The Big Bopper, Jr. Tapes
The Apocryphal Lost Interview With The Illusive Counter Culture Icon
It was early in the morning of September 21, 2005. The gathering menace of Hurricane Katrina was unfolding on an already battered gulf coast. Panic ensued. Millions of evacuees were laying siege to the roadways of the greater Houston area. The nation was further kidney punched by a sudden second vacancy on The Supreme Court, and I thought it was a good time to pick up the phone and check up with everybody's favorite celebrity song-singing, super spawn, Jay Perry Richardson—The Big Bopper, Jr.
The Bopper was taking a moment from his evacuation to ruminate on the complexities of life, the immutable ponderabilities of perception, environment verses heredity, the original Fat Boy ice cream sandwich, and the system he uses to run the tables in Vegas. But due to a strange, and frankly unfathomable episode involving a pregnant cat, two school-aged little girls and the irrigation hose, the conversation was negated and the transcript was lost forever. What follows is a reconstruction of that interview, pieced together from notes, dreams, and a fortune cookie I found in the glove box of my Tercel:
. . . . .
Sound of a telephone ringing . . .
The Big Bopper, Jr. Hello, baby!
[Chas Pike] Hi, um . . . I was wondering if you’d like to, if you felt like doing that interview for The Lance Monthly, that we talked about in, you know, . . . at The Clovis Music Festival?
The Big Bopper, Jr. Oh yeah, Dickie Stewart’s joint. I love that. I love The Lance Monthly. DUKE! GET IN THE BOAT!!
[Chas Pike] Excuse me?
The Big Bopper, Jr. Not you. The dog. Listen, we have got a hurricane baring down on us and they are evacuating the entire town, but I’m gonna keep on the line with you until I have to go. How’s that?
[Chas Pike] Oh, wow, well we can reschedule.
The Big Bopper, Jr. Afraid?
[Chas Pike] Excuse me?
The Big Bopper, Jr. You’re not afraid of a little weather are you?
[Chas Pike] Of course not.
The Big Bopper, Jr. Well then why don’t you just sit back and relax and tell ol’ Bopper what’s on
your iddy biddy mind? You don’t mind if I do a little last minute packing while we chat?
[Chas Pike] Not at all. Look, this doesn’t seem like such a good time . . .
The Big Bopper, Jr. You’re not having a good time?
[Chas Pike] Oh, I’m having a great time. Well, maybe not a great time, but I’m certainly not having a bad time!
The Big Bopper, Jr. Do you find you have difficulty feeling things?
[Chas Pike] Not exactly.
The Big Bopper, Jr. You sound a little depressed. Tell the Bopper all about it.
[Chas Pike] No, not at all.
The Big Bopper, Jr. You cannot fool The Bopper. The Bopper sees all, The Bopper knows all. DUKE GET BACK IN THE BOAT!
[Chas Pike] Perhaps we should just start with a few questions.
The Big Bopper, Jr. All right. Do you feel you have certain unresolved relationship issues?
[Chas Pike] No, I mean I ask you questions.
The Big Bopper, Jr. I used to be like you.
[Chas Pike] Like me?
The Big Bopper, Jr. Is that so hard to believe? We're not so very different, you and I. A few years ago I was a man not too unlike yourself, an earth-shaker, a go getter, trapped by a past I cannot deny, careening towards a future I cannot avoid, spending every minute of every day locked in mortal battle with the god of Mammon, trying to wrestle up an all mighty dollar, measuring my own worth in material goods, real estate and blue chip stocks. An obsessed man, driven to ignore the greater things in life by a selfish and ill-defined need to have: to have and to have more. The more I had, the more I had to have. But all of that changed over night, the night I found the box.
[Chas Pike] The box?
The Big Bopper, Jr. Some people said it was a pair of hippie brothers that left it there when their little hippie van broke down on the way to see the burning man. I don't know. But there it was, like some kind of space age out house, brilliant, silver, shiny. It sat there for almost two weeks. I tried to ignore it. I figured them hippie boys would be back for it. I would see it shimmering in the moonlight through my bedroom window.
Then one night it started to ring, like some old telephone, ringing and ringing. Finally my wife said, "Well, you know you're dying to answer it." Then I made my move. I got the dogs and headed on down to the creek to investigate. It was crafted from the finest stainless steel. A plaque on the door read "ORGONE COLLECTOR."
The phone was ringing, the dogs were howling, I pushed open the door of The Orgone Collector and climbed on in. DUKE! DUKE! PAY ATTENTION! GO STARBOARD! GOOD DOG!
[Chas Pike] So what was in there?
The Big Bopper, Jr. Everything. Everything I had ever dreamed of. I was Bopperized!
[Chas Pike] Bopperized?
The Big Bopper, Jr. From top to bottom; from head to toe. That crazy, cosmic phone booth did something to me; it changed me. On the molecular level, it took me apart and put me back together. It knew me, It showed me myself—my past, my future, my father, my mother, things: dark things, scary things, brilliant things, wonderful things. I went in that box Jay Richardson, mere mortal. I came out The Big Bopper, Junior. DUKE, WHO LOVES YOU? (Sound of dog barking) You're damn right.
The spirit of the Bopper ran through me like a raging river. Lifting me, filling me. I found myself singing, dancing, talking to children on the streets, old people. I found if I relaxed a little and gave up control, that the world would take care of itself—that I didn't have to save the world all at once. Just one person. That's how the Bopper works, changing the world, one person at a time.
You ever been in a box?
[Chas Pike] Me? No.
The Big Bopper, Jr. It would do you a world of good. In fact, as soon as the warden blows the horn for evacuation, and I cast Duke here adrift, I am going to head on out to the box.
[Chas Pike] Really? So tell me about John Mueller.
The Big Bopper, Jr. Came to me a lost soul. Three hundred and sixty pounds, nervous, twitchy. Told me he had this vision while he was on some mushroom thing in England; told him to sing. Told him to dress in animal prints and sing my daddy's songs. He was miserable, but he felt it was his calling.
I tossed him in the box for a few hours and got him on a pancake diet and straightened him right out. Now he goes with me on my midnight prowls. Him and me, like Batman and Robin. We chase ghosts together. You know how you catch ghosts?
[Chas Pike] How?
The Big Bopper, Jr. Music. Vibrations. You can always tell when the spirits are present by the smile on the people’s faces. And the people are great, they are beautiful, they are tired and work hard for their money. They want a bit of the Bopper in their lives. They want an eternal Winter Dance Party, where everyone is popular, and everyone is happy and everyone is dancing. They don't want to go home, they are home, this is where they live, this is where they are most alive! Can you feel those forces gathering out there over the Gulf? There's gonna be a lot of excitement tonight!
[Chas Pike] So what influences you?
The Big Bopper, Jr. Everything. Can you hear that whistle blowing? It is time to get in the box. I cannot take the phone in there; I won't be responsible for what might happen to you. I left the door open once, when I climbed out to take a leak, and my hound, Arbuckle, leaped in there, and he has not been the same dog since.
[Chas Pike] So what are your plans?
The Big Bopper, Jr. Well, after I hang up the phone with you, I will call Fema, who will send an Osprey over to lift the box and fly me over the storm. They will lower my box to the exact center of the eye, and then I set to work, bopperizing it. Restructuring its ionic umbra. Then it's lunch time.
[Chas Pike] Well, Jay Richardson, Big Bopper, Jr, I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk with me this morning.
The Big Bopper, Jr. Hey, anytime. Say hi to Dickie Stewart for me. And climb into the box and get right with yourself. You'll thank me. DUKE! DO NOT FIDDLE WITH THE ENGINE!
Sound of static, dogs barking and hurricane sirens. Silence.
[Stay tuned in a future issue for a more in-depth Bopper, Jr. interview]
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