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'Californication': The music plays, the music stops, and this blogger goes searching ...

November 23, 2008 | 10:31 pm

Californication For a while, “Californication” on Sunday night was like a weird game of musical chairs. Hank was out with Lew's ex. Lew was out with Hank's. Hank and his date ran into Sonja, a woman he had slept with, along with her current boyfriend, Julian, who then propositioned that they sleep together -– meaning, the four of them.

Who would be left standing at the end, alone?  Anybody?  And the story was aligning itself with the old Tom Kapinos formula: The sex is the comedy; the sex is absurd; the sex comes easily, which is exactly the point.

“One of my goals with the show was to treat sex between consenting adults as matter of fact,” show runner Kapinos once told me.  “Because I look around this city and I see a lot of people hooking up and having sex. Sometimes they love each other, sometimes they don't. Sometimes it means something, sometimes they're just passing the time.”

And then, boom.

Sunday night's episode ended on a silent, sobering note. Consequences. A sweet moment turned sour.

It happened after Hank and Karen each shot down the overtures of their respective dates, and ultimately ended up where they belong -– together instead, in each other's arms, laughing, playing. And then ... 

“What is that?” she asked, her hands beneath the sheets.
“That's a male member,” he quipped. “Thought you'd met.”
“No, Hank, that.”
“What is that?”
“That's, that's my coin.”
“It's like a lump or something. Did you always have that?”
He shook his head.
He stared into space. And we cut to black.

I will admit here that the above exchange led to a rather hilarious dialogue between me and a friend as to what it all meant. “Testicular cancer. Wow.” “No, wait, was it on his ... 'member?'” “Wait, what does 'coin' mean?” (Oh, “Californication” conversations ...)

My very odd fact-finding journey then began. What does Hank have? I went online. I Googled certain terms that I don't wish to repeat. Saw some ugly possibilities.

In the end, I think –- think -– that I may have found the answer within the episode's title, “La Ronde.” This is a show, after all, that uses artistic references to add texture and even clues, as past blogs have noted. And sure enough, according to Wikipedia, “La Ronde” was an 1897 play by Arthur Schnitzler that was adapted into a film on three separate occasions. The original play “scrutinizes the sexual morals and class ideology of its day, through a series of encounters between pairs of characters (shown before and after the act of sex). By choosing characters across all levels of society, the play is also a social comment on how sexual contact overcomes boundaries of class.

“Both the German Reigen and the French Ronde mean 'round dance'; like the English nursery rhyme Ring a Ring o' Roses, other European languages also have versions ending in 'all fall down.' This is taken to relate to one of the controversial themes of the play -- the transmission of syphilis across different layers of society.”

Bingo. I think. I phoned my friend with the news. “I think our boy Hank has an STD... ”

-- Josh Gajewski

(Other) Artistic references:

At the rehab center, Hank tells Marcy, “You're going to be stronger in the places that are broken. Like ... Hemingway ... said.” The actual Ernest Hemingway quote: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.”

At the gallery, Hank mutters “Salvador Dali” in reference to Julian. Dali, like Julian, had a certain affinity for unusual things, along with peculiar mustaches ...

Ashby's romantic gesture for Karen at the Hollywood Bowl includes the private performance of Lili Haydn, who sang “The Saddest Sunset” as the sun went down. On her website, Haydn once wrote this to describe that song's meaning: “My mom used to say 'Love is always there; it's just we who aren't.' ”

On Hank's date with Janie Jones, he's told:

“You are not some stray dog, Hank Moody. You belong to someone.”
“Takes one to know one. ... Hey, you know he throws these huge parties and these people come and they drink his booze and they act like they're his friends.”

“Yeah, I've heard.”

“Guest of honor never shows.”

... once again reminding us that Lew is Jay Gatsby, and Janie Jones is his Daisy Buchanan. ...

Metropol 47 by the Red House Painters played over the credits. The closing lyrics:

Find us something good to drink
But buy me one more day
One more day to know this place
To kiss your sweet koala face
To love you deep into the night
To feel you underneath me

(Photo courtesy Showtime)