Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Christopher Milk Reunion

I had serious reservations from the very start about the Christopher Milk reunion, but when you stand to earn more for three evenings’ work than you’ve earned in the past half-decade, you tend to start treating your reservations as you might a fellow passenger on a bus or on the subway who suddenly jumps to his feet shouting, “I must warn you that the Islamic extremists who control my thoughts are commanding me to remove all my clothing, defecate, and then write Death to the West on the windows with my own feces.”

I’d never really thought of us as an act that would go over very well in Las Vegas, our appearance in which was arranged by our friend Celine Dion, but it hadn't yet dawned on me that Las Vegas was no longer the province of Older People in polyester clothing of colors that don’t occur in nature, but of persons my own age. I am now officially — and to my infinite chagrin — an Older Person myself, a fact that kicked me vengefully between the legs the other evening when, in the midst of the Lakers game, there was a segment featuring the former UCLA and NBA star Bill Walton, his sons (one of whom plays for the Lakers), and a couple grandchildren. I reflected on how little Bill, who dutifully intoned a succession of wisecracks having to do with his ancientness, resembled the flame-haired Grateful Dead fan of his Portland Trailblazers days. He is snow-topped and prolifically creased now, our Bill — and a few years younger than I!

I may not wear much polyester clothing (except for my black wedding suit, which I bought in London in 2002 because it was both reasonably stylish and reasonably affordable, albeit containing no trace of anything other than polyester), and am proud to have loathed the Grateful Dead even while employed by a big fascist law firm in San Francisco at which all the purportedly hipper young attorneys all just loved ‘em, or at least claimed to), but am probably older now than the average Vegas visitor.

As I have mentioned here in the past, I draw some small consolation from the thought that so many of the Playmates and Penthouse Pets of the Month I oohed and aahed at in my youth are all at least as old as I now, and must have poison injected periodically into their foreheads to resemble their younger selves. But this is the Nate Robinson of consolations, at least size-wise, a metaphor sure to leave those who haven’t been watching the NBA Finals scratching their heads.

So there we were in the desert, I and Rafe, who’s turned into Ozzie Nelson in his old age, and Karl, who weighs twice what he used to — and who now is apparently doing rather handsomely in human traffic, though he’s never been one to tell one hand what the other’s doing, except maybe when playing his bass — and little George, whom I used to tease viciously back in the daze for worshipping a seven-year-old guru, but even more for having expressed the belief that I wasn’t a terrific drummer, which of course I wasn’t, but one was discouraged from speaking truth to power in those days, and the greatest power, through sheer force of will, was my own, ill-qualified though I may have been to wield it.

I had dared to imagine that the decades had made me a better person, but of course no such thing is the case, and it wasn’t long before the old resentments had raised their ugly heads. The good news was that the audience loved us, though I had the unpleasant feeling not a few of them imagined that we were Emerson, Lake & Palmer, as on that night in 1973 when Rafe and Karl and I commandeered their limousine in front of the Continental Hyatt House and went joy-riding in eastern Beverly Hills.

For me, the highlight of the experience was when Celine joined us by surprise the second of our three evenings and sang “Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” with the beaming Rafe, who was relieved not to have to reproduce the high notes he was able to hit on the record only with the help of a variable speed oscillator. A nice gal and a major talent, Celine, though her accent presents no Nate Robinson-sized challenge for those of us losing our hearing. I once considered trying to assemble a Grateful Dead tribute band — not because I like the music, but so I could call it the Dreadful Grate.

[Many of my books are now available for download from Amazon. They include The Total Babe & Other Wine Country Yarns, Lentils on the Moon (aka A Message From Jesus in Braille, aka A History of the Jews in the Hudson Valley), Self-Loathing: An Owner's Manual, Third World USA, The Mona Lisa's Brother, and, for baseball nuts, Foul Balls and Alpha Males. You need neither a Kindle nor an iPad to enjoy 'em; simply download (free) Kindle software for either Mac or Windows, and enjoy them on your laptop or other computer!

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