They tried to make me watch the Grammys. I said no, no, no. But I did, anyway. I end up watching every year, mostly because it's such a sprawling, weird spectacle.
Where else could you see (Bed, Bath, &) Beyoncé dueting with Tina Turner? (No, they didn't do "I Only Have Thighs For You," but they should have.) Where else would Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and John Fogerty ever share a stage? (I know it's very un-Memphis of me to say this, but Little Richard kicked Jerry Lee's butt in the battle of geriatric piano rockers.)
On what other program would David Grohl and his band fight the Foo to a standstill — accompanied by a symphony orchestra directed by Led Zeppelin's drummer? Where else could you see Cirque de Soleil dismantle a Volkswagen? And where else would that performance be followed by country star Brad Paisley singing a romantic ditty with the refrain, "I want to check you for ticks." You can't make this stuff up.
Then there was human flesh mountain Aretha Franklin wailing (whaling?) her way through a protracted gospel number. The only thing bigger on stage all night was hip-hip singer Kanye West's ego. "I know y'all are proud of me," he said, accepting an award in a blue coat and giant sunglasses illuminated by electric lights. No, actually, Kanye, "I'm proud of you" wasn't my first thought. My first thought was, "What a pompous dickhead."
But even Kanye felt compelled to stop talking about himself long enough to mention the night's headliner, Amy Winehouse, who had that very day been released from a British rehab facility so she could go on live television and sing her hit, entitled, yep, "Rehab."
The Grammy producers wisely left this moment until near the end of the show. This was train-wreck television at its finest, and nobody was going to tune out.
But there wasn't a train wreck. The camera zoomed in on Winehouse, with her prison-tattooed stick arms and skinny legs protruding from a short, black dress, her giant hairdo balancing like a hornet's nest on a broomstick. But her voice was strong, and she sang with poise and sass. And she won a Grammy, yes, yes, yes. Rehab, indeed.
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...