It's a horrible situation. There's nothing wrong with interviewing Lou Diamond Phillips. He's had an interesting career and delivered a few underseen performances. But instead of a one-on-one, I'm stuck sitting at a table with about six other writers. Typical is a fat old creep with a ponytail who's loudly bragging about how quickly he'll change his opinion of a film if a publicist lets him interview the stars. They're also trading gossip in defense of Paul Wunder, whom any casual moviegoer already recognizes as the most pathetic ass-kisser in the history of film criticism.
So we all know what's going to happen here. They will ask their direly predictable questions that have already been answered in the presskit. Then I'll ask a few funny and interesting questions that will bring out the best of our subject. Then they'll take my shining moments and put their own crappy byline next to an extremely clever Lou Diamond Phillips interview that is rightfully mine!
What a travesty. There aren't even any bagels.
I suffer through this in the name of doing right by my colleagues. But that doesn't mean I'm going to hang around to talk to the singularly named Leon. Frankly, I'm pissed off at the guy, and not just because he has the balls to go around using a single name like "Leon."
No, I'm pissed off because Leon's role in Bats is straight out of a racist marketing department. This black brotha is simply in the script to say things like, "I don't want none of them ugly motherfuckers comin' near me." See, his character's from the street, yo, and he ain't got no time for no messin' with no bats.
Forgive my usual liberal sermonizing, but it's my job as plantation master. Black actors shouldn't take this kind of role. It's simply no longer funny in a world where suburban kids are gleefully mimicking lower-class blacks without ever enduring the day-to-day realities.
Fucka buncha Leon, as they say in The Source. I try to leave discreetly, but the other writers seem sad and lost without me. So I turn to the two black ladies at the table and show a little goodwill.
"Here's a tip for interviewing Leon," I suggest. "Ask him why they cut out the scene where he says, 'Feets, do yo' duty.'"
The two women look at me. One of them grabs her pen and notepad. I'm afraid she's about to report me to her union rep at Hackety-Hack Local 142. As it turns out, she just has a question.
"Was that a scene in the original script?"
I try to answer with something clever, but I'm sure it just sounds cryptic. There's no proper response. I walk down the street and think of how Ronald Reagan may still be getting the last laugh. He's probably in great health, and it's the rest of the world that has Alzheimer's.
Think about it. What else could explain a world where anybody could debate the wisdom of tossing out a nuclear test ban treaty? We must have all collectively forgotten the past 20 years. Heck, Bill Clinton must be thinking that we've all forgotten the last 20 months. He tried to put off the treaty vote by asking for the Republican Congress to trust him. Or maybe Clinton's also got a touch of the Alzheimer's. While condemning those evil Republicans who openly pine for nuclear war, Clinton accidentally left himself open to a question about his perjury in a sexual assault case. Our President explained, "I haven't challenged anything, including things that I consider to be questionable, because I think it is wrong."
But don't worry, folks. Bill's still willing to fight for the right thing: "When I am out of office, I will have a lot to say about this."
The man has no memory of current events. Either that, or he's gambling that it won't be long before we're all drooling idiots willing to ignore court transcripts and take his word about questionable court decisions. I don't want to be coherent enough to entertain the thought. You'll find me down in the lab with a crate of Diet Coke, distilling Aspartame and shooting it directly into my veins.
I can only hope my decline will be as fun as Ronald Reagan's. Media whore Patti Davis recently kept her clothes on while explaining to the press that her father is spending his old age enjoying children's stories and comic books. Interestingly, Michelle Pfeiffer's character in The Story of Us is obsessed with Harold and the Purple Crayon, and everybody seems to think that's an endearing character trait. I personally just finished Beverly Cleary's Henry and the Paper Route, and it was more impressive than any of Patti Davis' desperate attempts at fiction.
If Patti ever came into my office with a book, you can rest assured that I, too, would become incoherent and start gesturing for the Sunday funnies. Ronald Reagan may get senile, but he's never going to be stupid. His detractors, meanwhile, will continually make fools of themselves challenging Reagan's sense of reality. We've already seen a sample of the sleazy revisionism to come, thanks to the affable disaster of Edmund Morris' Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan.
I haven't bothered reading Dutch, but I've flipped through the chapters and took in a few excerpts. Like many readers, I'm mainly struck by how the whole thing resembles a Saturday Night Live sketch about writer's block?right down to how the joke is run mercilessly into the ground. But there've been boffo laffs in watching various idiot liberals trying to make a point out of an amiable fiasco of a biography.
We'll ignore the 5867 finalists and focus on the clear winner?Steven R. Weisman of The New York Times. As yet another immaculate example of media bias, Weisman's short bio in the Times Book Review explains that he "was the paper's chief White House correspondent from 1980 to 1984." And what a lying piece of shit he must have been during those formative years in our nation's development. Much of Weisman's piece is spent on the typical Democratic line that Reagan lived in a magical fantasyland. Weisman demonstrates the stupidity of this thinking with a few choice lines about the Great Man:
His world was famously populated with welfare "queens" who did not exist, with trees that caused pollution. If Bill Clinton's reputation is for telling lies, Reagan's was just for saying things that were not true.
Now who's being naive, Kay? George Pataki's recent reforms have been a nice reminder that welfare queens remain a very real drain on our society. Mario Cuomo was the only 80s governor stupid?or corrupt?enough to join the Times in believing otherwise. We also know, of course, that trees cause pollution. Ronald Reagan has literally forgotten more about the environment than Weisman?or Al Gore?could ever hope to know.
Weisman demonstrates the kind of thinking that's made the Times one of the nation's most notable lapdogs. Bill Clinton, you see, has a "reputation" for telling lies. Weisman will gladly rewrite the Times' official policy after Clinton finally explains what's so questionable about perjury.
Like every writer in America, I've been making a few casual notes in anticipation of the Reagan obituary. This long goodbye may be the last gracious gesture of a great man. Everyone's going to have a very easy work week when Ronnie finally does shuffle off. The people at Comedy Central's The Daily Show will have an especially easy time of it. The writers will likely consider the whole thing to be reimbursement for ignoring John John's death.
Still, it seems a shame not to celebrate more of the Reagan legacy while the guy is still alive. Weisman isn't the only moron prematurely rushing to show his ass. For the past few months, I've been idly bookmarking great moments from lefties who couldn't believe in Reagan. The nearest at hand is from Danny Peary's Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986). Here's his slightly truncated thoughts on 1964's Seven Days in May:
John Frankenheimer's taut political thriller surely is not a favorite at Reagan's White House. After all, it presents a noble-minded President (Fredric March) who realizes that for there to be a chance for lasting peace, he must sign a disarmament pact with the Soviet Union. Burt Lancaster gives a sinister portrayal as a rightwing extremist...who plans a military coup to overthrow March and bring the Russians to their knees. March and Kirk Douglas, as Lancaster's assistant, try to stop the plot...surely if it were made today, it would be a lot flashier and more gimmicky?and probably March and Douglas would be made into the villains.
You know my favorite thing about this? Just a few pages before, Peary condemns Red Dawn for fleshing out a secret conservative fantasy. You know, what with Russia invading America and everything. As it turns out, though, it wasn't necessary for us to get invaded for Peary to be proven wrong. In fact, Seven Days in May is a perfect metaphor for Reagan's campaign in 1980. The villain was defeated, and millions were later freed from Communism.
I'm not seeking to single out Peary. I've got shelves full of books with similarly outdated opinions. And don't even get me started on my CD collection. I'm thankfully not stupid enough to own an album called Sandinista! But I keep some records around for laughs. Who can forget Heaven 17's call to arms in 1981's "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang":
Democrats are out of power/Across that great wide ocean/Reagan is President-elect/Fascists' god in motion/generals tell him what to do/Stop your good time dancing/Train their guns on me and you/Fascist thang advancing
You can hear Heaven 17's latest version of this song on their first live album, recently released only in England. I have no idea what new lyrics were forced upon them by official government censors.
This would all be innocent nostalgia if it wasn't for one thing?these people were truly, sadly afraid of Ronald Reagan. Even worse, they were afraid of America becoming the most powerful nation in the world. They honestly believed the world would be better off following the example of Daniel Ortega.
The media, naturally, kept fueling itself. The general concern was that our country had become brainwashed by The Great Communicator. In contrast, consider how the media slaves away to condemn those irrational Clinton-haters. Never mind that Clinton has proven himself to be a solidly evil man. It's more important that hate becomes a crime.
Which brings me to my favorite example of a drooling Reagan-hater. It comes courtesy of record executive Howard Klein, writing the CD booklet for Just Say Anything: (Vol. V of Just Say Yes). This sampler series was part of the Warner label's attempts to convince modern youth that they needed albums by the Judybats, the Farm and the Mighty Lemon Drops. (Richard X. Heyman was pretty good, though.) Anyway, it's May 7, 1991. Mr. Klein struggles with traumatic memories:
I still recall, vividly even, their smug, self-satisfied faces on TV, all full of land-of-make-believe concern and syrupy self righteousness. He: the image, though never the substance, of quiet strength (and incipient senility); She: crass, vapid, manipulative, a huge blinking red neon sign on her brow screaming "PHONY! GREEDY! UNCARING! I WANT A NEW GOWN!" It made me shudder; really. And these two particular talking heads were babbling something about "Just say no." "Just say no," while the country club mentality of their small avaricious ruling clique ripped up the fabric of family and community life all over the country?all over, that is, outside of the wealthiest suburbs and most callous boardrooms...
And on and on. Reagan's love for "callous boardrooms" must seem ironic to all those Warner acts that were dropped promptly after the release of Nevermind. That's the beauty of all this. Reagan?as previously mentioned?freed millions from slavery. Howard Klein freed Royal Crescent Mob from their recording contract. Choose your hero.