The Carpet Bagger's Journal — moving from NYC to Mississippi

April 4, 2011

Rock n’ Roll or Miss n’ Sippi?

The Goo Goo Dolls gave a free concert in the Ole Miss Grove tonight

Question: How does an American in the 21st Century know he or she has hit midlife?

Answer: When responsible parents bring their kids to see a rock band they dig.

Tonight, the Goo Goo Dolls gave a free performance in the Grove at Ole Miss, and the crowd, at least for Mississippi, was packed.

What was surprising was how many families came with small children to hear the band.

I have surely lived long enough to have some rock n’ roll fantasies fulfilled.

I danced one night on stage in a go-go cage in Paris on stage with Elvis Costello and the Attractions.  I had a front row seat, was inches away from Alison Moyet when she sang at the Olympia.

I also have had a few awful rock ‘n roll experiences as well.  One night at La Courneuve in France I went to see David Bowie perform, and there were violent skin heads in the crowd who started swinging spiked knuckles into the crowd, terrifying most of us and starting a near stampede.  The movements of the crowd were so intense, they unbuttoned my blouse, not in a sexy way, and I nearly got trampled to death.  I remember after things calmed down being close to the stage, where Peter Frampton, still with good hair, was playing his guitar in Bowie’s band, and he was fantastic, but I was sobbing so hard I could not fully appreciate his masterful licks.  Later that dawn, my brother and I caught a ride back to Paris in a butcher’s truck making pre-dawn deliveries to restaurants.  I remember we were crowded in with lots of kids wearing the same black bomber jacket (I had one, too), and we were nearly overpowered by the smell of raw beef.

Rock n’ roll is kind of like pizza.  Even when it is bad, it’s still wonderful in its own junky way.

Tonight, though, was a first.  It was a major band playing a college gig, but there wasn’t one bomber jacket in the crowd, neither any black of which to speak.  There were a bunch of women with small children, diaper bags, dogs, hula hoops.

Maybe it’s midlife, or maybe it’s Mississippi.  Maybe this is, despite being the birthplace of Elvis, not really rock ‘n roll territory.

Me at the Grove earlier tonight. Am I losing my edginess?

I barely smelled any marijuana at this concert.  I remember the first rock concert I went to at age 12 — the smell was overpowering to the point I thought I would pass out.

There was not a mosh pit.  I was never much of a mosher, anyway — but I was all about the edgy message.

Maybe I was watching a band that the regents of the University of Mississippi were pretty sure would not trash the stage or knock up any co-eds.  After all, the lead vocalist of the Goo Goo Dolls pointed out that they have nine studio albums.

“That makes us old,” he said before he launched into tracks from the latest release.

I admit I did not dress in black, either.  I remember days when my girlfriends would dress sexy and get as close to the front of the stage as possible in the hope of attracting the attention of the band members.  I remember how gorgeous my friend Liz Coy was the day she went and saw the Rolling Stones when we were high school freshmen — long, naturally curly red hair, a low-cut halter top, and tight, tight jeans on her utterly perfect body.  I remember my friend Silver, who now goes by Sarah, so utterly perfect in her beauty that she was once photographed for Vogue, and she told me how she ended up giving Iggy Pop an onstage dirty handshake while the crowd looked on.

Me in the gogo cage — well, Elvis and I were on the most civil and platonic  terms. Diana Krall has nothing to worry about.

But there I was,  sitting on the grass at the Grove, no makeup, a t-shirt, and I was text-messaging my step-daughters, 16 and 20 years old, wishing they were with me.

Yes, it’s Mississippi, and no rock ‘n roll fantasies have taken place here since Elvis moved to Memphis.

But I seem to have moved on, too.  I’m happy with who I am, but I miss my go-go self, in no way evoked among the Goo Goo Dolls, who delivered their brand of blaring guitar sentimentality, urging us to let it just slide.  And so we did.  And so I must.

October 14, 2010

Ole Missed Opportunities — why voters should re-elect Childers, then dump him in two years

 

this man's staff is incompetent, or he is

 

The voters of the first district of Mississippi should re-elect Travis W. Childers (D-MS) to Congress on November 2, and on November 3, the local Democratic Party should start looking for someone to back against him in a primary, since he is bad for the Party.  He had an opportunity to make fellow and sister Democrats running locally matter in this election, and he kept the opportunity all to himself — stupidly, since the resulting political commerce, with every Democrat within a hundred miles owing him a favor would have made him a State Party Chairman with presidential potential.

Out of a combined sentiment that this election matters and a possible nostalgia, Bill Clinton chose to stump for Childers today in Oxford at the Ole Miss Grove of football mania fame.  He gave a speech far more humble than he needed to as a former President, and his Good Ol’ Boy charm remained intact despite looking tired.  He spoke to the people at Ole Miss the way one speaks to a Rotary Club luncheon if one is running for City Council — unpretentiously, with clear facts and figures related to fiscal issues that should make any — fill in the blank here — Democrat a desirable candidate.  He spoke in football metaphors and down home vernacular, in that Clintonian way that he does so masterfully — where we see that Bubba, or “Brother Bill,” as State Attorney General Jim Hood called him at the rally, is a genius.

Before Bill Clinton got there, the mayor of Oxford, the State Attorney General, a minister, and a very good Gospel Choir, took up perhaps fifteen minutes of a two-hour tardiness not uncommon when ex-Presidents go on the campaign trail for candidates.  What was glaringly obvious was that there was a crowd, for once, of thousands gathered in Mississippi, and there was an empty space of one hour and forty-five minutes when politicians could have addressed them.

Why weren’t the candidates of the Democratic party invited to speak, even under a “time permitting” invitation?  The crowd was restless.  Delays in such situations are predictable.  So why were there no other speakers invited?

Only two answers are possible, both of them quite plausible:

1) His campaign staff was incompetent.  If I were the candidate, I certainly should choose to fire them.  They could have made him bigger locally than he currently is, and his campaign communications director is the rudest woman I have ever met in politics.  She should be fired before the sun goes down tonight.  Understand that campaign communications directors are supposed to smile and nod at everyone, even when they think they are crazy, and they are there to promote the campaign’s agenda to the electorate.  She was snotty to me in a surprising way when I asked her for the campaign manager’s name — some kind of rookie since Joel Coon abandoned him — and she did not offer her own.   I wish I could type it here.  I also wish that I could think of a more sophisticated  word than the one that comes to mind to describe her — I only think of something that one might have drunk on a now-defunct airline — TWA tea.  She’s a rude cup of that kind of tea, and she has no business working in politics in any quarter.

2) Travis W. Childers is only interested in the good of Travis W. Childers, not the good of his electorate, and not the good of his party.  I have read that he said he had an “obamatross” hanging around his neck.  I somehow doubt he said it — it’s a bit cleverer than I imagine him to be, quite frankly, so I don’t think he said that.  “Let them eat cake” is more probable, as he voted against the Health Care Bill, and he did so in order to be reelected here.  He is probably not on the best of terms with the rest of the Mississippi Democratic Party.  He is short-sighted, because he could have, by sharing the limelight just a little bit, made a good number of friends here today, even among his enemies in the Party and his frenemies in the Party. A man that short-sighted is probably myopic because of an enlarged ego.

In either case, Bill Clinton is right.  The Democrats need not to give up this seat in Congress.  However, I have to believe that there are nicer, smarter and more forward-thinking Democrats in the Oxford area, and I believe that one of them needs to run against him in a primary in 2012.

Ex-Presidents carry a cachet with them.  This election is a tough one for Democrats.  Hoarding the wealth is a recipe for defeat.  Bill Clinton is eloquent and makes me proud to be a Democrat in Mississippi.  Childers should be ashamed of the way he played politics today and owes his Party an apology.

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