Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
Fuzzy Mules, Pink Slippers Volume One: Came a Clown
Author: McAllister Ransom
Publisher: Kohinoor Books, Baltimore
Discovered at: American Veterans Thrift Store, Allston, MA
The Cover Promises: A clown named “Puzzles.” That doesn’t bode well. Also: “NAKED SHE STOOD. NAKED AGAINST THE WORLD. THEY KIDNAPPED HER BABY.”
Representative Quotes: “Mr. T., great and gallant man, was about as afraid of flying as a patriot of truth.” (page 111); “John Eddy Ryan III; a grade A, first class, prime rib, numero uno creep… His name was all that he had. His name his claim to fame. Would a pile of poop called another name smell sweeter? Were it perfumed with perfume of prose or poetry, ‘twould sweeter smell? Would you want to eat it?” (page 127); “She just wanted to be happy and help others be happy, be their friend, to be a friend of man, to serve man. To serve man using the claw hammer of laughter removing the nails of woe from the coffin of care… April just wanted to be the clown in the party of life. Life! Party! Sure!” (page 145)
If Finnegan’s Wake is, as Martin Amis said, a 600-page crossword clue, then Came a Clown, the first volume of McAllister Ransom’s self-published, un-proofread, anti-consumerist clown epic, is an 872-page Jumbo Word Find… one where you search the bursts of random letters for any kind of sense at all.
With his wild rants, off-putting scatology, and reams of half-wit wordplay, Ransom aspires to beatnik glory, but the result is scattered and shouty and suffering a chemical imbalance. Consider this outburst from a page-long denunciation of April’s husband’s name:
All Ryan had, whimper, whimper, whimper, was his God damned stinking name. Ryan and his name! His honor! His dinky fist and his name. We fornicate in the cream of his name! We shit on his name! Ryan! Hey! Over here’s your name! Here! Here!
The book reads not as if it were typed but as if it were hollered. From an alley. By that twitching bearded guy who haunts the campus quad and everyone says was once a grad student who snapped.
Strange freedom indeed. Freedom that enslaves a country’s majority. The word of the rich punks and fairies that own and run the county through their fat-butted nazified bully boys, trustworthy and loyal, their word stone, solid as a whore’s wink. True blue and firm as the endearments of a whore.
Ransom purports to tell the story of April, a naïve young woman hated, for her simple decency, by all the fat, cruel capitalists making up America. April escapes their tyranny by clowning as Faffo, but even then she gets beaten up and spat upon. Also, someone steals her baby, I guess — I’ve never made it past page 150, and there’s no kidnapping in that chunk.
Still, I won’t let the book’s impenetrability prevent me from reviewing it. In the decade or so that it’s given me migraines, I’ve accepted that Ransom’s epic is not meant to be read straight though. Instead, Came a Clown is a brick-thick party trick. Get some friends, some drinks, and declaim aloud from any random page:
“And now for the cootie grass. A few precise flicks with the eyebrow pencil. Some precision swits not swipes of the omnipresent cotton slob, swab, never to be inserted into the ear canal. With her fingers Faffo unconsciously twirled the swab with the confidence of your white-booted high-steppin’ bosomy majorette wristing a baton! Over here! Yo!”
Since only lengthy quotes could begin to suggest the spirit of Ransom’s efforts, here’s the climax of that same scene:
It was, Was, WAs, WAS, PRESTO! FAFFO THE CLOWN! Yeaaa! Voila! Voila Voodoo! Walla! Yea! Walla Walla! Voila Walla! Voila Faffo! Vive la Faffo! Wall of Voodoo, bro. Yea yea yeaa! Wall of Voodoo! Walla Voodoo! Who do? You do. Hindoo him do what him do!
I don’t want to be indelicate, here, but I must say this: no other book has ever inspired me to search so often through the DSM.
It Gets Ugly: While Ransom demonstrates little interest in dramatic niceties like narrative or storytelling, Came a Clown does generate some true dramatic interest. The compelling questions: will Ransom’s belief in the decency of individuals, like April, best his hatred for mankind? Will this confounding hippie lark collapse into hate-filled madness?
In the early going, as he takes 75 pages to describe three scenes of April stranded at gas-stations and fast food restaurants, Ransom seems nice enough. He’ll gas on harmlessly about “pig” cops, how every boss has “asslickers” with their “noses jammed far up the very Bung of Authority,” how free markets crush everything gentle or human about us, how good people like April are ground through “the American meat grinder.”
It’s what Rush Limbaugh imagines liberals think like.
Ransom also passionately defends the humble April and anyone else who stands up for humanistic morality. He loves his protagonist so much he often just calls her “Love.”
But as the pages pass, the cutesy stuff curdles:
April called him Eddy a lot. Like he deserved affection or something. It sounded more cuddly or something. Cuttly’s more like it if you ask us. We’ve got Ryan’s cuttly here in our pants. He snapped at Love a lot. She thought sometimes. The little punk snapped all the time, a two-legged Doberman pinscher. Had a face like one too. Little faggoty rat-face mustache.
At his worst, Ransom fights hate with hate and vulgarity with vulgarity. As the book goes on, and April suffers greater and greater brutality, Ransom hates harder. He denounces “fairy” America and “penis-sucking” parents. He imagines April’s husband masturbating: “POW! POW! POW! Eddy shot. He shot his little pistol. Shooting down the Commie pinko peaceniks of his mind.”
By the end, Ransom’s hatred for mankind defeats his love of Love. Disgustingly, he gives “a black pig cop” dialogue like this: “Ah’s offica Moe-ra an Ah doan wona shotts ennybody but if Ah has ta Ah sho nuff will. Ah’s de trained killa. Ah’m de boss here-ra.”
In the next paragraphs, Ransom loses it altogether. As the black cop beats April with a nightstick resembling a “cock,” Ransom calls him “subhuman” and tosses out the vilest racial slurs. He somehow then goes further still:
“It held up its club.”
This is the most disgusting word in the book, if not the language: it instead of his.
Shocking Detail: This was volume one. Here’s an announcement of the follow-ups, which as far as I can tell have never been published:
More, More, More: The only way to capture the Came a Clown Experience is to quote extensively. So, for the masochists out there, here’s more. Your Crap Archivist’s advice for any sensible people who have made it this far: please, bail out now.
Page 33: “After five-hours and four-minutes Lord Master of the Grease Monkeys he sent forth both of his loyal serfs, both who would have been so much happier chained to an organ… That was no job for a Lord God, He, the prosperous, paunchy and well-respected manager of a great, top-of-the-line, upbeat, fast, foreskin in the forefront, capitalist automobile emporium! No!”
Page 57: “People, being the assholes they are, verily wondered why? Why would April not go out? Why? Not so strange. One of them could get hit full in the face with a shit pie, full in the mug with a shit pile, then, when you protest what happened to them ask: ‘Why did you say that people should not throw shit pies?’ Hit in the face a pile of shit! We bet you can see them licking it off, can you not! Chocolate!”
Pages 101 to 111 describe how John Madden and Mr. T both suffer from a fear of flying. “You take your Mr. T., The A Team, God bless their brave souls, always had to knock him out to get him on a plane… They had to knock him out! Konk ‘im oan de aid widda big bode, two-by-fo’. Perhaps a crowbar, or perhaps a tire iron or a soft anvil (by comparison) to before they could get Mr. T from one wild exciting adventure to the next. Chap was stark raving mad with fear of flying. So it cost a forest od 2 X 4’s? So what? This is a small cost to pay for the protection of the A Team.”
From 121 to 123, Ransom lists names starting with A.
Page 260: “Let’s face it. Patriotism knows no bounds and there are two types of them. Not patriots, faggots. There’s only one kind of patriot. All patriots are faggots but not all faggots are patriots.”
Page 352: “Realize that this quote is much too literate for the average beetle-browed, knuckle-dragging dim-witted and stripe-backed American. They know of starving children but the fat-assed do not care. Waste it anyway. Throw it away. The fat rich, the rich-assed, Ameri-assed tough looking down into the faces of starving children, down-looking starving babies, spit in their faces grinding food under foot! Grinding vittles under hoof! Hash ‘neath hoof.”
Page 680: “Saucy Slut advanced upon April slowly; step by step, step by step, step by step. The mob thickened behind her like dropping a dried sponge into a pail of water and the mob grew rocketing behind the Saucy Slut like a mushroom of hate.”
Page 766: “All in all though, the two had their eyes on the guys, the guys had eyes on them. Doubtless here in the free modern America many people will not understand this statement. Allow us to elucidate. To make it clear in these morally muddy bayou times. The muddy moralled Days of Kali Yuga. Witness! Boys go for girls, girls go for boys! Simple. They fit together like a dovetail joint. Hey! Snug like a bug in a rug. Yo! Like-a deece, like a-deece. Voila!”
And it goes on like that!
The Sound of One Clown Crapping: While I suspect Ransom lost control over his project, I secretly hope that maybe the despair it stirs was intentional. As the first of three books, Came a Clown might have been the Inferno of the Fuzzy Mules, Pink Slippers trilogy. Maybe some day Baltimore’s Kohinoor Books will unleash volumes two and three, and Ransom can lift us paradise to make up for all this hell.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 1, 2009
More:Studies in Crap