Now that we’ve officially entered summertime, I feel a strengthening of the urge to get my spring cleaning underway. First to go are a few stubborn thorns that have bruised my heel for far too long; they must be extracted and tossed over to the Useless Baggage bin before infection sets in and compromises a happy glide through July.
There has been no shortage of clueless mangling of our common tongue on television in recent weeks, most often in commercials. That sort of mass miscommunication eventually standardizes the mutated pronunciation of words – words that, until recent times, had withstood centuries of assault. By my count, there’s only one local weather person who actually sounds the “r” in the word temperature although even then, the “a” is already long gone.
The “r” in February was kidnapped a long, long time ago but the public was so disinterested in negotiating a ransom that the sweet little thing was killed and its murderers were never identified. Those same brazen criminals are probably behind the recent disappearance of the “c” in arctic, the “g” in recognize and the first “t” in important. To encounter several times a day a TV ad in which a very attractive young lady stresses the “impor’ance of a good education” (!) is to know the tortures of the damned. When a friend of mine casually said “impor’ant” during a conversation recently, I involuntarily shouted, “Oh my God!” before bursting into disgusted laughter and then containing myself enough to ask her where that had come from. She thought I had meant “literally come from” and she answered, “ I think it’s a Manchester/cockney immigrant that landed in Brooklyn and took off from there. Most people think it sounds cool. Like in ‘Oh no you dih’ent!’” Struggling to control my sudden homicidal rage, I quickly ran away. To this moment, “impor’ant” and “impor’ance” are nothing but nauseating twin infections that should be sent back to the gheh’os and euthanized as painfully as possible.
My premier complaint this year is once again language-related but no, it doesn’t involve that poisonous four-letter word that begins with “c” and ends with “l.” It has to do with people’s inability to correctly pronounce the name of probably the second-greatest singer of the past 50 years (do forgive my immodesty.) A new show opened at the San Diego Rep celebrating the music written and/or sung by the late Harry Nilsson, whose albums included Nilsson Schmilsson, Son of Schmilsson, and (what I am increasingly persuaded may be the greatest album ever recorded) A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night. In the Rep’s television ads, the announcer repeatedly says “Harry Nielson”(like the TV survey company). The fact is, almost everybody has always mispronounced his name for some unfathomable reason (just like that great football team, the Jag-Wires!) but one would think that the venerable San Diego Rep – which is actually staging the frigging show – would be above this stupidity. Nilsson’s not around anymore to protect his name so I’m just doing what I can. And don’t forget, kids: RCA records and tapes!
Now seems like a wonderful time to rid myself of some shame concerning last month’s column, when I tried to explain my reasons for once again performing live music. “No, really, Hose, why now?” people ask me when they encounter me walking yet another red carpet at yet another swank event in Hollywood or Linda Vista. So allow me to lay out the reasons plainly and finally:
1) Within a year of the cessation of Jose Sinatra and the Troy Dante Inferno, some terrible things happened. Global warming increased; the economy tanked; terrorism became a career choice; public telephones began to rapidly disappear; and there has been a terrible increase in earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and reality television programming. Coincidences? I think not.
2) A study at the Longfellow School has concluded that in any size crowd – from 30 to 100,000 – there resides at least one person who is a criminal. Now factor in your average dope fiend who smoked marijuana when it was illegal. Statute of limitations being what it is for loco-weed (200 years), that weedhead must still be considered a criminal, so I think we’re safe in exposing a couple more people in that crowd as bad guys. Now just think – those criminals will be listening to my music now rather than doing bad things on our streets and in our homes. So by performing, I’m doing my bit to combat crime in all its sexy forms. And don’t call me a hero (at least as far as crime-fighting is concerned); it’s just the way I am. If people fail to recognize the public service aspects of my craft, then they haven’t failed me; they’ve failed themselves, and I shed a tear for them.
3) I had some heart trouble a while back, and I vowed not to sing until it got better (music, after all, must come from the heart. The thought of it coming from a sick one is yucky.) So my heart’s better now. Actually, it’s beautiful and mysterious, and, not knowing when it may turn on me again, I’d better get these songs out while the goin’s good. For the “inquiring minds” among you: 22 months ago, I went “cold turkey” – I quit smoking, drinking, and watching dirty movies. Now, I’m not saying I haven’t had a few relapses, but it’s been 22 months since I’ve touched a drink or a cigarette.
4) Frankly, the sap is up and I needs me some strange.
My goal in inventing Lounge Metal was to combine the warm intimacy of a lounge with the passionate brainlessness associated with heavy metal. I believe I succeeded, and I believe it’s time to continue. I have but two words to say to my supporters now, before I leave you: