Thursday, March 2, 2023

Reflections In A Broken Mirror

Remember when there were no hippies and suddenly they were everywhere?  When nobody smoked dope, wore bellbottoms, said “groovy,” or listened to the Grateful Dead, then everyone did?  Remember how corny country was before country was cool?  There is a very brief period called an inflection point when cool climbs to the summit and plunges off into the abyss, and noone wants to be on the downside of cool.  Today’s news quickly becomes yesterday’s newspaper, the hippest expressions are ditched almost overnight, leaving the pretenders to cool baffled, unready, exposed to ridicule and finger-pointing.  We writers are particularly conscious of this phenomenon, especially as it relates to words and phrases.

“Here’s the thing” was big not long ago.  Now it’s used only by home-schooled children in Chevy Chase and Joe Biden.  You have to get off the bus before you get to the bad neighborhoods, the only alternative being to keep riding until what’s verboten becomes cool again, which happens all the time.  As in the case of “cool,” for instance.

In the past couple of years, “GOAT" has raced up the mountain.  Not long ago, if you called someone a goat you got a knuckle sandwich (no longer cool).  Now, however, thanks mainly to aging NFL wonder boy Tom Brady, GOAT is widely taken to mean “Greatest Of All Time.”  The term has quickly reached Enough, Already Territory and is headed for the edge of the cliff at a run.  Beware the dreaded inflection point.  Before much longer, people using GOAT will be snickered at, have their hair mussed and their pants pulled down.  The sooner the better, we say.

With all this in mind, the clever faculty at Lake Superior State University in Michigan has decided to post an advisory of words and phrases which have worn out their welcome.  Here’s their Significant Seven:

2.---Moving forward
3.---Amazing (which replaced “awesome”)
6.---It is what it is
7.---Inflection point 

In the collective mind of the LSSU faculty, not only is GOAT grossly overused, it is also impossible.  “How can anyone be declared the greatest of all time when someone greater might come along in the future?” asks Lake State spokesman Peter Szatmary.  “The closest you could get would be GOATSF—for ‘so far’—which is pretty hard to pronounce.  And then you’d have to add “for football,” otherwise you’re dealing with Pele, Serena Williams, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Hassan, a Pakistani goat with very long ears.”

The faculty’s point is that all of us should strive to be original in our thinking, avoid trite crutch words and phrases and try to ignore the Pied Piper leading the Pop Trend of the Day parade.  “As if,” to quote a dying old-timer.  Alas, the best intentions of mice and men often go awry.  As long as there is a briskly bouncing ball, there will be blissfully uncool humans happy to follow it to eternity, inflection point be damned.

Just sayin’….

“I Cannot Tell A Lie!”---George Washington

“I Cannot Tell The Truth.  I Keep Trying, But It Won’t Come Out.”---George Santos

Everyone wants to get rid of poor old George Santos, but not us.  Before George, the best buffoon we had was the ill-tempered Georgia hyena Marjorie Taylor Greene, who doesn’t know gazpacho from Gestapo.  Santos, being occasionally Jew-ish, is well aware of the glaring difference, although he does admit to some confusion about Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi.

Let’s face it, our congressmen and senators are not a bunch of gay blades.  Their idea of big fun is glugging down aperitifs during filibusters, tickling their teenage aides and throwing lighted matches across the aisle.  Compared to these old bores, George is a breath of fresh air.  Who else would dress up like a drag queen named Kitara Ravache and dazzle the crowd in Rio?  “I was young and having fun at a festival,” says George.  “Sue me for having a life.”

And how many other multiracial congressmen do we have?  None, that’s how many.  In addition to being Hispanic and Jew-ish, Santos is also “Caucasian and Black.”  He said so, himself, in a tweet.  “As a biracial person, I stand tall against segregation of any kind,” he averred after being called a bigot for complaining about the Black anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.  “I know what it’s like to be discriminated against.  My life has been at risk many times.”

One of those times may have been in December of 2022, when George appeared on a Brazilian podcast and claimed he’d been the victim of an attempted assassination in January of 2021.  He also reported his Florida home had been vandalized because he was a Republican and he was once robbed of his shoes, briefcase and watch, but not his wallet, in the middle of testy Fifth Avenue in Manhattan by a barefoot panhandler.

George may or may not still be wanted by the Brazilian police for writing bad checks in 2008.  They closed the case because they were unable to find him after lackadaisically searching for ten years.  His ex-boyfriend, Pedro Vilarva, backs up the accusation claiming “I dropped him like a hot tamale when I found out he was a crook.”  Although Santos professes to being the first openly gay Republican of color to be elected to Congress, there’s the little matter of having been married to a woman until they divorced in 2019Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?

Finally, we’re not really certain George Santos is even George Santos.  Oh sure, an occasional alias is relatively harmless---ask George Costanza from Seinfeld, who occasionally preferred “Ron Vandelay.”  But Santos is a little greedy, having several alternatives, including the aforesaid Kitare Ravache and “Anthony Devolder,” a moniker he allegedly used when he claimed to have appeared in the Disney TV series Hannah Montana.  Political consultant Stuart Stevens recently told The Guardian, “Nobody really knows WHO this guy is.  We literally do not know his real name.”

But whether he’s George Santos or Howdy Doody, the congressman from upstate New York can tell you one thing; he’ll have fun, fun, fun til someone takes his House seat away.


You’d think it would be simple, drawing a respectable pig’s face on an opera singer.  But can anyone do it?  No!  Blake Harrison couldn’t quite pull it off, but at least he tried.  Chuck LeMasters passed it off to Leonard Weinbaum, who ran off to Melrose and hid.  Judi Caine wouldn’t come out of her room.  Lisa Marie Mercer thought about it, then gave us a replacement, which was pretty but decidedly unporcine.  Michael Goettee cleared his throat and looked the other way, then offered, “I can draw a cow.”   A COW?  What good would that do, Michael?  We’d have to rename our venue The Cowtown Opry.  What would Wonder Wart Hog think?

Pipsqueaks, these local artists.  Charlatans.  Frauds.  Pretenders to knowledge.  We called in the head art professor, Danny Levine in Savannah, looking for succor.  Danny sent us to a crazy woman who illustrates fantasy comics.  She sent us a hastily whipped together cartoon of a cute pig playing a guitar, then erupted when we called it less than adequate.  Not only incompetent but nuts, these artists.  Where is Gilbert Shelton when you really need him?

Hello, out there!  Surely there is a lone hero tuned in somewhere in the Klondike who can put pen to paper and create a singing pig-woman.  Did all those years of art school amount to nothing?  Have you no pride?  Is it something about pigs?  Oh, and for all you supposed religious objectors, you don’t have to eat the thing, just draw it.  We’re doing serious business here.  Let’s get bakin’.


“Only in his own hometown is a prophet without honor.”---Jesus Christ

“I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never seen a statue of a critic.”---Leonard Bernstein

Albert Teebagy, an old varmint who booked acts for the Great Southern Music Hall in Gainesville’s Golden Era, came to town the other day to discuss our using his services for the Hogtown Opry.  My wingman Mike Boulware was there and our host for the meeting Jeffrey Meldon sat in halfway through.  It was nice to see Jeff, a Gainesville Original,  somewhere other than on the side of a bus after all these years.  Regrettably, no alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs were served so nobody got too silly.

Albert the salesman began by telling us we didn’t know what we were doing.  This is what you inevitably get when you roam from your perceived realm into new territory.  Nuclear physicists who are ex-deejays get the same treatment, so I’m not alone.  And Albert is far from the only critic, they arrive by the hundreds and try to sneak through the transoms.  Stay in your lane is the message.  Don’t be like Jeff Bezos or Julia Child or Martha Stewart, who weaved all over the highway but eventually made it to the Big Time.  Maybe they were just lucky.  Does anyone know that Pope Francis was once a bouncer before he decided to move on?  Maybe he got tired of the rough stuff.  Maybe he liked it too much.

When I was in college, my roommate Ron Spencer implored me not to use my last $600 to start a humor magazine.  “What do you know about magazines?” he wanted to know.  “There’s advertising and printers and distribution and nekkid wimmen and wild parties, or so I’ve heard.”  We plunged onward through the fog and came to rest in green pastures.  Nobody said nice job.  Later, when I was in the East Village buying inventory to open the Subterranean Circus, my pal Mike Garcia was fretting about the fate of my pitiful $1200 investment.  “Killeen, this hippie thing could be a flash in the pan.  You’ll be broke!”  Michael wasn’t the only one who thought so.  Newt Simmons, one of my housemates, laughed at the prospect of depending on hippie financial support.  “Those people don’t have a vessel to urinate in, literally!” he guffawed.  “You won’t last a month.”  If Newt had been to the Village, he’d have seen a rising wave in the earliest stages of cresting.  “I’m not counting on just hippies,” I told him.  “Before long everybody’s going to be on this bus.”  Three months after opening, the Circus was grossing over $1000 a day, enough to buy half a block of Gainesville property bordering on University Avenue and erect a sister store adjacent.  Meanwhile, their eyes wide open, Simmons opened a head shop called Out Of Sight Optics in St. Pete Beach and Garcia cut the tape on Elysian Fields in Georgetown, D.C.  Both prospered bigly.

Last year, we thought it might be nice to get our old store crews and customers together again for one last rodeo in a large open field at Heartwood Soundstage in Gainesville.  Doubters smirked.  How are you going to find them all?  (We didn’t.)  What if it rains?  (It didn’t.)  How will you ever find enough pot?  (We know people.)  The result was the party of the year, an emotional gathering of the ancients never to be equaled.  There wasn’t a frowny face on the lot except for when Nancy Kay temporarily lost her car keys.  The end result was memorialized in our film, Last Tango In Gainesville, which you can watch any time you like on YouTube. 

I don’t profess to be a genius.  I do profess to have a lot of common sense.  Business is basically having an idea whose time has come, putting all your efforts into manifesting that idea and finding the right people to help you.  You can start a business with a little money or a lot; if it’s a good idea sufficiently financed and sensibly run, odds are you’ll succeed.  Here’s a tip—never start anything purely to make a profit.  Open a business or stage an event you like.  Even if it eventually flops, you’ll have a lot of fun.  At age 82, Fun is the name of the game for me and my kind.  We don’t have the time or the patience for conflict, angst, red tape or foolishness.  And we have those whistles in case we fall and can’t get up.  When people roll their eyes, whisper unkind innuendos, poke one another in the ribs alerting everyone to come watch the Hindenburg catch fire…or when they simply walk up, pull their hats down over their eyes and say, “You can’t do it,” the reply is firm and confident:

Watch me.

That’s all, folks….