeats NOMAD | & 20 other Captain Kirk scenes. KIRB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2011): THE ETERNALS | BLACK MAGIC | DEMON | OMAC | CAPTAIN AMERICA | & 20 other Jack Kirby panels.