Death

It would be disingenuous to say there is absolutely nothing in the world I care less about than the death of Michael Jackson. I lump him in with all the other irrelevant celebrities — the Britneys and Parises and Lohans and the parade of generic, interchangable reality TV stars and their “this year’s model” pretty-young-face dramatic television counterparts.

Really I couldn’t care less about any of them. Still, there definitely are things I care less about. People talking about Michael Jackson’s death is near the top of that list.A quick digression…

I listen to NPR a lot. Yesterday, while running errands between Hank Hoffman’s morning and evening shoots, I was listening to KCRW when the King of Pop went face-up.

To my abject, indescribable horror, KCRW cut away from All Things Considered with the “breaking news” that TMZ was reporting Michael Jackson had died.

There is so much wrong with this event, I beginning spitting with dyspeptic rage just trying to get it all out.

1: NOT “breaking news.” Relevant or not, mega-pop star or creepy weirdo whose fame has been fading for 25 years, he’s fucking dead. Is he going to be MORE dead later? Is his condition likely to change? The local news break was coming up in three minutes! Announcing that “Thriller” was about to be played on every radio station around the country couldn’t wait another three fucking minutes?

2: TMZ?!?! T-M-Fucking -Z??? THIS is now “a source,” and for NPR for fuck’s sake? YOU HAVE GOT TO BE SHITTING ME, PYLE!!!

To add insult to sheer, mind-batteringly-bad news desk work, the local anchor kept breaking in to annouce that they would have updates on the story as it developed.

WHAT??? What the fuck part of “dead” was going to “develop?” Were they waiting for him to transmogrify back into a black man post-mortem like a werefolf becoming human again after taking a fucking bullet? What fucking developments? GAH!!!

See? Spitting again.

Here’s my thing: Once upon a time there was a technically proficient pop star who took soul music, boiled it, filleted it, made it completely toothless and non-threatening and bubblegum scented so white people could dance to it. Then the pop star mutated into a frightening circus freak who molested Macaulay Culkin (et. al.)

Essentially, Michael Jackson was the personification of the demented psycho from a slasher movie. And yet, because he was famous, we’re supposed to forget all the unforgivable stuff and mourn.

I say fuck him. Beat it. Thrilled he’s gone.

The best thing about this media event is I’m getting to pull all my old Michael Jackson jokes out of mothballs. I’ll leave you with my favorite.

What’s the difference between Neal Armstrong and Michael Jackson?

Neal Armstrong walked on the moon.
Michael Jackson fucked little boys.

Just a quick note to say goodbye to one of the finest American actors that ever lived. Paul Newman didn’t always make great movies (Quintet, anyone?) but he did always give great performances.

I’m gonna spend the next six hours with Cool Hand LukeSlap Shot, and Road to Perdition.

We’ll miss you, Mr. Newman.

For the last two weeks I’ve been overcoming a bulging disc that’s giving me nerve compression in my left arm. As a result, I have numb fingers and muscle cramps down my left arm 24/7, and almost no strength in my left hand.

Makes typing a real chore.

As a result, I’ve missed my chance at exulting in an event I’ve long waited for; the much anticipated death of North Carolina senator Jesse Helms. There are so many things I’d like to say about this bigoted, lard-faced hunk of human detritus, but the left hand just ain’t up to it.

Still, I’m unwilling to let the moment pass unobserved. Paul Slansky of 23/6.com has done a fantastic Jesse Helms quiz that highlights many of the foulest moments from a spectacularly objectionable life. With no permission, I’m going to reprint it here, and lift my good middle finger to a bag of righteous pus so evil he made Strom Thurmond and Newt Gingrich look well-mannered and civil by comparison.

I mean, c’mon; I named my Senator in Corruption after the guy.

Fuck off right to Hell, Jesse Helms.

FROM 236.com:

1) In his 1950 debut in politics, Jesse Helms worked for segregationist North Carolina Senate candidate Willis Smith. Helms helped come up with this ad: “White people, wake up before it’s too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? [Smith’s opponent] Frank Graham favors mingling of the races.” What else did Helms do to insure Smith’s victory?

  1. 1.       He started a whispering campaign about Graham having fathered an illegitimate half-black child.
  2. 2.       He doctored a photograph to show Graham’s wife dancing with a black man.
  3. 3.       He phoned people in the middle of the night claiming to be Graham and asked for their votes.

true: 2

2) What did New Yorker writer Rick Hertzberg say about the passing of Jesse Helms?

  1. 1.       “Far too late for it to do anybody any good, Jesse Helms has died.”
  2. 2.       “Remember how exhilarating it was to hear that Jerry Falwell was dead? Here comes that feeling again.”
  3. 3.       “My only regret is that he didn’t live long enough to see the swearing-in of President Obama.”

true: 1

3) As Steven A. Holmes put it so brilliantly in his New York Times obit, “Mr. Helms liked his art uncomplicated.” What would be an example of the kind of art that was too “complicated” for Mr. Helms, and that prompted him to try to cut the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts for subsidizing it?

  1. 1.       A photograph of a man peeing into another man’s mouth.
  2. 2.       A photograph of an anus with a bullwhip sticking out of it.
  3. 3.       Both of the above, and also a big jar of urine with a crucifix submerged in it.

true: 3

4) Which of these best sums up Jesse Helms’s reaction to “complicated” art?

  1. 1.       “I wonder what the artist was trying to say there.”
  2. 2.       “Okay, I don’t get it but someone else might.”
  3. 3.       “I can’t figure it out so I hate it and no one should be allowed to see it ever again.”

true: 3

5) Which of these assessments of Jesse Helms was ludicrously offered up by the increasingly widely despised George W. Bush?

  1. 1.       “Jesse Helms’s legacy is one of hatred, homophobia and racism.”
  2. 2.       “Senator Helms certainly was no bigot. He was a man, however, not into subtlety.”
  3. 3.       “Jesse Helms was a kind, decent and humble man.”

true: 3

6) What was Jesse Helms’s nickname?

  1. 1.       “Senator No.”
  2. 2.       “The Tar Heel Terror.”
  3. 3.       “Jolly Jesse.”

true: 1

7) How did Jesse Helms explain his 1993 vote against confirming President Clinton’s nominee Roberta Achtenberg as an assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development?

  1. 1.       “She’s a damn lawyer. I think we already have enough lawyers running the country.”
  2. 2.       “She’s from San Francisco, one of those hippie Commies. Thank you very much, but I don’t need some hippie Commie over at HUD giving houses away to Negroes.”
  3. 3.       “She’s a damn lesbian. I am not going to put a lesbian in a position like that. If you want to call me a bigot, fine.”

true: 3

8) How did Jesse Helms describe the kind of lesbian that Roberta Achtenberg wasn’t and the kind of lesbian she was?

  1. 1.       “She’s not an easy-going lesbian. She’s a trouble-making lesbian.”
  2. 2.       “She’s not your garden-variety lesbian. She’s a militant-activist-mean lesbian.”
  3. 3.       “She’s not a closeted lesbian. She’s an out-there-shooting-her-mouth-off, proud-to-be-perverted, probably-witchcraft-practicing lesbian.”

true: 2

9) True or false? When 18-year-old Ryan White died of AIDS and his mother went to Washington to speak to members of Congress about the disease, Jesse Helms was one of the most sympathetic listeners.

  1. 1.       True. He took her under his wing and introduced her to almost two dozen legislators.
  2. 2.       False. Though she did meet with almost two dozen legislators, Helms was not one of them, as he refused to speak to her even when he found himself alone with her in an elevator. See, since Helms believed the disease came from “unnatural” and “disgusting” behavior – “There is not one single case of AIDS in this country,” he said, “that cannot be traced in origin to sodomy” – it followed logically that he should be uncivil to the mother of a hemophiliac boy who contracted the disease at 13 from a contaminated blood supply. Yes, he really was that much of a dick.

true: 2

10) Complete Jesse Helms’s 1965 observation: “It’s all very well and good to talk about ‘uplifting society,’ but somewhere along the line we must face the fact that from the beginning of time a lot of human beings have been born bums, but most of them – until fairly recently – were kept from behaving like bums because work was necessary for all who wished to eat. The more we remove the penalties for being a bum, the more _________ is going to blossom.”

  1. 1.       the welfare state
  2. 2.       sloth and laziness
  3. 3.       bumism

true: 3

11) Which of these statements is NOT true?

  1. 1.       Jesse Helms urged his fellow right-wing loonies to buy up stock in CBS so they could take over the network and “become Dan Rather’s boss.”
  2. 2.       Jesse Helms joked that President Clinton was so unpopular among the military that “he’d better have a bodyguard” if he visited Fort Bragg.
  3. 3.       Jesse Helms said in 1966, “The nation has been hypnotized by the swaying and the gesturing of the Watusi and the Frug.”
  4. 4.       Jesse Helms said of anti-Vietnam war protesters, “Look carefully into the faces of the people participating. What you will see, for the most part, are dirty, unshaven, often crude young men and stringy-haired awkward women who cannot attract attention any other way.”
  5. 5.       Jesse Helms referred to the University of North Carolina (UNC) as the “University of Negroes and Communists.”
  6. 6.       Jesse Helms added an amendment to an appropriations bill forbidding the use of any funds for the benefit of “any cult, organization or other group that has a purpose, or that has any interest in, the promoting of Satanism or witchcraft.”
  7. 7.       Jesse Helms said of the 1963 civil rights protests, “The Negro cannot count forever on the kind of restraint that’s thus far left him free to clog the streets, disrupt traffic, and interfere with other men’s rights. Mob action invites mob action; violence invites violence; lawlessness invites lawlessness.”
  8. 8.       Jesse Helms said, “Scientists have still established no clinical link between smoking and, let’s say, cancer. They have a lot of statistics but that’s all.”
  9. 9.       Jesse Helms said of protesters he encountered on a trip to Mexico, “All Latins are volatile people. Hence, I was not surprised at the volatile reaction.”
  10. 10.   Jesse Helms turned his back and walked away to avoid shaking the hand of South African president Nelson Mandela.
  11. 11.   Jesse Helms led the Senate opposition to making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday, attacking King for “action-oriented Marxism” and calling him a “man of tasteless immorality” (which is not to be confused with the tasteful kind).
  12. 12.   Jesse Helms sent out a fund-raising letter warning, “Your tax dollars are being used to pay for grade school classes that teach our children that CANNIBALISM, WIFE-SWAPPING, and the MURDER of infants and the elderly are acceptable behavior.”
  13. 13.   Jesse Helms, in private, referred to all black people as “Fred.”
  14. 14.   Jesse Helms wrote, “We need only examine the documents of time to see that even the estimable Pilgrim fathers had some alien ideas tucked away in their own baggage. You might even go so far as to say that Communism came over on the Mayflower,” to which Boston Globe reporter Bella English added, “You might, if you were an idiot.”
  15. 15.   Wait, never mind, they’re all true.

true: 15

12) Complete Jesse Helms’s 1991 statement: “There have been 248 different U.S. Senators in the eighteen years and five months I have been there. None has been more capable than __________________

  1. 1.       Bob Dole.
  2. 2.       Howard Baker.
  3. 3.       Dan Quayle.

true: 3

 13) Appearing on Larry King Live in 1995, Jesse Helms took a call from an admirer who said he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize for what?

  1. 1.       “For being a watchman looking out for the unborn.”
  2. 2.       “For the way you’ve run the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”
  3. 3.       “For everything you’ve done to help keep down the niggers.”

true: 3

14) How did Jesse Helms respond to Larry King’s caller?

  1. 1.       “Well, thank you, I think.”
  2. 2.       “You, sir, disgust me.”
  3. 3.       “Hey, Trent, don’t you have anything better to do with your time?”

true: 1

15) True or false? Though clearly prejudiced against black people, Jesse Helms managed to keep those feelings out of his personal encounters with his black colleagues.

  1. 1.       True. Face to face he was unfailingly respectful and courteous.
  2. 2.       False. Once he ran into Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL) in a Senate elevator and turned to his friend Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and said, “Watch me make her cry. I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries,” and began to sing. And there, ladies and gentlemen, in one quote, you have Jesse Helms.

true: 2

Time escapes me. There were a lot of things I was going to write about; Stan Winston dying; how Violet Blue (the writer) is a total asshole; our recent visit from our local Vice squad; the incredbily awful Incredible Hulk.

Then George Carlin died, and all that went out the window. There are an assortment of comics I like, but damned few I respected. I can use the past tense because every funnyman I respected is dead now.

A lot has been written about Carlin’s life and career, and I’m not going to flog the dead livestock on the subject. For me, he achieved real brilliance around 1990 when he began to get seriously political. Even at his darkest, I rarely heard Carlin say something I disagreed with, even if I didn’t have the balls to admit it.

My favorite of all Carlin’s bits exposed ecology as an adventure in self-interest and arrogance. When he ranted, “The planet is fine. The planet isn’t going anywhere. We are! We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks, we’re going away.” I was sitting in front of the T.V. nodding like a convert at a revival meeting about to begin speaking in tongues.

George Carlin got it.

I met him once. It was 1988, and he was performing at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix. A friend I did theater with was running the lights, and he got me in. After the show, we went backstage to say hello, and my friend embarrassed me by explaining that I did stand-up as well (I hadn’t quit yet).

George shook my hand, cocked one eyebrow and said “You’re not gonna ask me for advice, are you?” I said no.

“Good,” he said. “I don’t want to have to tell ya to get a fuckin’ job.”

I love that story. I’ll miss him.

It’s been a big month for disasters so far. I’m not just talking about the cyclone in Burma and the Chinese earthquake, though those are certainly impressive in the pyrotechnics-and-body-count sense. I just wish they’d been closer to home, say, maybe John Hagee’s attic and wherever they keep Dick Cheney’s coffin full of consecrated earth.

I don’t mean to sound callous or cruel or heartless or unsympathetic, but I am so get over it. Y’see, I’m not all that enamored of humans as a species. I think Bill Hicks was spot-on when he described us as “a virus with shoes.” If I could snap my fingers and erase mankind in toto along with all evidence we’d ever existed, believe me the last thing you’d ever hear would be a clicking sound.

But I can’t. So I have to revel quietly when the Earth shakes off a few of the fleas that plague it. And while 150,000 is just a pittance when weighed against the global population of nearly 6.7billion, as the old joke goes, “What do you call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? An excellent start.”

But, no, I’m talking about other disasters. West Virginia provided a disastrous reminder to the rest of the world that the real core American values are racisim, intolerance, bigotry and deeply-held pride that you’re rock-stupid.

Disaster struck Hollywood in the form of Speed Racer, and the trailers for The Love Guru and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, both of which were so incredibly, execrably foul I literally couldn’t close my jaw. Have things really gotten this bad?!?

A similar disaster struck London with the premiere of the Sex in the City movie. Personally, not being a forty-something woman with no sense of style, taste, humor or reality, and not being a gay man of any age or sensibility, I found this tragedy particularly entertaining. I’m hard-pressed to think of something less appealing that sitting through this movie.

A root canal would take less time, be far less painful, heal more quickly, and would, presumably, have a point. Getting the Bill of Rights tattooed on my cock (oh yes I COULD!) would at least result in something I wasn’t ashamed to admit I’d done, and might prove useful if things continue the way they’re headed in this country. Dangerous as it is, oil wrestling Oprah for a cheeseburger would yield a great story providing I survived the experience.

Sex in the City? I’d rather move to Burma.

On the bright side, I read that FEMA has emergency relief crews set to revive unsuspecting husbands with hours of recorded ESPN highlights, Girls Gone Wild DVDs, and several episodes ofWeapons of War. And perhaps, when all is said and done, we’ll finally be rid of Carrie… and… the rest. I dunno. Twatchy, Slutty and Cunty. Whatever their fuckin’ names are. And maybe Kim Cattrall can finally give her poor, plastic face a rest.

Israel celebrated its 60th birthday, which was a disaster for the Palestinians, and the Retard-in-Chief opened his mouth in a foreign country which is disaster for everyone except al Quaeda.

All this and May’s only half over. Next thing you know, we’ll find out that Marvel Films pissed all the Iron Man goodwill down their leg by casting someone completely batshit wrong as Captain America. Like, oh, I dunno… Matthew McConaughy or somebody. I know, it’s a ludicrous suggestion. They would never be that

..oh..

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