Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ex•e•ge•sis [ek-si-jee-sis]noun, singular. A hyper-pretentious term meaning a critical explanation or analysis.

Laverne & Shirley

The quest to unearth the true meaning behind The Opening Credits to Laverne & Shirley (The Wisconsin Years) is perhaps one of the most daunting mysteries that has plagued humans with brains since the history of humans with brains.

As Joe Pesci so eloquently stated in the oft-quoted children’s conspiracy thriller Terms of Endearment , the opening sequence to Laverne & Shirley is “… a riddle, trapped inside a puzzle, trapped inside an enigma.” (An “enigma” as we all know, is a small wooden box that composed its own popular New Age music in the late 90s. Enigma was a favorite among frustrated housewives in the town of Montpelier, Idaho, who enjoyed many guilt-free, bubble-bath masturbation sessions to Enigma’s breathily erotic softelecpornica while their husbands received aural sex from truck-stop masseuses in the center of town.) [Citation needed]

As I stand here naked, I am going to prove that the seemingly innocuous opening to Laverne & Shirley is actually a disturbing portrait revealing the capacity of hate that humans have for one another. It is a dark glimpse into the world of women-hating; hate of women, by women, for women … and it isn’t hot.

But it is timecoded.

Note that I have placed six clips of the opening credits throughout the piece for your viewing pleasure. (For maximum insanity … push play on all six as simultaneously as possible while trying to read—HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!)


We open up on two women, obliviously jovial in their attempt to recapture a lost childhood, as they skip down the sidewalk, singing:

1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7, 8,
Schlemiel, Schlimazel,
Hasenpfeffer Incorporated.

According to Wikipedia, a “schlemiel” is a Yiddish word meaning “perpetual bungler” or “dolt.” According to these highly informative little balls of energy that I can’t talk to in front of other people, “schlimazel” is also Yiddish, meaning “an extremely unlucky or inept person; a habitual failure.”

Immediately, we see the chick with the brown hair aggressively insulting Penny Marshall. This bitch wields the cruel insight that only a vindictive best friend may possess. Marshall did not know the definitions of these words associated with a seemingly innocuous schoolyard chant, but clearly the brown-haired one knew what she was talking about, because Penny Marshall was Italian in the show, I remember.

So the other one must’ve been Jewish.

The word “hasenpfeffer” is something that I’m too sleepy to look up right now. But I seem to be having some free-associative images in this preconscious state before I drift off that there is something really important about Bugs Bunny


O.K.! I’m back, out of rehab, and ready to finish this piece that I began 12 years ago.

In this section of the opening, we see a quick zoom onto a Gothic tower that reads:

Welcome Milwaukee Visitors

Welcome Milwaukee visitors, indeed …


[Ed. Note: I’m not sure that last stanza even makes sense. Re-word please.]

[Ed. Note to Ed’s Ed. Note: Eat a dick. I’m not rewriting a god damned thing. I don’t think the word “stanza” makes sense, what do you think about that? Unless you’re talking about Tony Stanza, and even then, your philological audacity is tedious, at best, and so what if I jacked off to Alyssa Milano when she was 13, it was legal to jack off to Alyssa Milano in the 80s!]

[Ed’s Ed. Note to Ed’s Ed. Note to Ed’s Ed. Note: You need some fucking help.]

Meanwhile, the theme song’s lyrics are heard by people:

We’re gonna do it.
Give us any chance, we’ll take it
Leave us any rule, we’ll break it

As an academic in the midst of a nervous breakdown, it is impossible to ignore the significance of such a strongly worded anti-authoritarian mindset reflected in the words of this opening … phrase.
Immediately, a close analysis of the theme song begs a number of questions:

We’re gonna do it.

Question #1

What is this oft-cited “It” that they are going to “do?”

“It” is referred to throughout the opening, but “It” is never explained. In this respect, this opening shares many qualities with some of Pinter’s finest work.

Give us any chance we’ll take it

Question #2

What sort of “chances” are being “taken” by these two middle-aged women working in a beer-bottling factory in Milwaukee?

It would seem that working an unskilled, lower-middle class, blue-collar job is a risk for these two women, and if that is the case, this brings us to our final initial quandary:

Question #3

Who “farted?”

The answer to this mind-number couldn’t be simpler: you, my friend.

You farted.


Finally, a sweet zephyr fills the air, my testicles swell with the innocent lift of a newborn’s smile, and we finally see a golden title card upon which honey-drenched words ooze from the projected golden pudenda of That Sweet Media Vag:

Laverne & Shirley

Beneath the credits, we see the women hurrying out the door, as they are late for work.

Run, you naughty little trollops … run. I’ll be right behind you.

Laverne & Shirley


The opening then delivers shot after shot after shot of Shotz Brewery, no pun intended. [Ed’s Ed. Note: No pun achieved.]

Here we see the start of the day, ostensibly a fresh start, a new beginning, a symbol of positive change that is clearly reinforced by the blindingly positive timbre of the theme music. But will this mood turn dark, will this new day begin just as too many others have ended … with Shirley beating the shit out of Laverne?

The answer to that question is clear as we see Shirley taking a beer bottle off the line shortly after their arrival from work. In the extended version of the opening, you can see the two battling over the bottle, while Shirley screams “… faulty! The bottle is faulty! Get your hands off me, I’M JUST DOING MY JOB!

Quite sad.

… and yet, strangely titillating.

As the lyrics roll:

We’re gonna make our dreams come true
Doin’ it our way

Smell the denial complex expressed here. Go on, inhale deeply. These two alcoholics work in a factory and yet they still cling to the belief that they will make dreams come true?

I never like to reinforce stereotypes, but Penny Williams is one of the most devious Jews I have seen since King Herod back in Mediterranean times.

She was the Jewish one, right? Well, whatever, not that it matters—they’re both women; that says enough right there, I’m sure.

King Herod definitely started his own line of golden, six-valved edible trumpets, I know that. [Citation needed]

Laverne & Shirley


O.K., here we see the two women on screen, and there are some words being projected over their bodies … I’m going to assume that these are the names of my kittens.

I wish I could read.

I may be one of the few people on the planet who can write (but not read), but I’m also one of the most highly intuitive Inuits into it.

As the actresses are being introduced, we see the Chinese one entering the apartment as Penny Marshall enters as well. The two crash into one another, the Chink’s front door firmly (yet delicately) rams into Penny Marshall’s gaping closet door.

What was Penny Marshall doing in the closet? Being a lesbian, no doubt, as most Latino women have chosen to be.

And the colored girls sing:

Nothings gonna turn us back now
Straight ahead and on the track now
We’re gonna make our dreams come true

This is clearly Homosexual Innuendo (or “HI” as it’s known in some of the more select clubs in N.Y.C.) created by the Homosexual Army (or “HA” as it’s known in some of the less select clubs in N.Y.C.) intended to turn our children into Homosexual Offspring (or “FABYEAHs!” as my boy toy Kristyian calls it).


I can’t believe this is what it takes to get tenure around here …

… I bet that janitor over there has tenure. I bet he didn’t have to write a dissertation on some fucking awesome sitcom opening credit sequence.


You’re right … but I did have to poop in a paper sack in front of the tenure committee.

You may have won this time, janitor … but I don’t even know why we’re fighting … all inside my own head …

There’s nothing we won’t try
Never heard the word impossible
This time there’s no stopping us
We’re gonna do it

Oh, sweet Jesus, again with the generic platitudes of optimism. What the hell is the “it” that they’re gonna do? Who do they think is stopping them?

We live in a world today where humans go about their day with very little resistance that isn’t self-imposed. There is no nemesis, this isn’t Dungeons & Dragons, it’s not even A.D.&D., there is no Neutral Dark Cleric waiting in the bushes to stop you from …

There he is! GET HIM!



And now, the violence accrues, like student-loan debt, it grows exponentially, eating itself, like student-loan oral sex, and loving it, like a student loan who just got fucked really good will.

As our opening sequence enters its third act, we see the relationship of our female heroines begin to dissolve.

In this Milano, we see Roseanne Barr cover Martha Quinn’s face with a milky, white foam that can only be reminiscent of the white foam that used to fall from the sky when your Uncle Beverley told you to drop your pants and stare at the wall.

We then see the midget quickly peel a blindfold off the horse-faced one as she screams in agony. This can only be reminiscent of the white foam that …

… hm. That’s really odd. Let’s move on.

In the next shot, we see the girls engaged in a snowball fight, which can only be reminiscent of … excuse me, please.

Laverne & Shirley


And we’ll do it our way, yes, our way
Make all our dreams come true
And we’ll do it our way, yes, our way
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you.


These women are so … happy.

They’re happy … just working in a factory? Really? Throwing snowballs. Being zany. Riding their bikes. Daydreaming as the beer bottles pass by like the precious seconds of our lives.

Is it really that simple? Why am I busting my intellectual ass, exposing my darkest (and hitherto unknown) secrets while dissecting this sequence before a packed house of nine in this elevator?

Make all our dreams come true
For me and you.

If we assume that this is true (and we can assume it to be true since it was on TV), that these two women made their dreams come true not only for themselves, but also for me … also for you, then …

… then this means that I can be satisfied with my life just as it is, with no worries about where I’m going or what the next step is, or if I’m ever going to be “successful” … because now I see that I already am successful.

And if I’m already successful, that means that you are, too. And if this is true, then I was wrong, the opening credits to Laverne & Shirley (The Wisconsin Years) aren’t a tale of volatile emotions ending in yet another episode of humans tearing one another apart. It seems that this beautiful sequence is actually a parable of hope and unity.

Make all our dreams come true
For me and you

We have already achieved our dreams through one another.

For me and you

We’re all going to be O.K.

For me and you

Everything is going to be fine.

For me and you

Just like an empty glove on a beer bottle. [Citation needed]

Laverne & Shirley
Ed Murray is a standup comic who has performed at various clubs in New York City. He has been published online at McSweeney’s, Yankee Pot Roast, Entropy, and in print for Jest, The Best of PulpLit 2002-2004, and Oddfellow magazines. More of his oh-so-blinding genius can be seen at: http://thirdevolution.blogspot.com.

William Carlos Williams Is a Really Bad Roommate The legendary poet is an inconsiderate prick.
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Yankee Pot Roast Hits Up Rockland This evening, at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in glorious Rockland County, the Yankee Pot Roasters will be signing copies of their new book, Underrated, and helping readers determine with absolute confidence their underrated/overrated quotients.

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