The Vienna based (but American) fantasy novelist, Jonathan Carroll, once wrote a wickedly black short story ‘The Jane Fonda Room’, in which damned person gets to choose their own unique version of Hell, and the protagonist of the story chooses The Jane Fonda Room, where he will watch all her films over and over again for Eternity. Here’s the ending:
She looked at him and her face was happy and animated again. “You’re just in time for the beginning of The Chase. Jane Fonda and Marlon Brando. Not a bad cast, eh? Then comes Barbarella, Klute, Coming Home, Nine to Five. What about that? Pretty good for your first time around!”
“And after that?” Paul’s eyes narrowed because it had finally began to dawn on him what was about to happen.
Ms Baker frowned for the first time. “After that? You see all of the other movies she made. However many that is. Isn’t that wonderful? What more could you ask – “
“Again and again?” His fingers were now very cold.
“Without stop? All of Jane Fonda’s movies again and again and again without stop?’
Ms Baker signed and looked a little bored. “Yes, Paul, again and again. Again and again and again and again and again and again…” While she spoke she pointed to the door and it opened.
The first thing Paul saw in the middle of that darkness was the familiar face which he, at one time, would have died for.
Quite wickedly funny. Please don’t let me spoiling that five page short story turn you away from Jonathan Carroll’s novels. The Land of Laughs and Outside the Dog Museum are both classics, and I really think it is way too long since I read either of those.
Perhaps this is the sort of idea the people running Guantanamo Bay had when they had all those suspected terrorists there, and regaled them with the music of Britney Spears over and over again. Jonathan Carroll’s Hell is not too different from Sartre’s definition of Hell, when you think about it.
Which is a nice way of segueing into Falco, mid 1980s Vienna based euro-pop singer. Every few days, since the start of this year, I have tried to do some exercise, as I am about 12-13 kilos overweight and my eating and drinking habits do not really lend themselves to easy weight loss. I mostly do sit ups, although I every now and then try some push ups and have now started ‘planking’.
To make the exercise ordeal a little less painful, I open up the Apple Music and put some tunes on. Tonight, to inspire me to try and set a new record number of sit ups in a row (sit ups are easy, you can do as many as you like til you die of boredom), I perversely chose to listen to a collection of Falco’s greatest hits.
This consists essentially of one song, Rock Me Amadeus, played over and over again. By my count, there are ten different versions of this song available which I have heard this evening. There are a few other sounds to break up the monotony – but of them I am only vaguely familiar with Der Kommissar, which has only four different versions available (what on Earth is a ‘Pastel Remix’????). The rest of his body of work is a hitherto undiscovered country to me, and probably shall remain so, as I think I will choose something else for my next workout.
I am not sure that Rock Me Amadeus is the sort of song which one wants to hear over and over and over again. I think I was about 16 when it came out, some 35 years ago, which makes it further back in time from us now, than Rock Around The Clock was from us in 1985. And even then, it was one of those songs you might want to hear occasionally, but not all the time.