BAKER STREET

by Eric J Baker

At 9 a.m. this past Friday, Facebook’s IPO was the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious event ever, worth more than 100 Avengers movies and better than carrot cake on Fat Bitch Sunday. By noon, the whole thing was Snakes on a Plane: A bit of hype and then quickly forgotten. The only thing I want to know is if Bono really made 1.5 billion dollars on the deal, or was that just phantom wealth, like America’s before the real estate crash.

On the other hand, one Avengers movie was enough for Robert Downey Jr. to rake in a quick 50 million dollars, and that’s money in the bank if Disney doesn’t get too creative with the accounting. Not bad for a troubled ex-con. If I’m Chris Evans, I’m restructuring my deal for Avengers II to bring my salary closer to the double-digit millions. That is an obvious statement, but it gives me an excuse to run another picture of Evans, who’s a click magnet for us.

Then again, maybe I should have gone with the Facebook angle for the lead image. Mark Zuckerberg is our all-time click champion, and not for his boyish charm. Unless, by “charm,” I mean something small that dangles.

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Speculation on Mitt Romney’s options for a running mate heated to a medium boil this week, despite the fact that the bottom half of a presidential ticket has no bearing on the outcome of an election. Few things that matter less get more coverage by the news media.

 

You were expecting a pic of Christie Whitman?

Romney is currently “vetting” his prospects, which in GOP-speak means “let’s reach into my ass and see who comes out when I pull.” Dan Quayle, easily the least-qualified Vice President in the modern age, didn’t hurt George HW Bush’s election chances, and Dick Cheney, the closest thing we’ve ever had to an evil corporate movie villain as veep, sailed through two terms. Romney knows it doesn’t matter, so his vetting process probably involves a lot of golf and club soda with billionaires.

The popular option, of course, is New Jersey’s own tough-talking governor Chris Christie. The man would have no chance on the top of the ticket, because Americans hate bullies (and the poor ticket would be crushed to death). But he’d make a great attack dog for Romney, provided people don’t discover that New Jersey Republicans would be Democrats anywhere south of Maryland. Remember that rising GOP star Christine Todd Whitman, a former NJ governor? She vanished a year into her service for Bush II and has not been seen since. I wouldn’t mind her as Romney’s VP choice, though, if only to hear supporters calling themselves “Mitt Whits.”

Mitt could pick a boring moderate like [fill in your own boring moderate Republican here], or name some Palinesque loony bird none of us has heard of yet and will soon wish we hadn’t. Or he could follow my recommendation and choose Alice Cooper.

 

Now we know that “Dead Babies” was a slam against Planned Parenthood.

Cooper is a professed conservative who is also a super-likeable guy and appeals to the working class. He can talk tough in a way that Americans like, which is to espouse violence but from the standpoint of the underdog. I offer a lyric from “The World Needs Guts” of the 1986 album, Constrictor, as evidence:

“Hey you! Crying ‘cause your best friend splattered against the wall…
Hey You! Some maniac butcher’s trying to hack away your balls…
Oh yeah, back ‘em off brother. Oh yeah, terminate the mother now
You know you gotta get hard. The World Needs Guts!”

There’s your campaign theme song right there. And unless Cold Ethyl is actually a cover of a Walter Mondale tune, Alice would be the first VP to have ever written a song about fucking a corpse.

Romney-Cooper 2012. Book it.

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Up next: The strangest lead-in to a discussion about a celebrity’s death you will ever read.

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According to some theorists on human evolution, we are hardwired to be religious, which leaves the non-believer like me feeling a bit defective. Gods just don’t make sense to me on any level other than the psychological-anthropological one (That sounds like I’m combining two levels, but it’s really a charming split-level from 1971 with 2.5 baths and a nice rec room for the kids).

 

Still, I feel a spiritual lure on occasion, which is why Taoism appeals to me. No deities or their human substitutes you find in other eastern religions. Plenty of cosmic energy and natural flow that is indifferent to human existence, which an unbiased observation of the universe should reveal to be the truth. For the most part, it’s Star Wars without the action figures and the John Williams score. Cool, eh?

Good Yoda, the Taoist (versus Bad Yoda, the war criminal).

The best part about Taoism is the abandonment of ownership and the release of attachments. That is, of course, the hardest part about it too, which is why I am not a Taoist. I want stuff, even though I know I’d be happier if I didn’t want it. To paraphrase Yoda, “Already have you, that which you need.”

And without attachments, it’s much easier to set people free. Isn’t mourning someone’s death a selfish act, after all? Permissible and understandable in every way but, nonetheless, the tears are for ourselves more than for the deceased.

Anyone who has read this Baker Street column more than a few times knows I am obsessed with music, be it rock, metal, jazz, soul, or pop. We music lovers tend to revere our musicians too. Not in the way film fanatics do with movie stars – we don’t deify our heroes. We want to be them, and we think their music is ours. That’s what makes it especially hard to see them die off in increasing numbers.

We know that some pop stars will die young. Entertainers tend to want thrills and seek highs more so than the average Joe sitting in a cubicle, and those thrills often come in the form of fast cars and hard drugs that kill sooner than later. But modern pop music, starting with the Elvis Presley’s and Chuck Berry’s of the mid-1950s, is getting on in years. With age comes decay and disease, and a lot of musical heroes have been dying of average-Joe things lately.

 

Donald Dunn, 1941-2012

Of course I am referring to the death of disco icon Donna Summer this past Thursday from cancer at age 63, which snuffed out an effortlessly powerful, pitch-perfect voice that goes underappreciated still. But the music world also lost bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn of the legendary Booker T and the MGs this week. Besides his work with Booker T. Jones, Dunn, 70, played on hundreds of albums, including ones by Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Diana Ross, Tom Petty, and many other major recording artists. He also appeared in the Blues Brothers film, in addition to performing on the soundtrack.

The bass line to “Time is Tight” by Booker T. and the MGs is one of the first I learned, and it’s still one of the best ever. Here’s a live performance of the instrumental great from the mid ‘70s. Since poor bass players rarely get love from TV directors, Dunn does not have a close-up, but you can still hear his fine rhythm holding it all together:

With so many musicians I admire (and who inspire me) reaching their late sixties and seventies, the frequency of their deaths is only going to increase. Some people will call it an epidemic, but it’s the natural order. The folks who invented, defined, and shaped pop music are old.

I’d better hurry up and become that Taoist now so I can learn to let go ahead of time. Already have me, that which I need. The music.

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The conclusion of our weekly round-up is usually reserved for the Schizo of the Week, but that’s James Killough’s purview, not mine. Instead, I bring you the World’s Least Responsible Asshat, 33-year-old Desmond Hatchett of Knoxville, TN, who has 30 children by 11 women and claims he can no longer afford to pay child support.

In fairness to Mr. Hatchett, he’s merely behaving the way nature intended. That is, to spread as much of his DNA and far and wide as possible. Unfortunately, it’s 2012, not 15,000 BC, and the American court system has sprung up in the interim.

On a side note, I have a big box of condoms from Costco. I am willing to trade half the contents of that box in exchange for 50% of Mr. Hatchett’s mojo. Damn, dawg!