Saturday, November 13, 2010

Falling in Love With Mick Again!

I find myself liking Mick Jagger more as I write this than at any time in the 38 years since I met him. When I’d seen him at a party at the Continental Hyatt House a few evenings before, he’d seemed snarlingly standoffish; I would soon come to realize, on a much, much smaller scale, of course, that the famous and sought-after have to try to exude unapproachability out in the world, lest they drown in the felicitations of well-wishers. At the mansion in Bel-Air where he and the first (only?) Mrs. Jagger were staying while he finished mixing Exile on Main Street, though, he was utterly charming, gracious and solicitous. He even said he’d heard of Christopher Milk. After our desultory (my fault!) interview, he didn’t have me shown to the door, but made clear that he was enjoying my company. We chatted and snickered at Ralph Williams Ford commercials on TV for perhaps another hour.

The problem was that I was apparently the only person in the world who found Exile, except for the sublime "Tumblin’ Dice", woefully sub-standard. And each of their subsequent albums, except maybe Some Girls, made Exile sound better and better in comparison.

I saw them live at Anaheim Stadium and thought them a cruel self-parody. Decades passed. I’d see them on TV and wonder why someone didn’t try to persuade poor Mick to stop strutting back and forth so frantically every now and again; it looked more and more desperate as the years went by. I found his and Mr. Bowie’s “Dancing in the Street” video very laboured — and watched it through my fingers. I saw Mick 25 years later on the most recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame special, the one at which the veins in Bruce Springsteen's neck kept threatening to explode, and was embarrassed for him. He was singing with Fergie (do I betray how old I am by thinking it necessary to append of Black-Eyed Peas?). At one point he grabbed for her hand, but she, owing either to inattention or something worse, was having none of it. Dissed! How the mighty had fallen!

Around the same time, I happened to see on YouTube a video of a long-ago live Rolling Stones performance in which some genius somehow gets on stage and makes a run at Keith Richards. Looking fairly pleased about the whole thing, Keith unstraps his guitar and happily tries to knock the guy’s head off. After stagehands get the guy off stage, Keith calmly puts the guitar back on and resumes playing. Tuning's for sissies!

Coolest thing I’ve ever seen a rock musician do. Or at least in the Top 5.

So now Keith’s dictated his memoirs, and they’re apparently highly critical of my old pal Mick, and Mick has written a 5000-word repudiation of them, and I’m frankly awed — by his excellent prose, by his wit, by how persuasively he makes the case that it’s all very nice that Keith has comes to be perceived as rock and roll made flesh, but that he's also an awful parent and friend and an absolute nightmare of a bandmate. “Keith likes to talk a lot,” Mick writes, “about his getting clean from heroin. It is not correspondingly apprehended that he replaced the heroin comprehensively with liquor. Given a choice [you need a comma here, Mick] I select the slurring alcoholic over the comatose junkie as a lifelong professional partner, and I say this with some knowledge of the two alternatives. But neither is strictly desirable.” Gorgeous — and not atypical of the rest of the piece. Or how about “Keith stands back, amazed at the things that just … happen to him. He is frequently the victim of faulty wiring in the hotels in which we bivouac; a surprising number of times this phenomenon has caused fires. Ritz-Carltons are not built the way they use[d] to be, I guess.”


Elvis, an unashamed mama’s boy, addressed everyone as either sir or ma’am. I’m not entirely enthusiastic about Elvis’s courtliness having been supplanted by Keef’s implacable brattishness as the rock and roll norm, as it’s given us wholesale substance abuse and misogyny and Motley Crue, none of which is…strictly desirable.

[Sara(h) Smiles resumes on Monday.]

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sara(h) Smiles, Part 6: Grocerygate

Canvassing some more for Sarah yesterday, I had, as you can well imagine, to answer a lot of questions about what some are calling Grocerygate. Speaking recently in Rectal, Ohio, Our Gal observed, "Everyone who goes out shoppin' for groceries knows that prices have risen significantly over the past year or so." Whereupon a fellow in the Wall Street Journal asserted that no such thing was the case, as inflation through the first nine months of 2010 had been a very low 0.6 percent. Whereupon Our Gal claimed to have read an earlier article in the WSJ entitled "Food Sellers Grit Teeth, Raise Prices: Packagers and Supermarkets Pressured to Pass Along Rising Costs, Even as Consumers Pinch Pennies," and teased the reporter for not reading his own paper, as ordinary housewives and former governors of Alaska like herself somehow find time to do. Sweet payback for a woman whom that rhymes-with-witch Katie Couric famously tried to portray as blissfully ignorant!

The problem, in the eyes of some, being that what "Food Sellers Grit Teeth, Raise Prices: Packagers and Supermarkets Pressured to Pass Along Rising Costs, Even as Consumers Pinch Pennies" actually said was that grocery prices had only just begun to rise, and in fact hadn’t done so during the period during which Our Gal said they’d risen “significantly.”

In other words, another transparent attempt by the lamestream media to make Our Gal seem like a nincompoop.

On discovering that the reporter Sarah was sparring with was named Sudeep Reddy, I immediately suspected one of two things — either that he was some sort of weird foreigner, or that he was in some way related to Helen Reddy, the ghastly Australian recording artist of the 1970s. If the former, was it not safe to postulate that he was a Hindu? Hindus don’t eat beef, and beef-eating is one of the God-given rights we Americans hold most dear, and are you as uncomfortable as I with the idea of a national landscape from which Hindus and vegetarians and animal rights extremists have caused McDonald’s to disappear, and marauding gangs of persons newly stripped of their McJobs are breaking into the homes and offices of hard-working Republicans, desperate for protein and sodium?

You may recall that Helen Reddy’s biggest hit, the feminist (ring, you alarm bells, ring!) anthem "I Am Woman" contained what may be — if you don’t count “She’s precocious and she knows what it takes to make a pro blush” from Kim Carnes’ "Bette Davis Eyes” — the worst lines in any English-language pop song ever: “I’m still an embryo, with a long, long way to go.”

Or maybe Mr. Reddy isn’t a Hindu or related to Helen at all. Maybe he’s a — who’d have guessed? — Muslim, much like our president, and thus a dog-hater. A lot of the folks I call on in the course of my canvassing are surprised to learn that it is haram (forbidden) for a Muslim to keep a dog inside the house merely as a pet without any necessity, need, and/or benefit. The Prophet is reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim to have said: “Whoever keeps a dog save for hunting or for guarding crops or cattle will loose one qirat of his reward everyday.” (And you wondered why there's been a herd of cattle grazing behind the White House since B. Hussein Obama got his daughters their Rottweiler!) In the world Osama bin Laden and Sudeep Reddy want you to live in, there is no place for Fido! And such a person is lecturing the former governor of one of our most picturesque states on the relative expensiveness of groceries? I don’t think so!

Further investigation into Mr. Reddy reveals that he formerly reported on economics and politics for the Dallas Morning News. Maybe you remember what Dallas is best known for; maybe the words “grassy knoll” make your blood run cold, as they make mine? Maybe right around now you’re thinking that rather than being allowed to try to derail the candidacy of the candidate most able and most likely to Get America Back On Track, Mr. Sudeep Reddy, since he obviously doesn’t hold dear what a majority of decent, hard-working Americans hold dear, ought to be on a plane back to wherever he comes from. I know I am!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sara(h) Smiles, Part 5: Candy From Babies

I’d tell you that knocking on doors and asking people to contribute to the Committee to Elect Sarah in 2012 while B. Hussein Obama was in Asia was like taking candy from a baby, but attentive readers will remember that the only experience I’ve had with babies’ candy involved slipping it to them in supermarkets when their mothers are preoccupied. My first choice has always been to drop odd items into strangers’ carts when they’re not looking, but there’s something about the sight of an infant or toddler riding in a shopping cart that renders me incapable of not slipping him or her a Snickers, say, or a Butterfinger while Mama’s gauging the relative ripeness of avocados, or the relative expensiveness of paper towels of comparable thickness and, one supposes, absorbency.

When people answered their doors I had only to point at my Sarah 2012 lapel button to inspire them to break into huge grins and ask me to wait while they got their chequebooks or piggybanks or what have you. One elderly fellow had a huge trunkful of pre-1960 cents (Americans do not have such things as pennies, you know), with olive branches and text on Abe’s flip side, rather than the Lincoln Memorial. He’d been collecting them for 50 years, and had had 5623 the last time he’d counted them, in 2007. I’ve always been rotten at math, but even if it were up to 8000, that would only be $80, and I wasn’t going to try to drag his trunk all the way to my car for $80. When he insisted on Sarah having the money, I told him I would return as soon as I could hire a couple of Guatemalan or Honduran day laborers from in front of the Home Depot in Fishkill to help me.

There are only Mexicans and the occasional Finn in front of the Home Depot in Fishkill.

Just about everyone agreed that there was something very fishy about Obama suddenly wanting to visit his childhood school in Indonesia at a time when his own country is going to hell. Many speculated that, in the wake of the beating he took in the midterm election, he’s trying to find comfort among his own kind — a kind other than our own. One person figured he wanted to see if the desk into which he’d gouged Marxism Forever all those years ago was still at his old school. A couple of people — one of whom claimed to have voted for Sarah in every election since 1988, which I didn’t find feasible, as Sarah was 12 then, and not old enough to hold public office even in Alaska — saw the whole excursion as proof that the president really is a Muslim. “Ain’t there enough weird furriners in this country that he don’t have to go flying all over the damn world to see some?”

A couple of blocks away, I encountered my first whack-job, as we volunteers are expressly forbidden to call them, but call them nonetheless. This guy was sitting around smoking in his own house in mid-afternoon in a coat and tie and black patent loafers he kept bending down to rid of ashes with saliva-dampened fingertips. At no time during my visit, which was at least four times as long as I’d have preferred, did he have fewer than two cigarettes going at once, and I’m pretty sure he absentmindedly lit a third a couple of times. He had nothing but the fiercest contempt for so-called birthers who believe that Obama was actually born in Kenya, rather than Honolulu. His view was that anybody with a drop of sense would have apprehended from his surname that our president was actually black Irish, and that his real birth certificate, a JPEG of which he claimed was readily downloadable as a PDF from the Internet, was in the name of Declan Hussein O’Bama.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the thought that anyone — let alone anyone smart enough to edit the Harvard Law Review — would change the Declan and O’Bama, but leave the Hussein. My host said, “What the hell is so goddamned funny?” and pulled a pistol from the inside breast pocket of his suit, as the Second Amendment gives him every right to do. It was nonetheless enough to make me wish I’d devoted the afternoon to getting the earlier guy’s collection of pre-1960 pennies back to CES2012 offices. But of course there are no pennies in America, but only possibilities — endless ones, wonderful ones.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sara(h) Smiles, Part 4: Hard Partyin'!

On my second day of knocking on doors for Sarah 2012, I encountered some resistance, from someone who felt toward Our Gal as I myself had mere weeks before, when I hadn’t yet seen the light. How, this woman asked me, could she possibly vote for anyone so defiantly ignorant, so manifestly stupid? I assured her that I myself had voted for Obama in 2008, and had even danced in the street the night of his election, only to discover two years later that my fellow Americans had come in large numbers to regard his presidency as hardly less disastrous than George W. Bush’s. I said that at some point it hardly made sense to keep fighting the good fight when so many of my neighbors seemed determined to fight the bad one.

I mused rhetorically that it was looking a gift horse in the mouth to have been born American but not to feel entitled. I have long made it a practice when given too much change or not charged for an item or two to keep my mouth shut; I see such serendipity as life’s way of whispering, “You know, Johnny, you’re all right.” To refuse such largesse would be churlish; it’s a small step from that to whipping yourself while looking at photographs of the widow Schroeder, a la Agent Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire. Drill, baby, drill!

Back at the office, I learned that I was to spend the balance of the day planning a party for our interns for that evening. The Mama Grizzly in Charge explained that the campaign was committed to playing just slightly less hard than it worked. She gave me a credit card and told me to buy enough ginger ale, granola bars, Slim Jims, Doritos, and Sara Lee cheesecake to keep a couple of dozen hard-partyin’ interns rockin’ for a few hours. I was to use her iTunes account to download Christian rock and disco for them to dance to, and hire no fewer than four chaperones, to be disguised as security guards, with walkie-talkies and what not, to keep the interns from behaving in a way that Sarah might find distasteful. It occurred to me that we might be able to lure Hollow Notes, the Hall & Oates tribute band in which the little one with the mustache now plays, up to perform for the kids if we offered more than what the Cherry Hill Holiday Inn was paying them, but MGIC said there wouldn’t be time on such short notice to ensure that their entire repertoire was appropriately godly. I was to ensure that there would be enough The Joys of Abstention and Heterosexuality — A Choice I’m Proud to Make (and Re-Affirm) Every Day brochures for all.

The first thing that impressed me about the actual party was that everyone showed up exactly at 7:30, the time at which the festivities were scheduled to begin. In their unnerving bright-eyedness, they reminded me of the Mormon kids who come down from Utah every summer to work as servers at the spectacularly mediocre restaurants in the Grand Canyon. But I suppose I should be grateful that only one of them — a boy, Josh, who was pretty clearly thinking impure thoughts about one of the other interns, Cake (who I understood to have changed her name from Kimberlee in honor of Sarah’s own child-naming style) had to be escorted from the recreation room to the parking lot, where the chaperones beat him so mercilessly that he was pronounced unlikely to be able to vote in any presidential election before 2016, by which time, with any luck, we’ll have renamed ourselves The Committee to RE-Elect Sarah.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sara(h) Smiles, Part 3: Knockin' on Actual Doors

Once having phoned the various rock stars I’d been asked to contact, and that stuck-up so-and-so (I’m really beginning to master the lingo, I think!) Michael Palin, I finally exacted Mama Grizzly in Charge’s permission to go out and knock on some actual doors.

There are those (now I sound like Ronald Reagan!) who will wonder why, mere days after the midterm elections, we in the Committee to Elect Sarah in 2012 are already out knockin’ doors in anticipation of a presidential election two years down the road. The answer is that, if Glenn Beck is right and Obama has thousands of socialist brownshirts ready to nationalize the banks and declare martial law and shut down Fox News and what have you, we want to have enough money to evacuate all right-thinking, patriotic Americans up to Alaska, or at least one of the white supremacist strongholds in northern Idaho, and busfare isn’t cheap these days, as you’ve probably noticed unless you’re a liberal elitist in a Prius.

Given the stranglehold Jewish socialists have on the lamestream media, I was frankly expecting to encounter a lot of resistance, but I was warmly welcomed into the first house on whose door I tapped. Middleaged (assuming he’s going to live to about 110), unshaven, Budweiser-gutted, and backward baseball-capped — even though it was a New York Jets cap, and they’re actually a football team — my host zseemed delighted to have company, and was even more delighted when I revealed on whose behalf I was calling on him. He wasn’t able to make a contribution, as he’d been unemployed for 38 months, and was living on what he’d managed to save during his years as a broker of subprime mortgages.

I’d have enjoyed discussing the issues with him, and getting a real average American’s view on the jeopardy on which Obama socialism has placed our way of life, but he turned out to be strangely irate about Elvis Presley’s having done virtually all his military service in Germany. It was his understanding that Elvis, like Bill Clinton after him, didn’t regard fellatio as real sex, and his belief that if Elvis had had to fight the Taliban rather than sit around eating fried banana, peanut butter, and sauerkraut sandwiches and receiving oral sex from apple-cheeked frauleins, he’d have been a very different person when he returned to civilian life, one less inclined to record “In the Ghetto,” say, or “Smoke on the Water.”

I pointed out that Sarah herself has a son, Sprig, in the military, and will be a lot more circumspect about putting fine young American men and women — or at least the kind of young American men and women whose circumstances are so desperate as to make military service seem an attractive option — in harm’s way than B. Hussein Obama, who was busy experimenting with drugs and editing the Harvard Law Review when his country needed him. My host admitted to having not served in the military himself, and of actually owning no Elvis records or CDs; he described himself as more of a Pete Seeger man. I didn’t suppose it would advance anyone’s cause to point out that St. Pete had sung for Obama in 2008, and for other socialists in earlier elections.

He asked if I’d heard the bootleg CD of Pete jamming with Bruce Springsteen, Axl Rose, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, and the Jonas Bros. I suspected he was pulling my legs about the Jonas Bros., and indeed he was. His wife or girlfriend or what have you (he didn’t introduce us) brought us a bag of Cheetos and a couple of cold Bud Lites to enjoy while we listened to the music. I didn’t actually like it very much, but trying to pretend I did seemed the least I could do to help take our country back from the Muslims and wealth-spreaders and what have you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sara(h) Smiles Part 2: That Ludicrous Cow

I was so excited about my first day of canvassing for Sarah 2012 that I woke up a few minutes after four in the morning, and then couldn’t get back to sleep. I got up and took a shower, did some calisthenics, realized I should have done the calisthenics first, re-did them, showered again, and made myself some oatmeal, which is rich in fiber. It was still only six, so I took another shower and ironed my socks and underwear. I opened the door and breathed in the fragrance of a new American morning, one full of hopefulness and free of Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House, and put on my Dockers and God Bless Our Troops T-shirt. I listened to a couple of my Toby Keith CDs, exchanged felicitations on Facebook with a couple of my fellow recent see-ers of the light, and headed for work in the Humvee I leased over the weekend in which to drive the two miles to work each day because its gets shameful gas mileage, and it’s our right as Americans to be wasteful of finite natural resources, and if we don’t exercise that right, we’re apt to lose it, and the Committee to Elect Sarah in 2012 pays for my gasoline. Drill, baby, drill!

Imagine my disappointment on arriving at CES2012 headquarters and immediately being informed that I needed to speak with Ruth L—, the self-described MGIC (mama grizzly in charge) (that’s what it says on her door!). In view of my background in the music business, she’d decided to have me spend the day on the phone.

My first calls were to secure the use of the Hall & Oates hit “Sara Smile” for use as the theme song of Our Gal’s candidacy. I discovered that the duo had broken up in 1989. The tall, blonde singer is now working in the plumbing supplies section at a Lowe’s in western Pennsylvania to try to reconnect with his working class roots, while the stumpy little porn-mustached guitar player, whose co-top billing I was never able to fathom, is now leading a Hall & Oates tribute act called Hollow Notes, on whose Website I was amused to note that someone had seen them at the Holiday Inn in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, a couple of weeks ago and thought they were really good except for the guitar player, who “[didn’t] look nothing [sic] at all like the real guy.” And here he was the real guy, albeit 25 years after the fact!

He’s a bitter alcoholic these days, and hadn’t even heard of future president Palin, but was happy to release the rights to the song, and even to add an h to Sara, for $25,000 because the rights weren’t actually his. I talked him down to $300 and a case of Bud Lite, and moved on to my next calls, to a succession of rock personalities who in the past have endorsed Republican candidates or ideals. Sammy Hagar, who once sang so poignantly about his disinclination to kowtow to Big Government by observing the 55 miles per hour speed limit, and who once celebrated that Ronald Reagan “kicks ass,” said he’d be pleased to record a rockin’ new version of the Hall & Oates classic for our use. Ted Nugent eagerly agreed to overdub a guitar solo on it if Sammy were “into” the idea. Calls to the estate of the late Johnny Ramone weren’t returned.

Once having contacted the various rock stars, I next had to call the comedian and geographer Michael Palin at his home just outside London to see if I could persuade him to try to reunite Monty Python, except for the dead gay one, to do an international television special to benefit CES2012. No mincer of words, he said he’d sooner be chased naked through a field of chin-high nettles by rabid Rottweilers. I asked if he might in that case be persuaded to record just a series of Palin for Palin TV spots, but he would have none of that either. I didn't like his snooty tone, and asked where he imagined he’d be without the patronage of tens of millions of American nerds who’d adored Python back in the proverbial day, to the point of being able to recite whole sketches from memory in such a way as to make them seem utterly unfunny, and who now regarded Our Gal as totally hot. He said he couldn’t imagine any Python fan finding “that ludicrous cow” anything other than contemptible.

In the United Kingdom, it’s perfectly permissible to characterize a foolish woman as a cow, and even to use the f-word on television after the sprogs have pissed off to bed, but there are closed circuit television cameras nearly everywhere, and Obama-style socialism. I asked Palin, just out of curiosity, which university he had attended. He said Oxford, which sounded to me like the sort of place that turned out liberal elitists who think they know better than other people. “Well,” I said, “there’s your explanation,” and hung up, or, as they’d express it in the UK, put the phone down.