Elvis Presley was an irresponsible drug addict. Marilyn Monroe was an irresponsible drug addict. Judy Garland … Billie Holiday … Janis Joplin … Jimi Hendrix … Jim Morrison … John Belushi. All died of their excesses and their excesses are always cited within the first paragraph of any article written about these brilliant train wrecks.
Mr. wOw mentions this because I see our favorite rabble rousers – the “Rev.” Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson – are gearing up to condemn all mentions of Michael Jackson’s fabled bad habits as somehow being criticism exclusive only to Michael. Perhaps even racist in nature. Bull crap.
Jackson was a great big talent and a great big substance abuser and general all-around nutcase. Just like Elvis, Judy, Marilyn, etc.
Jackson’s genius and accomplishments will be remembered forever; and that genius will take precedence over anything else – just as his famous compatriots in unnecessary early death are remembered: talent first, foibles next.
But so too will live those pedophilia charges, his drug-taking, his surgeries, his deliberately bizarre antics. Not to mention Michael’s laughably giant ego (ineptly cloaked by phony humility) and his whispery poor pitiful-me pose. Mr. wOw always had just three words for Michael Jackson: Get. Over. It. Oh, and two more: Get. Therapy. I wonder if his “dear friend” Elizabeth Taylor ever suggested that.
This unique American tragedy made his own extravagant prison and wallowed in infantile excuses. He had absolutely no common sense. None. Michael deserves every single tribute paid to him as an artist. And deserves every slam as an artist who destroyed himself because he “wanted the childhood he never had.” Who the hell has the childhood they “want”? Mr. wOw sure didn’t. Did you?
(How about a bit of sympathy for the boys in those child molestation cases?! Oh, they got money for their trauma? Michael was similarly compensated for his unhappy childhood, and you see what money did for him.)
As for Michael’s “shocked, shocked” family – every one of whom became rich and/or famous off his back – whenever one of them speaks, I want to roll my eyes. His father, Joe Jackson … I guess I’ll bow to some sensitivity and not attack a grieving father. Though I sure want to put quotes around grieving. As for the kids, I think they’d be best off with Janet, though I don’t figure her as a perfect model of stability, but likely the best of them.
I know this is very harsh – but don’t let Mr. wOw’s cynicism stop you. Go ahead and weep over Michael. So few did while he lived.
Now … can the front pages get back to health care, North Korea, Iraq and Iran?
Mr. wOw recently had some advice for Gov. Palin. Now, he’s back with a few words for Obama. Continue reading “Dear Mr. President …” »
Like a dog with a bone – that’s the media and Sarah Palin, and Mr. wOw fears that if misguided types like David Letterman, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews keep it up, that bone is going to be turned into the base for a perversely delicious soup – President Palin consommé!
Mr. wOw is no fan of Mrs. Palin and her brood, but the more she is attacked, the more airtime she gets; the more airtime she gets, the more she solidifies her hard-right base. Attempting to marginalize and mock her won’t work. It hasn’t since the moment she appeared and cattle-prodded John McCain’s campaign. Like Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Palin provokes a testicle-shrinking reaction in men. (Palin has replaced Hillary in turning Chris Matthews’s red face – redder. He and Olbermann just won’t accept her undeniable – if mysterious – popularity.)
Even though Palin went over the line herself in reacting to Letterman’s revolting jokes, Mr. wOw was impressed and amused. She did not back down or give Letterman one bit of room to make amends. She wagged her finger, she poked her finger, she rolled her eyes, she curled her lip. She was one mad mother. She had a right to be. And if her maternal anger benefits her own career, all the better from her point of view. After all, Bristol’s unwed-mama dilemma was magically transformed into a good thing, after “victim” Palin and the Republicans got through with it.
Here’s Mr. wOw’s advice to all who fear Sarah Palin anywhere near the White House in 2012. Shut up. Ignore her. Let her shoot a moose or decapitate a turkey or whatever in peace. Don’t call her a “slutty stewardess” in style choice. She is not, for one thing. For another – airline personnel should ban Letterman from another flight until he apologizes to them. And leave the kids alone. The more she is attacked and mocked the more sympathetic a figure she becomes. Don’t you guys get that? Sympathy is a powerful tool. (How many times did McCain end up referencing his terrible sojourn at the Hanoi Hilton?)
Mr. wOw has some advice for Mrs. Palin too – Shut up. Go back to Alaska and learn something. Stop rising to every bit of bait put in front of you. Act presidential, if that’s what you want to be. No more interviews, parades or appearances outside the frozen tundra for at least a year. Stop palin’ around with the media. Be smart and turn the other cheek. Bitch to Todd, but leave Wolf Blitzer out of it.
Will either side take Mr. wOw’s cautions to heart? Are you kidding? We’re talking the media and politicians here. It’s gonna be blah, blah, blah for the next three years. And in the end somebody’s going to have a Cheshire Cat grin. I’d bet the rent on Palin, alas.
Woody Allen’s cinematic return to his stomping grounds? Well, the after party was good, anyway … Continue reading “Mr. wOw: Less Than Wowed by ‘Whatever Works’” »
A hush descended on … my place. Because unfortunately, my dinner companions were all decades younger than I. They either had never heard of Billie Holiday or knew her name only on the basis of Diana Ross’s biopic — an unworthy, racist, untrue piece of crap, Miss Ross’s strenuous and Oscar-nominated acting effort notwithstanding. So they were quick to nod assessment to this asinine remark. What did they care? Dessert was on the way. Amy Winehouse is a crackhead with a deep voice. Miss Holiday was an artist who also happened to be a heroin addict.
In case any of you don’t know Billie, here’s what to know — she had a grueling childhood and an oft-grueling adult life. Heroin was her undoing; she died at 44. Her art was a voice that could break your heart or lift you up, often at the same time.
Billie had two voices: the clear, high tones of her youth, and the darker, ragged sound of her maturity. Hard living affected her voice, some say to its detriment. Not Mr. wOw. The radical alteration in her voice is similar to what happened to Judy Garland and Maria Callas. But Garland and Callas had huge instruments with great range; when they started to go off track, it became a train wreck of wobbling vibrato. Billie had a smaller voice and limited range. Heroin and misery bit into her in increments, slowly deepening her early chipper swing into soulful jazz and pop. The remnants of Billie’s voice were like a beautiful medieval tapestry, faded, but with some of the bolder dyes still visible, and more precious for their presence.
Listen to her first and last versions of “Strange Fruit” — that stunning recognition of racism — and hear the depth of feeling that living had wrought. If Mr. wOw had to recommend one and only one Billie Holiday album, it would have to be “Lady in Satin,” her last and most controversial recording. She — and her voice — were utterly shattered by then. She sings songs of lost love and abandoned hope: “I’m a Fool to Want You,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” ” I Get Along Without You Very Well,” “You’ve Changed.” It should be pathetic. It is not. The use of her interpretative skills, the challenge of her own experience lifts the material even higher.
Mr. wOw, to use one of the album’s own tracks, is “Glad to Be Unhappy” listening to “Lady in Satin.” It is a wallow in wrist slitting, but there is some odd uplift in her tone, still. It’s terrible to have suffered so, wonderful to have felt so much!
Mr. wOw tried to explain all this, simply, to his dinner companions. They exclaimed, “Oh, come on, you’ve got to love Amy Winehouse’s beehive?!”
No, I do not.
Mr. wOw fears the apocalypse is near. He is pulling out his vinyl copy of “Lady in Satin” tonight!
Reflections on last night’s big Broadway awards bash from Mr. wOw. Continue reading “Mr. wOw’s Take on the Tonys” »
Mr. wOw on the credit card crunch, the deceptive power of lunch and having some fun … Cautionary tales and life lessons from somebody who should have known better. And does now. Kind of … Continue reading “A Cautionary Tale From Mr. wOw” »