Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Near Miss

I’m in avoidance mode. The economy eruption blankets us in a sludge of fast-hardening lava-mud. Despite the bright words and eye-twinkling of Obamaman, our spirits cannot move with the weight of the debris. We are slimed everywhere. Hard to walk. Hard to keep up with the laundry.

The quality of the garbage on the streets has changed. Fewer wrappers. I have been noticing condoms. Free goods, for most of us these days who frequent thrift shops. But what is the message here? Used, unused? The aborted abortions? Paid sex once again in cars on curbs? I’m sure someone is tackling the fate of the sex industry in a recession. Is Kristin or whatever her name was receiving maximum unemployment? Is she giving discounts? Has Wall Street cut back? How much of our economic surplus cash went to such perks?

There was a suicide at Dalton last week. One wonders how the climate affects these teenagers whose brains, an automobile insurer claims in an ad, are not normally configured.

I ran into a Psych who once treated my struggling boy. He was on the subway. Another sign of a recession. These guys always make me a bit sheepish, because no matter how decent one has tried to be, the parents always get the roofed eyebrow. Especially black-clad mothers who were known to play suicide-laced music in punk-rock bars. He asked for my son. It is of course much easier to have sympathy for a raging teen in retrospect. Anyway, it was the day after the Chimp incident. I made some off-hand parallel. The Psych moved perceptibly away from me…re-evaluating his diagnosis, no doubt.

What I meant was… sometimes we just ‘crack’…some of us onstage, some of us on the grocery line, some of us from our offices on Wall Street. Some of us have horns and amplifiers and guitars and we can wail to some audience and feel relief. Others can lift weights in a gym until they are exhausted, run laps around city reservoirs, drink until the anger is diluted. But some of us begin to lose control. Cars do it... dogs do it, kids do it. The economy is doing it. And something I noticed with my son…if he picked up the scent of fear, all hell broke loose. Like any dog or horse gone wild, he needed a bit of reassurance. Very hard to do this when the falls of Niagara are inches away, or the unbridled temper of a loose boy with a fantastic pitching arm.

No one will comfort a murderous raging chimp. What we need we do not always get when we are passionate and angry. We get fear, and fear is like dry wind to a fire. And after the tantrum, like a gigantic raging storm or a psychic orgasm, there is calm…if we can wait it out.

But we are all frightened now. There seems to be no bottom. For a few weeks after the election, people seemed kind and friendly. Generous. Considerate. Now, it is turning. Patience is short as we watch our financial futures telescoping. And what are our choices? Rage? Suicide? Drink? Murder the 8 babies which helped fund the collagen lip injections of that woman in California who rivals the Merrill Lynch office drapes bill and the Citicorp jet in rage-fuel? Teenagers everywhere are cutting and refusing to eat, binging and purging, using, drinking, hurting, fearing. Just for a moment of calm. For sequential seconds without fear.

There will be more fires. More plane crashes. When our prayers do not seem to be answered, we will try to find comfort in the fact that our lives were spared. But this fuels the fear. What next? Be positive, our president tells us, his beaming wife in reasonably-priced designer clothes, the shining student from North Carolina beside her. Do not fear in the face of a raging chimpanzee? When another gig gets cancelled, another letter arrives from my building management threatening and assessing… and I am on my way to the grocery store assessing the pathetic buying capacity of my pocket change, wondering if a trip to Queens is worth saving $1 on a jar of mayonnaise…wondering if I can remember how to make my own, which requires eggs which are out-of-budget at the moment… a passing bicycle messenger near-misses as I step off the curb…avoiding a massive injury, a trip to the ER, the loss of my bass-picking fingers, the source of my secret pleasure. Oh God, I mutter out loud—a reflex of some sort.

And I invoke the temporary comfort and heavenly blessing of the Near-Miss. All I can find at the moment. The fire was NOT in my building, my apartment was not robbed, I am walking, I do not have a current cancer diagnosis, my son is alive and has not been thrown out of school. I will try not to repeat, at the end of every Near-Miss prayer of thank you, the looming adverb ‘Yet’.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

At Last

Beyonce. The name grates. Excess. Nostalgia. Fake class...…all the elements of the tuxedoed and Harry Winston-ed aristo-hypocrisy of the current music scene. The Grammy Awards? Don’t get me started.

It’s all mixed up. Gwyneth Paltrow gets a music award, Jennifer Hudson gets an Oscar, American Idol contestants get Grammies. When I need real medical care, I don’t go to George Clooney, although some of the young clinic doctors I’ve seen recently seem to have less credibility than the ER staff.

But Etta James… well, you go, girl. That’s right. Not only did Beyonce not gain any weight for that role… you had more integrity in your little finger. I actually opened for Etta James one night…okay, maybe she was at her peak weight… but they had to rent a golf cart to ride her up a specially-constructed ramp to the stage where she leaned her awesome behind on a double-seater stool for the show. And she sang her ass off. I didn’t see that scene in the movie. Actually I didn’t see the movie at all, because although I think Beyonce is a pretty girl who can carry a tune, she needs a racial identity check. She’s trans-racial. Whatever.

So yes… the Inaugural Ball… We all realize Obama might not have had the success he did without Oprah and JayZee and the rap world using their large influence on media-hypnotized America. But to ‘do’ Etta at the ball? The President didn’t ask you to sing the National Anthem, Beyonce; he got Aretha. You should have thought over your song choice. Just because you played the role in the film, doesn’t mean you have the right to usurp Etta's identity in front of all those people. Not to mention the string arrangement. And did anyone ask Etta?

We’re so confused by film-roles, ‘reality’ shows, remakes… no one knows what the deal is. Copyrights? Copycats? If you complain to the wrong person, you’ll get a bullet. Ask TI. Ask Biggy. Oops..he’s dead. I nearly forgot.

Now we get to A-Rod, or A-Hole, as the Post had the balls to call him yesterday. Why? In this world of 300 trillion dollar Ponzi schemes which is our own economy… the fact that A-Rod used performance-enhancing drugs should be a shock? In 2003 before the Yankees got him in a trade? Was anyone else suspicious of 300 home runs in a world where apples and oranges are shot with steroids so people will buy them? Where sports betting is a major economy of its own and everything else in America is so surgically altered, whitewashed, media-spun and non-authentic… are we really shocked that Baseball isn’t exactly the home-made apple-pie all-American clean and wholesome sport it was? Was it ever? Maybe before guys got paid to play.

In the 21st century, heroes like the pilot Sully are few and far between. Besides, A-Rod isn’t even American. And Madonna… his pal…what is she but a well-groomed corporation? Is there a single Madonna performance that hasn’t been tweeked and backing-tracked into what Americans see as perfection? Perfection is some plastic surgery-enhanced, personal trained, air-brushed, botoxed, re-edited version of whatever we expect.

And on the subject of performance-enhancement...Wall Street wasn’t happy with ‘real’ profit margins…so they cranked up the volume. As did A-Rod. How would you do under that kind of pressure? And it's not as if he beat his wife or raped anyone. The media crucified him for kicking back at a bar with Chuck Knoblauch in the face of what is 6-year-old news. Joe Torre's book sales have had some performance-enhancement these last weeks. Besides, A-Rod might even have been doing what he was told. But don't go there--- you might get a bullet, too.

So does America really feel betrayed? Is America the innocent 'boy' it was in the 1950's? Madonna dumped him weeks ago. Bad for her image which takes a staff of hundreds to maintain. Give me a break. And no-one complained about Beyonce the blonde bombshell at the ball. No one except Etta. As I said, you go, girl. The gastric-bypass version of Etta who is still pissed off.

What can I say? It was my birthday yesterday. I went into Crumbs to buy myself a cupcake. $4. I thought about it. Better to spend the money on something with protein like 4 cans of tuna which is all the nourishment I can afford these days. As a little joke, I asked ‘So how much for a crumb?’ ‘We don’t sell crumbs’, the girl answered me, without humor.

At last. I personally pledge allegiance, Etta.