I got this news in email from Kevin West, a friend of an old friend of mine, Rev. David Boone (aka Roperto de la Rosa):
"Around 4am, on Sat. July 28, 2001, David Boone suffered a heart attack and died in his sleep."
"A wake is scheduled this Friday, Aug. 3 at 7pm at the Boone's residence in Austin, Texas."
I asked Kevin if this was totally unexpected, or the end of a long term health problem, and he said:
"One of the great surprises of the new millennium. We were 1 day away from wrapping his new digital video feature, Midnight Taco. There was no indication during the 2 month long production phase that David was anything but energetic, motivated and at his ineffable best. The daily exhaustion was countered by laughter and an insane playfulness only lucky children experience.
"The coroner reported he had blockage in 3 arteries of his congenitally enlarged heart...kind of a walking time bomb that struck without advance notice."
THE PROPHET BOONE
In the very early 1980s I knew David Boone as a young film maker from Austin with whom I had a lot in common. (Much of what we had in common was how little each of us HAD, period.) I had met him through his buddy Tim Crain, the guitar player in my buddy Dr. X's great old timey band, The Pink Boyz.
Boone had made this incredible film, INVASION OF THE ALUMINUM PEOPLE, which uncannily intersected with DEVO, Eraserhead, and my own student film "Let's Visit the World of the Future." On one level it was a great badfilm in that he had *used* his non-budget positively. You laughed WITH the guys wrapped in tinfoil playing the invaders. On another level it was a really effective art film, right up there with any of David Lynch's early work. In fact Boone may have been ahead of Lynch, and was definitely way ahead of Tim Burton. The soundtrack alone was 15 years ahead of its time.
I thought ALUMINUM PEOPLE was one of the coolest movies I had ever seen, and let Boone know that, and he really liked the SubGenius project too. What he contributed to the Church was an alter ego of his, "Roperto Dela Rosa," who became the archetype of the poor deluded, ignorant, brain damaged redneck bastard who, following the cult of "Bob" Dobbs, becomes MUCH WORSE.
Bone would "enter the Roperto world," or "channel" Dela Rosa so to speak, and hand write these plaintive but absolutely PSYCHO letters to "Bob," usually begging for "more them pils" and alluding to violent crimes committed during blackouts.
These spooky letters appeared in the very first Church newsletters (The Stark Fist of Removal). The brain-damaged spelling of "PILS" was somehow perfect -- the spelling alone said it all -- and that became the official spelling of any pills sold by "Bob" thenceforth. In fact "Bob's" Pils were one of the high points of our devivals, when we'd dump a bucket of empty "Bob" Pils into the audience.
The most plaintive Dela Rosa letter of all was reproduced in THE BOOK OF THE SUBGENIUS, on page 179, in the scariest and most insane part of the book, the climactic "Doktors for "Bob"" chapter.
"So fix up my life Bod. I keep do these drems.
Ever nigt. I feele so BAD. I do Now WAT TOW DOnT! I
NEED SOME THOSE PILS
Roperto Dela Rosa"
For years, a SubGenius could crack up a room full of fellow SubGenii just by dropping a well timed, "MORE *THEM* KIND PILS, BOD!" For instance, right after a busboy drops a stack of dishes.
But you also had to know how Roperto Dela Rosa TALKED, to quote him right. This was possible because Boone started making Roperto Dela Rosa audio tapes.
Side two of our very first Media Barrage tape -- collages of our best, weirdest stuff -- introduced Roperto, in which he worries about rats and Pils, then apologizes profusely to "Bob." Boone recorded these using some special technique that I never figured out -- the tape is slowed down, but not MUCH. Somehow the pitch is way lowered. Boone sounds almost inhuman as Dela Rosa. It may simply be that this wasn't a technical trick, but was really the way that Boone TALKED when he became Roperto.
Media Barrage 2, The End of the World special tape, ended with a soundtrack clip from the ending of ALUMINUM PEOPLE.
Media Barrage 3, "UFOs," featured the full "I NEED YOU, BOD" and some Aluminum Creatures quotes about "the Birth of a New Age."
Media Barrage 4 the sex special tape, made listeners nervous right off the bat with "Fuckin'," one of the creepiest, funniest "crazy man alone in the closet making a tape" tapes that I have ever heard.
Media Barrage 5 has the full "More Pils, Bod" rant through the immortal "OHIO, and Red Trucks". Some people who live in Ohio, myself included, automatically pronounce "Ohio" in that crazy, drawn-out Roperto manner, with the voice dropped down a pitch.
During the formative years of SubGenius, these 5 tapes were our main audio output, and to this day, parts of them burble up in THE HOUR OF SLACK radio show. Thus there are always new generations being exposed to the Dela Rosa virus.
The most extreme example of this that I ever witnessed was a room full of SubGeniuses on acid, chanting, "That's right, Virgil!" in a David Boone slowed-down-tape voice -- FOR HALF AN HOUR! They weren't chanting in unison, but all in different cadences, and it sounded SO WEIRD, perhaps thanks to the LSD, that nobody wanted to stop! This was at our second "Dokstock," the rural camp-outs that later evolved into the larger X-Day Drills.
Oddly enough, the chant was a Boone misquote. INVASION
OF THE ALUMINUM PEOPLE is the only movie with an opening
line quoting "Doug Smith" as if he were a
cult figure. You hear this little kid voice:
"Dad! Doug Smith says we're different!"
"Doug's right, Virgil!!" says Dad in a pitch-dropped Boone voice.
"Is everybody like us?
"No son, but we're working on it, ROUND THE CLOCK! Soon everyone will be a superior biospecies."
Our very first intro tape, Media Barrage 1, had the whole passage on side one. Lines like, "You will, Virge, if you DON'T BAGGY!" just had this "ring" to them that people found themselves quoting repeatedly -- WITHOUT KNOWING WHY!
It is a terrible shame that more people haven't seen INVASION OF THE ALUMINUM PEOPLE and David's subsequent work. The recent development of streamed video on the Internet seems a perfect medium for Boone's stark imagery. I asked Kevin West about that.
"David's Super-8, 16mm and video works are in various states of view ability. I was in the process of digitizing Aluminum People and (the incredibly shortened version of) Everyman when we started work on Midnight Taco. Sandra and other members of his "extended family" are now busily rummaging through the archives, trying to locate original masters and film prints. We were making the switch from analog to digital for the exact purpose of web exhibition and dvd/video cd. "
Of course the terribly irony is that this finally starts happening -- and David Boone is dead. Suddenly. Out of the blue. It would be the perfect illustration of the SENSELESSNESS and INJUSTICE of the Universe and of God -- except for us. We, the survivors, are what will turn it around and help Boone get the last laugh on everybody. I don't know for sure about David, but, like me, he probably had the sneaking suspicion that he might be one of those artists that gets famous as hell -- AFTER HE'S DEAD. Certain artists have to die first before the rest of the Earthly yoyos can see what was right in front of them the whole time. "The Jimi Hendrix Effect," one might call it. Vincent Van Gogh was unable to sell ONE SINGLE PAINTING during his entire lifetime.
Just last night, my new wife and I were driving through a stately old graveyard in Cleveland -- looking at an ART EXHIBIT. Some smart persons decided to utilize this classic old graveyard as a setting for civic-sponsored art. That made me optimistic on some level, at how bulldog-stubborn people are, even in the face of the one thing that equalizes everybody and everything, death. To think you can beat it is the ultimate folly -- and yet, people beat it all the time, sometimes beating death for hundreds of years after they die -- because those who survived, and the young people growing up, listen to the music, read the books, see the artwork and watch the movies of those who came before. The artists DO get the last laugh on Death.
Thanks for letting me help with that!
Oh, and remember, folks:
"DON'T BAGGY! For a happier, healthier bio-superior."
I have always said that I wanted my tombstone to read, "I'll get 'em for this." My wife came up with the phrase, "She lived her every day as if it were her last... and (insert date here) WAS her last."
SEE AUSTIN CHRONICAL WRITE-UP
Subject: Re: R.I.P. Rev. David Boone
From: email@example.com (Goldfinger jaws)
Date: Sat, Aug 4, 2001 2:33 AM
>Say somethin' NICE to yer fellow SubGs about their
>today; y'never know when one of 'em will keel over.
PRABOB Huey Just wanted to say thank you and all the
other older ass kicking
artist, weirdo's, slam a jam cracks, sub-g's from the book of the subgenius.
not that you're old, just older than me and the chances that you guys die of
old age before me are more probable than an newbie like me.
rev. mad neuman reportsing
Subject: Re: R.I.P. Rev. David Boone
From: "Col. Sphinx Drummond" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, Aug 4, 2001 11:44 AM
A rather short mention of David Boone in a short column
called "short cuts" by
Marc Savlov in this week's Austin Chronicle.
R.I.P. David Boone Dept.: Austin's creative community
is mourning the loss of
filmmaker David Boone, who died this past Saturday at the age of 47. Boone had
recently completed directing the digital feature Midnight Taco with longtime
friend Kirk Hunter. "He'd been fired from Dell," says Hunter, "and he was just so
ecstatic about that because it allowed him to make the film." Boone's mark on the
local film scene began in the mid-Seventies at the University of Texas film
department, where he and fellow filmmaker Brian Hansen were introduced to
director Jonathan Demme by Chronicle Editor Louis Black. Demme and Boone became
close friends, with the director subsequently using a portion of Boone's film
Invasion of the Aluminum People in Demme's 1986 feature Something Wild.
-Col. Sphinx Drummond
Subject: Re: R.I.P. Rev. David Boone
From: "Zoë" <email@example.com>
Date: Sat, Aug 4, 2001 10:33 PM
"Artemia Salina" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
noted in message
> This is how I'd like to go (as well as everyone
else I care for);
> quickly, and while still healthy enough to be able to enjoy life.
> That last clause might sound strange, but then I've seen people
> suffer for years with cancer only to cack it after all that misery.
> I'd much rather have a plane crash on me all suddenly and
> unexpectedly-like, preferably as I'm smoking a cigarette right
> after the best fuck of my life.
Suitable for framing.
Hats often to the Rev.
"... the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to
live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the
same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but
burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like
spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue
centerlight pop and everybody goes 'Awww!'"