Politics and rock & roll just don’t mix. In 1988, Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater tried to soften the harsh realities of Republican policy by presenting himself as a kinder, gentler guitar picker, only to end up with terminal cancer; four years later, Bill Clinton blew sax with the band on The Arsenio Hall Show, and we all know how he got blown. Now, with her withdrawal this week from the Republican presidential race, Elizabeth Dole has become the latest politician to underestimate the subversive power of rock. At a rally following her third-place finish in the Iowa straw poll last month, Dole ended a speech to the chiming chords of the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up,” a song best known these days for pumping up the crowd at sporting events. Clearly, Dole had something of the same effect in mind for her supporters, who could be seen swaying and clapping to the driving beat. Just as clearly, though, she never bothered listening to the song’s lyrics; otherwise, she might have noticed that they include the line “You make a dead man cum.”
Now we’re not saying rock & roll alone dashed Dole; she cited the voracious money-sucking machine of rival George W. Bush. But we can’t help thinking rock played a part. Certainly the ironies in her song selection were thick, beginning with the idea of the Rolling Stones, the onetime bad boys of the counterculture, licensing their work to a family-values candidate like Liddy Dole. Actually, she might have inadvertently stumbled onto the perfect campaign slogan. Her husband, Bob, was an early advocate of Viagra, the sexual wonder drug, and if he isn’t dead, he has been forgotten by the culture. Even OffBeat might have been inclined to vote for her had she stumped across America proclaiming, “Elizabeth Dole: She Makes a Dead Man Cum.”
—David L. Ulin
TIMES HIP-O-METER GOES TILT
OffBeat is a slave to hipness, so we were thrilled to read in Sunday’s L.A. Times Southern California Living section that L.A. was winning the hipness wars with New York. Imagine our consternation, then, when, continuing to leaf through our Sunday Times, we discovered that the Magazine had declared “Hip Hotels” to be a New York thing! Thoroughly confused, we anxiously scanned the copy for guidance and found that while L.A. may have a “groovy young kid kind of rock ’n’ roll–y scene going on,” New York’s hip hotels “are the nightclubs of the ’90s.” L.A.’s reasonable rents and “kickin’” street life make it like “being in New York without the smell of urine,” Living assured us. But New York’s hotels allow you to lounge about in rooms where movie stars and fashion models are photographed, “a little anxious about fitting in,” the Magazine counterpunched. New York’s hip hotels have Rupert Murdoch and Calvin Klein, L.A. has Ally McBeal co-star Gil Bellows, the dueling Times articles averred. Would it have been too much to ask that the Times keep its hip-o-meter on the same setting for an entire edition? OffBeat was so confused and upset, we had to take three aspirin and crawl under the Italian-made sheets in our Philippe Starck–designed bed with mountains of Talk, Jane, Allure and Details magazines to make sure our hipness quotient wasn’t slipping.
MIXNER ASKS/CLINTON TELLS
The joint appearance of President Bill Clinton and political strategist David Mixner at the ANGLE (Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality) fund-raiser in L.A. this month signaled an important reconciliation between the Democratic Party and the gay community — just in time for rich gay donors to pony up for the 2000 elections. A friend of Bill’s since they took part in the anti-war protests of the ’60s, Mixner had engaged in a war of his own against Clinton after the president sold out gays in the military with the wimpy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” formula in 1993. Mixner penned a book critical of the president’s backpedaling, and was arrested at a demonstration in front of the White House, denouncing his former compatriot. But at the gala, the two were clearly back on friendly terms. Mixner declined to comment on the rapprochement, which reportedly took place during a private conversation aboard Air Force One.
No matter, the high-gloss event at the Beverly Hilton, which raised $850,000 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was one of the most successful fund-raisers of its type in history. Governor Gray Davis, Sheila Kuehl and Dick Gephardt mingled with Politically Incorrect’s Bill Maher, seen snuggling with a RuPaul look-alike, and openly gay Ellen DeGeneres (of the politically correct but canceled Ellen), who schmoozed openly heterosexual Eric McCormack (Will of the politically correct and highly rated Will & Grace). One of the highlights was the Gay Men’s Chorus’ campy rendition of a song from When Pigs Fly, “A Patriotic Finale,” extolling the impact of gays in America. The Prez was impressed:”I was back there, feverishly trying to write down all those lines. I want to call Hillary and give her some of the best ones,” he said. For the record, the lyrics were provided as per Clinton’s request.
One of the exciting innovations Fox brought to Dodger Stadium this year — as part of the all-audio-visual-all-the-time-the-ball-is-not-in-play philosophy in nuevo Chavez Ravine — is the blasting of a snippet of a player’s favorite music as he comes up to bat. In a season filled with many questions and almost no answers, perhaps a review of the Dodgers’ musical choices can begin to explain why Rupert Murdoch’s boys never seemed to be playing on the same page — or even on the same ball field. Here, highlights from the Dodger playlist:
PLAYER GROUP/ARTIST SONG
Todd Hundley Metallica “Wherever I May Roam”
Eric Karros Ozzy Osbourne “Over the Mountain”
Gary Sheffield Mystikal “The Man Right Chea!!!”
Chan Ho Park D.O. Funk various
Eric Young Ice Cube “Pushin Weight”
Mark Grudzielanek Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train”
Darren Driefort George Strait “Heartland”
Kevin Brown Aldo Nova “Fantasy”
Ismael Valdes Mariachi Vargas various
Devon White TLC “No Scrubs”
Raul Mondesi His own band
Jeff Shaw Garth Brooks “Tear It Up, Burn It Down”
Antonio Osuna Band El Recodo “El Sinaloese”
No list was available for manager Davey “My Way” Johnson, general manager Kevin “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” Malone or ousted president Bob “I’m Leaving on That Midnight Train to Georgia” Graziano, but we’ll take suggestions.
BORN TO RANT
Apparently there was no rehearsal for Sunday night’s opening of the spanking-clean Staples Center for the first of four Bruce Springsteen concerts. We were willing to overlook the snacking security guards. And the $12.50 parking fee. And the $6.75 beers (Bud). And the half-dozen ushers who looked at our tickets and did not know where to direct us (not upstairs), especially the one who looked up at the seating-section numbers on the walls and said, “Let’s see, the numbers go up — no, they go down.” We didn’t mind showing the concession workers (twice) how to properly pour a beer. Such glitches and hitches were to be expected on opening night. And at a cost of $400 million, the place needs to sell a lot of Bud.
But someone in Staples Center management needs to figure out how to get people with tickets at will call into their seats in a timely fashion. We got in line with a few hundred others at 5:30 p.m., two hours before the show was scheduled to start. At 6:45, we noticed we hadn’t moved from the same spot for 45 minutes. (Is this what Staples means by stationary?) The line had deteriorated into a shapeless body blob, and people were cutting in. Some fans suggested to the security guards that they might want to construct a barrier to keep the line in order. What a concept! A few guards seemed genuinely sympathetic as more scammers infiltrated the mess. About 7:15, a guy with a walkie-talkie showed up — and told us to form a line! Fans — generally an older (i.e., old) and well-mannered bunch — started to turn into older, well-mannered vigilantes.
“We are great thieves,” Staples general manager Bobby Goldwater told the Los Angeles Times Magazine. “We took every good idea done in other arenas and brought it here to the Staples Center, and in a big way.” Obviously, Mr. Goldwater never visited the Forum, where by contrast the will-call crowd moves at the relative speed of light with lots of open windows and a railing to keep people in line. After two hours and 15 minutes, we finally headed in for our first whiff of that new-arena smell. We did like the cup holders, though.
P.S. Honorable mention should go to the MTA for building a subway you can’t use — the last train left downtown 20 minutes before the show ended. —Libby Molyneaux