Tag Archive | Universal fire

An Apology To The Media

I’m sorry I called you guys dumb-asses. That Universal fire was pretty big and crazy. I imagine it was hard at first to verify/confirm certain facts. Everybody makes mistakes. I was just mad that I organized this whole penny thing for nothing. Also, King Kong. You know. I just flew off the handle and I apologize.

Sometimes I forget how hard your job is. Hell, I didn’t even make it through one semester of journalism course work in college. Flunked out like a big fat idiot. So who am I to judge you? A jerk, that’s who.

Now c’mon. Let’s go out for frosty chocolate milkshakes.

King Kong: Not So Fine

Another thing the dumb-ass media messed up/didn’t make very clear in their initial reports on the Universal Studios Hollywood fire: the King Kong “exhibit” that burnt to a crisp was actually the King Kong portion of the Studio Tour (read: the part with the big robot monkey).

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. King Kong is dead. Let the nation’s period of mourning officially begin.

I’ve never been to Universal Studios Hollywood, but it feels like I spent a good chunk of my early to mid twenties hanging out at Universal Orlando. I really love that park. One of my favorite attractions there was always Kongfrontation, the east coast adaptation of the simian tram attack that began wowing L.A. tourists in 1986.

Kongfrontation, which opened along with the whole Universal Orlando park in 1990, was truly an experience, from the authentically smelly 1970s New York subway queue area to the frighteningly large fireballs that popped up as Kong was attacking your Roosevelt Island cable care. The miniature cityscape that sat beneath the fuzzy ape’s non-existent butt (sorry, kids, he was just a torso) was also painstakingly detailed.

How do I know that? Universal does this thing every October called Halloween Horror Nights. Often, they change the rides up to give visitors a new, “spookier” experience. One year, they let us walk through the fake New York backdrop of Kongfrontation. I was really impressed with how real the quasi-neighborhoods seemed. I was also impressed with how close they let us get to the monkey. I could have easily ripped all his fur off.

My favorite part of Kongfrontation may have been the closed circuit TVs in the ride queue showing vintage late eighties/early nineties WWOR programming (Universal owned the station at the time of the park’s opening). All these shows I thought I’d never see again after moving from the Tri-State area—“Steampipe Alley,” “Out of This World,” “The Munsters Today”—were brought back to life and preserved forever as part of a theme park ride second only to Jaws in terms of fun and excitement.

Seriously, all this ride needed was a cot and a functioning toilet and I probably could have lived there.

All good things come to an end, though. In 2002, Universal shut down Kongfrontation with little to no explanation. Rumor around town was the building that housed Kong was about to collapse (much like their main competitor Disney, Universal Studios Orlando doesn’t have to adhere to standard Orange County building codes). Whatever the case, thousands of people (including me) were sad. I didn’t start cutting myself or anything, though, because I always knew there was another animatronic monkey out west I’d one day visit.

Now, that guy’s dead, and I’ve got no monkeys to look forward to.

Universal Hollywood says they do not plan to rebuild the Kong portion of the Studio tour, that they will instead replace the burnt out crater with something more contemporary. I cringe at what this could mean. A Big Mama’s House encounter? Some kind of “Deal or No Deal” attraction? In all seriousness, it’ll probably be some kind of Mummy yazz like what they replaced Orlando Kong with. Yeah, Egypt is neat, but I like ol’ Banana Breath way more.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. I’m gonna miss you, buddy. You saw America through some rough times. The stock market crash, the first Gulf War, “Homeboys in Outer Space.” That’s all over now. We’re better people, though, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

Here’s looking at you, chimp.

By the way, Universal, if you ever even think of permanently shutting down the Jaws ride, I will make it my business to completely destroy you.

P.S. – Michael Fay, the kid who got caned in Singapore for vandalism, worked on the Kongfrontation ride shortly after returning to the U.S. I got him as a ride operator once. He did a pretty good job, but everyone knew who he was and you could taste the contempt/pity for him in the air. I’m pretty sure I made some kind of snide comment as I exited the ride. He had the look of a slightly broken soul, but hey, he dug his own grave. Who the fuck is dumb enough to break the law in Singapore? Shithead.

P.P.S – No one had King Kong in the death pool.

Clock Tower Apparently Fine

Well, it turns out that big-ass fire at Universal Studios Hollywood earlier this week did not, in fact, consume the courthouse square set from Back to the Future, nor did it damage the film’s famous clock tower. Nope, according to this report from BTTF.com, the nucleus of Marty McFly’s hometown was miraculously saved. It shall live on, specifically in an upcoming episode of “Ghost Whisperer.”

In light of this news, I’m calling off my drive to save the clock tower. ‘Cause, you know, it was already saved. Sorry, everybody. You’ll just have to send your pennies to some other corporate monolith.

As for you, dumb-ass media, you go sit in the corner and think about what you did. You sent every Back to the Future fan in the country into a tizzy just because you couldn’t get your facts straight. Oh, you just wait until your father gets home! He’ll tan your hide!

Save The Clock Tower (No, Seriously, For Real)

Hill Valley’s clock tower, the prestigious building that allowed Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly character to literally travel back to the future in the 1985 blockbuster film Back to the Future, was damaged yesterday when a massive fire broke out at Universal Studios Hollywood. The courthouse square surrounding the clock tower was apparently completely destroyed, along with a bunch of King Kong crap and a couple of unrelated fake streets that were in the general Hill Valley vicinity.

While no one was seriously injured, this does seriously injure the production of Back to the Future 4, which I wrote a really awesome script for that I was hoping Universal would buy from me before next month’s rent is due. The security guard I talked to at the front gate assured me the guys he ate lunch with really liked my whole “Biff kills Hitler” angle; during our last conversation, he promised to forward my treatment to Spielberg’s assistant’s assistant. I guess that’s all on hold now. Goddamn my rotten luck.

But I digress. I don’t have to tell you the clock tower is an iconic piece of American film history. In the absence of Elsa Raven and Charles Fleischer, I would like to officially start the Save The Clock Tower (No, Seriously, For Real) Fund. You don’t have to make a huge contribution. In fact, I think if every one of us who cares about preserving this very important and completely fake building just sends a handful of pennies that would otherwise be languishing uselessly in the muggy depths of our pockets to Universal, they’d have at least enough to go down to Home Depot to pick up a roll of electrical tape or a tube of spackle.

So let’s get things started already. Fish that copper out of your dungarees and send it to:

Universal Studios
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608

Be sure to include a little note that says something like, “Hey, heard about the fire. Here’s some change to help the Clock Tower recovery effort. Have a great one!” If you’re worried about getting any of that dreaded change back, just list “Save The Clock Tower (No, Seriously, For Real) Fund” as the return address. Then they’ll end up at the dead letter office and they’ll be the government’s problem.

Come on, people. Let’s make this the most significant event of 2008. As Joey Ramone once said (and he spoke for all of us), if you’re not in it, you’re out of it.

UPDATE: The clock tower is apparently fine. So forget it.