Thinking you’re not getting it

The guy I've been stalking all my life.

The guy I’ve been stalking all my life.

The most talented American writer. We’ve been talking about music because writing is dead. Fitzgerald predicted that Hollywood would kill the novel. He was right. Fiction was but a moment in the history of the written word. First, there was poetry, then philosophy and exposition, then briefly novels, and now blather.

I wanted to outdo him. I wanted to outwrite him. I was smarter and more original and more learned, but it wasn’t going to happen. He was more willing to destroy himself for his writing than I was. He died at 44. I celebrated outliving him. Seems funny now. I could out-Mailer Mailer, out-Faulkner Faulkner, out-Updike Updike, out-Cheever John Cheever, but I couldn’t do F. Scott Fitzgerald. Even though I basically lived his life.

Today is the day of death. He was an Irish Catholic. His best paragraphs are embedded in my brain. The last page of Tender Is the Night is the greatest music I’ve ever heard, bar none.

I come from a musical family, on both sides. Composers, singers, mandolin, guitar, and piano players, whatever. To me, words were always the music.

He died. He is dead today. So I am remembering him. Click on his pic and see how big he is.

P.S. I can do Hemingway too. Just never saw the need. I can do everyone, even myself. Why I say I don’t think you get it. I asked my wife if she understood the word ‘pellucid.’ Where I am now. Writing that doesn’t even seem like writing. Why you don’t notice. The ultimate compliment.

But I still can’t do Fitzgerald. That’s how good he was. I’m not complaining. You don’t get to choose your father. When it comes to writing, he’s mine. If you don’t understand him, you’ll never understand me.

P.P.S. Today is the 33rd anniversary of the dedication of The Boomer Bible: April 19, 1981. (Do the math, in Henry Elders style numerology: 4 + 1 + 9 + 1 + 9 + 8 + 1 = 33.) It falls, this year, on the one day of the year when Christ is dead. Who died, need I remind you, at the age of 33. Sometimes serendicity is a bitch. Why I’m giving myself license to be maudlin. Apologies. I am clockwork. Today is an endpoint in my equivalent of the Mayan calendar. But we start all over again tomorrow, which is Easter. See how it works? Thinking you can. See, I mean.

Good Friday Hopefulnesses

From the Jeep. Legal immigrants who work their rear ends off farming the road. Bradford Pear trees in bloom.

From the Jeep. Legal immigrants who work their rear ends off farming on the other side of our road. Bradford Pear trees in bloom. Failte. Koreans. Good neighbors. American dream not dead.

What you need to know. They work round the clock, all year long. Sometimes they keep us awake hammering vine growing poles into the turf before their next crop season. During the exceptionally wet spring we get every year, we look across the road and see the rice paddies of Vietnam, a lake studded with coolie hats and women in muddy pajamas. Working, working, working. The earth is fertile still. Even after a killing winter, life returns with new green and white.

We xenophobe hick clingers find it inspiring. Why I was compelled to snap a photo of their driveway on this very Good Friday.

Feel free to click on the pic and blow it up to your heart’s content. It’s huge. Let it blossom…

Stax Records.

One of, possibly the best of, the 27s.

One of, possibly the best of, the 27s.

Easter preparations upon us. Fourteen people invading the manse Sunday. Vacuuming, dusting, cooking, and lawn maintenance to be done. Time only to reinforce something I said in the comments.

The story of Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, is available in 15 minute chunks on Youtube. You absolutely must watch all of it. I’ve linked Part One, but it adds up to about two hours in total. Whatever part you’re watching, the next should be queued up at the top of the Youtube list on the right.

What’s been missing from most of the sixties and seventies lists is black music, which was enormously influential. As I’ve said, Motown deserves a nod, but the Stax story is even more important. It’s about hope, cooperation, family, love, the times, heartbreak, hatred, despair, and rebirth. No more American story exists. The best and the worst of us. Take the time to watch. It’s Easter weekend. And today is Good Friday. Memphis had its own Passion. And it changed everything.

Lend a Hand…

We all deserve to know what we come from.

We all deserve to know what we come from.

Let me explain where I’m coming from, because I mean no disrespect. My grandfather and namesake, Robert Fisher Laird, had a wealthy, successful father, Samuel Laird. But my grandfather never knew even the name of his own grandfather. Samuel was a bit of an eccentric. He never talked about the past. But he had a prodigious mustache. He left not a cent to his own children. His will left everything to grandchildren he never saw, with no disbursement to occur until after his own sons and daughters were dead. He was somehow committed to making a hole in life containing himself and his children, who wouldn’t even be allowed to know where they came from.

I think we all deserve to know where we came from, the origins of the things we cleave to and hold dear.

That’s what’s motivating my response to Tim’s latest comment explaining his musical past:

…Just so you know where I’m coming from: my parents are too old to be Boomers and listened to a lot of ‘40s & ‘50s era music. My brothers were teens in the mid-80s. Had basically zero exposure to anything from the ‘60s & ‘70s growing up. The Beach Boys were about as close as it got.

Unfortunately, most people I’ve met who really like music from one or both of those decades lionize the Beatles. I decided early on, during a two part history of rock n’ roll lecture I had in elementary school (half of which was devoted to the Beatles), that I didn’t care for the Beatles so much. Glad that you have more information & stories about music during that time other than, “…and then John Lennon was shot and I stopped listening to music because what’s the point?”

That being said, I do know of the Allman Brothers, just hadn’t heard that particular song before. Well, I haven’t heard most of their songs before. The only one I ever heard played on the radio back when I still listened to the radio was Nobody Left To Run With. Blondie I only knew through Heart of Glass. Rolling Stones I originally only knew because Paint it Black was the theme song for this Vietnam show called Tour of Duty. Same type of story with many other bands of that time. Thanks for filling in the gaps.

But I haven’t filled the gaps. There are two missing decades in Tim’s musical heritage. All our Top 100 lists have as their context the whole history of the music that surrounded our lives growing up. Each of us is like one kayak navigating through the whitewater of everything else we might have chosen. Our choices define us. But those choices are essentially meaningless without comprehending the whole river we’re paddling through.

I’m asking everyone to offer up ten songs available for viewing or listening on the Internet from the sixties and seventies. These are not necessarily your own preferences. They are the definition of the width and depth and speed of the river. And nobody has to do it all. The lists will add up and do their work by accumulation. You can be eclectic, or you can be specific. For example, somebody could do ten iconic Motown songs. Somebody else could do a Woodstock collection. Or somebody could try to find the outer boundaries of all the fads and movements of the two missing decades. You can do more than 10 songs. There’s no penalty for passion. And no disincentive to advocate, explain, recommend, or criticize.

Bear in mind, you’re providing input to someone whose knowledge of the Beatles consists primarily of an elementary school lecture. He loves music. But he is deprived of knowledge of the antecedents of even the things he knows he loves. It’s very like my grandfather not knowing who his grandfather was. And Tim IS asking. It’s not his fault. A hole so big hides itself by its sheer immensity. But he’s working his way through your lists, following the trails of all the individual kayaks.

Let’s help him see and feel the river.

Raebert's grandfather spoke to me in a dream once. Before I knew what a deerhound was. He told me I was doomed.

Raebert’s grandfather spoke to me in a dream once. Before I knew what a deerhound was. He told me I was doomed. Notably he didn’t tell me Raebert would help. He just kind of smacked his lips at the company I’d be keeping.

Answering Tim

Background singers are important.

Saw a documentary today on Netflix called 20 Feet from Stardom. It’s uplifting and it’s about background singers who never got rich but were on stage with some of the biggest stars.

If I’m clever enough, I can use this as an excuse to answer Tim’s newest questions about my Top 100 list, even though they have nothing to do with background singers, except maybe a little. Here’s his comment.

Few more comments & questions on your list, RL:

– Songs I like which I hadn’t heard before: the Ronettes, I’m No Angel, Good As I Was to You, If You Go Away,

– What is up with Chimes of Freedom?

– What’s the story with Come Dancing? Before my time. Usually the only place I hear that is as one of those music clips the networks play leading into a commercial break during football games.

– Also curious about Dreaming by Blondie. The Smashing Pumpkins did a cover of that song in the ’90s, which is the first place I heard it. The original version is much better.

– Finally, what’s the story with the Sex Pistols? I only know of them in passing. Also before my time. One of my friend’s older brothers liked them.

Still making my way through the rest.

Generation gap. An observation not an accusation. One more reason why this exercise is so productive. Wish we could all dig into it as assiduously as you have done. Here are some answers.

The Ronettes. They were the creation of Phil Spector, recently convicted of murder. Ronnie became his wife and long-suffering victim, but not before she became an international star. Spector had a tiny production studio which inadvertently created what came to be called the “wall of sound.” It was. An oddly two-dimensional rendering of voices and instruments that burst into car radios and made AM stations into concert halls. Ronnie had talent, and the backup singers were the Ronettes. Look up videos from the time. She was so small and frail you can’t believe she could ever have endured the concert schedule she did carry out. Music as punishment and servitude. That’s what remains moving about it. The brave wistfulness in her voice.

I’m No Angel. Can’t believe you don’t know the Allman Brothers. In the old days, bikers had three bands. The Stones, the Grateful Dead, and the Allman Brothers. And maybe they loved theirself some Janis Joplin too. They prized people who lived as hard and close to the edge as they did. I’m No Angel could be considered the biker national anthem. If they had one.

Good As I Was to You. This is an honest to God country tragedy. Lorrie Morgan, country star, was married to Keith Whitley, country superstar. He was a singer of extraordinary talent. He was also, like George Jones before him, a raging alcoholic, and he destroyed the marriage with infidelities and benders galore. She told him it was over, he believed her, and recorded a final hit song on a tape recorder (“Tell Lorrie I Love Her”) before he killed himself. He has been mourned ever since. Lorrie’s side is captured in this song.

If You Go Away. Can’t remember which version I put on my list. Hopefully one that retains the French roots. The original title was “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” meaning do not leave me. In my mind it is associated with the American actress Jean Seberg, who found no home in the U.S., emigrated to Europe, made tragic movies in French about being an American expatriate in France in love with ugly Frenchmen, and was gorgeously androgynous with her blonde crewcut and boyish body. She was hot. And she died in 1979, just past the age of 40.

Jean Seberg. She went away.

Jean Seberg. She went away.

Come Dancing. In my generation, the Kinks are everybody’s dirty secret, a second favorite even if your first love is Stones or Beatles. Everybody knows Lola. Everybody also knows Celluloid Heroes. But Lola is too obviously famous and Celluloid Heroes is too obviously sentimental. Come Dancing makes us respectable.

Blondie. Dreaming. Again. Amazed that you don’t know Debby Harry was Madonna before Madonna was. But better and cooler. New Wave and also a precursor of disco. She was blonde, sexual, tough, feminine, and talented. Not quite lewd but artfully seductive. She made her stage persona a kind of blank, which is to say she seemed to be detachedly watching you watching her. Irresistible.

About the Sex Pistols. Stunned you don’t know about these guys. In a very real sense, they are the very definition of punk. They had a career that lasted about two and a half years. They burst onto the music scene with a song called “Anarchy in the U.K.,” had one Number One hit, and then self destructed with failed concert dates, drug arrests, and a few fatal overdoses. They hated everyone who came before them, notably the Rolling Stones, whom they decried as a business corporation, and announced their intention to bury them. We can see how that turned out. But Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious left us with this one song, God Save the Queen, which we should all remember. Everything we think of as punk flowed from that one furious eruption of rage.

What’s up with Chimes of Freedom? Hmmm. Where the subject of background singers starts to swim into the picture. Youssouf N’Dour began to become an American star when he sang behind Peter Gabriel in the hit song “In Your Eyes.” Truth is, he’s one of the ultimate megastars of music ever. He is the voice of Africa, a native of Senegal who is possibly the most famous man in the world since Muhammed Ali.

Peter Gabriel reached out to him as a musician, and Youssouf responded.

Full circle. The movie I cited is also about musicians. By definition, they are not stars, but there is one name that is the centerpiece of the film. Merry Clayton. She sang on the Rolling Stones song from the Let It Bleed album called “Gimme Shelter.”

I remember when that album came out. I remember Merry Clayton. I knew her name at once. We all wondered why she wasn’t the new superstar. She was so obviously great, with a range even Mariah Carey would envy. But it never happened.

What did happen? She went on with her life. She didn’t need to be a star. She needed music, and she found it in church, in ways that did not involve rock bands, drugs, and the deals that go with big-time show business.

Most of the backup singers featured in the film are, frankly, the lucky ones. They weren’t seeking celebrity. Most were pastor’s daughters. Singing gospel was their background, and they were used to being backups for preachers. One who wanted more was Lisa Fischer, who turned out to be the first worthy successor to Merry Clayton, on stage with Mick Jagger, singing Gimme Shelter in the 1990s.

It’s all in the film. Music always seems like a right now thing. It’s anything but that. It’s history. Of life. And ourselves.


Merry Clayton. She’s a happy grandmother now. So is Lisa Fischer.

Well? Have I been clever?

ABSOLUTE SHOCK. I recall Peter Gabriel as a young man. He looked like this.

Honestly. It wasn't that many years ago. Or are you all hiding something from me?

Honestly. It wasn’t that many years ago. Or are you all hiding something from me?

Researching this post, I found an absolutely stupendous performance of “In Your Eyes.” But I’m reeling because he’s sooooo old and sooooo fat I don’t know what to do with myself. The hard thing about these lists. In the movie cited above, there was Sting. About my age. He looks like Lyndon Johnson. I asked Lady Laird, “Good God. Do I look like that?” She said, “No. Do you ever look in the mirror?” But the truth is, I don’t. Look in the mirror. Not anymore.

Golf is not a game

Ping. The universal sound of scoring a win in video games.

Ping. The universal sound of scoring a win in video games.

Sometimes I get ahead of myself. Like with the Masters. Didn’t realize that the mass media would go after Bubba Watson following his second Masters win. Should have, but I didn’t watch. My bad. He’s becoming the anti-Tiger. Both pure natural talents. Tiger was aimed, trained, honed to be the best that ever was. We can see his fire. Golf commenters are quick to say we who tune out when he’s not there don’t care about golf but only celebrity.

Not true. People are drawn to greatness, in whatever form it may take. We’re all like sunflowers to a certain extent. We turn toward the bright light and are nourished by it. I’m a Scot. I know what golf is. The cussedest, most awful, criminal ordeal of a sport ever invented. My people invented it. St. Andrews in Scotland is not a cathedral; it’s an inferno reenacting the Book of Job. Tiger suffers. He has been made to suffer the ignominies of the damned. Riches, porn stars, pissed off model wife, humiliation, physical ills, ESPN ridicule… All for the greatest golfer who ever lived. He doesn’t have to catch Nicklaus. Nicklaus never played against the amazingly talented field Tiger has had to. Just turn the hand over. We like to see the lofty brought down.

Enter Bubba Watson. Like Tiger, a natural talent. But he never had a golf lesson. No years of monastic obsession followed by orgiastic explosion. He doesn’t even seem to suffer. He just walks up to the ball and hits it. Can this be right in a world of professional golf analysts and announcer know it alls?

Funny. The golf press doesn’t know what to do. Guy just won his second Masters. He’s a southern Christian. Ooh. Bad. He’s a family man with an adopted 3 yr old son. Hmmm. So he went to the Waffle House to celebrate with his family and his preacher, and suddenly it’s controversial. Why? How?

Answers don’t actually matter. Just imagine the media edifice grappling with black, white, ratings (gasp), and the sea changes in a sport they have never understood. They despise everybody who plays a rich man’s ‘game,’ excepting Obama, but they cover it because there are ratings potentialities. What if they move from the Plutocrat Tiger to the Christian Bubba, with his adopted son and pastor guest at the Waffle House? What will they do? Whatever will they do?

What if Bubba Watson is the Bubba, er, Bobby Jones of a new generation of passionate, natural golf?

What if?

Fisking Time: “The Silly Conservative War on Stephen Colbert.”

Unless we don't want to.

Unless we don’t want to.

Every once in a while they serve themselves up to you on a platter. This is one of those times. A liberal scribe named Kevin Bleyer has penned a condescending piece of nonsense about conservative reactions to the naming of Colbert as Letterman’s Late Night heir. Couldn’t resist. I’m the one in italics.

****************

Herewith the Fisk:

Will Stephen Colbert be a great network television host, or the greatest network television host?

Honestly, it could go either way. Or another way.

Given all the of (sic) “can you believe this?” coverage he has received the last few days from the perpetual commotion machine that is cable news, you’d have thought Stephen Colbert was chosen to replace Kathleen Sebelius, not David Letterman. And given the talent Colbert wields, frankly I’d trust him with my medical and dental plan. (And that brings us to tonight’s word: toothiness.) Given that Kathleen Sebelius has never been anything more than a monotonic cipher, Colbert arguably is more important as a spokesman for the Obama administration. As for your medical and dental plans, I’d advise caution.

Most of the coverage asked a fair enough question: if we let Colbert be Colbert, will he be as amazing as Colbert is when he’s playing Colbert? Don’t think conservatives phrased it just that way. But we’ll get to that later.

This one I can answer definitively. For almost nine years, Stephen Colbert has been playing three-dimensional chess—on point, in character, damn funny. Network late night isn’t checkers, but to put it another way: Stephen Colbert has been training at altitude. Strike that—he’s been winning at altitude, so come next year he’ll be returning to sea level five nights a week with lungs that are as big as his balls. Let’s establish some definitions. “Three dimensional chess” is a phony Star Trek pretense that doesn’t exist in reality. Okay. I’ll stipulate to that. “Altitude” appears to mean the rarefied air where there are hardly any viewers. He beats Lena Dunham and 30 Rock in the ratings, but hardly anyone else. If that’s your definition of “winning,” we know where we stand. “Sea-level” apparently means the lowified air where there are potentially more viewers. Big lungs and big balls. I’ll grant you the first claim but not the second. Let me know when big balls Colbert dares to inflame Islamists — even in his faux O’Reilly persona — by slamming Brandeis for withdrawing its offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the one warrior for women’s rights who has ever put her life on the line for her sisters.

Don't make me laugh. Colbert is a partisan comic who'd shit his pants if an Islamist called. Hirsi Ali. Is a hero. You'll never hear her name mentioned by brave Catholic boy Colbair.

Don’t make me laugh. Colbert is a partisan comic who’d shit his pants if an Islamist called. Hirsi Ali is s a hero. You’ll never hear her name mentioned by brave Catholic boy Colbair.

Or to put it another way, (please do, Kevin) the fact that it’s hard to describe what Stephen does is proof that what Stephen does is indescribable. As Jones said to Nicklaus on another Sunday like this, he plays a game with which we are not familiar. Hard to describe? Not familiar? What bell jar are you living under? “I will pretend to be the voice of that which I despise. Over and over and over again.” Jonathan Swift made his Modest Proposal in 1729. It was new then. It’s hardly new, or hard to describe, nearly 300 years later. Except for the over and over and over again part, which Swift wisely eschewed as boring. Though liberals did invent the over and over again part. Ever heard of Archie Bunker, Kevin? Definitions again. In your lexicon is “indescribable” a synonym of “boring”?

Those who are familiar with the real Stephen will also tell you the real Stephen is just as entertaining as his character, and that after the ascendancy of the nice guys in late night over the last couple months—Jimmy, Seth—one thought came to mind when Stephen got the gig: it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy? The real Stephen? Who is that exactly? The guy who couldn’t even testify before congress as himself but only as an invented TV character? Maybe even the real Stephen has some antipathy to the real Stephen.

Dammit, that was a typo. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Period. You doubted your own question mark. You must be a clever, witty, ironic guy too. Congratulations.

But that hasn’t stopped some conservatives from saying he’s a bad boy, and part of a left-wing conspiracy: that despite Stephen’s near decade as a broad character on Comedy Central—the cable channel that, according to O’Reilly, only stoned slackers watch—he’s really a flame-throwing, Republican-bashing partisan in a highly-choreographed plot perpetrated by liberal CBS. Let’s do some parsing here. You liberals were pretty fond of parsing during the Clinton impeachment era. Nuance. How perjury got transmuted to lying about sex, which absolutely everyone does and hardly matters unless a Republican does it. Mostly, conservatives don’t say he’s a bad boy. They just don’t like him. They think CBS was stupid for putting him in this new slot. Why amputate half your potential audience before you broadcast the first show? Stoned slackers? No, they’re not the only Comedy Channel audience. But they’re a big part of it. Unless you want to round up dozens of your lib friends who watch Stewart and Colbert and actually get their news from other sources as well? “Flame-throwing, Republican-bashing partisan”. Uh, yeah. He is. I’d welcome your rebuttal absent the throwaway implied dismissal. Of course he is.

Among those who didn’t get the joke? Columnist Ben Shapiro, who wrote that Colbert’s act “should be labeled for what it is: vile political blackface.” Which makes me want to label Shapiro’s absurd rhetoric, historical insensitivity, and aggressive fatuousness for what it is. As soon as I think of something. And he’s a Zionist Jew to boot. Probably a lot like Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Bill O’Reilly had already weighed in, calling Colbert a “deceiver” and “one of the biggest mouthpieces for the progressive movement.” Papa Bear angry. Let’s see. Why would Papa Bear get angry? Maybe when a parasite makes an entire career out of imitating Papa Bear for laughs. The first few times it’s funny. After a decade it starts to feel like what it is. A freeloader who actively scorns the one he owes the most to. Usually we just call those people teenagers. But when they’re all grown up and riding around in limos, we have to start calling them progressives.

And of course, Rush Limbaugh, who bellowed that “CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values, conservatism. Now it’s just wide out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny.” Never mind that hearing Rush decide “what is funny” is like hearing Kanye decide “what is modest.” Cool. Good positioning there, Kevin. You’re a centrist because you can snipe at Limbaugh on the right and Kanye on the left. Willing to bet you’ve never listened to Limbaugh live. He doesn’t bellow. He IS funny. His listeners can read his tone of voice. He says things, lots of things, that are designed to be read in transcription by people like you. He doesn’t care much about Stephen Colbert. He’s a professional broadcaster. One of the most successful ever. His audience is bigger than Leno’s or Letterman’s ever were. His point was that CBS is incredibly stupid. As Letterman got more and more vituperative against conservatives and Republicans, his ratings fell. Replacing him with another naked, strident lefty is no way to build a general audience for an entertainment show.

Whether their outrage is real or feigned, one thing is clear: joke’s on them. They don’t know it yet, but I suspect they’ll be happier with the “real Colbert” than the liberal mole they’ve invented in their nightmares. Yes. We’ll be happier if there’s a real Colbert rather than a faux Colbert. Not convinced it’s going to happen, though. A shrewd columnist opined that Stephen Colbert can never show himself. He’ll dispense with the O’Reilly imitation, but he won’t dispense with the camouflage of pretense. He will become the late night host who makes himself a parody of a late night host — a cleaner version of Chelsea Handler, perhaps — making fun of all the conventions and even the cordiality that once enabled Jack Paar and Johnny Carson to define the late night talk medium. The more I think on it, the joke’s on you.

The real Stephen Colbert is a practicing Catholic. (Really? He’s not ‘anti-choice? Do tell.) He teaches Sunday school. He can recite chapter and verse of chapter and verse—from both the King James Bible and The Lord of the Rings. His devotion to family values is rooted in, of all things, valuing his family; he’s a comedian who doesn’t claim many demons, but who has suffered enough family tragedy that even Job might pity the fool. Off screen, he’s just a generous man who cares about people and changes lives for the better; he certainly changed mine. (Thanks to Stephen, I was a writer on The Daily Show for many years, so I’ll keep an ear open for when Limbaugh calls me a sacrilegious partisan for my gall to work that job, and for invoking his Job.) I hope everything you say is true. But men can become creatures of their own fictional devises. Men can do good things and still be villains for what they do not do. Did Colbert ever cover the Gosnell trial, good Catholic boy that you claim he is? Has he ever ceased ridiculing the Christians in flyover country who don’t buy the liberal promises that we should trust progressives more than God? Don’t think so.

The real Colbert isn’t what some people, for some silly reason, seem to fear he might be: a one-trick pony—albeit with one of the most astounding tricks in the history of comedy. And he certainly isn’t who Limbaugh and Shapiro say he is: Keith Olbermann. Time will tell.

He’s Stephen Colbert. Religious. Riotous. Right. So just to tweak Rush Limbaugh, I’ll bet that Stephen will reign for 40 days and 40 nights and then four more years and beyond, and the heartland will be just fine. And in two or three decades we’ll wonder who could possibly replace him. Now, let us all genuflect. Amen.

*************

I’ll close with a brief response to the dismissive “one-trick pony” reference above. It’s a link that should have made unnecessary the whole fisking above. But I already told you I’m grumpy today, and I needed to take it out on somebody. Sorry, Kevin. This from Kyle Smith, my favorite movie and TV reviewer:

Colbert essentially does the same joke over and over (conservatives are morons) and he’s only funny if you accept the premise (conservatives are morons) while you snort Mountain Dew out your nose thinking about what an awesome point he just made. (Conservatives are morons.)

Colbert’s audience is young, but his act gets old after about five minutes, and his legendary ability to “stay in character” is a myth.

What he does is split himself into two personalities. One issues standard liberal boilerplate gleaned from whatever fanciful view of reality is being peddled on Daily Kos or the Huffington Post. No conservative would ever say these things in the first place.

I’ll amend this summary only slightly. Colbert has talent and wit. His conservative moron schtick is funny the first time and maybe even the tenth. But it runs out of steam. Because the animating principle is not about the humor intrinsic in being human. It’s about ridiculing people the would-be humorist feels superior to. That’s what the conservative ruckus has been about. They didn’t watch Letterman because they got tired of being insulted by a Ball State Indiana jerk who was once funny but superior to nobody. They won’t watch Colbert. Believe me, they got his joke long years ago.

Why the story — the real story — is about CBS. Why would you give away half or more of the audience in advance? Conservatives are morons?

Benny Hill had one joke too. But it was universal, not ideological. Still boring, though, after a few iterations. We all know that men are obsessed with breasts, legs, and the naughty bits. How many times do we need to see the leering take of a dirty old man? A question Colbert, no longer young himself, should start asking himself.

The REAL 2016 Dark Horse

Raebert’s all grumpy this morning. As am I. Chalk it up to Monday morning blues.

I didn’t watch a single minute of the Masters Tournament. No Tiger. The only sporting event we followed this weekend was Penn baseball, because Lady Laird had an intern who is the Babe Ruth of the Ivy League, a power pitcher last year who developed arm trouble and is now a power hitter at first base.

Still too young to be president.

Still too young to be president.

I didn’t watch a single minute of Sunday morning news programming. I didn’t want to meet the press, face the nation, or endure another edition of Chris Wallace outsmarting himself in his vain attempts to be even-handed in dealing with the most criminal presidential administration in American history.

I’m going to do a post about the Steven Colbert flap, because there are times when I have to indulge my penchant for getting deep down mean with the presumptive cognoscenti, and this is an opportunity too ripe to be missed.

But I’m NOT going to do a post about the presidential prospects of Jeb Bush, because some notions really are beneath contempt. The DC punditocracy is a joke so superannuated as to be funny no more. They want Jeb. Nobody else does. Trust me.

Still, I can use Jeb as a jumping off point for the real purpose of this post. The Republican establishment pines for Jeb because they believe the Dems will nominate Hillary in 2016, and they fear what the MSM will do to any Republican newboy who rises up to oppose her. They’d prefer a clash of dynasties to any real referendum on the nation’s direction. Probably because they mostly agree that that direction is a downward spiral nobody can stop. Meaning, Jeb serves as a dignifying fig leaf for their otherwise exposed impotence.

It’s the Chris Christie Effect. He was supposed to be the new Teflon Don, immune to the machinations of the MSM because he was so blunt and plain-spoken and all. They were wrong about that. The MSM killed him off with a simple traffic jam. Quick work. Just imagine what would happen to the lineup of sad-sack Republican governors who are hemming and hawing about putting their own hats in the ring. It’s obviously time to default to dynasties.

Not so fast. Time to ask what they really want from a Jeb candidacy. Ready-made name recognition. Can’t be slaughtered by Dem revelations of who he really is and where he came from. All the MSM ammunition against the Bushes has already been fired, repeatedly, for years, and further attacks on the name of Bush will produce no more than a huge yawn from the electorate.

They crane their necks in all directions and can’t anywhere find a candidate the Great Unwashed already know, at least by surname, and who can’t be easily destroyed by a well orchestrated campaign of slander, libel, and vicious lies. Understandable. It’s just that they missed one. Somebody so obvious that they couldn’t see him at all because they’ve spent so much time looking past and around him.

It’s the Trump card. Name recognition. Have you seen all those quasi-comedic man in the street interviews where people who look like regular people can’t name the Vice President, tell you how many senators there are, or guess what century the Constitution was written in? But they know who’s screwing Kim Kardashian at the moment. And they know who Donald Trump is. He’s the rich guy that fires people.

Hmmmm. A rich guy who fires people. Rich isn’t a problem. Everyone who gets a presidential nomination is rich. And fires people is an outstanding credential in a time when the government does nothing but screw up and nobody ever gets fired. The man in the street could get behind a guy like that. Call it the Reality Show Effect.

But wait till the MSM goes after him! Uh, no. They already have, ruthlessly, systematically, maliciously, for years. Trump is a beneficiary of what we could call the Biden Effect. It has long ceased to matter what dumb thing he said yesterday. He’s like Ol’ Man River. He just keeps rolling along.

He has the built in invulnerability of a reality show. His comb-over may be ridiculous but, hey, he’s famous and he fires people. When the MSM and the DNC go digging for scandals, they will find them, I suppose, but the electoral response will be yawns. We know this guy, he’s entertaining, and he fires people. No wonder there are people willing to say bad things about him. He fires people.

They can’t get him on a sex scandal either. Call it the Clinton Effect. Everybody knows Donald Trump is in the business of trophy wives and probably trophy mistresses too. Why should we care? Every bit of salacious gossip just buffs his reality show shine.

More than that, even the man in the street knows other things about him. He has a talent for winning. He makes deals. He bends other people to his will. He knows how to run things. He knows how to make a profit. He generates jobs. Who hasn’t been to a Trump casino? All the people who work there have jobs.

And, finally, he also benefits somewhat ironically from the Obama Effect. He has no legislative record that can be used to vet or destroy him. Although, unlike Obama, he has a long and very public record of accomplishment. He evidently fears no one. Not even Hillary. To him, she’s just another frail who would never have made his trophy wife cut.

Too rich to be prey to lobbyists. Too much of a loose cannon to toe any party line. Too loud to be cowed by anyone else’s bluster. It just might be that this is his time. Call it the Trump Effect. Sometimes, the times demand someone who is larger than life.

Somebody’s been reading Glovesoff dot blogspot dot com

I'm older now. My cane. Same lovable optimist I've always been.

I’m older now. My cane. Same lovable optimist I’ve always been.

So Edna sent me an email asking if I remember writing this. Are you psychic, she asked. Well, I do remember. The excerpt is from 1997, an entry in a journal I typed to myself in Word 97, close to two decades ago, before I even had access to the Internet.

‘And what about the day when your medical insurance goes up because you bought a pound of bacon at the supermarket?’

‘Yes,’ said Patrick, ‘we can hit up the red meat pushers for a few hundred billion, I’ll bet. All that colon cancer. Somebody has to pay.’

‘Who would ever have thought that the government’s desire to help people with their medical bills would lead to state ownership of your body? Because that’s the truth of it. The motorcyclists who oppose helmet laws can’t use the argument that it’s their own business whether they get a head injury or not. Not anymore. Now it’s ‘the peoples’ business because it’s ‘the people’ who are paying the hospital bill. And they’ve been making the same kind of argument about smokers, suggesting that anyone who smokes shouldn’t get insurance coverage for smoking-related diseases. Think about that. The government takes over the health care business. Then they set about denying coverage to everyone for exactly the ailments they’re most prone to get. So maybe fat people won’t get coverage for heart disease. Drinkers can’t be allowed coverage for liver disease. Women who won’t drink their milk can’t be covered for osteoporosis. They have the right to tell you how to live.’

‘Your body is a federal asset,’ Patrick said. ‘It has to be maintained so that it can keep working, which is to say generating the tax revenues that are needed to pay off that $15 trillion national debt. If you get sick and die of something like lung cancer, you’ve cheated them out of their money. What chance does the Fourth Amendment have when the government’s got to come up with $15 trillion? Sorry, we own your lungs just like we own your house and your children.’

‘So the only part of the human body anyone owns anymore is the uterus, which just happens to be the only part on which somebody else might have a legitimate claim.’

Patrick laughed. ‘Right. The last and only corner of the world still protected by the Fourth Amendment.’

We discussed the irony, as we had before, but I have been developing for some time a perspective that might explain or even eliminate the irony. I didn’t get into it tonight, though, because it’s a big subject and will take hours, maybe days, to explore.

The answer to her question. No, I’m not a psychic. All this stuff has been a long time building. It’s my misfortune, I suppose, that I was paying attention the whole time.