It’s mayoral election time again in Opa-Locka. And that means we’ll all be paying a little more attention to incumbent Mayor Pete Palmer’s 20th annual buy-our-votes publicity stunt, that shameless everyone-gets-a-trophy ceremony, the Test of the Human Spirit Awards, AKA the “Testies.” It’s the only event in existence that awards a Humanitarian of the Year trophy in the same ceremony as Best Chili Cheese Fries and Best Wet T-Shirt.
Sure it’s great for one’s self esteem to be recognized just for the sake of being recognized. I myself took home Best Seasonal Mustache, Redhead, and tied for Best Sideburns, Freestyle with Dan “Chopper Dan” McChopsky. But such encouragement can do more harm than good for some.
Take for example the category of Oldest Citizen of the Year Award, which has been dominated by 112-year-old silent film pioneer and coot Maxwell Pryce. The award essentially rewards the man for still being alive – something many citizens wish would soon be rectified.
We all know the story of Pryce’s career – fuck, we’ve all had to sit through the same damn PowerPoint of his life story for the last twelve years! (BTW, adding sound effects to animated text is SO last decade!) A struggling actor/director of the silent film era, Pryce sought to break the sound barrier and produce the first talkie. Unfortunately in 1928 rival entertainer Al Jolson planned to beat him to the punch with his blackface-themed musical The Jazz Singer. Not to be outdone, Pryce rushed to direct and star in a “bigger and blacker” film, the all-blackface musical, That Darn Negro!
Featuring such unforgettable (and unforgettably offensive) songs as “Fried Chicken and Watermelon (Them’s Good Eatin’s)”, “The Lynch Mob Rhapsody of 1928”, and the show-stopping number “KKKrazy”, That Darn Negro! hit theatres the exact day as The Jazz Singer. It also left theatres later that same day. A complete failure, and offensive even to racists, the film turned many bigots against their racism and sent Opa-Locka’s answer to D.W. Griffith into hiding.
Pryce tried to avoid the issue of race in his next film, the 1930 musical Those Darn Jews! This film was an even bigger failure, and not just because of its repugnant subject matter. The original vitaphone master of the soundtrack was damaged, resulting in a completely silent musical. While widely regarded as an incoherent fiasco, this “Jewsical” did surprisingly well in Nazi Germany.
Despite these bombs, his is a career of many Hollywood firsts. In 1931 he was the first person to have their Oscar taken away from him, having rigged the votes for a category he wasn’t even nominated for. In 1932 he became the first and only person to impersonate another actor at the Oscars so he could accept their award. Following his violent removal from that ceremony, Pryce also became the first person to ever be permanently banned from attending any Academy Awards ceremony.
Pryce claims his abundance of Testies is a vindication for his eternal Oscar snub. Remember, this is coming from a man who, after being blacklisted in the ‘50s, tried the first of many attempts to transfer his consciousness to a younger cloned version of himself through “Project Genesis.” Put simply, the man’s just not going to die. Like Dr. Who, he’s going to regenerate endlessly, just so he can get five minutes of attention and cram another cheap plastic trophy onto his mantle.
When will the attention-whoring madness end? I haven’t even mentioned the ludicrousness that is the Mayor Pete Palmer Award for Best Current Mayor of Opa-Locka, an award Palmer created and has had locked down for two decades. Remember that when/if you hit the polls later this month.
And no, I’m not writing this article just because Fun Time Internet lost Best Opa-Locka Based Comedy Website to PardonMyPunchline.com, the Internet home of disgraced prop-comic and Gallagher protégé, Stu “The Meal” Soupstein.
Okay, maybe I am.
And by the way, McChopsky, your sideburns suck!