Lawyers, Gubs and Monkeys

My grand-daughter Opal arrived for breakfast on Saturday with a book she immediately immersed herself in. Not a children’s book, not a book of cartoons, but instead an entertaining 2015 book by jurist William W. Bedsworth about amazing legal cases — which Opal and her mother sampled for me as breakfast went on:

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The publisher’s blurb on amazon.com:

The legal cosmos is every bit as weird as anything dreamed up in science fiction. Nothing from the famous bar scene in Star Wars can trump government-issued penis pumps, talking urinal cakes or burglars who rub spices on their victims and then attack them with a sausage. But all of these are part of the legal landscape Justice William W. Bedsworth, a respected appellate judge [California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division 3] and award-winning columnist, tries to make sense of here. Make no mistake, “Beds” is as baffled as the rest of us. But his attempts to sort it out have been entertaining lawyers and other humans all over America for decades. This third collection of the best of his nationally-syndicated column “A Criminal Waste of Space” may not help you understand the law, but you’ll be laughing too hard to care.

On to the clever title. The whole thing is a play on the Warren Zevon song title “Lawyers, Guns and Money”. Gubs is a reference to the many cases involving startlingly inept bank robbers, like Virgil Starkwell in Woody Allen’s early movie Take the Money and Run (details below). And the monkeys? From a California Courts site about Bedsworth:

In 2003, The Times of London gave him its Judicial Wisdom of the Year award for recognizing that “There is no non-culpable explanation for monkeys in your underpants.”

Warren Zevon. From Wikipedia:

Warren William Zevon (… January 24, 1947 – September 7, 2003) was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician.

Zevon’s work has often been praised by well known musicians, including Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. His best-known compositions include “Werewolves of London”, “Lawyers, Guns and Money”, “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” and “Johnny Strikes Up the Band”, all of which are featured on his third album, Excitable Boy (1978). Other well-known songs written by Zevon have been recorded by other artists, including “Poor Poor Pitiful Me”, “Accidentally Like a Martyr”, “Mohammed’s Radio”, “Carmelita”, and “Hasten Down the Wind”.

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You can listen to the audio of the song here.

(For a gratuitous bonus, you can watch a live performance of “Werewolves of London” here.)

Woody Allen. From Wikipedia:

Take the Money and Run is a 1969 American mockumentary comedy film directed by Woody Allen [the second film he directed] and starring Allen and Janet Margolin (with Louise Lasser in a small role). Written by Allen and Mickey Rose, the film chronicles the life of Virgil Starkwell (Woody Allen), an inept bank robber.

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Virgil’s attempt to rob a bank is foiled when the teller reads his handwritten note intended to say I’M POINTING A GUN AT YOU as … GUB …

You can watch the scene here.

The expression take the money and run is metaphorical, conveying something like ‘accept the offer while you have the chance’. There is some question as to whether it has achieved idiom status, but at the time of Allen’s movie it surely was a reasonably common formula, and the movie title recovers the literal sense of money.

Similarly ten years later when the Steve Miller Band recorded its song, again about bank robbers. From Wikipedia:

“Take the Money and Run” is a song recorded in 1976 by the Steve Miller Band. A song about two young (possibly teenage) bandits and the police officer pursuing them, it was one of the many hit singles produced by the Steve Miller Band in the 1970s and featured on Fly Like an Eagle.

… The song is about “Billy Joe and Bobby Sue”, described in a similar manner to Bonnie and Clyde, who were from Dallas.

You can listen to the song here.

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