Friday, October 01, 2004

My name is Merle Kessler, and I support this message.

Master Debaters?
I was afraid I was going to miss the debate last night. It is my birthday, you see, and my wife purchased celebratory tickets for Nick Lowe a couple months ago, not knowing that we would therefore miss the rhetorical battle of the century.

Fortunately, when we got home, the debate was being re-run, and I caught most of it, as well as highlights on NIGHTLINE.

Nick Lowe, by the way, was fabulous. He did a “crawl through the back catalog,” as he put it, ranging from “Cruel to be Kind” to the “Beast in Me,” from “I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll” to “[What’s so Funny ‘Bout] Peace Love and Understanding.” It was just him and his acoustic guitar, with his opening act, a wonderful Welsh boogie woogie-piano player and singer (also slide guitar player, and apparently accordionist as well, though that particular instrument was not in evidence), Geraint Watkins, joining him on a couple tunes, including “Half a Boy and Half a Man.” If you are a Nick Lowe fan, you are probably drooling, if not, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about.

Highlights:
“Lover Don’t Go.” “You Inspire Me.” “Peace Love and Understanding.”
During this last song (and his last before the encore), a pop classic if that means anything, the audience – a mixed bunch of roots rock weirdos (to use Robbie Fulks’ phrase), middle-aged hipsters (like me!), formerly hip corporate types, hippies, and youngish music fans – sang along gently, and harmonized. It was almost a Woodstock moment, marred somewhat by the people who were lifting their cell phone cameras aloft as they swayed back and forth.

Lowlights:
The guy behind us who kept shouting responses whenever Mr. Lowe said something from the stage.

Example:
NICK: Geraint’s new CD is available…

GUY BEHIND US: I just bought one!

NICK: …in the foyer.

GUY BEHIND US: (Brandishing CD) It’s right here!

My wife wanted to break a beer bottle and tear his throat out.

I had to tell her, as George Sanders said to Anne Baxter in ALL ABOUT EVE, "You're too short for that gesture."

If it hadn't been my birthday celebration, and if there'd been a pre-broken beer bottle, I fear MY throat would have been in jeopardy.

Mysterious Concert Moment
I haven’t been to a concert in a while, so I’ve forgotten this phenomenon. Before the headliner is due to appear, people start flooding the dance floor, and stand there with their hands in their pockets, or holding drinks, all facing the stage directly – even though there’s nobody there!

Debate
I was glad I caught most of the debate, even though – as commentators subsequently commented – my mind was made up before I watched it. I wanted to see if President Bush would stumble, and Senator Kerry would not. I was not disappointed.

Bush looked weary and nervous and seemed a mite too insistent on his message. Kerry as well stuck to his message, but seemed more relaxed about it. He also pretty much demolished (to my satisfaction anyway) the weird “flip-flop” thing with which he’s been saddled.

He also, to my satisfaction, made President Bush look like a deluded madman, under the undue influence of a deranged and mutated Christian ideology, and also certain neo-conservative ideas, which I assume did not originate with him, because he’s a moron.

But hey, that’s just me. I’m not looking to change minds here, folks! If you can’t see for yourselves that President Bush has ruined the economy, screwed up a war that shouldn’t even have been waged in the first place, is destroying the environment, squandered the good will of our allies, and created a nation that lives in fear, without jobs, in a state of curtailed personal liberties, well, go ahead and vote for the guy. I bear you no animus. Idiot.

Before the Show
My wife and I, with a little time to kill between dinner and showtime, walked through the Tenderloin a bit, going to THE MAGAZINE, a wonderful San Francisco resource on Larkin near Geary. The proprietors are curators of old magazines, and have a fabulous collection of ephemera, and an encyclopedic memory, should you be searching for a particular issue or image. The shop itself is largely devoted to porn, of course, this being San Francisco (a shop’s gotta earn a living).

My wife and I were looking at their collection of pornographic novels, ranging from the mid-20th Century to the present. Our favorite titles were A GIRL AT LAST and JOHNNY GOES BOTH WAYS, which appeared to have been photocopied from a typescript, then stapled together, with strangely compelling if poorly drawn cover art, depicting sex acts in which I’m pretty sure our parents never participated.

We settled on PATIO FUN for our purchase, however. Despite the title, it’s not pornographic. It’s a Sunset Booklet from 1961 (compliments of Security Savings and Loan Association), with tips on how to make your patio barbecue party perfect: “Flame offers an easy, cheerful, and highly decorative basis for party lighting.” It was well worth a buck and a half, and I’m sure it will make our next orgy, er, barbecue “bigger, better, brighter, bolder!”

A Friend Writes
As I was sitting down to write this blog, I found this e-mail from my pen pal Oliver:

Dear Merle, re the recent "September 10th" item on your blog, in this evening's debate President Bush called relying on UN inspectors to disarm Saddam Hussein "kind of a pre-September 10th mentality." In other words, voting for Kerry isn't just September 10th -- it's September NINTH. Remember how naive we were back then, on the day antepenultimate to the day everything changed?

President Bush may have started, in his charmingly semiliterate way, a worrisome trend. Suppose Kerry comes back in the next debate and says Bush's policies are September 8th, and Bush counters that Kerry's just offering more of the September 7th thinking we've come to expect from the Democratic Party -- well sir, I'm no Bertrand Russell, but I believe they call that an infinite regress, or if not infinite, at least one that might lead us back into the Julian calendar. But few would dispute, and none would deny, that George W Bush is an infinite fuckhead.

I’m No Bertrand Russell Either!
But I hope someday to be half as irritating as Socrates was. And he PREDATES the Julian Calendar!

In Other News.
I learned that the Janet Jackson Super Bowl nipple exposure is STILL the most TiVo-ed television event. That’s scary. But what’s scarier: how does TiVo know this?

Words That Probably Should Not Be Verbs.
TiVo.
Google.
Xerox.
Parent.

Debate Word Salad! Mix ‘n Eat!
Mixed message.
Right message.
Nucular proliferation.
Nuclear proliferation.
Weapons of mass destruction.
Core values.
Mullahs.
Darfur.
Putin
Wilt under pressure.
Iran.
North Korea.

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