So, I’m thirty-nine (and perhaps growing to look even more like David McCallum, as Francis Heaney, TV producer Marc Dorian, and others have suggested, when people aren’t suggesting that I look like Niles from Frasier). This birthday was already celebrated at Iggy’s Karaoke, where Gerard Perry — who argued for a tough line on illegal immigration a few months ago at one of our monthly Debates at Lolita Bar — ironically found himself being upbraided by an immigrant, the bartender, for committing the real assault on culture, namely Gerard’s rendition of an Irish sea shanty.
But it sounded like music to me, since he at least wasn’t deliberately screeching or yelling at the top of his lungs — the way all too many ex-frat-guy-types do in karaoke, thereby demonstrating, apparently, that they’re too cool to try and don’t care if you’re alarmed by the results. They say frat guys take the same attitude toward sex.
Luckily, my friends’ karaoke efforts (and my own party-damaged-vocal-chords desecration of the usually powerful “Tom Sawyer” by Rush) were not the only music I heard this birthday week, though, since I saw the final Police concert ever and loved it — even though they have so many good songs I could still rattle off a long list of things I wish they’d played: “Synchronicity II” (my favorite song by anyone), “Murder by Numbers,” “J’Aurais Toujours Faim de Toi,” “Secret Journey,” “Rehumanize Yourself,” “Walking in Your Footsteps,” etc. But would I really prefer that they had squeezed these in by dropping ones they actually did play — say, “King of Pain,” “Next to You,” “Invisible Sun,” “Walking on the Moon,” “Driven to Tears,” and “Every Little Things She Does”?
The only solution is to listen to all my Police albums again and perhaps upgrade them in my mind to darn near favorite band ever (they may at least take the prize for lowest ratio of bad songs, I now realize, though Who, Stones, Floyd, and Bowie have all done so many great things that their missteps can be forgiven). The Police are also the makers of the first album I ever bought (back in 1983), Synchronicity, making this a perfect full-circle sort of summer in which to look back at youth one more time and then practice thinking like an actual adult for a year before forty hits.
(Which is not to say I’m not still pissed about the arbitrary changes DC Comics keeps making to Hawkman, of course — that’s something we should all be able to discuss like adults. The older I get, the more poignant it seems when an elderly man is told he’s from ancient Egypt one minute and the planet Thanagar the next — you expect these things to be settled by the time you’ve been fighting crime for seven decades.)
Ironically, it was Sting I used to hope I’d grow up to look like (and there is a slight resemblance to my dad), but once he was shaved and stripped of his shirt prior to the encore, it was pretty obvious he’s still putting me to shame in his late fifties, as I think my ex-girlfriend Koli would politely concede [ADDENDUM: Today, two days after the concert, while walking through my neighborhood, I overheard a guy talking about someone getting a shave -- and I said I'd been at the concert, too, correctly guessing he was referring to Sting].
Aging in a slightly more normal, mortal fashion but still looking pretty darn vibrant were the members of opening act the B-52s (especially once the crane lowers Kate Pierson’s wig into place), and the one profound realization I came to about them was that “Rock Lobster” is probably the funniest song of all time not performed by They Might Be Giants. Oh, and I realized that the high, eerie opening sounds of “Planet Claire” are largely Pierson singing rather than just a synthesizer or theremin, as I’d assumed.
(I did see a theremin in use recently, though — one that appeared small and portable like an old Casio keyboard, which was nifty — by Rebel Hotel, the amusing opening act for Secret History a couple weeks ago, the latter being the new band of former My Favorite member Michael Grace, and the former being something gothy akin to what Metallica might sound like if Elton John became the new lead singer, for good or ill.)
Turning thirty-nine means I’m halfway to age seventy-eight, currently the average age at death for Americans (though as a non-smoker, non-whale, etc., I’ve got some advantages). I’m not too worried, since scientific advances in the decades ahead may well enable me to live to be 100 or even be immortal — but I do wish I’d already accomplished more in what could be called “half a lifetime” (and for all I know could turn out to be 98% of my lifetime — or even 99.99! — or — !!!).
I’ve had some small impact, though. Among other things, I’m quoted with disapproval as an apologist for corporate America in the books The End of Food and The I Hate Corporate America Reader, the latter on p. 437, where I say CDC biomonitoring results (the detection of chemicals in our bodies), properly understood, should be reassuring instead of fodder for more eco-scare campaigns such as the organic-eating neo-hippie Luddite dumbshits among us are perpetually launching (the kind of people who say “I don’t want DNA in my tomatoes!” albeit occasionally with a tiny bit more nuance).
Amusingly, the Reader is part of the quintessentially-2004, left-wing “I Hate” series (from an editor with the misleadingly conservative-sounding name Clint Willis), which includes these other compendia of flawless rationality:
•The I Hate the Twenty-First Century Reader
•The I Hate Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity Reader
•The I Hate Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Don Rumsfeld, Condi Rice…Reader
•The I Hate George W. Bush Reader
•The I Hate Republicans Reader
Needless to say, I’m getting too old for this. The left should disband entirely, and it has long since exhausted my (very indulgent) patience. Its end would be a birthday gift not just for me but for all of humanity (I was a witness just the other night — and not at all unhappily so — to two left-wing journalists I know talking about whether free-marketeers just don’t care about facts, as one suggested, or actually don’t even care about the wellbeing of their offspring, as the other posited, and I only uttered the word “bullshit” once, so I’m pretty mellow in my middle years).
Ah, but here’s something to make me feel young and carefree again: a Wikipedia entry about one of my toy animals from chidhood, Sooty the bear (based on the UK TV show). Mom was inspired by my finding this entry to locate not only Sooty himself at my parents’ house in Connecticut but his magic wand, which I don’t even recall ever possessing. That’s OK. Talking bears are appropriate for a science-loving child, obviously, but magic wands are nonsense.