Sunday, March 06, 2011

Isn't that Special?

The recipe is getting old: take a savant, somebody who plays golf better than any other human, or can cut on the bias, or throws a lot of touchdown passes, and surround him with sycophants and barrels full of money. Praise everything he says or does no matter how solipsistic or selfish. And what do you get? Exactly what the adoring public deserves. Even Galliano’s drug abuse was seen by many of the most prominent people in fashion as an adorable foible, like wearing a monocle or writing with a fountain pen. “Oh, that’s just John,” one of France’s better known fashion people once told me. “Obsessive indulgence is his thing.
--John Galliano's Explosion, by Michael Specter, March 2, 2011, The New Yorker
Axel Jordache
Vot about ze sins of ze fodders? You believe ze kids have to pay for vot zare fodders did?
Rudy Jordache
I’m not so sure that’s true.
Axel Jordache
(mocking laughter) You’d better hope it izn’t.
-- Irwin Shaw, Rich Man, Poor Man

When Van Halen was stomping through arenas and making more money in one concert than most see in a year they had a cause and a clause written into a bevy of demands in their agreement ("tour rider" in industry jingo) as legend holds it; indulge in "the good life" to Zeppelin-esque proportions and no brown ones as in M&Ms. Whether or not the clause is true, the story served to make people react with a disapproving shake of the head and raised eyebrows. It also served as a way to capsulize the cult of personality that the late 70's had blueprinted, the go-go 80's nurtured and that now, in the super-predatory era of bankers and their cronies has been juiced up to cosmic clown proportions.

Van Halen and I share one thing in common; we're from sycophant city, where every type of jerkoff with any kind of celebrity is nauseatingly babied so long as the machine deems them worthy. LA's also home to the has-beens, a lot in some ways even more sorry than the never weres, standing on the corner of Hollywood and Vine pathetically trying to light the Hollywood pipe with just their fingers. At least the never weres eventually learn the hard way and give up. Well, most of them.

John Stewart had a great line in his interview with Terry Gross (NPR's Fresh Air) about how he came from a generation and time that would call you out if you thought yourself above the fray.

Oh, you think you're special? You're not special.

Not in today's world of special in a can, where the bargains change daily and the menu runs deep, across industries, spans continents and even co-opts the homeless. Need I mention golden throat Ted Williams? Here's a dude that evidently is a serial abuser on many fronts, and yet with the first glint of Youtube ho-dom, he's given corporate gigs and courted by money. Like he's special.

The truth always evens things out though, at least in reality, sometimes with humor and irony but not enough in raw dollars let alone Federal Grab Your Ankles and Grimace Prison. So Betty Ford was a drunk, Newt, Henry Hyde and half of the Hill are hos and former chair of the senate banking committee during the whole subprime real estate scandal Chris Dodd had not one but two sweetheart conflict of interest deals with Angelo "The Toxicator" Mozilo.

So if John Galliano spits venom, is accused of being a Jew hater and Dior fires him, we should not lose site that despite such public floggings some people very much are special. Welfare thieves and their psycho fuck enablers, for instance, are the specials of the day, perhaps in the Special Hall of FameJamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, Chuck Prince, Ken Lewis, John Thain, Joey Cassano, the aforementioned Chris Dodd, Phil Gramm, his wife Wendy Gramm, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Hank Paulson....

Beyond his homespun way of talking on the real, I loved Malcom's pragmatism. He also had what no one on the so-called left has these days; elephant balls. I can hear Malcolm today saying:

Why is it that when a clothing designer is accused of being anti-semitic he's publicly outed and loses his prominent job. A TV star is also outed and flogged. They both lose their livelihoods. But when the corporate board of Texaco is caught red-handed--ON TAPE--uttering racist remarks, two white guys get suspended and it's business as usual? Oh, they pay a fine and do some piddly public relations -- you know, that's when they say what they think you want to hear but don't believe in their heart of hearts. No, my question to you is, if a corporation is an individual, and John Galliano and Charlie Sheen are humiliated to no end, lose their livelihood and are damaged goods, then why is Texaco, some fifteen years after we know the way they feel about black folks, why, if a corporation is a person, is Texaco still working at its livelihood?