The Biblical prelude to Vaselina Springs Part III, Moses and Ramses draws on the traditional blues influences of the steamy Ark-La-Tex to take the listener back to the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers. But being cognizant of the modern American attention span, The Arkie DeLeon’s cut out all the fat from the original accounts. As the Arkies’ intrepid personal manager, Ricardo Richards, noted, “Big Arkie does in three minutes what it took Cecil B. Demille three hours to do. And while I have the utmost respect for Elmer Bernstein’s superlative soundtrack, there wasn’t a single song in that movie that made you want to grab a beer and dance.”
Despite his steely blue eyes and the fact that he has been welcomed into the Egyptian Royal Family, Moses chooses to identify with the enslaved Israelites. As an advocate for their release from bondage, Moses is forced to resort to extreme measures to convince his adopted brother to give in. Moses and Ramses begins by outlining the first nine plagues that will be rained down upon Egypt as incentives for Ramses II to acquiesce. Ramses II makes a counteroffer, which Moses refuses. Moses then plays his trump card, and Jehovah’s Angel of Death kills all the firstborn sons of Egypt. Needless to say, this gets the Pharaoh’s attention, and he is swayed to allow Moses to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land.*
*The following events were cut from Moses and Ramses in the interest of brevity:
After a little dust-up with the Pharaoh and his charioteers at the Red Sea, Moses promptly gets lost for forty years. Despite the pleading of his wife, he refuses to stop and ask for directions. This causes friction between them, but Moses is steadfast. While Moses never reaches the Promised Land, as conciliation prizes along the way, he does pick up the Ten Commandments and an Oscar for Ben Hur.
Vaselina Springs, Part III will explore how the continuing saga of The Oppressors and the Oppressed plays out in a post-WWII Arkansas town.
Because of its timely nature, we skip ahead in our song cycle to release a single from Vaselina Springs XL-XLIX. Afghanistan introduces Frankie Gunnar whose story is told by his nephew, Ronnie. When jobs in the oil fields dry up, Frankie enlists in the Army. After being posted to Afghanistan, an IED comes between Frankie and his American Dream.
Episode 1: In The Beginning
We begin with the story of Eve being created from Adam’s rib. After their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, former golden boy Adam becomes a bitter drunk who refuses to forgive Eve for causing their fall from grace. The third verse details the invention of murder by Cain, one of the sons of Adam and Eve. One generation away from the introduction of the human species, and already we’ve got fratricide. It’s kind of discouraging, isn’t it? Murder as a convenient form of problem solving is a frequent theme in Vaselina Springs.
This song was inspired by the early work of Ricky Nelson and James Burton. Burton is a native son of Shreveport, Louisiana. Located just across the Red River from Shreveport, Bossier City was a place where our protagonist Tiffany Ann Foster frequently danced in nightclubs frequented by airmen from nearby Barksdale Air Force Base. A childhood friend of Little Arkie DeLeon, Tiffany Ann’s life story was the initial inspiration for The Arkie DeLeons in writing Vaselina Springs.
Episode 2 of Vaselina Springs, I-X, a multimedia production, conceived by Gary Bolding, with artwork and songs by Bolding; music produced by Gary Bolding and Ed Nicholson.
“Just As I Am”
Joe Foster comes home from Vietnam in 1969 to a joyful reunion with his high school girlfriend, Mary Lancaster. A month after his return, Mary tells Joe that she is pregnant. They marry and settle down. Tiffany Ann Foster is born on December 24, 1969– eight months to the day after Joe’s return from Vietnam. She weighs 8 pounds, 6 ounces and is 21 inches long at birth. Everyone seems very happy.
Episode 4 of Vaselina Springs, I-X, a multimedia production, conceived by Gary Bolding, with artwork and songs by Bolding; music produced by Gary Bolding and Ed Nicholson.
“Drowning in the Blood”
Bored out of her mind with small town ways and made vulnerable by her depression and disillusionment, Tiffany Ann falls prey to the bad influence of some older girls who have dropped out of high school in pursuit of excitement and easy money. Mary does not approve of Tiffany Ann’s new companions, but she feels powerless to intervene.
Figuring she has nothing to lose, Tiffany turns her back on her Pentecostal upbringing and dances off into the fast life.
Episode 5 of Vaselina Springs, I-X, a multimedia production, conceived by Gary Bolding, with artwork and songs by Bolding; music produced by Gary Bolding and Ed Nicholson.
“My Name Is David Harley”
David Harley speaks directly to the audience from a position of unquestioning entitlement. David is Vaselina Springs’ Prince Charles– waiting irritably and impatiently for his turn on the throne. The idea that “all men are created equal” is laughable to David. He has never once attributed his elevated station to anything other than his obvious genetic superiority. Still, David is desperate to get out of his father’s shadow. He is sick to death of being “Mr. Lester’s boy.”
After an instrumental interlude, David returns to address the people of Vaselina Springs. He outlines what the new regime will expect from them in exchange for their continued ease and comfort.
Tiffany Ann drops out of high school after her junior year. Using a fake I.D.,she gets a job as a bartender at the Vaselina Springs Country Club.
Tiffany Ann begins a surreptitious sexual relationship with David Harley. David is the 40ish, married scion of the area’s most prominent and powerful family. David provides Tiffany Ann with a steady supply of pharmaceutical-grade cocaine. She shows a real flair for self-medication.
This episode also introduces Amanda Harley, David’s wife. While David is merely cruel and self-absorbed, Amanda is truly Machiavellian.
After being fired at the country club, Tiffany Ann begins her career as a dancer in area strip bars. Her young daughter, Susannah, the protagonist of Vaselina Springs: Season II, is introduced in this episode. The club’s owner allows Tiffany Ann to bring Susannah to work. Tiffany Ann leaves the toddler in the dressing room while she performs.
Amanda has no intention of relinquishing her coveted status as Mrs. David Harley. She defends her position with chilling ruthlessness. Disembarking from the gravy train is not part of Amanda’s agenda.
Episode 8 explodes with a blast of festive quasi-Tejano music. Cheerfully exuberant horns provide a sharp contrast to darkly comic lyrics telling of Tiffany Ann’s spiraling decline into prostitution. More than a bit the worse for wear, Tiffany has become a hardened, but not unkind, streetwalker who plies her trade with the matter-of-factness of a piece worker trying to make her night’s quota.