It Was Just A Movie

Seeing as the Oscars were last night, this may be the last chance I’ll get to address the film Bohemian Rhapsody in a timely manner. The Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody, perhaps you’ve heard of it. Queen opened the show, the first rock band to ever do so in Grammy history.

The Freddie Mercury biopic won four of its’ five nominated categories, most notably Rami Malek for Best Actor. Hilariously, the movie also won for Best Editing even though you can do a twitter search for “bohemian rhapsody cuts” and see the scene that has over 50 cuts in ninety seconds even though the scene is just the band sitting at a table meeting their new manager.

I’m not going to defend it. It was a movie.

Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I’m amazed how well the film nailed the Live Aid sequence and yet completely fumbled everything in the previous two hours from a factual point of view. They even got the Pepsi cups on Freddie’s piano correct.

I thought Bohemian Rhapsody might actually win Best Picture but the big winner was Green Book. Thank merciful god. Because if there’s going to be such a thing as “worst Best Picture ever”, it shouldn’t be the Queen movie. Did Green Book have a Live Aid sequence? Obviously not.

It was funny to me how the crowd deflated when Green Book was announced as the winner. It was also funny how each winner for Bohemian took great pains to avoid mentioning Bryan Singer, the first guy to attempt to direct that movie. Probably some good reasons for that. A lot of people were willing to make a deal with the devil on that one, including Malek, Brian May and Roger Taylor. A lot of people were also willing to look past Singer’s accusations to go see the movie. I know because I was among them. I wanted that movie more than I cared about Bryan Singer. What did I get for it? A weird, patchy movie saved by Rami Malek’s performance.

Rami Malek is dating his co-star Lucy Boynton. Does she make him strap on the teeth before they kiss? I would. I imagine he and Bradley Cooper are of that acting school that says you have to get all up in your co-star’s hoo-hah or else it won’t feel true. That Lady Gaga duet last night was uncomfortable. It’s almost as if he got so into playing that haggard washed-up rock star character he forgot he was in real life married to a Russian supermodel.

By the way, if you’re feeling up to it you can also look up “brian singer” on twitter. If you’re going to be mad at someone, at least spell their name right.

This is a great time to pitch my animated series where the four members of Queen go on inane adventures and have pointless arguments with each other and a revolving cast of eccentric guest characters. I call it “Aqua Queen Hunger Force”.

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For Every Lonely Soul Adrift In The Storm

I give you this song. I wrote about it a few weeks ago but now I feel like sharing it again. Because this is Valentine’s Day and at heart this is a love song.

I might as well talk about it with some more detail. The song started off being about someone I loved. But then there’s the Jesus stuff in there. And the fact that Mary is Jesus’ mother. So it gets confusing. So it’s not a traditional love song. Turns out it’s about more than one thing and I’m okay with that. Maybe it’s only half a love song and the rest is about God and the need for love overall and different types of love.

I think the song is in mourning. What could have been. A friendship lost. A love that couldn’t be. We’ve all had those feelings and felt that pain. This is my version of that and maybe it is too personal to be universal but I still felt like I had to put it out there for the world to hear.

When I heard the final mix of the song, I thought to myself that this was it. This is as vulnerable as I’ll ever get on record. I’m not hiding. No persona. No band behind me. It’s my vision and it’s as pure and vulnerable as I have ever been in my music. And I realize I’m talking about it like it’s some sort of classic song and it’s just some tune on Bandcamp that came out two weeks ago but IT’S MINE DAMMIT and I’m not going to wait for the historians to come calling because they likely never will. I get to tell my own story, in song and in life.

I wrote “JWM” long before I actually recorded, over two years actually. When I wrote it, I was not in a great emotional or mental place. But something was good in this song and I knew it would eventually be recorded one way or another. “JWM” was recorded in December 2018 by which point I was in a far better state. It took a long time to get to that place, a lot of work to attain a level of emotional growth and acceptance. Progress is slow.

I’m happy that “JWM” is my most-listened to song on Bandcamp, more than twice as much as the next song. I think people responded to it and I’m thankful for that. I appreciate everyone who shared it and retweeted it. I’m immensely proud of it.

 

Governor Northam & Cerebral Palsy Pete

Tonight’s story is about Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who appeared in a photo in his college yearbook either in blackface or in a Klan uniform. MSNBC has covered it this evening and I’ve got it on the background.

There are calls for the Governor to resign, many coming from within his own political party. In the first year of his term, it seems unlikely that he will be able to ride this out for the next four years even though he dressed in a racist costume and this is Virginia we’re talking about.

In some ways, it feels like a drop of topical cream on a fatally-plagued dermis. If Northam is removed, there’s one probable racist gone. One of many racists emboldened in the institutions they lurk inside.

Amazingly I am actually somewhat sympathetic to the Governor. Because I too have exhibited a total lack of judgement in my college years. Admittedly, my sympathy is limited and I’ll tell you why in a minute but let us get on with the story of Cerebral Palsy Pete.

Those of you who are familiar with me and my musical personas probably haven’t heard about this. It was my shortest-lived persona, lasting almost an entire gig in 2000. I was twenty-one years old and I thought I was an artist. I conceived of the idea of a cerebral-palsy afflicted gangster rapper. Because the character has cerebral palsy, I used the term “cripples” instead of the n-word. I wrote about ten songs that combined rap cliches with childlike patter because I thought I was a method performer. And I used a Gang Starr album as background music. I didn’t even try to get instrumentals. I whole-assed a half-ass thing.

Here’s one of the Gang Starr songs I desecrated:

I just remembered that one of the songs was titled “You Down With C.P.P. (Yeah, You Know Me)”. Eughh.

To make matters worse, I performed this act at the Baptist Student Union across from WKU. And on top of that, an handicapped gentleman ambled in mid-performance. So put yourself in that guy’s shoes and imagine walking in and hearing “THIS GOES OUT TO ALL MY BITCHES AND CRIPPLES OUT THERE!” and wondering if you were being persecuted.

I thought I was doing performance art. I didn’t realize I was making a claim for “local idiot does legendarily stupid and shameful thing.”

Ralph Northam probably didn’t dress up in racist costume as a performance piece but again I understand what it’s like to be relatively young and make a stupid decision. It’s the same impulse that drives people to videotape themselves masturbating in the college library or smoking sativa in the back of a cop car or whatever the kids do these days.

But this is where my sympathy ends because I knew when I created the character and booked the show that I had crossed a line. I didn’t want to be a respectable member of society. I didn’t yearn to serve the public. I didn’t want to be a leader or a politician. I wanted to do my thing. I didn’t think, “Gee, today I’m Cerebral Palsy Pete and thirty years from now I’ll be a Congressman.” Of course I didn’t. I saw the fork in the road and I chose the strange, idiotic path I’ve been on ever since.

Or I saw the road and the ditch and chose the ditch and somehow have kept the car running and dug myself some ground to keep moving. Take your pick. Either way, everybody does dumb stuff and anybody stupid enough to want to be Governor gets what they deserve.