The Fur Coat Club

Slaves to their uncontrollable urges, a pair of nine-year-old girls chase after old ladies and pimps in upper east side Manhattan to stroke their soft, sensuous fur coats. But soon their perverted lifestyle gets the better of them, and they are forced to change their sick, deviant ways. A little slow-going in the first half, but it gets spooky in the last several minutes. It's like a cross between an afterschool special, a John Waters movie, and 'Night of The Living Dead'. Also, little girls with guns.

Like the 70's classroom standard The Red Balloon, there's no dialogue, so the message can be interpreted the world over, free of language or cultural barriers. But whereas 'The Red Balloon' is all about Jesus, 'The Fur Coat Club' is all about the obsessive fetishes of a seriously disturbed filmmaker. Being a "Learning Corporation of America" production, it's clearly made for classrooms, but why? Is it supposed to impart a lesson of some kind? if so, the lesson might best remain untaught.


The Bel-Air Drive-In

The Bel-Air Drive-In Theater in Cicero, Illinois (just off the west side of Chicago) dated back to the late 40's. A feature unique to it was its double-sided screen; movies were projected on either face, and every night it was a double feature. In the early days, the two films would be swapped between the projection booths during intermission, so you could stay where you are and watch both movies. Also, when you entered the parking area you would drive through the screen itself in one of two tunnels, depending on which movie you were going to.

There used to be a playground under each side of the screen to keep the kids busy during the film. These were removed in the early 80s (for the same reason everything else fun disappeared in the 80's: lawsuits).

A third screen was added circa 1981, if I remember correctly. This made the capacity 1,000 cars, pretty big for a drive-in.

Because it was a ten-minute drive from our house, and admission was $2.50 for adults and free for kids, I'm sure I saw over 100 movies at the Bel-Air, dating back to before I could remember. Shortly before we got cable television, I saw my first R-rated movie here (The Brood) and went on to see dozens of the sleaziest, trashiest films imaginable with my dad, who'd always bring popcorn and drinks from home to save money at the snack bar and graciously brought along my friends. Without a doubt, I spent more time with my dad at the drive-in than anywhere else outside of home. It's often the first thing that comes to mind when I remember him, which may be why I'm both fond and wistful regarding drive-ins.

At some point the Bel-Air stopped being fun. When I was 16 a guy reached into my friend's car and snatched the jewelry off her neck. The last time I went, in the mid-90's, no one was sitting outside their cars in lawnchairs like when I was a kid, there was no playground, no speakers on steel posts (by this point they'd switched over to FM broadcasts). Nothing but a bunch of cars, a gravel lot and a screen with a cop car parked beneath it, facing the audience. It was a grim scene.

The Bel-Air closed in 1999. The screens stood until 2008, when they were finally torn down to make way for a home depot. Here you see the wrecking ball in the foreground.

There are still a handful of drive-ins around. Find one near you at (appropriately enough) drive-ins.com. And if you find any pictures or links about the bel-air online, let me know.

Relative to the near-demise of the drive-in and the rise of cable television, here's a PSA that used to show during intermission at drive-ins in the mid 70's, trying to put a stop to "pay tv". It didn't work.



The Barbarians

Finally available on youtube, it's the first starring vehicle for the Barbarian Brothers, directed by Ruggero Deodato, the same guy who brought us the Komedy Klassic Cannibal Holocaust! Click the links in the video player to see the rest.


Seventh Grade Yearbook

I rediscovered my junior high yearbooks a year ago, and was amused by the statements written in the back pages by my classmates. I've reprinted them here, being careful to preserve the syntax, and scanned the corresponding pictures of the signers. These are all from the seventh grade, 1982. Names have been withheld to protect the dorky.

Steve, don't be drawing anymore perverted comics, or you'll really be dead meat -SB

Steve learn to draw. May many orges (sic) be succesful you owe me 15 cents some friend only kidding, the great PD
my closest friend in junior high and fellow comic book nerd.

Steve, Don't have to much fun drawing dick man (this was one of my recurring comics characters) and get the titty this summer. Good luck in 8th you are a cool penis. - BH p.s. you ass is grass along with hitler.

Steve you are a strange guy just like me - JK

Steve, Defender really chews my quarters but TEMPEST doesnt - signed, Picasso (WT)

Roses are red violets are blue you are a disgrace to the human race. Good luck in 8th grade - RP

Are you sure you're not my clone? Let's disect a pig over the summer! - ES
biology partner. We cut up a frog over the course of days or weeks, and it really started to reek towards the end.

I hope you have an excellent summer long live Harley Davidson - MB
How cool was she? She shared my love for Heavy Metal magazine and The Ramones. She often wore an izod shirt, with the trademark alligator clumsily torn off and sewn back on upside-down, and with fake blood spattered onto it. (sigh) where is she now?

Steve, next year remember PENCIL and PAPER to class. MW
He had the misfortune of sitting next to me in math class, where I was always unprepared.

Steve - you draw very funny pictures even if they did get me in trouble a couple times. See you next year, KB
she had the misfortune of also sitting next to me in the same math class. I passed her comics I was drawing, which were sometimes intercepted.

Steve, It's been a great year! Even though I hated it! Ozzy Rules! Y.T.- LH
classmate since kindergarten.

Sting rules, soccer's the best, - AK

Steve, DONT rape old ladies over the summer - JN

have a nice summer, GR
way to keep it short, mr. next-door-neighbor-and-best-friend-since-we-were-five. We went on to get stoned after classes everyday from the 10th to 12th grade.

This psychopath threatened me with violence constantly, although he never delivered. On the last day of school he saw me with my yearbook and said "give me that. I'm going to sign it." I knew it wasn't going to be pleasant. His angry scrawl filled the entire page.

In closing,


Rock / Nicht Rock

Das Ist Rock:

Das Ist Nicht Rock:

Das Ist Rock:

Das Ist Nicht Rock:


Why Doesn't Cathy Eat Breakfast?

I had this posted on my website awhile ago, but had to bring it back. An educational film with nothing to say, it's perhaps best described by a comment on one of the youtube pages as "the Waiting for Godot of classroom films".

The same folks behind this made another head-scratcher entitled Why Not Snack?