Good Grief! A Simply Irresistible Music Conspiracy!
About ten years ago, while teaching a popular music course at one of New York’s fine colleges, I played the video of the Robert Palmer song “Simply Irresistible.” The next day, three fourths of my students reported having nightmares about it, and wanted to know why.
Repeated calls to Palmer (who was still alive at the time) were never answered, so I decided to track down his past. Because of the generous salary typically paid by most schools to adjunct faculty, I was able to fly first-class to Malta, the rock star’s native land, and examine records of his life. His birth certificate, grammar school records and other documents seemed, at first glance, to be in order. But something about them struck me as odd. I asked one of the local notaries about this and he told me that it was perfectly normal in Malta to fill out official government documents in red crayon.
I eventually found some ne’er-do-well relatives of Palmer’s in the Yellow Pages under “Leeches.” I thought about knocking on their door and asking if Bob had been by that day, but decided against it. According to ancient Maltese superstition, if Americans knock on your door, it’s because they want to invade your house and secure all the rights to your olive oil.
Instead, I deployed some equipment given to me many years earlier by famed telephone hacker Capn’n Crunch, and monitored the calls to all the numbers listed in the phone book. I noticed a lot of traffic going to and from Sebastopol, California.
The next day, I rented a twin-engine Cessna from the Maltese National Air Guard and flew directly to the Golden State, where I found, arguably, the biggest cover-up in the history of rock and roll: the late Robert Palmer was, in fact, Linus Van Pelt, formerly of Peanuts fame.
(Fig. 1: Linus Van Pelt, alias Robert Palmer)
This was a difficult conspiracy to uncover, naturally, since Linus was a two-dimensional figure. Anyone who has ever been to one of his concerts can certainly attest to the fact that Robert Palmer was not two-dimensional. He only sounded that way. Sure, as a young kid with blanket in tow, Linus had only height and width. But never-before published results of a Little League investigation have revealed that Van Pelt had used anabolic steroids when playing second base for Charlie Brown’s team, and had thus bulked up somewhat. Snoopy was the first teammate to notice something amiss when Linus lined a single through the box so hard that opposing pitcher Peppermint Patty quit baseball for awhile, and took up hopscotch. By the next season, Van Pelt had gained one full dimension.
(Fig. 2: Van Pelt/Palmer after the steroid scandal)
The “Simply Irresistible” video contained a number of subliminal clues alluding to the performer’s dual identity. First of all, there were the facial and cranial features. Both Palmer and Van Pelt had a slightly pear-shaped head that was wider at the bottom than at the top. But the parenthetical creases surrounding Linus’ eyes, a Van Pelt family trait (Van Pelt’s younger brother, Rerun, has them as well) are a dead giveaway. In the undoctored photo above, you will note that upon reaching adulthood Van Pelt/Palmer used pasty white makeup to conceal them.
Also in the video, between the breakdown and the last round of choruses, Palmer leans to his right at about a forty-five degree angle, with his hands behind his back, a tendency that Van Pelt amply displayed in numerous Schultz panels.
What disturbed my students, to the point where they had nightmares, were the accompanying models in the background. These women--all tall, raven-haired, heavily made up, and sporting identical coiffures--were obviously manifestations of Palmer’s sister, Lucy Van Pelt. Their oddly sensual movements therefore suggested an incestuous desire on Palmer’s part. The 75% of students who experienced nightmares all had siblings of the opposite sex. Since the relationship between Palmer and the models is subliminal, the “ICK!” factor registered only in the unconscious mind, hence the nightmares. Of the remaining 25% (ten students in all), three were gay, and thus immune to this particular depiction of flaming heterosexual perversion; two had same sex siblings; four were only children; and one simply fell asleep at the start of the class, so he missed the video’s showing.
Despite the fact that I traced the Palmer/Van Pelt connection, I’ve since wondered if my students were putting me on about the nightmares. After all, the date on which they reported the dreams was April 1st. Do you think they might have been pulling my leg?