The “Scary Clown” phenomena clearly dates back a lot further than initially suspected.
Q: “What are you gonna look like when you’re 60 with all those tattoos?”
A: “Fucking bad ass”
We had yet another trip to Pittsburgh in store for us Saturday–my fourth in a row, as I’d been in the suburbs Wednesday to help my mom pick out and negotiate for a new car–a long but unexpectedly pleasant experience with Day Chevrolet in Murrysville, PA. We got her an almost new Chevy Cruze–a perfect Grandma-car, but still a little sporty, a little perky to drive. Way to go, Detroit–this one brings a hammer to the Compact Dance, and has the Asian marques in a tizzy, I’d wager.
After that, and the two days of swim meet, let’s just say I was less than enthusiastic about another day crammed into a car, even though the plans for the evening were for recreation. I was grumpy all day, sick of restaurant food, weary of having a seat belt carving into my cartoid, and just plain tired. If we hadn’t been locked in to the tune of $130 I would have been tempted to bail. I just wanted to sleep.
That would have been a shame, because we had a semi-potluck in the mid-afternoon: ham, oven-baked herbed potatoes, salad, lots of fresh fruit and tasty bread, and apple pie for desert, with 4 friends and our kids, then the grown-ups saddled up and made the very familiar drive back to Cardiac Hill. This time, after hours on a weekend, the parking was easy. We quickly found a space in a small garage, downed some beers in the van–the garage was full of folks sitting in their vehicles, bartending out of their trunks. Soon enough it was time, and we strolled up to the Peterson Center, a pretty fantastic venue on the Pitt campus. We were there to see The Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers, and it turned out we got enviable, fantastic seats, just above floor level.
And man, it was awesome. Old Crow opened with a boisterous cover of John Denver’s seminal kneeslappin’ Thank God I’m A Country Boy and the crowd roared into Full Whoop–where is stayed through their too short 50-minute opening set. I loved the crowd–more beards per capita than anyplace but downtown Islamabad– so I felt right at home, enjoying the irony of realizing that at the same moment Old Crow was jamming out genuine old-school Grand Old Opry-grade country to 35,000 hipsters in Pittsburgh, PA all over the country so-called Country Bands were shoveling candy-coated bubblegum pop to hundreds of thousands of rednecks. The energy was pure and joyful–especially during the most popular songs, when the bands and 35,000 background singers–just listen to the voices….
By the time the Avetts ripped through more than two hours (!!) of their show then re-emerged onstage the crowd was in a danced-up, full-flowering bliss, seemingly impossible to improve–until they called Old Crow out on the stage for a magnum freaking opus encore medley of Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again, The Carter Family’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken (you know an alt.country band is certified when they cover The Carters in their encore), and–finally–an inspired cover of the Spaniels’ Goodnight, Sweetheart. Freaking awesome, and utterly perfect. A stop for take out from Mineo’s Pizza on the way home, and the night was complete.
While I was devoting considerable energies into not nodding off during the State of The Union Address last night, Mrs. Junk remarked on how odd it was to see President Obama’s suddenly graying hair. As a guy who has seen his own hair take a sudden flight towards white–I’ll be in Santa country by the time I’m 55–I have to say he carries it well. He’s a handsome guy, after all, and he’s got a lot on his mind. Not only that, he’s certainly in good company. Until my own hair changed from brown to salt & pepper to–uh–just plain salty (like my personality, I guess), I have to admit that I suspected s conspiracy of Presidents. As candidates, it goes to figure, potential leaders want to appear youthful, energetic, virile, powerful and vigorous; so it goes without saying that coloring one’s hair is a simple part of a campaign not unlike wearing good suits and attractive ties. Once in office, however, the cultivated image of choice shifts to one of wisdom, maturity, and leadership–candidates are cast as agents of change, but Presidents are leaders. The are diplomats who set the tone for national discourse and international relations. Even the simplest of men, those who bore leadership as if it was no greater burden than a sack of children’s toys, have aged under the weight of responsibility and the pressure of constant scrutiny. Was I wrong to suspect that Presidents in office intentionally let their hair go gray? That some possibly even hasten the process via artificial means? I suspect I’m on to something–but I also think that these guys are missing the boat. Ronald Reagan, that canny old player, appeared to moisten his hair with waxy black shoe polish right up to his last days in office, even as he muttered “I do not recall” to inquiry after inquiry into the despicable conduct that took place on his watch–and people loved him for it. Why did folks love Reagan? Not because he denied any problems America faced with the same fervor he denied knowledge of the Iran-Contra Arms For Hostages deals, and not because he reminded many of us of our doddering old grandfathers. Reagan was beloved because he had the same hair as The Fonz. When Reagan was elected, who was the reigning cultural icon? It Arthur “Fonzi” Fonzarelli. When Reagan won reelection in 1984, American was sadly saying goodbye to that same shark-jumping icon when a wave of nostalgia carried the incumbent back for another four-year term. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
So, clearly what President Obama needs is a celebrity make-over, and the perfect celebrity has never been more clear–we need someone who is highly intelligent and articulate, someone who works as hard as Obama, and we need someone cool–if the truth is to be told, Obama needs a little help here: he’s a bit of a policy geek, and those cigarettes don’t make him seem any cooler, despite what years of Marlboro ads have said to the contrary. He gets points for playing basketball, but not enough to compensate for his wonkishness. On the subject of his rumored, rabid fanaticism for Star Trek I plead the fifth amendment and the right to not risk self-incrimination.
Not only would it be a serious upgrade in terms of both style and cool, but there would be added tactical advantages in dealing with the primarily southern, lilly-white conservative seed at the heart of Republican stubbornness, for example–that tall and proud hair is going to scare the bejesus out the closet crackers who let their backwardsassed racism foul progress. On the international circuit, do we really think a bully like Vladamir “Mad Vlad” Putin is going to give a giant like Questlove–easily 7 feet tall with the hair factored in–and backtalk whatsoever? I don’t think so–and Obama is another tall guy, so all he needs to do it thicken up, add 150 pounds, and voila….
If I was any good at computer graphics, I’d mock up a cut and paste job of Questlove’s hair on Obama, but I’m afraid we’re just going to have to wait for the inevitable since, now that I’ve loosed this cat from it’s sack, there’s no way this isn’t going to happen. In the mean time, please enjoy the video link.
The Big Truck (excerpt from a short story, circa 1990)
A door slams and a key twists in the ignition of a big, new capable American machine. None of that third world bullshit, we’re talking Eight bedroom-sized cylinders displacing more than six liters in a gurgling rumble of power shouting of fundamental inconsistencies, hell, it’s goddamned hypocrisy to I digest so much carbon fuel in getting to the wild places I’m aiming to get to. And I don’t care. To hell with consistency; it is the mask of the uninteresting soul, the warm, smothering blanket of the tamed mind: too much about being correct, responsible, intentional, when we should be flying full bore towards living for good, wild lives.
It may very well be that I am lacking hormonally something, needing three hundred-odd horses to power me, but those dainty little Asian fuel miser machines doesn’t cut it (I have had one, loved the zip but loathed the coffin-like fit my build demanded). It could just be that I was raised on toy cars and trucks. Whatever the case, there is something magic in the early morning growl of an idling big block V-8 engine.
I like that fact that it practically begs to be let loose to flatten the teeming knots of Hondi and other bullet shaped knatmobiles out there. This machine, on the highway, is like walking the park with a vampiric Irish Wolfhound on the end of the leash. Power to spare.
The assembled corps of Highway patrolmen wait ahead, their microwave beams slow-roasting innocents from over hills, behind bridge abutments, around blind curves. We will tempt them presently, joining in the mass of sensible speeders bravely playing political out on the roads, defying the revenue fishers and legislators fat on insurance lobby kickbacks. From here in Pittsburgh to the border it will be bad, Pennsylvania being a wonderful state except for its archaic clinging to the 55mph barrier. Great yellow signs greet visitors: Pennsylvania Maximum Speed Limit is STILL 55mph!! Might as well erect an afterward, a new slogan. Pennsylvania, backwards-assed and proud of it….