Wait a Second!

No. 8 -- August 17, 1995

If I were Judge Lance Ito, I would use this opportunity to walk into the courtroom, look both teams of attorneys squarely in the eyes and say, in my most judicial voice: "Fuck this bullshit, I'm outta here." Then I would apologize profusely to the jury and stride out of the courtroom, never to return. Now that would be drama!

Speaking of Getting Away With It, Senator Robert Packwood, who clings to his Senate seat as tenaciously as a newborn refusing to be weaned clings to his mother's teat, is now asking why if the women he is accused of harassing were so offended, they didn't just quit? Uh, Bobby sweetie, I'll field that one. Sometimes people are so desperately afraid of being unemployed, so worried about not finding another job, that they'll do seemingly indefensible and totally lame things rather than leave their job. Sound familiar?

I'm neither here nor there about the band Live. Like the Stone Temple Pilots before them, I don't really like them all that much, but they don't bug me, either, like, say the Spin Doctors or Primus. That said, I've just gotta point out that, if they're as big as everybody says they are, why can't they sell out the Shoreline Amphitheatre? Especially with Veruca Salt and PJ Harvey opening? By way of unfair comparison, I note that R.E.M. sold it out three nights straight.

So, are going to get a blow-by-blow account of every single day Shannon Faulkner is at the Citadel or what?? And do we really care?? Let her succeed or fail without the media deathwatch.

Not Surprising: That when asked to eulogize Mickey Mantle on This Week With David Brinkley columnist George Will couched Mickey's alcoholism, and Baseball's long-time alcohol problem in terms of funny stories (Mickey staggering shitfaced up to the plate to hit a home run cos he was too drunk to do anything else, Pie Traynor (sic?) saying that when his vision was blurry, the ball was bigger and thus, easier to hit), but used the death of Jerry Garcia to rail (yet once again, ho-hum) against the 60's in his Newsweek column.

His example was a young Maryland Deadhead couple who abandoned their child at a shopping mall in Southern California, and then headed north to San Francisco for a Dead concert. They then hitchhiked back to Maryland Will, who usually stands up for the conservative values of personal responsibility and accepting the blame for your own actions, decided it was the pernicious influence of the Jerry Garcia, The Dead, and the entire damn 60's that caused this couple to do what they did.

What's really interesting is that he -- after probably running a Nexus search on the words "crime" and "Grateful Dead" to come up with a heinous case with which to condemn the 60's -- uses such inside-their-head-conjecture as (the italics are mine) "What a bummer for two Deadheads who probably only wanted to have their own version of the Summer of Love, as the summer of 1967 was known in San Francisco." Or, even better, "they may well be wondering just what exactly they did that was so awfully wrong."

Oh bullshit, they knew what they were doing wrong. And they -- not the 60's -- should be punished for it. I'm no great fan of how the utopianism of the 60's has played out in real life (and I'm especially no great fan of the Baby Boomers, the most overrated generation in the history of this country), but Will, in his rush to use the Dead as icons, just gets it (and them) wrong. For example, at one point, he explains how, in the 60's, "Duties, responsibilities, obligations and other notions that interfere with immediate gratifications were understood to be mere hang-ups.'" Yet the reason that the entire cult surrounding the Grateful Dead exists in the fashion it exists is because the band felt a huge duty and responsibility for taking care of their fandom.

A more interesting question to me is why Mantle's death from life-long drug abuse gets a mention on a heavyweight show like This Week With David Brinkley, but not Garcia's? Because George Will is a big baseball guy, and they don't have a big rock and roll guy? That's the simplest answer, but still, even if true, doesn't that mean that the 60's aren't as influential as Will fears? That's it's ok to be an adult and out of the closet about your fandom of a "kids game," but not ok to be out of the closet about your fandom of "teen-age music?"

I would think that both Mantle and Garcia should rate a mention, but the message I get is that, after over four decades, a major rock death still isn't considered culturally important enough. Despite the fact that there probably isn't one single fan of The Mick out there who will now need to get a life.

From where I sit, I don't see a helluva lot of difference between Mickey Mantle and Jerry Garcia. They both were damn good at what they did, they both a lot of people very happy, and they both had personal demons that they drowned in dangerous drugs. And abuse is abuse, irregardless of the legality of the drug.

According to Money Magazine's ranking of 300 American areas, the city I live in, Oakland, is the 135th best place to live in the entire country. That's down from 44th, its ranking last year. What's changed? Well, I moved here, for one thing. On the other hand, Fresno, my alma city, was ranked at 287, down from 166th. So I'm still in pretty good shape, no matter how you look at it. A few years ago, Fresno was ranked dead last, and lemme tell you, there was quite an uproar, though nobody could really come up with any really good reasons why it was wrong.

Sign #45 that you're losing your integrity: you add the word "Ito" to your spell-check. Sigh.

This space is available for advertising. I am so ready to sell out to corporate America for some decent money. Maybe Minor League Baseball??

Love,

     Jim

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This rant written on 17 August, 1995.
I was listening to The Byrds -- The Byrds