Everyone Is Crazy in a One Man Show (Codgers on the Moon)

We know Major Tom's a Barcalounger.Codgers on the Moon is the first solo album from Charles Bobuck, recently outed member of The Residents.  Randy has already developed a one man show, but it has only seen workshop performances at this time, allowing one to keep believing  the separate personalities is just a one-off conceptual idea.  Codgers, with its broad availability, really drives home the idea that this is really happening.

The album is described as being unexpected – Mr. Bobuck did not expect to have a life outside of The Residents, but one has been thrust upon him.  He thinks a solo album is logically expected of him, so he put one together.  I think that it will be interesting to compare it to a typical Residents release, so that we may attempt to learn what Mr. Bobuck thinks is and is not considered Residents.

Unfortunately that is easier said than done.  Codgers sounds like a likely progression from recent Residents projects, in particular (obviously) the instrumental ones.  I think all we can really gather from this is that Mr. Bobuck had been the one interested in creating film scores.

The album has a companion website, which finds me fascinated and uncomfortable in equal measure.  Fascinated because we are getting a behind the scenes look, and uncomfortable for the same reason.  Having an identity, a personality, an established set of values… it just doesn’t seem right to me.  I know this is part of a larger concept of what a “band” means in our culture, but it still makes me uneasy.

Randy is doing this too, to an extent.  He has started his own website which began as a series of ghost stories (a continuation of the Talking Light project) and more recently has branched out into a collection of wildly varying posts.  It seems as though he’s found an outlet for ideas outside of the Residents inner sanctum.  I think the intent is to create a space where he can test out new ideas and gauge reactions from the public – a way to measure interest before dedicating months of work to it.  Whatever receives the most likes will inform the next project.

Though, actually, I don’t entirely believe that.  While The Residents are certainly interested in the collaborative opportunities afforded by the internet, there’s very little in the way of them making use of it.  They put out an open call for artists to create videos for their Commercial Album – and certainly delivered on the proposal – nothing else really feels as interactive as one might have hoped.  The Bunny Boy story ultimately did not seem to be guided by fans; Randy’s Tumblr appears to be a one-way conversation; Bobuck’s Twitter account so far only advertises his new album.

And perhaps that’s entirely intentional.  If Randy Chuck and Bob, as a concept, is a statement on the nature of celebrity, then perhaps it is fitting that, despite having made themselves known to the world, they remain just as inaccessible as ever.  Celebrity personalities are not real – they are stage personae that live in our world.  It’s easy to forget the people on our TVs are imaginary.  It’s been noted many times that television stars are treated more casually than film stars, and it’s supposedly due to the familiarity – these people come into our homes every week, whereas we have to make a special trip to see a movie star.  The Talking Light used this in a skewed sense by setting up a living room on stage.  The audience would have gone out for a special event, but then was invited into a home to watch television.  The lines are blurred and ultimately we find ourselves no closer to the truth.

Except of course for the fact that the truth is precisely as laid out for us.  There is no secret underlying layer of any importance.  But where’s the fun in that?  The Residents faked the Moon landing.  It’s so obvious – those big round astronaut helmets were clearly precursors to the eyeball heads.