Finally the Foolish month has arrived and my ears are free from further assault by terms like March Madness and brackets busted. Yippee! The local television news programs had become nauseating with so much “happy talk” among the anchors about “point one percent of those 13 million brackets” and “filling in your brackets” and bracket-this and bracket-that and bracket-everything that I began to suspect an evil government plot. More zombification of the public on the heels of the final triumph of the word cool.
I happen to be one of a small and steadily diminishing number of human beings with absolutely no interest in any sport that does not involve the generative organs of the female. I have no idea what this “bracket business” is all about or what it entails and I have less than no interest in asking people about it, despite their mantra-like repetition of the word. To me it has become a sad, somewhat frightening shortcut to saying, “Mmmm, me like basketball. Me want basketball. Me watch basketball.” So I stand back and leave these people to their fun and keep my extreme yet valid opinions to myself… until the games pre-empt Judge Judy (which is clearly enemy action) and force me to retaliate.
And there’s another word that seems to have launched a successful invasion on the beaches of conversational and commercial intercourse. I mention it without having the slightest hope of defeating it; rather I bring it up merely to let it know I’m on to it and see the evil behind the smile. I speak of the growing, annoying use of crazy not as an adjective, but as a modifier of an adjective: “Wow. That new high speed internet is crazy fast.” “That song is crazy great.” “Donald Trump is crazy crazy.” (He’s also a dangerous sociopath, but who’s counting?)
Denny’s restaurants are using it in their ads and menus. Crazily would be the correct form but there’s little space for correctness in a world with “I could care less” and “Do you mind if I stop by?” “Oh sure, come on over,” and their ilk. I have nightmares of losing control and lashing out at innocent, well-meaning ladies who tell me that I’m “crazy fabulous” and going uncontrollably berserk when they call me “crazy cool.” I know, get a grip, Hose, it’s a changing world and people have got to change with it. Lighten up, Dude. I want to. I wish I could. I miss smoking and drinking. I want my mommy. Help!
One more thought concerning the Grammys, which I wrote about last month: Watching them made me realize how much I miss David Bowie.
I’ll confess something here that only my close friends know—I’ve never liked any of Bowie’s music that came after 1972. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars was, as I see it, his single claim to genius and one of the finest albums ever made. I feel that with it, Bowie shot his wad and was never able to come close to it in quality of songwriting or performance or production. His subsequent hit songs always seemed to me to be patchwork jobs, each uniting two or three disparate ideas into confused wholes that, once they got going, suddenly tripped up and landed flat on their faces. I loved Bowie not only for his masterwork of 1972 (a favorite year) but for his continued interest and involvement with music, even if I didn’t much care for it. He was a fascinating person (and a terrific actor) and his absence has taken a significant bite out of my rapidly depleting Pie of Happiness.
Dr. Alfred Dolder, a cultural historian in Berlin, has written and spoken extensively about artists’ finite periods of explosive greatness, which are often followed by years—even decades—of worthless dreck that a mesmerized public accepts as material of the highest calibre. These artists would be better serving posterity, Dolder declares, if they’d simply give it all up once they’ve peaked, leaving a bit more space and a bit more breathable air for the geniuses to come. If the artists are unprepared or unable to determine the point at which they peak, the good doctor has offered to do it for them. For a fee, of course.
I thought about that idea and how nice it would have been to apply it to the Greatful Dead, years ago, until I realized that it was not applicable since the Dead never really had any explosive greatness. Among the artists Dolder cites as space-wasters: Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Paul McCartney, and Donald Trump. Interestingly, he salutes David Bowie, Glenn Frey, and Keith Emerson for “doing the right thing.” He continues:
“It’s encouraging that there are still superstar performers who are willing to face the fact that they’ve had their run, a run which ended long ago. That this awareness arrives so late in their lives is a bit sad, but progress is progress and any adjustment to the necessary balance of things is cause for gratitude. I think it was easier for musicians to grasp the truth of the matter back in the sixties. Perhaps the purity of the psychedelic drugs in those days really did expand their awareness. People like Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix left their substantial marks and moved on before becoming annoying and redundant. They understood that Music’s barrel of dignity can be easily spoiled by the odd rotten apple. Certainly, there were a those who didn’t. People like Marvin Gaye and John Lennon needed intervention to remedy the situation. I believe we’ve never needed as many acts of intervention as we do today.”
A translation of Herr Doktor Dolder’s recent German bestseller is soon to be published in America under the title Crazy Worthless.
Zero to Billy is a wildly entertaining live show by the wildly entertaining Billy Galewood (formerly of Bushwalla) that has been performed weekly at Java Joe’s for some time now, and continues on Thursday evenings all through this month of April. Actually, its not so much a show as a show about making a show. It changes week to week depending on audience suggestions and feedback and the hilariously twisted notions that are constantly racing around inside Billy’s ultracreative cranium and those of his devoted friends, some of whom drop by to appear with him. There is audience participation, sublime improvisation, wonderful music, surprise guests, and a guaranteed smile on your face. It’s a truly enjoyable way to spend 90 or so minutes of your Thursday evening, and there are enough changes each week that you’ll want to return again and again. I was honored to be asked by Billy to be one of his guests on an upcoming show—who knows what will happen on stage? I’d love you to be there as we find out.