Welcome to your Moment of Truth, the thirst that is the drink.
Recently, I had one of my epiphanies, and this time it wasn’t due to the onset of an unexplained seizure coming on simultaneously with a mild stroke. Here it is: I think Hollywood could make faster progress in getting more women into key jobs behind the camera if it stopped killing them with trains and guns once they got there.
But more on that later.
Over the weekend I went to an excellent rock show. One of the best I’ve been to in my life. The openers were The Blasters, a longtime favorite Americana roots rock band fronted by guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist, Dave Alvin. Then a lesser-known band I will not name came on and did not disappoint because I wasn’t expecting anything. And then the stage was turned over to the headliners, X, a legendary 80s punk band fronted by vocalist Exene and guitarist/vocalist John Doe.
I wasn’t much into punk in the late 70s into the 80s, so I only knew X by reputation, and they exceeded what I had been led to expect. They were musically tremendous, and lyrically, at least the lyrics I could hear, pretty poetic.
At one point John Doe, who I believe still has the preference for progressive politics he evinced in the 1960s going to anti-war protests, said, “When the election comes around next year, remember to get out there and vote!” and, a bit strangely, I thought, the woman next to me shouted sarcastically, “And don’t be racist, why don’t you throw that in there?” That was a head- scratcher.
But a little deeper into the set, Exene said, “Happy Birthday, Brandon.” I suspected I knew what that might mean. Near the end of the show she said, “Let’s go, Brandon,” and a portion of the crowd cheered. Someone shouted, “We love you, Exene!”
I, on the other hand, said, “Oh, fuck you.”
See, earlier in the day, a statistics-cherrypicking rightwing gun rights libertarian who spouts his dreck ad nauseum at the coffee place where I hang out sometimes had invaded a Facebook post of mine. The post I posted was this:
“So, how do we head off the fascist dictatorship coming after the 2024 election? Any suggestions?”
His comment was this:
“Why ya’ll so concerned? Dem senate - Dem House and Brandon is doing a fantastic job - No? What more could you ask for.”
My response was:
“Who the fuck is Brandon? Surely the best-informed man at coffee should know that the current president's name is Biden.”
The Brandon trope, for those of us not in the know because we’re not drooling developmentally disabled toddlers, is a reference to Brandon Brown. He won an automobile race, and while he was being interviewed, the crowd started chanting, “Fuck Joe Biden,” because of course, whenever someone achieves something worthy of applause, your fans’ first instinct is to shout out profanity about a politician they don’t like. Y’know, like when Yo-yo Ma played a beautiful Bach suite, the crowd used to yell, “Trump is a rapist.” Of course, it was true, but even so, inappropriate as a substitute for “bravo” or “nice cello suite, Ma.”
Anyway, the reporter interviewing him said the chant was “Let’s go Brandon.” So, “Let’s go Brandon,” means “Fuck Joe Biden.” I guess the reason the little coffee chimp didn’t respond to me is because he was busy giggling to himself like a pre-teen girl in a clique of mean friends who have a secret cruel name for an overweight classmate they ostracize. Weird that adults act this way, especially as a form of ostensible political rebellion.
Exene is a well-known conspiracy theorist who thinks school shootings and incel massacres like the one Elliot Rodger perpetrated are false flag hoaxes. Her brain’s pretty much poached from years of partying like she was famous but feeling she was never famous enough, the poor pickled cooze.
The tradition of self-righteous pop music stars is as old as recording itself, and the large number of supposedly rebellious figures who turned out to be right-wingers shouldn’t be surprising at this late date. I found out back in college that black lesbian icon Joan Armatrading was a Thatcherite, so when I found out former drummer for The Velvet Underground, Mo Tucker, who came to Chicago in the 90s and, at the Empty Bottle on Western, did one of the best rock shows I’ve ever seen in my life, was a W Bush supporter, it wasn’t such a shock.
Likewise Johnny Ramone, whose love for the rotten right went back to Nixon and beyond, prepared me for the fact that the lead singer for LA punks, The Effigies, became a rightwing, Catholic, W Bush-supporting prosecuting attorney in Illinois, which fact in turn prepared me for rightwing, Trump-sucking Johnny Rotten, who in turn prepared me for Saturday night at the Greek, when twisted conspiracy cooze Exene said, in childish secret MAGA NASCAR code, “Fuck Joe Biden.”
That my giggling, mean-girlish coffee acquaintance was likewise emotionally retarded was also not a particularly earth-shaking reveal. It almost engenders affection, like the kind one has for an ugly, two-legged dog. Exene, the Johnnies, and little Sailor Goon, they’re just cheering for their team. And they picked a bad team. A lousy, nasty, cheating, racist, cowardly team. Theirs is a shady team, like the 1988-90 Detroit Pistons, The Bad Boys, except the Pistons were lovable villains who won on their skill and teamwork, whereas the team these white-supremacist Hello Kitty rejects are cheering for can only win by wrecking the home court of any opponent before the game starts, and they are not the least bit lovable. Not even as lovable as Bill Laimbeer.
No, these revelations, while annoying, were not mind-blowing. They didn’t even constitute a mild breeze across the cranium.
What blew my mind was when I found out that the first AD on the set of Rust, who reportedly handed Alec Baldwin a loaded firearm and announced it a “cold gun,” resulting in DP Halyna Hutchins being fatally shot, was also the first AD on my movie, Basmati Blues. I know that guy. I wanted to check in with him when a friend from the production told me, but he had deactivated his Facebook account for understandable reasons.
Let me say that on our movie he was eager to please and happy to get the first AD position, he ran an efficient set, and because there was so much other nuttiness going on typical of movie shoots in India, and we had no weapons on our set other than a lathi stick Indian policemen use for hitting their victims, I can only tell you that he did an excellent job for us. As for harassment, I don’t remember him ever touching me inappropriately. If he did, I must’ve liked it.
The death of Halyna Hutchins is a tragic result of union norms and safety precautions being scoffed at, and if IATSE doesn’t strike now, I think they’re making a mistake. Work on a TV or movie set is never going to be a regular nine-to-five job, but there’s a union because the work can be dangerous and taxing, and if the rules already in place aren’t being followed, a strike can only help re-cement them in the minds of producers and the culture of the industry.
Unfortunately, the bad team, you could call them Spanky and the Oversize Rascals, has its sticky fingers in this pie, too. The Oversize Rascals are against unions and safety regulations, and wormed their attitude into the workplace pretty much from the beginning of cinema history. So, cheerleaders for the Oversize Rascals aren’t just coyly cussing at the Democratic President, who nobody really likes that much anyway, they are against workers’ rights, women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights.
And that just makes their babyish games that much more pathetic and disgusting. This has been the Moment of Truth. Good grief!