Monitoring the CryoCultural Penetration of the Groundwater
By Mike Darwin
There ain’t no justice…
If any press is good press, then cryonics should consider itself blessed indeed; because that perennial bad seed, Robert F. Nelson, is about have a movie made about him – and of course, about cryonics too. Academy Award-winning documentarian Errol Morris (“The Thin Blue Line,” “Standard Operating Procedure“) is set to take on his second narrative feature film (the first was 1991′s “The Dark Wind“) in the form of the screen adaptation of Nelson’s account of Dr. James H. Bedford’s cryopreservation on 12 January, 1967, We Froze the First Man. The book was “co-authored” by Nelson, with writer Sandra Stanley, and published in 1968. The full text of the book as a PDF is available here: http://cryoeuro.eu:8080/pages/viewpageattachments.action?pageId=425990&highlight=WeFrozeTheFirstMan.pdf#Home-attachment-WeFrozeTheFirstMan.pdf
Director Errol Morris with the cover of Robert Nelson’s We Froze the First Man.
But it gets better. To his credit, Morris isn’t completely credulous, and reportedly the other part of the story covered in the film will be inspired by the National Public Radio’s (NPR) “This American Life” segment entitled, “You’re As Cold As Ice,” in which Nelson was shown to be almost psychopathically without remorse, and completely unwilling to accept any blame for the loss of all of the Cryonics Society of California’s patients at Chatsworth, CA. You can listen to the NPR broadcasts on this topic which are achieved at: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/354/mistakes-were-made/
One can only hope that the screenwriter Zach Helm will be clued in to the truth of “Nelson as scoundrel.” Or, should we hope otherwise, and pray for a movie that makes Nelson the hero Robert Ettinger called him in 1967, 1968, 1980, 1990… According to Variety, We Froze the First Man is supposed to be “a dark comedy that will follow Nelson in the 1960′s as he joined a group of fellow enthusiasts who believed they could cheat death through cryonics.” Sounds just great, doesn’t it?
Helm’s previous writing credits include “Stranger Than Fiction” and “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium,” with the latter also marking his directorial debut. Morris’ last film was “Standard Operating Procedure,” a 2008 documentary about Abu Ghraib prison, where US soldiers abused and humiliated Iraqui prisoners, and captured it all on video and film. Morris has a reputation as a superb documentarian, and I just can’t tell you all how much I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with Nelson’s twisted epistle.
No word yet on the title, Variety reports it is currently known simply as the “Untitled Cryonics Project” and is being backed by Mandate Pictures and Film Rites.
Why, why, someone please tell me why, I had to be a cryonicist!
Dr. Dre’s “I Need a Doctor“
The rain was slapping the windows and it was gray, gray, outside. I couldn’t tell though, because the window had been painted over many, many times. I was in a room with half a dozen or so twenty something’s. Two were playing pool, a small clutch were laughing and smoking and talking. A few more were engaged in quiet, expletive-laced conversation. One was in a Special K and GB induced stupor, staring blindly in the general direction of the flickering colors of the TV.
I was reading.
The flat screen high def TV was nattering away, and making its pretty colors, and no one was watching it, not even Mr. GB, until –
All of a sudden, the sound took on a cool monotony, and the room fell silent, but for the music. The volume was quickly cranked up by unseen hands, and I looked up from my book, which was, ironically, Larry Johnson’s Frozen. Dr. Dre filled the screen, staring pensively over a cliff’s edge – with the sea rolling away in the distance. Quickly, the scene shifts to rapid fire-fire flashbacks of Dre’s life and career.
Ah, that’s the beauty and the peril of this digital age; there can truly be no permanent forgetting. Clip after clip, image after image flickers on the screen – Dre as Eminem’s protégé, women, parties, events from a life full of rage and excess…
Dre is then in his car, speeding maniacally down what looks to be a section of California’s Pacific Coast Highway. The car flips and flips and becomes completely airborne, and then flips some more, or so it seems. It ends in a catastrophic crash, with the vehicle crushed and mangled in smoking dust.
And it’s at this point that the real action starts. A structure in the distance, which is some kind of hybrid of a 21st Century cathedral and a Brutalist laboratory is shown, and then a quick cut to bustling scientists and physicians working to…? Then Eminem is seen inside the structure, standing next to what looks like the engine from the wrecked automobile. The music takes on a likable rhythm momentarily, to be quickly interrupted by Eminem’s rapping:
I Told the World, one day i would pay it back.
Say it on tape and lay it, record it, so one day That I Could play it back.
But I do not even know if I Believe it when I’m Saying That.
Doubt startin ‘to creep in, everyday it’s just so gray and black.
Hope, I just need a ray of That’
Cause No One Sees My vision,
When I play it for ‘em, They just say it’s wack.
Purpose They Do not Know What dope is.
And I do not know if I was awake or asleep when I wrote this.
All I know is you came to me When I was at my lowest.
You Picked me up, Breathed new life in me. I owe my life to you.
Before the life of me, I do not see Why do not you see like I do.
Purpose is it just me Dawned; you lost was his. See this light in you? It’s dark.
Let me turn on the lights brighten and enlighten me and you.
I do not think you Realize What You Mean To Me, Not the Slightest clue.
‘Cause me and you, we’re like a crew. I was like your sidekick.
You gon ‘want to fight Either When I Get off this fucking mic
Or you gon ‘hug me. But I’m out of options,
There’s Nothing Else I Can Do cause …
[Chorus] I’m about to lose my mind,You’ve been gone for so long,I’m running out of time
I need a doctor, Call me a doctor,I need a doctor, doctor,
To bring me back to life
[Eminem]It Hurts When I See You Struggle.,
You come to me with Ideas.,
You Say That These Are pieces, so I’m puzzled.
’Cause The shit I hear is crazy,
Either you’re getting lazy goal, or you do not believe in you no more.
Seems like your own views, not one you-can form.
Cannot make a decision, you keep yourself Questioning,
Second guessing, and it’s Almost like your begging for my help.
Like, I’m Your Leader.
You’re Supposed to Be My fucking mentor.
I Can endure no more!
I demand you remember who you are!
It Was You, Who Believed in me,
When everyone, WAS telling you, do not sign me.
Everyone At The fucking label, lets tell the Truth.
As Eminem wanders about the facility he finds Dre suspended on cables, a la Robin Cook’s Coma, with his face partially obscured by an oxygen mask. There is a dialysis machine, sans blood tubing and with a darkened screen, momentarily visible in the background amid the clutter of other, Frankenstein-like devices. The chorus’ lyrics (sung by Skyler Gray) keep intoning, “I need a doctor, Call me a doctor, I need a doctor, a doctor, To bring me back to life.” Skyler Gray, the “Doctor,” floats ethereally in the air as a misty, coalescing and disintegrating image, artfully gesturing with her fingers as she repeats, “I need a doctor, Call me a doctor, I need a doctor, a doctor…”
Eminem confronts Dre suspended in a Perspex cylinder of liquid, with bubbles slowly percolating to the top of the clear fluid… He shouts at him to remember who he was, to return to life…
The men in the room were hypnotized, and legs and feet were oscillating the floor in rhythm with the coarse and angry lyrics. The video closes with Dre not just alive, but rehabilitated into a powerful, muscular mass of manhood. The metaphor is unsubtle: Dre is back after 12 years, and his new album, Detox, is going to be a triumph to go with the new, superman body. The video is an homage of gratitude from Dre to Eminem, for giving him his career, and then breathing new life back into it. The last scene is of Dre looking at his own gravestone embedded in the cemetery lawn. He’s alive and triumphant.
A young black man standing near the pool table opines, in a barely comprehensible urban patois, “Yeah, yeah, yeah that’s how it’s gonna be. They’ll bring you back ta life, and make you anything you wanna be.” To which another lad in the room grinningly retorts, “Not you, muthafucker, they’ll thaw your sorry ass and trash it!” But the patois talking GeNexter is having none of that: “Man you lissen here, I’m gonna get chilled if I need to, and I’m sure as fuck gonna come back, if I can.”
“Well said!” I comented, and then returned to my book.
You can see the music video of “I Need a Doctor” here: