Comfortable and Furious

Disco Godfather(1979)


Stinger Ray is a businessman. A respected member of the community. A visionary with expensive suits and a Morris Day haircut. And he has one hell of a plan. See, he’s going to take on the National Basketball Association. Not with anti-trust lawsuits, TV deals, or a fancy new arena in the heart of downtown. No, sir, he’s going to start a team. Not a league, fool, just the one team. Call ‘em the Stingrays, because, well, what else he gonna call ‘em? And you know how there are players who try out and don’t make the big time?

The “rejects”? Nah, they ain’t rejects. They’re hungry. And mad. And he’s going to populate his squad with those guys. The men who wanted to play basketball, but couldn’t cut it. A starting five of pretenders and wannabes, and they’re gonna take the country by storm. Bring the big, bad NBA to its knees. You can almost see Stinger rubbing his hands together and cackling like a motherfucker. I’ll say this for old Stinger, he has the ambition of a Bond villain. World domination through mediocrity. Conquest through misdirection. Get ‘em laughing so you can sneak through the back door. It’s all so incredibly stupid, it just might work. Only he’s got to fund the operation. Dollars ain’t gonna make themselves. So the king of legit has got to go rogue. Play by a new set of rules. Stinger, Mr. Ray, gonna sell the wack. Production and distribution. The wack? The fuck? PCP, fellas. Angel dust. The good stuff just came to town.

But this shit is killing the children. Driving them from dreams to nightmares, life to death. Take Bucky, for example. He’s a good kid, a basketball hero, and he has a college degree as a backup plan. But he’s weak. It’s 1979, and in the ghetto, you either pimp up or die trying. Bucky’s better than that, but he likes to get high. Only this PCP is a new kick. What can it hurt? His girl is concerned: “You smokin’ too much,” she cries. Pushing her aside, he gets in the car with the fellas. Time passes, and our next vision is that same woman, screaming like she’s seen the devil.

Staggering behind her is Bucky, and he done lost his mind. He’s sweating, screaming, and barely coherent. “What the fuck you lookin’ at?”, he roars, before falling to his knees in complete obedience to his new god. He’s totally bereft, save the hallucinations. And they’re unrelenting. First, there are skeletons. Next, witches. Third, clowns. Then clown-witches. And he’s playing ball, only shirtless. He encounters three opponents, and they have guns. They plug Bucky full of holes. The horror just won’t stop. If he doesn’t die, he just might want to. Thankfully, he’s reached his nadir in his uncle’s club: the Disco Blueberry Hill. It’s the hottest spot in town, perhaps the country. For a $3 cover, you can, per the mandate of Tucker Williams – the Disco Godfather, the Tower of Power, the Man of the Hour – “put your weight on it!” If you’re confused, just get down to that funky beat. The roller-skating girls will be out shortly


Tucker Williams? He’s a former cop, and now he’s selling love and music seven days a week. He’s a class act when the sun shines – all suit and tie and flower in the lapel – but when darkness falls, his shirt is unbuttoned just like the rest of ‘em. Part preacher, part funkadelic soul brother, he’s out of control even when he’s taking a breather. He lives his life at full volume, and his choice of clothes are the least of it. Only now he’s pissed. His beautiful nephew, the pride of the family, is being sent to the hospital. “Bucky, what have you done to yourself?”, he spits, as his boy moans on a stretcher. Dr. Fred is there for the lowdown: “Haven’t you heard, Godfather? Our children are dying.” Tucker hadn’t heard about PCP.

He’s about to receive an education, quick like, with life hanging in the balance. Arriving at Dr. Fred’s hospital – I say it’s his, because he’s the only doctor on the premises – Tucker can’t believe his eyes. Even the waiting room is a shitstorm. In one chair, a bug-eyed bitch rocks gently, clutching a doll. Her story? She cooked her infant in an oven, then served the corpse to her family. Even used a silver platter! Over there, another girl, hair like Buckwheat, maniacally whips the floor. This shit’s even gotten to the white boys – there’s one who thinks he’s a newborn caterpillar. Dr. Fred is adamant: “Even an eighth grade chemist could make it!”

Disco Godfather has seen enough. He’s gonna do whatever it takes, and whatever it takes means turning the disco over to a subordinate while he goes undercover. Using his police connections, he’s going to find out who’s making this garbage, and karate-chop the fucker back to hell. Or, using his words, “I’m gonna come down on the suckers producing this shit!” Almost immediately, as if there’s a double agent in the department, Tucker’s phones are tapped. He catches the men right in the act. “Who sent you? I want names!” And, in the first of a hundred such occasions, he calls one of them a “stupid son of a bitch.” No one’s talking, but DG springs into further action by joining forces with Angels Against Dust. “Attack the wack,” they cry, though one wonders why, when one of the chicks asks a crowd how many are using PCP, half the hands go up.

Shouldn’t she court former users? Will this be the best army against the pushers? Maybe they’re just in it for the free shit. No matter, as Tucker gonna handle this shit all by himself. He can’t trust the police, as there always seems to be a tip-off to the drug raids. I mean, when they invaded that motel room, they didn’t find a thing. Not one lousy PCP-soaked cigarette! Maybe it’s a losing battle. Cutting back to Dr. Fred, a physician so cool he wears sunglasses during his rounds, he’s now resorting to prayer circles and shouts of amen.


Meanwhile, Stinger is going forward with his NBA takeover. But he’s got to have Disco Godfather killed first. Only he reconsiders at the last minute. Unable to call off the assassination, he sends a second round of killers to take out the first pair. The murders happen right in front of DG at his club, and their escape takes twice as long as it should because the film keeps freezing the action, like some funky snapshot. Style is one thing, my brother, but we already have the disco beauties in bathing suits. This is just over the top. But Tucker thinks he knows who’s behind the attempt, so he visits an old friend, Bob, who runs an African school for the neighborhood kids.

But he shouldn’t have done that. Because friends of Tucker end up dead. Worst of all, Bob has his throat slashed in bed with his woman. And his dog is nailed to the door. So now he got to see Sweetmeat. Only he don’t know nothin’. “Man, I lost one of my best bitches to the wack!” And we believe him. But even though this party isn’t a PCP party, there’s enough shit going down to piss off a Godfather. What’s that white powder on the Saturday Night Fever record? Don’t do it, man, that’s his best shit. Poof, gone with the wind. Disco Godfather don’t give a fuck who he hurts. So he hits the streets. Cue city wide shakedown, with the music to match. For the next two minutes, Tucker slaps the shit out of everyone lost to the dust.

Tucker be living this shit. Even haunting his dreams. Worst of all, it’s keeping him limp. Brother can’t focus on the fuckin’! Suddenly, he’s inspired. He knows the identity of the mole. Killroy, the motherfucker. He fakes a sting operation just to be sure. Killroy is ashamed. So ashamed, in fact, that he runs home and kills himself in the bathtub. When Stinger finds out, he’s apoplectic. Moles don’t grow on trees, you know, and the NBA season is right around the corner. More than ever, he wants DG dead, so he sends his best men, including one who dresses like a cowboy and wields a bullwhip, and another who stands a good 6’11” while refusing to wear a shirt.

But fuck, man, Tucker’s a martial arts expert. I bet he has a black belt. Now, he’s slow and shit, like the old man he is, but his kicks pack a punch. But he’s free to be loose, as he left the better threads at home in favor of a silky smooth jogging suit. Seeing the shit going on right outside his door, Stinger panics and starts burning papers. He even destroys some of his product. Somewhere, a song called “One Way Ticket to Hell” plays on the soundtrack. Making quick work of Stinger’s bodyguards, there’s only one obstacle remaining: Doomsday. He’s invincible, says the man on the street, and after DG hits him in the head with a wrench to no avail, he’s a believer. What will become of our Disco Godfather?


Tucker is tough, but not tough enough. Doomsday slaps a gas mask on the avenger, and soon, he’s high as a fucking kite. Visions! His mama, then that dead dog, then his own self, crawling out of a casket. “It can’t be real,” he screams, “It’s got to be in my mind!” Shit gets worse. Why his mama holding a flask of whiskey? She didn’t drink. Why, mama! I hate you! For five full minutes – and I watched the clock – Disco Godfather screams obscenities, punches the air, and yells so loud I thought he’d go hoarse. This motherfucking PCP, motherfucker! How many lives will it destroy? During the breakdown, Stinger is confronted by his woman.

She’s appalled that he built his empire on drugs, and she wants no part of it. “Bitch, how you think you stay in that big house? All that money, them cars, them bullshit dance lessons? It’s the only way!” And so it is. Within seconds, DG is strangling Stinger in a rage. Don’t do it, Tucker, we can put him away. Then, as if the production team told the director that they literally had one dollar left to spend, the film ends. Cuts out, with only a screaming Disco Godfather for us to chew on. Who wins? Who loses? Is the war on wack successful, or does the wack come back? What will become of Tucker’s Blueberry Hill? And Stinger’s rugged band of misfits? How will they get paid? This shit ain’t right.


POSTSCRIPT: On July 12, 1979, after the first game of a twi-night doubleheader between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers, a crate filled with disco records was blown to smithereens, thereby ending the disco era. Comiskey Park was damn near destroyed in the promotional night gone wrong, but the musical fad that, at least for rock n’ roll America, was always a little too black and a little too gay, was wiped from the earth for all time. And while Blueberry Hill, 2001 Odyssey, and other such clubs closed their doors forever, PCP raged on, leading to Rodney King, the LA Riots, and a host of new problems that would no doubt have caused Disco Godfather a great deal of shame. Thankfully, he never left Dr. Fred’s hospital, dying alone, never having seen his nephew kick the dust to embark on a righteous life.



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