Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Palin' in Comparison: A Reverie That Doesn't Really Make It, But They Can't All Be Gems

Twenty-five years ago this month, reluctant Missus the First and I loaded all our possessions into a U-Haul truck and left Los Angeles, heading north to the Sonoma County wine country. I was tired of the smog, and of my professional frustration. But when we got to Santa Rosa, it turned out not to be the paradise for which I’d hoped. Most of the populace was inbred. There was a teenaged heavy metal fan with a pit bull a few doors up the road, and a psychotic cat who clearly believed that the house was hers, and not ours. Two doors past the young heavy metal fan, there was a Christian zealot who, full of the joy of Christ’s love, never stopped beaming at me maniacally, not even when we played basketball in my driveway.

When my Kinks book came out, it didn’t sell sensationally. I wrote a couple of screenplays and a novel upstairs in my sweltering huge study, but no one seemed interested. I had an infant daughter to support, and took a job processing words at a big law firm down in San Francisco. The three and a half hours I spent on the bus every day made me truculent, and my marriage began to falter. Missus the First and I agreed that some time apart would probably be a good idea.

I headed farther north, this time alone, and didn’t stop until I reached Palmer, Alaska. Missing my daughter, I vodka’d myself comatose every night for a week. But then, having hit bottom, I began to rebound. I requested a course catalog from Matanuska-Susitna College, and discovered that it offered an Associate of Applied Science degree in Refrigeration & Heating Technology. I’d never been hugely interested in temperature control before, but it sounded, if I were fated to remain unpopular with literary agents, like more fun than processing the words of smug fascists. I enrolled and actually found my courses pretty interesting.

Not nearly as interesting, though, as a perky young communications major with whom I happened to strike up a conversation in the student cafeteria one chilly afternoon. She said her name was Sarah Heath. “Oh, I said, “like Ted Heath, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and leader of its Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975.” She pouted at me censoriously, but adorably, and said, “Do you want to show off, or party with me?” By partying she meant reading Scripture together and nibbling s'mores. How not to fall for so wholesome a gal? How not to fall hard?

We soon found out, though, that we hadn’t much in common. She was an avid fan of Ronald Reagan, and unamused to hear that I endorsed Gore Vidal’s and former Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford’s views of Reagan as a triumph of the embalmer’s art and an amiable dunce, respectively. She liked hockey, about which boys from Playa del Rey, California, know nothing at all. It turned out she had a boyfriend in her hometown of Wasilla, though they didn’t have, you know, relations because they weren’t yet married. The sanctimonious have long been a mystery to me.

The more we chatted, the lower I realized her IQ to be. It became clear that she thought her dimples, folksiness, and cute ass more than enough to get her a job as a sports commentator on Alaska television, where there isn’t fierce competition. I couldn’t imagine how her ass was relevant one way or the other, but at the point I’d never watched a sports report on Alaskan television.

We drifted apart. She began dating a Christian outlaw motorcycle gang, The Abstainers, and I returned to California. The separation hadn’t helped, and Missus the First and I divorced. I moved to San Francisco, a hotbed of gay depravity, while Sarah, back in Alaska, had a succession of oddly named children, apparently became even stupider, and launched a political career that may end in the White House.

The stupider she revealed herself to be, the more a lot of Americans seemed to identify with and like her. I have heard her referred to as an MILF, but for me she is very much a MIWFWYD.

A free copy of my sensational new album to the first reader to decode MIWFWYD. Facebookers: Subscribe here.


  1. Mother I Wouldn't Fuck With Your Dick.

    BTW, although I understand you're "embarrassed" by it--is this apocryphal?--I've loved "Some People Will Drink Anything" since I bought it in my senior year of high school (1972-73) in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. (Yes, pre-record-contract-and-fame Lynyrd Skynyrd used to play at my high school; I never saw 'em there, as I never attended any high school dances, but I did see them in Fall 1973 as openers for The Who on the Quadrophenia tour. I was an avid Who fan, and am familiar with your writings about them.)

    As I posted on Deniz Tek's blog, Ralph Oswald's guitar solo--instrumental interlude, really--on "In Search of R.Crumb" never fails to give me goosebumps. The rest of the album's swell too. I have digitized it and it's in my iTunes library.

    I was also surprised to discover only recently you were an early member of Sparks. I also discovered them in my senior high school year, the result of an article about them in CIRCUS magazine. After first hating their record--A WOOFER IN TWEETER'S CLOTHING being the first one I bought--I came to love it and subsequently HALF NELSON. I was an ardent fan of theirs for a few years, but they never equaled those two Bearsville albums. I think I bought the C. Milk album because something about the copy on the back of the jacket led me to think it might have been sort of "Sparks-y." Yes, and no. I've heard WFMU play cuts from it on a couple of occasions, in the last couple of years. The record was unknown then and now, but not entirely forgot.

    Sorry for the digressions.

  2. We have a winner! Well done, Robert! And I agree with you about Ralph's guitar playing on that album. After hearing it again for the first time in many, many years lately, I realized that much of it's sublime. What I'm most embarrassed by is my own dismal singing. I'd very much like to know what you think of my recent music, and will be pleased to send you the new album if you'll provide an email address.

  3. I'm honored.