Sunday, July 24, 2005

O.J. Simpson or Jim Brown: Throw Away the Key?




...Is it hot enough for you? I know it is in Los Angeles. Too hot. This town is too hot! Last night I ignored my better judgement and switched on the TV to see what the meteorlogical tea leave readers were forecasting. Following an expose on illegal, unlicensed building contractors using predatory tactics to drum up a little under the table action, Susan Hirosuna announced that O.J. Simpson was back in the news spotlight again because of some cock-up: another blonde girlfriend...my forecast:100% chance of bullshit with scattered showers of glib social commentary from a reporter in the field wearing a questionably placed toupee..."fool me once, shame on you," I groaned...cut to commercial...


Following a barrage of glossy advertisements shilling beer and greasy fast-food, the newstainment resumed as Doogie Howser-like, synthsizer laden breaking newsmusic chimed in to reel in any sucker within earshot...dissolve into grainy footage outside O.J.'s crib..."okay, I'll bite." As the featured segment maintained, on July 4th, a guest visiting the ex-footballer called 9-1-1 emergency response to report that O.J.'s 25 year-old girlfriend was slapping the over-the-hill athlete around...did I mention that this was another one of those blonde trophies? "Dude's got issues, yo." Cut to: swarthy picture/ mugshot of Simpson as the voice-over reportage breathlessly reveals that the official emergency response tapes of the incident have been "acquired" as a transcription of the call (not a typo) rolls up the screen like a tele-prompted message to the masses...


The caller -- another one of those caucasian schmucks that seem to float around Simpson like pilot fish -- was a neighbor who said he was calling the fuzz on O.J.'s behalf because she was drunk and getting "slappy" on "The Juice," hence his telephone call to the po-po. (that's word, son...did I mention she was blonde?) "Why don't he just sit the fuck down?" I found myself echoing a bit in a Jaimie Foxx routine from a couple of years ago..."Why won't he just sit his ass on down somewhere and go gracefully?" O.J. can get memberships to every single country-club on the planet and it still won't change one immutable fact: he's going to be on de facto house arrest for beating the rap for his ex-wife's murder. He'll be wearing a symbolic handlebar mustache until the day he's placed six feet deep in the ground and even then, to a grip of people, he won't be dead enough...


Cut back to the "newsteam" in the local affiliate's studio: "Although the incident has been logged into Dade County's police records, Simpson did not press any charges...," the correspondent in Florida closed, sounding a trifle dissappointed with the way things panned out, "back to you Susan..." O.J.'s 60 years old yet it still appears that he's fond of throwing rocks at bee hives -- but decades before the "O-ster" was running through airports, Jim Brown had been there, done that and bought the soundtrack -- by simply playing a role in a western...


I remember well, when I'd watch Jim Brown movies as a kid, back when he began to take a stab at acting with starring roles in shoot 'em ups like Rio Conchos and The Dirty Dozen. I also recall hearing stories from my uncle about the controversy that ensued in the press; precipitated by a couple of open-mouthed smooches with the buxom, raven-haired bombshell Raquel Welch in the film 100 Rifles, a western in which he co-starred with Burt Reynolds. Never one to mince words, my Granny -- who was sitting in her TV chair across the living room -- saw an opportune moment to crack wise. "I wish I was in Mississippi right now!" she exclaimed as Brown and Welch sucked face onscreen, "Because I could open up a Radio Shack with all the color TV's getting thrown out of white folks' windows right now." Welch, born Raquel Tejada, and fine as she might've been/remained, is Chicana...I guess, said fine-ness got her appropriated by default...quick cut to the deep south: "How dare that cornfed field-hand sully our sex goddess..."


Although she was poking fun at the racial climate of the America that she was raised in, my grandmother's bon mot spoke volumes about how little things had changed by the 70's. That's what makes jokes funny, yo. They're reality and the ridiculous thrown together in equal parts -- add juxtaposition, shake and serve. As O.J.'s latest televised contretemps began to recede from my mind, I started to wonder what the "Brown Bomber" was up to these days. A couple of years ago, the then 66 year-old Brown got pinched by L.A.'s finest, tried in court and dragged off to "the Stony Lonesome" for half-year bit due to a marital dispute with his wife in which things got heated and he said he'd kill her. He inevitably paid the price for his histrionics, hyperbole or no. Instead of admitting guilt, J.B. opted to do the time for his own reasons...


The scenerios mentioned above drip with irony -- at one point niether Simpson or Brown could get arrested, then it seemed that that's all they were doing: getting perp-walked out of courtrooms. "Don't forget your place,son" the jury appeared to be saying in the halls of "just-us." Lucky for them they had the scrilla to get the kind of high-priced legal representation that most of us don't have access to -- Michael Jackson's tragicomic mini-series of a life is a textbook example of the latter in more recent times. "Nothing recedes like success," the "newsman"/ Joseph McCarthy supporter Walter Winchell once wrote -- while biting the hand that fed him: the public thirst for celeb-crucifixions on the center stage...


When asked my opinion on O.J., J.B. or M.J. I always plead the fifth because, to be honest, I still don't know...I wasn't in the court room in either instance, so why play fast and loose with conjecture beamed in from the sidelines? That said, if I solely based my thoughts on the way that our judicial system has had an historic tendancy to throw the book at defendants with melanin (especially the black ones) I'd have to say..."just because you don't see them coming, doesn't mean that they're not after you." All of this makes pulling what has been called "the race card" plausible when one considers how disproportionately the deck's been stacked against the duskier-hued citizenry. And don't let them have something to talk about other than jump-shots and touchdowns (just ask the ghost of Paul Robeson about that last item, B)...


If you add to the hyper-reality that being famous (or infamous, as it were) in America brings to the equation, you get a whole other kind of craziness that's unfathomable, unless you've been there. It's hard to empathize when you couldn't ever know for sure what all the angles are. I couldn't know. I have met a grip of these "stars," however, and I've seen the wart 'n all lunacy up close, albeit tangentially, and I can honestly say that I don't think I'd have the sack to deal with that shite on the regular...In Simpson and Brown's case, being black was the newsroom equivalent of a cherry-on-top. The hullabaloo over Jackson doesn't count because who knows what color he's going to be in a couple of months (I kid because I love) but suffice to say if he does fall off the proverbial wagon, the newgathering cyclops will be there to capture it all on tape...

Conversely, the OJ snafu that took place a few weeks ago was DOA in American newsrooms...no blood, drugs or drag marks so nobody heard about it on public TV out here until last night -- though I easily found articles that ran weeks ago from as far away as Australia when I looked. I guess that's just the way it is...some things never change. Believe it. We've got a 24/7 news cycle and cell phone cameras are always at the ready. With all of that being as it is, if you know everybody's watching you to catch you with your pants bunched up around your ankles...waiting for you to slip -- so they can treat you like a King..a Rodney King that is -- then it would behoove you to cover your ass...Come to think of it, that might've been what "the Juice" was getting around to when his white neighbor got Miami's "5-0" on the blower. You know, just in case..."fool me twice, can't get fooled again." But then, there's no fool like an old fool...Laters...

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1 Comments:

Blogger ROCKNROLLPIMP said...

enjoyable read..well written n nothing truer ever spoken!

3:20 AM, September 18, 2007  

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