awkwardly

Sunday

Excerpt from The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem:

Now Dylan's friend Linus Millberg appears out of the crowd with a cup of beer and shouts, "Dorothy is John Lennon, the Scarecrow is Paul McCartney, the Tin Woodman is George Harrison, the Lion's Ringo."

"Star Trek," commands Dylan over the lousy twangy country CB's is playing between sets.

"Easy," Linus shouts back. "Kirk's John, Spock's Paul, Bones is George, Scotty is Ringo. Or Chekhov, after the first season. Doesn't matter, it's like a Scotty-Chekov-combination Ringo. Spare parts are always surplus Georges or Ringos."

"But isn't Spock-lacks-a-heart and McCoy-lacks-a-brain like Woodman and Scarecrow? So Dorothy's Kirk?"

"You don't get it. That's just a superficial coincidence. The Beatle thing is an archetype, it's like the basic human formation. Everything naturally forms into a Beatles, people can't help it."

"Say the types again."

"Responsibe-parent genius-parent genius-child clown-child."

"Okay, do Star Wars."

"Luke Paul, Han Solo John, Chewbacca George, the robots Ringo."

"Tonight Show."

"Uh, Johnny Carson Paul, the guest John, Ed McMahon Ringo, whatsisname George."

"Doc Severinson."

"Yeah, right. See, everything revolves around John, even Paul. That's why John's the guest."

"And Severinson's quiet but talented, like a Wookiee."

"You begin to understand."

...

"Mary John, Lou Paul, Murray George, Ted Baxter Ringo."

..."Good one."

"I didn't make this shit up," says Linus. "It's like some essential human grouping pattern."

"So you're saying that's why [this band] Stately Wayne Manor is doomed--bad Beatle dynamics.

"Oh yeah, it's painfully obvious."

"Andrew thinks he's John, nobody wants to be Paul."

"They all think they're John. They're four wannabe Johns. They're like four Georges. With no Ringo to lighten things up."

"Not one real John?"

"Maybe Giuseppe. Doesn't matter. Without Paul to play peacemaker, John's just as bad as George."

"I thought George wasn't bothering anybody, he just wants to, you know, write one song per album and play his sitar."

"No, no, George is evil, he wants to usurp John, that's his nature."

Chewbacca wants to usurp Han Solo? ...

... [Later] Linus attempts to explain Beatle dynamics to the girls, using his ungainlest example yet. "--the reason they'll never get off the island is Skipper's such a weak Paul and Gilligan's a John who'd rather be a Ringo. He's like, practically fighting Mr. Howell for Ringo status. Plus Professor's such an overbearing George, they're completely screwed up--"

When one of Liza's friends says, "What about the girls?" Linus impatiently replies "The girls don't matter" before he can stop himself.

Dylan decides to step into this breach. "A rock band requires a certain alchemy," he says ominously. "You saw Quadrophenia?"

"Sure."

"Like that, you know--the four faces of the Who."

Liza stares blankly, as if she might have regarded Quadrophenia more along the lines of that movie with Sting in it. Dylan feels despair rising. ... To the ironized, reference-peppered palaver which comprises Dylan's only easy mode of talk former prep-school girls have frequently proved deaf as cats.

"I think I mostly like bands with one strong personality," she says. "Like the Doors."

Dylan's triply whiplashed. Liza's found the gist of Linus's conceit through the smokescreen of the Gilligan's Island example, then just as quickly dismissed it, which is nimble as hell....

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