My pal David Brent Johnson was at the Chicago Theater last week, watching as Brian Wilson performed the iconic album, Pet Sounds, in its entirety. Man, I’d have paid a pretty penny to be there myself. Only I’m saving my dough for the big campout I expect to be on — in Chi., natch — when (I refuse to say if) my beloved Cubs reach the World Series later this month.
Anyway, I studied comedy improv under Del Close and Charna Halpern back in the mid-’80’s at the their renowned theater/school, then called the ImprovOlympic, and now, thanks to the International Olympic Committee’s scary lawyers, simply iO. Charna points out that the liner notes in the Pet Sounds Sessions boxed set reveal, straight from Brian Wilson’s mouth, that he was inspired by Del’s How to Speak Hip.
As such, Del “inspired two of the finest LPs of all time,” as well as “some of the most stellar artists of all time,” she asserts.
Her reasoning? Well, Pet Sounds was ranked the second-greatest album of the rock ‘n roll era by Rolling Stone magazine. And Paul McCartney has long maintained he was driven to start work on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, universally hailed as a R’nR-era landmark, after hearing Wilson and the Beach Boys’ groundbreaking 1966 opus.
Del Close’s How to Speak Hip itself became a vinyl icon when it was released back in 1959. Collaborating with John Brent, like Del a comedian but a beat poet as well, Close crafted the album as a faithful take-off on the foreign language albums that were all the rage in the ’50s. You slapped the album on your turntable and it would prompt you to speak whatever language you wanted to learn in a weird colloquy with your hi-fi.
Close and Brent did a spot-on, satiric Berlitz on learning how to speak like that most exotic of foreigners, the Hipster. This was long before the term took on its current pejorative connotation. In the ’50s a hipster was the coolest life form on the planet, encompassing the likes of Neal Cassady, Charlie “Bird” Parker, Blue Note jazz club habitués, pinkos, reefer-tokers, and other assorted hep cats. Even though it was satire, many younger listeners saw it as a guide to speaking just like the Beatniks and Beat Generation outsiders they would seek to emulate. Terms such as “put down,” “hang up,” “cool,” and “uncool” became indispensable parts of the hippie lexicon of the 1960s, thanks in large part to Close and Brent.
I broke one of my own cardinal rules yesterday by surfing to NPR’s live feed of the debate between HRC and the Republican Candidate for President (RCP). BTW: I have publicly declared my intention never again to refer to that man by name, inasmuch as it sickens me to utter it. I’ve chosen the alternative as a way of hammering the GOP for allowing the likes of him to become its standard-bearer; the bastards have planted the poison ivy, now let them suffer through the unbearable scratching.
Normally I shy away from televised debates mainly because we all know what each candidates thinks, likes, espouses, and prefers to mislead about. As I’ve stated previously in these precincts, these aren’t the days of Lincoln-Douglas anymore, days when there weren’t TVs and the majority of the pop. couldn’t even read, so traveling debates were necessary for the candidates to get their evasions and deceptions across.
I figured this second tête à tête might be a rollick, considering RCP’s recent pussy-grabbing, sexually assaultive brags on an open mic. Would HRC hammer him to death on it? Did she even need to? In any case, I wanted to see how he’d double-down on his mouth ejaculations. I could envision him snapping and saying, “Hey, I’m a rich man, I have every right to grope strangers’ pussies!”
HRC, wisely IMO, played it cool on the pussy front. She must have figured public opinion was a heavy enough sledge to shatter his empty skull so she, by and large, stuck to talking about the issues. The (hope for it, pray for it) next POTUS sounded…, well, presidential.
The RC for P sounded…, well, learning disabled. The man cannot put a cogent sentence together. Among his pearls were the following:
The education is a disaster.
I will be the president that brings… economics to the people
Because you’d be in jail.
We have a divided nation because people like her, and believe me, she has tremendous hate in her heart.
A Kazakhstani, on her or his first night in an ESL course, would be more articulate and decipherable than that. Bizarrely, a number of wits and wags — not necessarily partisan hacks, either — declared him the winner of the debate. This is what it comes to: As long as he refrained from grabbing HRC’s pussy onstage or whipping out his junk at her, he’s seen as somehow in control and not as much the psychopath we know him to be.
If the electorate of this holy land sends him home with his tail between his legs on Nov. 8th we’ll have only slightly redeemed ourselves from the ignominy of having him be a major party candidate in the first place.
On Oct. 10, 2008, The Loved One and I became legal partners, marrying each other across the street from the County Courthouse in Louisville, Kentucky on a glorious, sunny, warm fall day. The Jefferson County Correctional Center chaplain performed the brief ceremony and two ex-cons whom he flagged down as they passed on the sidewalk across the street served as our witnesses.
We dined on a sumptuous luncheon at the elegant and regal Fazoli’s on South Hurstbourne Parkway and then set off for romantic Columbus, Ohio, where we spent our honeymoon evening at that city’s famed Big-Assed Party, a gathering of advertising filmmakers and post-production geeks. We even have a souvenir mug from a Columbus Starbucks to remind us of that starry, starry night.
Anyway, we’ve made it this far and TLO has yet to strangle me, a testament to her iron will.
Marriage is a great institution.
— Elizabeth Taylor
… But who wants to live in an institution?
— Groucho Marx
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up
— Ogden Nash
By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.
Marriage is a wonderful invention. Then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.
— Billy Connolly
I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.
— Rita Rudner