There is no I in team they say, but for Gordy Grundy, Viceroy of The Western States, “Gong Long” is a pass play. Possibly a USC pass play, with Lindsey Buckingham selling Cokes and directing the marching band with a straw. I can see him from the press box where I write. He faces the field, tray of cups hanging around his neck like you’d see on a kid who probably also has a paper route. He can see the entire field from the aisle steps that split the stadium at the 50-yard line. And on the left, over in the corner by the fluorescent orange pylon, one foot in the end zone, is the Viceroy himself. Smiling.
And that’s pretty much `this art mans’s mantra. Shit` if it isn’t: everything right down the middle. It’s not irony, but it does possess a steely ascot mouth way of engaging in a lightly upbeat notsmirk, which leaves the shadow of a doubt. To appreciate it you have to employ a skewered, one-legged palindrome technocity in order to have any chance of fingering it out. I mean the smirk or maybe the ascot. Whichever it is, it’s inscrutable like Sarah Palin, but also hopey-dopey as you’d find in a hobbit-humped-out sled garage from 1972.
All of this is to do with The Fellowship of Fortuna, a scaffolding of images and slogans assembled by Mr. Grundy.
Now, rock for 47 seconds to Better Than: A Modern Day Mantra:
The split is right there, hiding in plain sight: Fell For. This, perhaps the ultimate double entendre, allows the duality of lover and sucker. And choice is at the heart of The Fellowship, as you will surely see, if you choose to investigate further. This is the brilliance of the system — you make it what it is by giving it attention. Its ready form of branding makes for quick assimilation. It can make one cry (true story — ask Gordy). It utilizes a strategy somewhat similar to that of the Colbert Report in that it mimics that which it critiques. But this it quickly leaves for the green hills. It really is about light, but its gorgeous graphic acumen builds to a commentary on how branding is at work with even the most serious of traditions. So it creates a series of taught but flexible planar surfaces that are made of the tension between the upright and horizontal members of its skeletal structure. It’s fun to bounce on. Basically it functions like an inflatable castle.
There is no further West for America. That’s what the voice-over Viceroy will tell you in No Further West, a previous piece. He means California. The video features a very Ed Ruscha looking title panel, and the Leslie and The Badgers song in a companion work, Mecca Fortune, also ably locates the Fellowship in L.A.
Leslie Stevens’ voice invites empathy and hangs comfortably on the song. She sings easy, like falling off a wood fence on purpose, laughing. The sound of a drape laid across a favored object. Sometimes, mid-phrase she splits the words in half, swallowing a syllable. I wish she’d use the word Mulwray in a song, letting the frontside of the R-sound fade down the backside of her throat.
So-Cal optimism across the board, with an edge of thoughtful fingertips tapping together in a scheming prayer. Reconciliation, the Trey of Cups, but held in the hand of a character played by Vincent Price. It’s all about the isness and the wasness or something. And the way Gordy tells it, it’s about the shallbeness too.
He posits a power thinking I’ve noticed and I’m just yes-ticed. Because I choose to be. His philosophy embodies the mid-’60s New Existentialism of Colin Wilson — your consciousness determines the room. An early example of the power of positive thinking interpreted via quantum physics.
Don’t write the ending till bedtime and wake up with a smile.
It’s not insincere but it is self-seducing: rely on the kindness of strangers, especially if you’re a stranger to yourself.
If you tell a lie, you’ll turn into a donkey.
These are just some of the truths to live by offered by The Fellowship. No, truthfully, I made them up in a parallel universe. Actual tenets later.
It is said that Buddy Ebsen was a follower, even before there was any documentation of the movement. Some people refuse to acknowledge this. But, as with all things Better Than, the choice is yours, friend.
Trick me into saying the title of this piece backwards, and I’ll go back to The 5th Dimension where I came from.
The reason I’m telling you all this, is that each week for 21 weeks, the Current will be bringing The Fellowship of Fortuna directly to you one way or another. Just watch this page for the next five months and go online to view new videos, which Gordy has been cranking out in between making new friends.
I’ve chosen my favorite tenets from The Fellowship of Fortuna, 10 of them, though there seems to be a limitless supply:
1. Laughter oxygenates the soul.
2. We’ll take the high seas or no seas at all.
3. When we talk about luck, we start talking about choice.
4. Always in development, always under scrutiny, always in evaluation.
5. Use your art to prove that religion is fashion.
6. To have Sea Legs is to appreciate life.
7. Fortuna has a beautiful, intriguing face with a quirky smile, like the Statue of Liberty or Angelina Jolie.
8. Why is there a pearl missing from the Crown of Fortuna? Because life is
OK, so I could only find eight that I really liked. But here are two more:
9. You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?
10. Oops there goes another rubber tree plant.
Witness an artwork of infinite scope, universal mystery, and life-affirming beauty:
11. Still the searcher must ride the dark horse.
That’s from a Neil Young song. I quoted it in a paper I wrote on Buddhism for a Philosophy class I took at Texas Tech in 1970. The professor did not like it.
The Fellowship of Fortuna absorbs 47 times its weight in excess.
I’m finding it hard to concentrate. Fortuna is slippery when wit. I’m just trying to tell you about Gordy so you can check out the infinite beauty and stuff. It’s worth it. He means it. What more do you want? •
Hills Snyder writes occasionally about art. More of his writing can be found at www.hillssnyder.com