The Hidden Anguish of the Mouseketeers by Gary Indiana

BOMB 9 Spring 1984
009 Spring Summer 1984
Bomb 9 Brezniski 001 Body

Edward Brezinski, Woyzek, 1983, acrylic on canvas, 26 × 30 inches.

1. A Nasty Surprise

Someone must have traduced Annette Von Funicello, for she awoke one morning in the full effulgence of a migraine to discover two youthful, doltish, “virile looking,” and, unmistakably, police officers, murmuring at a scarcely respectful distance from her canopied bed. Cubby, who happened still to be holding the breakfast tray, stood agape in the doorway. Annette had long considered Cubby a trifle dopey, but there could be no excuse for his present immobility. Why hadn’t he phoned the Club attorney?

“We’d like to ask you a few questions,” said one of the officers. He flashed a spurious-looking badge as Annette sat up against her foam rubber pillows.

“What are you doing in my bedroom? What kind of questions?”

“Show her the picture, Ron,” the blond one’s beefier, dark-haired companion quietly urged. Cubby ran squealing from the doorway into the bosky depths of the hall. “Ron” extracted a grainy, matte-surfaced photograph from a vest pocket and moved closer to the bed. Annette, reaching for her reading glasses on the night table, knocked over in her distress the glass of Tang that Cubby had, at least, remembered to place there during the night. Glasses on, she squinted at the photo and absently chewed her Flintstone morning vitamin.

“Can you identify this picture?”

“Of course I can. That’s Sunny. She’s one of my dearest friends.”

Then the idea that something terrible had happened spread panic to the very roots of Annette’s hairdo. But how absurd, she had lunched with Sunny just yesterday at the Old World Coffee House: steak au poivre, not very tasty but Disney was paying for it, at least she hadn’t suffered any blow to the pocketbook.

Ron caught Annette’s look of panic. His face sagged in a moue of honorary sympathy.

“Is she—”

“Dead? Not exactly.”

There ensued a dreadful silence, in which the only sound, to her own considerable annoyance, was that of Annette crunching the grape-flavored vitamin pill.

“Almost,” Ron’s partner broke in at last with a soothing redundance, “Not quite.”

And then everything went haywire. She felt herself being dragged to the door, still in her nightie, kicking and screaming and tears pouring down her chin, Cubby flitting into view and then, coward that he was, fleeing to the servant’s quarters. She broke from the blonde one’s grip and lurched sobbing to her dresser, snatching her Club Ears from their place of honor on the magenta wig stand. She placed them defiantly atop her tangled, still-jet-black hair, forcing a dignity she did not feel as she left the room. Let them jeer, as they so often had during the Years of Persecution. She was proud to be a Mousketeer.


2. Interrogation

“You’re not being charged with anything, sister,” the one called Ronald McDonald chided her in the paddy wagon. “I don’t know why you’re getting all bent out of shape.”

“You don’t understand,” Annette spluttered. “All these questions about Howdy, I mean, jeepers, are you ever barking up the wrong tree! Howdy wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“Okay, okay, you’ll get your day in court, don’t worry. No thanks to the Mickey Mouse Club, we’ve still got something called Do Process in the US of A”

“No thanks to the LA police force either,” Annette retorted, folding her arms peevishly athwart her housecoat’s quilted bunting. Silence descended as they waited for a light to change on La Ciénega. They were threading through the streets in a serpentine pattern, as if eluding a tail. The San Bernadino hills were cloaked in delicate folds of scorched yellow mist. When they passed the newsstand on Pico, Annette’s eyes zoomed automatically to the latest Post headline. DUMMY IN A COMA, she read, as they roared away down Pico.

In the station house they pushed her into a vomit-green, square room in which a dust-encrusted set of fan blades whirred ineffectually overhead and a 60 watt bulb, pendant on a rusted chain, met her gaze at eye level. She found it difficult to get the fat man behind the desk in focus: there were smelly, stinging clouds of cigar smoke interdigitating lazily in the air between them. All she could really make out was an unappetizing mound of belly poking between the buttons of a Glen Plaid shirt, a set of rheumy black eyes watering freely behind a pair of wire-rims, and what appeared to be a ruby signet ring embedded in the fatty layers of a middle finger: Sheriff von Zeil, according to a fake gold name plate attached to the base of a pen holder inches from her breasts.

“Well, well, well,” came a croaky baritone behind the smoke. “My wife just isn’t gonna believe I had Annette von Funicello sittin’ right in my office this afternoon, no siree Bob, I can’t hardly believe it myself.”

She had a right to remain silent, she recalled. She had realized in the squad car that she was getting her period and she’d forgotten to put a napkin in her purse and if she started bleeding here in the Sheriffs office she really would need that weekend at La Costa they had been tactfully suggesting at the studio.

“Smile, kid, lighten up,” Sheriff von Zeil cackled. “You look as if your favorite uncle died at dawn.”

“If you don’t mind,” Annette blurted, “I’d like to know why I’ve been brought down here.”

“You would,” von Zeil said. A beat. “Okay. We got an attempted homicide that could roll right into Murder One any minute now, we got a prime suspect who seems to have jumped the County, and we got a phone call from a friend of yours who thinks you’ve been, how can I put, enjoying intimate relations with our missing person. You want me to translate that or do you get the picture?”


So they knew. Annette’s fingertips trembled: not enough, she hoped, for the mountain of blubber across the desk to notice it, but plenty to let her know how difficult the next few hours were going to be. They’d been so careful. But someone, she couldn’t imagine who (or was it whom?), must have gleaned something from her voice on the telephone—or perhaps some momentary flash of tenderness in her eyes when Howdy’s name came up. Clarabelle? Annette shrank from the idea. Clarabelle was too bovine for that sort of intuition, and anyway too warm-hearted to squeal to the cops. Summerfallwinterspring? Ixnay, she was in Ibiza and, besides, completely gone on heroin. Then it came to her. That afternoon last week when she’d run into Lucrezia von Debbi in Chalet Gourmet. Oh God yes, Annette’s feverish mind ran the film loop of that afternoon in a nauseating flash: she’d just been fitted for the new IUD and filled Dr. von Kiley’s librium prescription at Schwob’s, everything had gone funny all day because Ted had called threatening to take the kids away from her for the fifth time that week, Annette had needed a Singapore Sling bad and Lucrezia was never one to forestall a cocktail. Yes, if she thought back on it there was a blind spot in that afternoon, somewhere after the sixth Sling and trying to get Howdy from the pay phone in Musso & Frank’s, a gray-fading-to-black congestion of the day’s miseries, building to a weeping fit and a choked confession. And Lucrezia had never forgiven her for those three weeks with Alexander in Cozumel even though Alex and Lucrezia had been kaputtski for over a year by that time, no, people never forgave you anything, Annette concluded in an access of rue. Across the desk, Sheriff von Zeil cleared his throat.


3. Waiting for Howdy

By six o’clock that evening, everyone in Los Angeles County within range of a television set had learned that Sunny von Doody, an oil and steel heiress with assets in the hundred millions, had gone into toxic epoxy coma the night before; that her husband, Howdy von Doody, had been present in their Encino triplex at the time, and could not be located for questioning; that the LAPD had questioned Annette von Funicello, an aging Disney starlet and former Mouseketeer, who was widely believed to be the mistress of Howdy von Doody and a possible material witness in the police investigation. Certain other facts had leaked into the media. Howdy von Doody had recently expressed his marital unhappiness to an unnamed soap opera star in the course of a gambling weekend in Vegas. An internationally famous novelist pal of Sunny von Doody had confided to a talk show host that Sunny was a known “glue poker” and had once excused herself during a luncheon at the Russian Tea Room to inject epoxy resin into her wooden joints. “She came back to the table looking positively exhilarated,” the novelist lisped wickedly in front of thirty million viewers. “You know, if you agitate the joints it sends the glue up through the bloodstream into the brain. If you don’t … well, you get bonded. She offered me some but I don’t need glue to expand my consciousness.” Some of the wire services had taken down an uncorroborated statement from someone in the DA’s office that Annette von Funicello was “in this thing over her head” and that Howdy von Doody had been spotted in Mexico City. Disney’s had originally claimed that Howdy was stumping for cystic fibrosis with Bob Hope on one of the Cape Verde Islands, then rescinded the statement, pleading a mixup in their public relations department. Meanwhile, Sunny von Doody was still on a respirator at Cedars of Lebanon.


She always knew from his tone of voice how the conversation would go and where it would end: Listen, he’d say, I love you, you know that. And she’d say nothing. In the silence that followed she could hear him regretting the call, hating her, wondering what he’d done to deserve such a bitch for a wife. Maybe we could try again, she’d say. All right, he’d say with a certain formality. A beat. Well, she’d conclude, maybe it’s not such a great idea. Fuck you, he’d say. Why don’t you just die.

“What is it, Teddy.”

She was watching the six o’clock news with the sound lowered. Clarabelle von Cow was telling reporters what she knew, a half-minute segment. Then a Purolator spot, then an ad for a swap meet in Culver City.

“I’d like to know,” Teddy was saying, his voice going shrill, “what you’re doing in a motel on Vermont Avenue.” Annette watched as a housewife in Topanga Canyon showed reporters the dioxin spill ruining her ice plant. As you can see, the housewife was saying, this has really set us back on our fire insurance. Annette mumbled the words inaudibly.

“How’s the shooting going?”

“Oh, just great,” Teddy said. “We’ve had reporters crawling all over the place for two days. They want to know why my wife’s fucking a wooden dummy, you know? And if anybody knows where the dummy is.”

Annette replaced the receiver in its cradle gently, almost tenderly. The phone began ringing again immediately. She swallowed several librium with a glass of gin and squeezed her eyes shut and waited for relief to spread over her.

In the dream she was told that the motel room on Vermont was “part of that operation,” that she would not be affected in any way, that her job was merely to sterilize the syringes, and that what was happening in the bathroom was “a purely therapeutic procedure.” In the dream Howdy was there, manfully reassuring, strapping Sunny to the operating table with a stoical smile.

“The kids are asking for you,” Cubby’s whine interrupted Annette’s train of thought. She was writing a list of things she would never do. Annette would never: borrow furs from Captain Kangaroo, walk an ocelot through Disneyland, do S&M with Miss Piggy.

“The kids are asking for me,” Annette replied dully.

“Like, they would like to see their mother, capiche? I mean it’s normal, Annette, a kid expects to see his mom when he gets home from school.”

“Why don’t you just dress up in some of my clothes this afternoon,” Annette heard herself saying, “and give them some milk and cookies. And some Ritalin, it’s in the shelf over the PastaMaker. I’ll bet they won’t even notice the difference.”

She heard Cubby’s sharp intake of breath. She was looking at photographs of herself that had accompanied an article on Sunny von Doody in yesterday’s Enquirer. They were not pictures the studio normally sent out. Annette wondered when, exactly, the pictures had been taken.

“Ted would like to take them for the weekend,” Cubby let out finally.

“No,” Annette said.

“Ted says he hasn’t had the kids for two months. Ted says their mother isn’t looking out for them. Ted says he thinks you’re in kind of questionable shape in the nervous breakdown department.”

“I don’t give a flying fuck what Ted says,” Annette screamed, banging down the phone. The door of the motel room flew open and three heavily armed dwarfs came into the room. A fourth stood guard in the doorway.

“Okay,” Annette pleaded. “Okay. You win. Where’s Howdy?”


4. The Trial

The dwarfs had been extremely useful during the Years of Persecution in scouting out catacombs and other peculiar, forgotten features of the LA sewer system. No one had worn the Club Ears in those days, even at meetings, but instead gave Masonic-type signs to each other in places like Perino’s and the Brown Derby. For over a year, Annette had worn a blonde wig and Lolita sunglasses and registered in hotels as Rosa von Praline.

Amazingly, the Club had survived the Blacklist and the Big Bird Hearing and the daily vendettas of the LA Times with some of its membership intact. While Annette had been Club Chairman, the Central Committee had routed the Donald von Duckites and mercilessly exposed the Uncle Scrooges, who were in the pay of the Rocky-Bullwinkle faction. In all, 15 Mouseketeers had been purged, including six members of the original Club. But for every comrade expelled, the Club had gained at least three converts. In the end, Annette recalled with pride, Disney’s had knuckled under the “illegal” union. They’d all gotten lifetime, renegotiable contracts, cost-of-living stipulations, retroactive points in Mickey Mouse Club re-runs, and, on Annette’s insistence, hereditary titles.

Today, of course, it was considered rather soigné to belong, though Hollywood seemed divided right down the middle on the Club politically—in fact, wearing the Club Ears could still provoke ugly incidents with the von Duckites and other reactionary elements. Public meetings were still verboten. Members played down the Club’s more serious goals in public, acting as if it were more a nostalgic social organization than an active revolutionary force. In that way, they’d actually roped in some big names and got some of the high rollers and their checkbooks to turn up at Club functions: fellow travelers, of course, but useful.

As the dwarfs guided her through the sewer Annette had a sudden, sharp memory of her encounter, a few weeks earlier, with Lillian von Helmet, an ancient foe from the Years of Persecution. Once upon a time, von Helmet had written an odious pro-Duckite script for Disney’s Duck Star. Annette, who had led the attack against the Personality Cult that Disney’s was promoting around Donald von Duck, had become von Helmet’s particular target. In the time after Walt’s death, Mickey had become nothing but a puppet of the von Duckite faction, and it seemed inevitable, for a time, that Donald von Duck would become the absolute dictator of Disney Studios. Annette still believed firmly that Mickey had perished, not from pneumonia as Donald’s paid stooges claimed, but at the hands of the Cartoonists, who would certainly have been purged themselves if Donald hadn’t stroked out. It was all ancient history, but running into Lillian in the linens department of the Broadway had given Annette more than a bad moment. True, Lillian now looked so creased and withered that even the Blackglama she was sporting did nothing to curb her resemblance to a Chinese cabbage.

“If it isn’t Annette von Funicello as I live and breathe,” von Helmet had gushed, flapping a Diane von Furstenberg pillowcase right in Annette’s face. “How’s life treating my favorite pigeon?”

It was always best to treat Lillian as if she were an utterly lovable, totally senile but culturally significant institution and to ignore her provocative remarks as well as her endless revisions of her personal history. After all, she had written the immortal “Pimento” and several plays of a generally von Duckite character that were rather better than, for example, Workers of the Walt Disney Studios and similar efforts of Mouseketeer Realism.

“Why Lillian,” Annette had effused, holding at bay the colorful pillowcase as well as the old biddy’s puckering lips, “Nothing ages you, I do believe you are timeless.”

“I have a long memory, though,” von Helmet replied tartly. “It seems for instance only yesterday that Dash and I were watching you and Howdy von Doody growing up on television.”

The thought had often come to Annette, idly, at times like these: I bet she didn’t even know Dash. And though Dash himself had hardly been a day at the beach personality-wise, Annette always compared him favorably, in memory, to von Helmet herself. Surely the presence of this mythomaniacal fury in any person’s life would readily lead to complete alcoholism.

And now, as Grumpy and Dizzy and Dopey and Sneezy threw the massive bolts of the Club’s secret entrance door, it came to her that of course Lucrezia von Debbi had not been the one to sic the locals on her: funny, the fact of her and Howdy’s names spilling forth from von Helmet’s mouth in unison that afternoon hadn’t struck Annette as at all memorable till now. She’d assumed, oh how wrongly!, that von Helmet was so far into her dotage that little things like the sex lives of her old adversaries would go right past her. Time, after all, had frozen Lillian herself into a block of mud. Leave it to a von Duckite to know every secret! There were probably von Helmet microphones in Annette’s pillows!



They fell into each other’s arms like leaves in a storm drain. She covered his freckles with joyful kisses, felt his stolid hands on her erecting nipples. Her heart felt ready to burst.

“That’s enough of that,” a voice screamed from the peanut gallery. Cubby. It figured. Annette’s eyes slowly adjusted to the half-light: the light of interrogations, of the old purges, of—of, oh God!, the von Duckite horrors they had all put behind them so long ago. They were ringed, it appeared, by the full club membership: Lonnie and Chuck and Cindi and Doris and Billy and Ned and Dolores, all in their Ears, all with a certain grim set of their jaws gazing down at she herself and pale, perspiring Howdy. And in the very center of Headquarters, in the hidden heart of the greatest studio the world had ever, would ever know, was Walt, cryogenically preserved, awaiting the summons of future history to perpetrate even greater deeds than those of his First Life.

“Can the mush, Comrade Annette. We’re here on serious business.” Lonnie wouldalways revert to that stale Club jargon when he was upset.

“Haven’t I been through enough, downtown with von Zeil?”

“The fact is,” Cindi brayed, leaping up from her chair and pointing her finger, “Comrade von Doody has grossly injured the reputation of the Club. Imagine how this shameful episode has played into the hands of the Bloc of Muppets and von Duckites! All because of personal greed,” Cindi sneered unbecomingly.

“It seems to me,” Annette said with a bright smile, “that you haven’t given Howdy a fair hearing.” She beamed at him, aroused.

Howdy, however, turned a wan, sinking countenance to the assembly of Mouseketeers. A grave twinkle appeared in his exopthalmic eyes.

“I did it,” he sighed.

Annette gasped. Cubby chuckled. Lonnie sucked perplexedly on his pipe. Cindi snorted. Dizzy, Dopey, and Grumpy chortled. Sneezy slapped his thigh.

Others had similar reactions.

“But wait until you hear,” Howdy said, drawing himself up to his full heroic stature, “why I did it.”

“Who cares why,” Dolores jeered, waving him away with a distasteful motion. “Boy, you really fucked up the Club Image. I mean we’re about as welcome in Hollywood now as a bunch of skunks at a lawn party. And when I think about poor Sunny just laying in Cedars like some discarded vegetable—”

“Comrades. I understand your feelings, but I think when I’ve told my side of the story you’ll experience a change of heart!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Cubby wisecracked, “and I’m the Princess Casamassima.”

Annette could stand no more of their insouciance. And yet why had he done it?


5. Howdy’s Confession

Comrades, the History of our Club is a long and glorious one. Though our true father is Walt, who discovered the laws of history through the method of dialectical cartoonism, our leader is Mickey and the revolt He led against the bosses who usurped Walt’s Studio and betrayed Walt’s Revolution. Our road has not been easy. But throughout our struggles, Mickey has been our inspiration and our living guide. Mickey lived, Mickey lives, Mickey will live! And yet the road to revolutionary truth is paved with the dangers of falsehoods. As Comrade Mickey showed us, history is neither a straight line nor a circle, but a parabola intersected at many points by isosceles triangles of historical error.

Our enemies are legion, and our Club has often been subverted from within. The von Duckite heresy and Personality Cult were odious, but this should never blind us to the more heinous crimes against the Club committed by those who pretended to follow the Club line even when these errors had been exposed and criticized. I refer here especially, as you well know, to those fellow travelers who after much hesitation joined the Club, persons of considerable wealth who then failed to support the Club, retained control of their material belongings and, in every case, ultimately left the Club, often joining forces with the von Duckites. You know who they are: the Heiresses, the Debutantes, the Nobleroid faction. The Debbies were particularly harmful to our revolutionary cause, demoralizing our theoreticians and our cultural workers with expensive parties and costly gifts. Indeed, the Debitic influence persists to this day.

You know that the Years of Persecution seriously depleted the Club Treasury and that for years those of us committed to revolutionary work tried to think up ways of insuring economic stability for the Club. While it was Mickey’s genius to devise the concept of Disneyland-in-one-country, many lesser cadres shouldered the task of economic survival. No one was more obsessed with this problem than I. And then, at last, a solution appeared. As you know, subsequent to the Persecution Period I often travelled our nation soliciting funds and giving talks to sympathetic organizations. In the course of those travels, and I say this with no sense of boasting, I personally made many sacrifices. In fact I am ashamed of those sacrifices because they were practically on a level with prostitution. It is an unfortunate fact, comrades, that nature has cursed me with a large penis. And often on those lecture tours and grass-roots organizing junkets, wealthy women would agree to donate, say, one thousand, two thousand, on one occasion up to ten thousand dollars in exchange for the temporary use of my body. And, though my revulsion about making love to those women may have been great, my love for the Club overcame it. I might as well confess that on more than one occasion, I was propositioned by men as well. And, yes, my love for the Club overcame my revulsion in those instances as well.

Nor did I confine these fund-raising acts of love simply to men and women. I, as you all know, am myself a wooden dummy. We’re all familiar with the sexual perversions that are rampant among the caviar classes. In a physical sense I debased myself hundreds of times for the higher purpose of getting money for the Club. If a single Mouseketeer sleeps easier at night knowing that his Pension Fund won’t be bankrupt when age 65 rolls around, those debasements were worth it as far as I’m concerned.

This brings me to the most painful topic of all. Perhaps I deserve expulsion from the Club for having maintained a veneer of happy marriage all these years with Sunny. But the simple fact is that I married Sunny for her money. For the higher cause of making sure those four hundred million capitalist smackeroos ended up in the Club Treasury when Sunny passed on. I never loved her. And to my horror, shortly after our sacrificial marriage of convenience I discovered that she was a total reprobate, a glue fiend whose depraved appetites exceeded even the worst decadence of the furies I surrendered my body to for the purpose of raising funds. Some of the things Sunny expected me to do, usually involving my large penis, were of an indescribable filth, spreading shame on both of us and often on others. Yet I kept firm in my resolve, to remain wedded to Sunny in order to someday transfer her fortune to the Club.

Then the unthinkable happened. One night while dragging Sunny up to bed—she had overdosed on epoxy and had to be agitated for 20 minutes to keep her from bonding—a secret diary she had been keeping fell out of her purse. Naturally, I read it, and what I read stood my hair on end, not literally but you get my meaning. That diary has been on my person ever since. That very night I resolved to kill Sunny and settle the estate as quickly as possible. If you, comrades, will be so kind as to look it over, perhaps now you will understand why.


6. The Diary of Sunny von Doody

                                                                                                       April 28, 1984

Dear Diary,

It took forever to get the Dummy out of the house this afternoon. Was I ever panicked, let me tell you. First of all I needed to do a poke, you know how he hates that. I’ve told the little runt a million times, if there was any thing wrong with mainlining resin they wouldn’t sell it over the counter in hardware stores. But you know how lily pure these obnoxious mouseketeers are! A real bunch of Calvinists, and I don’t mean Calvin von Klein. Anyway, it was after the poke I was worried about, because I told Lillian von Helmet she could come over here and get a check for $37,000 to pay for the booze at the von Duckite Party Convention next week. Dum Dum naturally would have a conniption if he saw Lillian skulking around here. So I had a poke and that set me up for my day, then Lillian came over and naturally we broke out the tequila and started talking about how much it would cost to really do the number and blow up Waifs Tomb. A few of the really far lefties in the Rocky-Bullwinkle Alliance say they’ll actually do it, if somebody springs for gelignite and a helicopter and some minor expenses—false mustaches and so on, the usual. So, the Dummy and the little rats he hangs out with may be getting a real bang out of their next get together. I drank some more tequila and Lillian started getting all maudlin over Dash and Donald and how between the two of them she had really had her only true experience of Love, and now all she ever feels is Anger. Well, all that ever means is she wants to bump pussy, and this time I called her on it. Because just yesterday I found this STUPENDOUS two-headed dildo at a swap meet in Glendale, 12 jumbo inches and the width of a baby’s legs. While Lillian waxed all lyrical about how Dash had stood up to the Committee and refused to sell out Donald and especially how brave she’d been personally (except I know they both stooled on everybody in a secret session) I tiptoed into the toilet and removed the lid of the septic tank where I’ve been stashing this banana, got some Dippety-Do from the medicine cabinet, mixed some epoxy and did another poke, greased up the two-pronged whang with the Dippety-Do and came back into the kitchen with it strapped on under my sundress. Lillian was recounting her testimony before the Committee between huge swallows of Jose Cuervo, and boy did her eyes bug out of her head when she got a load of what I was sporting between my legs! You never saw anybody flop themselves on top of a kitchen table quicker than Lillian did when she saw that humdinger coming at her! While I was letting her have it and plenty of it fast and furious she kept chanting, “Promise you’ll bankroll the Tomb Job, if we can blow Disney off the map the future is ours!” Meanwhile she came about ten times and by the time she left the whole house smelled of Dippety-Do and dripping von Helmet. Wow! I figured I still had time before Howdy showed up to check out some bargains on Rodeo Drive and maybe ball the gardener if he was finished cleaning the pool by the time I got back … also must remember to pick up six pounds of Beluga caviar on the way home …


                                                                                                       May 2, 1984

Dear Diary,

Just did my bookkeeping for the quarter. Whew! What a load of cash I’ve been dumping into the von Duckite Party!


Lillian’s dress                                                 $20,000
Booze                                                              $37,000
Chow                                                             $150,000
Explosives                                                       $90,000
Disguises                                                         $50,000
Party Favors                                                    $80,000


And that’s the tip of the iceberg! Howdy would sure shit his pants if he got a gander at my check stubs. But you know him, all he ever thinks about is the Club and Mickey’s teachings, and how the Club can implement their policy on a revolutionary basis. What a bore. You’d think there was nothing better to do in life than hash over these stale theoretical dogmas that practically don’t have anything to do with having fun and spending money. The sooner we wipe out that entire bunch of turds the better, that’s the way I see it.


7. Trial and Error

Annette put down the diary, brushing tears of anguish from her cheeks. The others, too, wept freely as the document passed from hand to hand. The shame of her injustice mingled with theirs and added to the pang of knowing how Howdy must have suffered at Sunny’s hands. That Howdy was a true old mole, a revolutionary hero of the Club whose self-effacing acts had led others to think him a traitor, was the thought in everybody’s mind. Annette was probably the only Mouseketeer who recognized the handwriting in the diary as Howdy’s own, but that, as she knew, meant nothing. The diary contained an historical truth, even if it were only a facsimile of the diary Sunny actually kept—or, as had often been the case with the other key Club materials and documents, were simply a faithful copy of the diary Sunny would have kept had she made the implicit processes of her alienated and class-determined consciousness explicit in a diary form. By means of the diary, Sunny’s role in the dialectical processes of Club theory and its realization, or materialization, with the aid of Sunny’s four hundred million dollar estate, in the ultimate dictatorship of the cartoon characters, under the leadership and guidance of the Mickey Mouse Club, had completed itself and fulfilled its historic destiny.

Later that very week, after posting bail, Howdy was unanimously elected the new Club Chairman. Long Live Comrade Howdy von Doody! Long Live Walt! Mickey lived, Mickey lives, Mickey will live!

Gary Indiana has written, produced, and directed several plays here in New York. His essays have appeared in Art In America and ArtForum. He is currently working on a novel.

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Television and its simulations.

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A few years ago, I drafted two linked stories, one about Kurt Cobain and the other about Raymond Carver. Both grew up in the Pacific Northwest. Both had fathers who worked at a sawmill. Both were, in one way or another, working-class kids. 

The Kardashians by Brienne Walsh, Chelsea Knight & Elise Rasmussen
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“They own their own image. In a world where image is everything, that’s a very serious kind of ownership.”

Originally published in

BOMB 9, Spring 1984

Nicolas Echevarria, Pam Yates, art by James Nares and Tom Otterness, writing by Daisy Zamora, Kathy Acker, Glenn O’Brien, and more.

Read the issue
009 Spring Summer 1984