"Saddam Sex-Change Shocker"
"Pope Has Super Powers! (Holy Father has X-ray vision, shoots fire bolts and has the strength of ten men!"
"Hot stuff! Couple Bursts Into Flames in the Sack!"
(Not to mention: "Kitty From Hell")
All grist for an average issue of the Weekly World News, the August 16, 2004 issue of which Laura and I opted to purchase on a whim while grocery shopping during our trip to Sudbury. After all, who could possibly resist a picture of a jailed Saddam Hussein, decked out in blonde wig and thigh-hugging dress while the sub-head claims "our" tax dollars are paying for the upcoming operation?
Over the years, I've probably bought a half-dozen issues of this rag, usually when stoned - or looking forward to that state of mind. I've never taken it seriously, but part of the pleasure of reading it included wondering about those people who - one assumed - did. We wondered: Just who are the slack-jawed yokels who think the Weekly World News is a real newspaper, daring to print the news the maintream journals are too whipped to publish?
And so, it was with
"Weekly World News is a satirical weekly publication published 52 times a year ..."
Shit. Admitting that it's "satire" takes all the fun out of it - "Sewer to Hell: Manhole emits shrieks of the damned" is not nearly so funny once you admit its a joke.
For reasons of which I won't bother to bore you, Laura left a bag here the other day. I brought it to work with me, so she could pick it up.
Why are you telling me this? I hear you, my Gentle (if impatient) Readers wonder.
Well, Sweet Laura's bag contained what I thought was a Shameful Secret - nothing less than a Toronto Star, crumpled and clearly read. What madness, I wondered, had taken the helm of my darling's brain?
Naturally, I confronted her, accusing her of reading the vile rag.
Did she wilt? Not Laura. Nor did she flinch.
"Why don't you read it," she suggested. "Then we can talk."
Well, being a fair-minded man, I condescended to my young love's suggestion.
- Has the Star improved in recent years?
- Has the Globe deteriorated more than I'd thought since the advent of the National Post brought about the Age of the Columnist>
Long story short - based on that one front-section, the Star isn't a bad paper. It probably contained more news than the same day's Globe and, if it didn't harbor quite so many Big Words, it's columnists had a wider range of views and at least as sophisticated a set of opinions as "Canada's National Newspaper."
It irks me, but I fear I must give the Star another chance. And admit yet again that being older does not necessitate being smarter or, even, more knowledgeable.
Back in 1987, the same year I drove my 1971 Volkswagen minibus down to San Francisco for an Anarchist Gathering (and the same year I walked out on the Rolling Stones, not to mention, coincidentally, the year of my sweetheart's birth - my Christ! If that doesn't make me feel the gap, I don't know what will), my companion for the trip, son of a politician and nascent musician who was remaking himself as "cool" (ask me some other time - I watched him practice the body-language), which included his enthusiasm for rap - especially N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton.
Shit, that record was a revelation to me - transmogrifying what I had thought was essentially the novelty-music of Grandmaster Flash, of break-dancing and whatever else Much Music was passing down to us dilletantes as "black" culture into what seemed to me (a) a genuine voice from the ghetto and (b) one hell of a good record.
Angry; violent; self-affirming; sexist; nihilistic - it seemed to encompass every adolescent emotion and a whole lot else besides.
Still, not entirely my cup of tea. I didn't hear the record for the next 15 or so years; occasionally, I'd refer to it, or quote a line or to - "I said 'Fuck you, bitch!' and kept goin'"; "Fuck - fuck - fuck tha po-lice", etc.
Well, coming home from Sudbury, having finished loading the rental car down with goodies from the Dufferin Mall's No Frills, I stopped in at HMV and - to my amazement - found the CD in stock.
And, tonight, finally listened to it.
Lyrically, it holds up pretty well. Maybe it does musically, too.
But even someone as out of it as this bluegrass-lovin' white boy knows that Straight Outta Compton sounds fucking </i>tame</i> compared to the hiphop coming out nowadays. It was like listening to the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks after spending an evening at a thrash-metal show at the Reverb.
Speaking of going back in time, I did something else I haven't done since the 80s - bout an issue of Playboy.
It was almost as embarassing to buy as my first time (well, not quite: my humiliation was reminiscent of that long-gone day, but not nearly so intense), back in 1979, when the issue with the John Lennon interview came out, only days before the poor, brilliant bastard was gunned down.
But I digress.
During my adolescence, when my political thinking was heavily influenced by the feminism of the time, Playboy was an examplar - if a tame one - of all that was wrong with sexist North American society and culture. A tool for the degradation of women, for training men to think of women as sex-objects.
(Looking at a newstand now, I am proud that by 1984 or 1985, I was openly suggesting that Elle and (especially) Cosmopolitan - aimed as they were at women - might be a more pernicious weapon against egalitarianism than any number of stroke-books. But I digress - again.)
I bought the damned thing because the September issue has an interview with the boys behind Google - I am enough of a geek to be interested, and to remember that Playboy's interviews used to be substantial pieces of journalism indeed.
Truth is, that was 3 days ago, and I have yet to read the interview.
I've given the magzine a quick go-thrugh and note that it has far few adds than I remember; that the Playmate of the month has much smaller tits; and that the rest of it seems almost as unchanged as the last issue of Mad Magazine I happened across, an octogenerian hipster wondering what "sketchy" means.
And that's about it, folks. I'm half-drunk, I want a smoke and I'm really jonesin' for the Simpsons - which just happens to start in about 4 minutes. Time to put this post to bed.