The Ballad Of Randy Quaid

Americans, as a people, are fascinated by stories of outlaws. English bandit Robin Hood has been dead for 500 years (give or take) and they're still making crappy movies about him. And the Old West remains a fertile ground for tales of romanticized criminality, from the silent films of the 'Teens to 2007's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

We have our standards, of course. The outlaw in question should only be guilty of property crimes, or -- at worst -- killing someone in self defense, preferably a corrupt politician or someone threatening their family. We aren't going to rally around a sex offender or the guy who shot a clerk in a convenience store hold-up. No, we prefer the polite bank robber, the dashing jewel thief, the guy who parachutes out of a Boeing 727 with $200,000, never to be seen again.

All that said, I'm having a hard time getting my head around the saga of Houston native (and Bellaire HS grad) Randy Quaid.

In November of last year, Quaid and wife Evi were arrested here in Texas for skipping out on a $10,000 hotel bill in Montecito, California. As crimes go, it's not really up there with robbing from the rich to give to the poor, but kudos to the couple for being able to run up that kind of tab (I'm afraid to even open the minibar, much less take a beer from it). Felony charges were dropped against Randy, while Evi was sentenced to probation and community service.

So then last week, two $50,000 arrest warrants were issued for the couple when they failed to appear at a hearing regarding their "felony residential burglary" arrest in September for occupying a house they used to own in Santa Barbara. Again, squatting isn't going to get you a lot of action on the hipster t-shirt circuit, and I can't be the only one thinking the Quaids should maybe avoid southern California all together.

Now the story has gotten weird(er):

The exploits of Oscar-nominated actor Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, have taken a turn that's bizarre even by Hollywood standards. The couple seek asylum in Canada, claiming they fear for their lives.

The increasingly eccentric duo, who are wanted in California for allegedly skipping out on a hefty hotel bill and for vandalizing a house they once owned, fled north of the border earlier this month, and now claim they are the targets of a mysterious clan they believe murdered actors Heath Ledger and David Carradine. (Ledger died of a drug overdose in 2008 and Carradine was found dead, apparently from accidental asphyxiation, last year.)

"Hollywood is murdering its movie stars," Evi Quaid said in Vancouver last week. She and Randy Quaid had been released on $10,000 bail following their arrest in Vancouver on outstanding warrants from California.

The two have sent messages back to the U.S., saying they will be killed by a group they called the Star Whackers.

Not to make light of Evi Quaid's paranoid delusion -- oh what the hell -- come on: of the three alleged/potential victims described here, only Ledger remotely qualified as a "movie star," and he died before The Dark Knight really cemented that status. Carradine hadn't made a movie of note since Kill Bill, Vol. 2, and Quaid...look, I love the Vacation movies and Kingpin as much as anybody. Hell, more than most people. His early work with Peter Bogdanovich and movies like The Last Detail are classics, but I'm also a fan of under-appreciated Quaid fare like Freaked (a star-studded affair in which he plays evil mastermind Elijah Suggs) and the disaster tour-de-force of Category 6: Day of Destruction and its sequel Category 7: The End of the World.

Unfortunately, describing Randy Quaid as a "movie star" by any acceptable modern definition is like calling Peter Cetera a "blockbuster recording artist." Once upon a time, sure, but to paraphrase Homer Simpson, when they were passing out assassination plots, the "Star Whackers" must have been taking a whiz. According to Becky Altringer, the Quaids' one-time private investigator, Evi believed the alleged cabal was also responsible for the deaths of other Quaid co-stars Chris Penn and Natasha Richardson, as well as Michael Jackson, because why not?

And so the Quaids have fled to the Great White North to seek political asylum. It's been a long time since I took International Law, but I'm not sure how "asylum" figures into this unless they're contending that the United States Government is actively supporting the Star Whackers, which is just ...

My god, it all makes sense:

Randy Quaid was in Foxes with Scott Baio ... Who was in Skatetown, U.S.A. with Maureen McCormick ... Who was in an episode of Touched By An Angel with Abe Vigoda ... Who had a guest spot on Law & Order ... Which is, as we all know, the subject of a well known Chuck Norris Fact ... Chuck Norris is for Texas seceding from the United States ...

President Obama is obviously terrified that Quaid and company are set to expose his radical Islamist, illegal-alien agenda right before the 2010 mid-term elections and will do anything to stop him. Because if anybody knows how to deal with aliens, it's Randy Quaid.

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