March 15, 2017
One in a series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars during 2017, on the subject of our favorite squads.
Like most six-year olds in the early 1970s, I found the cultural and ideological affiliations of Hanna-Barbera characters relatively easy to decipher. Yet Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines wilfully defied ideological analysis or cultural location. They used a number of ill-conceived contraptions to catch a pigeon, who was clearly identified as American (“Yankee-Doodle Pigeon”) but their own allegiances were unclear. It was a shame that the Tourette’s-riddled Klunk, a designer of some genius, never did quite fulfill his brief to construct a weapon that destroyed the pigeon, because Yankee-Doodle Pigeon would be considered (for those foolish enough to believe in the Santa Claus Semiotics of Greimasian Semiotic Squares) as an anti-anti-hero – that is, a hero who had no personality and evoked no sympathy.
Dastardly’s eternal faith in Klunk’s planes, always an inevitable plunge to a cartoon-recoverable crater-crash doom, showed him as a devotee of Thanatos. Muttley, a sufferer of doggie Tourette’s, could always escape ‘death’ by using his tail as a helicopter blade to gently guide his descent to the earth. (Apparently, all dogs have this basic aeronoautical capability, but please don’t experiment with your own pets, just in case I’ve got this wrong.)
It is Zilly, of course, who is the rationalist of the troupe. A translator of Klunk’s wheezes and whistles, he descends into his trench coat, into the earth itself, in order to avoid what is clearly yet another suicide mission, albeit saved by Freud’s Fantasy of the Immortality of the Ego, from which the troupe benefit in every episode, merely bruised and angered by mortal falls from an indifferent sky…
And so, to quote my six-year-old self’s essay on My Favourite TV Show: “I like Dastardly & Muttley and their friends because they simultaneously embrace the inevitability of death while challenging the possibility of mortal closure, through a devotion to an analogue mechanical hyperbole which I fear will be lost to a morass of half-death disparities that the digital world of my adulthood will announce with its clown-face of despair. And I like the funny planes, too.”
#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 | Anindita Basu Sempere on MEG MURRY’S FAMILY | Libi Rose on THE ENIAC TEAM | Gary Panter on THE TRIBE OF HIPPIES | Peter Doyle on CORNEL WILDE BOYS | Ken Layne on THE MONKEY WRENCH GANG | Molly Wright Steenson on BAUHAUS | Katie Hennessey on BEAT POETS | Jordan Ellenberg on BOUBAKI | Mimi Lipson on THE RUNAWAYS | Kio Stark on THE WILDCATS | Deborah Wassertzug on THE BLOODHOUND GANG | Colin Dickey on ACÉPHALE | Michael Campochiaro on THE SUICIDE SQUAD | David Smay on THE MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF THE OINGO BOINGO | Karinne Keithley Syers on BLACK LIPS PERFORMANCE CULT.
WOWEE ZOWEE (2018 weekly): UNISEX | UNDER THE PINK | DUMMY | AMOR PROHIBIDO | HIPS AND MAKERS | & dozens of other Nineties (1994–2003) albums. KLUTE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2017): THE KILLERS | BANDE À PART (BAND OF OUTSIDERS) | ALPHAVILLE | HARPER | BLOW-UP | & 20 other Sixties (1964–1973) 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.