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.
Oh would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us. — Robert Burns
Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote the line above in response to seeing a louse on a high-born lady's bonnet at church. The point being, of course, that while we might think we're looking pretty good, someone else might be noticing a flaw we've overlooked.
It's deep in a November night in Memphis, and I'm awakened by rain. It's coming down hard, sounding like a million pebbles hitting the roof. The gutter I've been meaning to clean is overflowing outside the bedroom window. A flash of lightning illuminates the room, and I do what I've done since I was a boy: count the seconds 'til the thunder rolls. I get almost to 10 before I hear a distant rumble. Two miles or so. Someone else's lightning ...
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 ...