Ever since I saw a Public Television special on the hot dog, I’ve developed a strong desire to go to Chicago. Jensen Rufe and Steve Love’s documentary compilation “A Slice of Steve & Jensen’s Universe: nonfiction entertainment” makes me want to go to Indiana. There are three short documentaries in this collection: “Indiana Hoosier Deep Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches,” “Paul is Dead,” and “Orick, CA.”
Running twelve minutes long, “Indiana Hoosier Deep Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches” introduces the pork tenderloin sandwich that has become somewhat of a trademark food in the state of Indiana. Dave and Kevin Clapp from Mr. Dave’s Restaurant, Morris May of the Mug `N Bun, and Indiana food historian Steve Jones, who are among the people interviewed, share their thoughts on why the sandwich is so popular and so good. They also elaborate on how the sandwiches are made and the techniques that different eateries will use to differentiate their tenderloins from others’.
For instance, some restaurants make the pork more or less the same size of the bun, but other places will flatten the pork so that it’s the size and shape of an elephant ear. However one prefers to eat or make them, the popularity of the pork tenderloin is not only beneficial for the owners of the eateries but also for hog farmers who supply the pork. In the course of filming this documentary, Rufe and Love ate twenty-three pork tenderloin sandwiches without any regrets. The tenderloins are just like potato chips. You can’t just have one.
The second segment, entitled “Paul is Dead” is five minutes of what lawyers and police like to call “circumstantial evidence.” Conspiracy theory enthusiasts should enjoy this part. “Paul is Dead” succinctly describes the rumor that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in 1966. Rather than disband, the Beatles hid the body and hired William Campbell, a McCartney look-alike, to become Paul. The evidence for this theory? Song lyrics played forward and backwards provide clues to the real McCartney’s alleged demise. For instance, the song “Glass Onion,” contains this line: well here’s another clue for you all, the Walrus was Paul. Playing the song “I’m So Tired” backwards reveals, “Paul is dead, man. Miss him. Miss him. Miss him.”
The album covers of ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper” supposedly offer more clues. The former depicts each member of the Beatles as a person who would be present at a funeral. George Harrison is dressed as a grave digger; Paul is wearing a gray suit and no shoes (the dead are commonly portrayed either without feet or without shoes); Ringo Starr is in a black suit, the garb of a mourner; and John Lennon wears a white suit, representing a religious personage. In the bottom right corner of the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ cover, there’s a little girl looking down on what could be a car on its side. The filmmakers communicate through a few satirical comments that the theory suggesting Paul died is based on nothing more than a series of coincidences.
The final installment, “Orick, CA,” impresses you as the most personal in that the images you see could’ve been the product of two guys who just wanted to capture on film the sights and sounds of a road trip. Orick sits in California’s Redwoods country. There are two motels, one restaurant, two gas stations, a few bars, and a dozen Burl Art shops in Orick. Burl Art consists of what can be carved from wood such as Indian Chiefs, grizzly bears, or trees. The viewer gets to witness billiard night at the local tavern, the Lumberjack, where competitors can win frozen meat. The viewer also meets Jerry, the Town Poet, who did time at San Quentin and moved the guards to tears with his rendition of the ‘Star Spangled Banner’. On Saturday, which is Rodeo Day, even the kids are sent into the arena riding baby sheep and goats. Rufe and Love offer their observations of the small town in the form of voice-overs (and how they pair audio with the visuals), but the people of Orick paint most of the picture.