When I was growing up, my grandmother had a pretty good record collection. She owned all the albums you’d expect from a former party girl-Hollywood starlet-blonde bombshell who liked her mixed tropical drinks: Yma Sumac, Chaino, Esquivel, Julie London and of course every Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman and Les Baxter you could find at the May Company on Wilshire and Fairfax. And when I got little older, I dug a little deeper and conveniently found all her stag party albums on Fax Records featuring cover art of lovely and beautifully naked women, and at age eight discovered the musical charms of Terri “Cupcakes’ O’Mason! … but I digress! The best records she owned, that for me have stood the test of time, were the Tom Lehrer Albums.
Music historian, record geek and novelty song guru, Dr Demento, has called Tom Lehrer “the best musical satirist of the 20th Century”. Even Mr. Lehrer, a Harvard Graduate, who taught mathematics at UC Santa Cruz until retiring in 2001, has been somewhat amused by the longevity and impact of his music career, though he retired from that vocation back in the Sixties. He’ll be the first to point out that his ‘career’ consisted of 109 live shows and the writing of 37 songs in a twenty years span! But these aren’t just any old songs! Songs like “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”, “I Hold Your Hand in Mine”, “The Masochism Tango” and “The Vatican Rag” are all timelessly classic, (at least in my interpretation of the construct called the space-time continuum, being three-dimensional and timelessness plays the role of the fourth dimension-- actually I should just ask a mathematician about that…)
…all to undo the stressful day at work. (By “we” I mean the royal we, of course – I wasn’t assisted by a gang or nuthin’. Gangs are terrible at helping people relax. Have you noticed? Like, when you’re sitting under a cork tree and smelling the flowers, a gang – say like, a gang of Japanese whalers – will amble by and be like:
And you’re all, “Japanese dudes, I’m just trying to smell the flowers!” Or, you’re picking at some rhyolite in hopes of discovering an opal to polish and give your sweetie during the famous aria from “Gianni Schicchi”…
…and the two of you lock eyes and, in that one moment, you know that you’ve always been lovers – that every sonnet and song that’s ever been penned for love – have been about the two of you, and the devotion that binds you beyond the restraints of bodies and time and a gang of Crips, some Grape Street Crips say, come along and cause you to accidentally drop your foot-long hoagie over the balcony seating and it lands on Princess Diana’s head (this is before she’s died, obviously) and they’re all, “Gee whiz, we’re sorry. We were just hoping to find some slobs to curb,” and you’re all, “If you think any Bloods are gonna be caught at a Verdi opera, you’re crazy! Come back next month when there’s a performance of ‘Peter Grimes’ – they’re all over that Britten sh*t!” and they’re all, “Thank you. Sorry about your butty,” and you’re all, “Huh?” and they’re all, “Butty – it’s a British slang for sandwich,” and you’re all, “Oh yeah. Okay,” and there’s an awkward moment when they don’t leave but no one says anything and then they finally get the hint and go away but by then the People’s Princess is in your face and yelling at you and being totally unreasonable and for a moment – just for a moment – you think to yourself, “Just you wait, girl – you’ll get yours.” But you feel bad immediately afterwards because no one deserves to die in a car crash. Nobody.
Here’s the deal. As it was happening -- nothing happened, and when it happened it wasn’t happening anymore – I have to knock out this note before the day wiggles away. Lately, living has been bent from the front, so next go round I’m pinning this date on my wall, whip it around my prehensile wits; flip the switch that says stick. So done, so be it, now shout yeah! All the what’s and who’s and why’s jump out from everywhere and serenade the guru of gone! Happy Birthday! Belated or not, to the original gasser, the original hipster saint, the most far-out cat that ever stomped on this Sweet Green Sphere, who’s wailin', groovy hipsemantic orations tramped through the wiggage in our graciously affluent playground: the wordland we call the English language! The man, the years, the most flip embodiment of a life lived cool … none other than His Majesty, His Hipness, Lord Buckley! Birthday 102 …and though he found “the theme of the beam of the invisible edge” back in ‘60, they’re still digging his scrabble and his mad heart, looting strange truths from the head, all truths, even the feral truths, scribbling, splattering jive laid down to his bop ... as his Royal Flipness’ once said - “they supersede and carry on beyond the parallel of your practiced credulity.”
Though Lord Buckley is known for his "hip-semantic" interpretation of history, literature, and culture, sporting a waxed mustache, dressed to the nines and expounding on life in the manner befit of British aristocracy, intoned by way of Jazz riffs versed by hemp-headed hepcats, Lord Buckley was actually born in a coal-mining town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada on an Indian reservation in Tuolumne, California, in 1906. Richard Myrle Buckley worked as a lumberjack as a kid and entered the world of showbiz by way of the medicine, carnival, and tent show circuit, eventually gigging in the speakeasies of Chicago during the 1920s, emceeing dance marathons and vaudeville shows, even playing on Broadway during the Depression. By the 1940’s he was working steadily in Jazz clubs, befriending many of the greatest musicians of the era. During the Second World War Buckley toured with the USO Shows and became close friends with, of all people, Ed Sullivan. By the 1950’s the unclassifiable Lord Buckley was cast as a comedian, his humor combined his incredible detailed knowledge of the language and culture; his true hepcat persona became one part stump preacher, one part raconteur, another part grifter and huckster, producing one of the strangest comedic personas ever invented.
Me and my girlfriends. Note Corey's rad Leslie Hall shirt!
Friday night I was fortunate enough to see Margaret Cho’s new show, “Beautiful”…
…This grapefruit juice tastes weird… Huh… It’s kind of hard to tell if grapefruit juice is a little “off”, because good grapefruit juice should taste a little bad…
Anyway, Corey got press tickets and he chose me to be his date for the show. Quite a coincidence, considering I’m also his boyfriend.
Once upon a time, everyone I knew was a big fan of le Cho. Lately, however, it seems a lot of hipsters have turned sour. Common complaints include that she’s co-opting the GLBT movement, and/or, her material never changes – she just revises the same routine.
These comments make me crazy. Last time I checked, the GLBT community wasn’t “so accepted” that it could afford to start being snobby about who embraced it (Kenny G coming out of the closet being a rare exception).
And as far as her material being variations on the same themes? Uh, Richard Pryor didn’t just deal with race for “that one record”. Lily Tomlin’s never going to be considered for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Bill Cosby, Rusty Warren, Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, Chris Rock, Sandra Bernhard… Most, if not all, stand-up comics have a consistent style and content.