Saturday, February 28, 2009

David Bowie and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-haired Men

This was a find and then some: old BBC footage of a seventeen-year-old David Bowie and his friends declaring their solidarity as long-haired men in Britain who will not stand for any more persecution and ridicule.

We're one big gathering of long-haired males (and female) in my house, so we heartily and retroactively endorse the work of this David Bowie person and hope that we'll be hearing more from the bright young man in the years to follow 1964.

(The clip has a Python-esque absurdist feel to it, no?)

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Want Angelina's Earrings: Assorted Oscar Fashion Thoughts

litbrit's favorite dress: Beyoncé Knowles' breathtakingly well-fitted black-and-gold brocade mermaid gown by House of Deron. Notice Beyoncé's gorgeous posture, simple hairdo, and minimal accessories (small earrings, actually). Really, what could one add to this? She's perfection.

While looking at last night's fashion parade (People's slide show is here--go look; we'll wait), I came to the conclusion that if I were in charge of such things, I'd institute an outright ban on the wearing of diaphanous, pale-to-colorless evening gowns by waifish, pale-to-colorless women (myself included) (*cough* Anne Hathaway, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman *cough*). Michelle Obama's queenly white Inaugural gown looked so fabulous precisely because she is not a waifish, pale-to-colorless woman. That said, I did love Tina Fey's slinky silver-beaded Zack Posen dress and Jennifer Aniston's strapless, white-and-silver Art Deco beaded Valentino gown.

Really, though, give me color, please! And as long you're shopping for me, you can start with this lovely shade of green, as worn last night by the incomparable actor (and SextoMom) Angelina Jolie:

These sweet little emerald baubles would set off my eyes quite nicely, and you know,
I just happen to have the perfect dress...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Friday Saturday Frank: Father O'Blivion; Stockholm, 1973

Here you go, then: one smoking solo after another, posted for your listening pleasure this chilly Saturday morning. Frank Zappa performs with his infamous 1973 lineup (and jacket), including Ruth Underwood, Jean-Luc Ponty, Tom Fowler, Ralph Humphrey, Ian Underwood, George Duke, and Bruce Fowler. Enjoy.

Bon Weekend, everyone.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Frank: The Returning! Budapest; (Televised); 1991

While browsing through YouTube, looking for an interesting Frank Zappa clip to post after too many weeks of abstinence, I stumbled upon this thrilling piece, which I'd never seen before and which apparently aired on Hungarian television back in 1991. In it, a graying and clearly-unwell Zappa plays some heartbreakingly beautiful guitar--I don't recognize the composition, and I'm afraid I don't speak or read Hungarian, either; can any readers identify this piece for me? Anyway, interspersed with the music is footage of Zappa speaking with an unidentified (but English-speaking) man in what I will describe as a fascinating, classic Zappa interview brimming with timeless political observations. Below, I've transcribed the money quotes for you (emphasis mine):

FZ: "I am in the process of doing what we call a feasibility study to see if it's possible for me to run for President in the United States against George Bush*."

Interviewer: That's quite a comment--do you feel there's a chance?

FZ: "Umm, yes. Not a good one--because, you know, he has more balloons than I do. [laughs] But I certainly don't agree with his policies, and I think that the Democrats have nothing to offer. And my idea is, if I do decide to run, to run as an anti-partisan candidate. Because I believe both the political parties in the United States have let the public down, and they generate more rhetoric than results. And it's not often that a voter in the United States gets a clear-cut choice between two candidates, because they tend to resemble each other physically, rhetorically, aesthetically--every other way; it's a choice between Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. And, er, if the feasibility study works out right, I would at least be able to say, If you get tired of those other two guys, you know, take a look at me."

Interviewer: Makes a lot of sense...the next time I interview you, I may be calling you Mr. President instead of Mr. Zappa?

FZ: [Shrugs and smiles] "Maybe..."

Frank Zappa died of prostate cancer in December, 1993. Given that his interest in--and involvement with--American politics was intensifying with every passing year, and knowing that he was both a fierce defender of the First Amendment and an active supporter of voting and participatory democracy, I don't doubt that, had he beaten the cancer, Zappa would have run for office at some point. And I've often wondered what he'd have to say about the nation electing the son of his then-nemesis, George Bush Sr.

Just as I've often wondered what he'd have to say about the condition of the country, the economy, and the Bill of Rights after the eight years during which Bush II lead us perilously close to becoming the "fascist theocracy" Zappa envisioned--and warned us about--during the Reagan years.

And, of course, I continue to muse about what Zappa would have to say about our new president, the unusually-named black son of a single mother. Our new president--he of the non-partisan approach to politics; he, an autodidact from a truly non-elite background. Our new president, who characterizes the philosophies of self-reliance and fiscal responsibility as being complementary to a belief in the power of union and the citizen's duty to community and nation. As did the great conservative president Abraham Lincoln; as did Zappa himself.

Our new president, a man who could hardly be described as resembling--physically, rhetorically, or aesthetically--any U.S. president elected heretofore.

* Zappa is referring to then-president George H. W. Bush, father of George W. Bush.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

On Breakfast Champions and Paper Tigers

So this week, cereal giant Kellogg's pulled its endorsement of the greatest, most decorated Olympic swimmer of all time--the amazing fourteen-gold-medals-winning Michael Phelps--because he smoked pot.

Consider this: the cult film Reefer Madness was made--by a church group!--some seventy-three years ago. And so howlingly obvious was the silliness of the film's premise, even then, an exploitation film company saw fit to buy it and sensationalize it further so as to reap maximum profits during a slow economy (hmmm...). Later in the century, the film gained cult status as a comedy of sorts, as it was jam-packed with set bloopers and ridiculous, over-the-top statements ("Women cry for it; Men die for it!"). In 1973, budding rightwing strategerist and future David Gregory dance partner Karl Rove suggested screening Reefer Madness at Young Republicans' fundraisers as a way to attract the kewl kollege kids to what one can only imagine were, er, thrilling, must-attend social events. True story.

It's the year 2009, everyone. I cannot believe we're still debating this. Adults, personal time, private bodies, waste of money and law enforcement personnel, fiscal priorities, and so on and so forth. Then there is the not-insignificant issue of prison overcrowding due to mandatory minimums. Oh, and the fact that, unlike the foamy beers that bring you the Superbowl, the sparkly vodka martinis leaping from the pages of your favorite magazines, and all manner of rainbow-colored prescription pills--Tell your doctor!--the makers of which underwrite your daily televised serving of (bad) economic news, the Evil Weed has not, to date, caused a single overdose death.

Radley Balko of The Agitator wishes Michael Phelps would write this letter. So do I. An excerpt:

Here’s a crazy thought: If I can smoke a little dope and go on to win 14 Olympic gold medals, maybe pot smokers aren’t doomed to lives of couch surfing and video games, as our moronic government would have us believe. In fact, the list of successful pot smokers includes not just world class athletes like me, Howard, Williams, and others, it includes Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, the last three U.S. presidents, several Supreme Court justices, and luminaries and success stories from all sectors of business and the arts, sciences, and humanities.

So go ahead. Ban me from the next Olympics. Yank my endorsement deals. Stick your collective noses in the air and get all indignant on me. While you’re at it, keep arresting cancer and AIDS patients who dare to smoke the stuff because it deadens their pain, or enables them to eat. Keep sending in goon squads to kick down doors and shoot little old ladies, maim innocent toddlers, handcuff elderly post-polio patients to their beds at gunpoint, and slaughter the family pet.

Tell you what. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll apologize for smoking pot when every politician who ever did drugs and then voted to uphold or strengthen the drug laws marches his ass off to the nearest federal prison to serve out the sentence he wants to impose on everyone else for committing the same crimes he committed. I’ll apologize when the sons, daughters, and nephews of powerful politicians who get caught possessing or dealing drugs in the frat house or prep school get the same treatment as the no-name, probably black kid caught on the corner or the front stoop doing the same thing.

Hear, hear.

If you're so inclined, please write a note to Kellogg's chief marketing officer, Mark Baynes, and let him know--politely, of course--how you feel about his company siding with the nonsensical so-called "War on Drugs" and against the brilliant, young, multiple, multiple (etc.) gold-medal-winning Phelps.

Kellogg Company
1 Kellogg Sq
Battle Creek, MI 49016-3599

(SNL clip via Sully; H/T Michael Hussey)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

"The Electronic Newspaper Isn't As Spiffy-looking as the Ads Imply..."

Well, readers, I'm finally back among the living after two weeks during which every family member--male, female, upright-walking, and four-legged and fur-covered alike--fell victim to the dreadful Oh-Nine variant of the 'flu. We've been going through decongestants and aspirins like water, and buying (and using up) coffee-table-sized multi-packs of Kleenex boxes from Costco. Meanwhile, grubby jeans and school uniforms would appear to have been breeding in the dark corners of the laundry room--not exactly the cheerful get-well present I was hoping for, but hey, I'm just grateful to be breathing freely and speaking in my normal baritone, as opposed to the unintelligible frog-croaking I was doing for a while there. Poor Marley, he seemed so insulted and pissed-off at the notion of microbes invading his sovereign feline self: he'd burst into a fit of little kitty-sneezes, then shoot me this withering look, as if I had something to do with it (I didn't; it came home with one of the Offspring and spread outward and downward from there. But try telling that to a cat.)

Anyway, let's kick off my return to civilization with this little blast from the past--1981, to be specific; it comes via Wayne Garcia, my new boss at Creative Loafing, where I'll be posting my work from time to time, starting this week. (For non-Floridians, CL is an alternative weekly newspaper somewhat akin to the Village Voice. Only it's not, obviously, of that particular Village, not unless you consider the Tampa area to be an extension of New York, which is probably kind of stretching things a bit. We did come close to being, ah, cursed blessed with our very own Trump Tower at one point, though. And you can get some pretty superb pizza here, if you know the right Italians, ahem.)

First, the electronic newspaper; then, what next--a telephone with pictures? Anything seemed possible...