Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Saturday, February 28, 2004


A few weeks ago on Jay Leno’s show, contemporary R&B singer Erykah Badu sang a song with an intriguing rhythmic twist. The song grooved along in a light, maybe slightly bossa nova-esque funk, and at the end of several phrases the whole band would stop, undramatically and completely idiomatically (in other words, as if it were the most natural thing in the world), and Badu would make a graceful arm gesture in the silence. Poof! -- her arm said; the music vanished, like a magician’s trick. And then, Voila! -- reappeared on the next downbeat, relaxed and undramatic and seriously grooving. Seriously cool.

I was reminded of this Thursday night when Prince appeared on Leno singing a song called “Musicology” with the same rhythmic disappearing act. He didn’t pull it off quite as intriguingly as Erykah Badu had, but still a really cool effect.

More striking was Prince’s chat with Jay after the song. Most musical acts just do their song and the show’s over, but Prince is a big enough star that he gets gab time too.

The main gab guest was Mel Gibson, who was there talking about his controversial new movie about Jesus. Mel talked about how since Jesus was a carpenter he was a masculine man. Sure, maybe, that’s plausible, who knows? I haven’t seen the movie and am unlikely to. When I'm in the mood to contemplate the gruesomeness of the crucifixion, Medieval Christian paintings do the trick for me. I’d be curious to see whether the movie is anti-Semitic. I’d watch to see whether Mel's Jesus looks like the other Jews. I’d be surprised if the blue-eyed Catholic looker who plays him does.

(State-sponsored torture is still very much with us. And since we're on the subject, please let me juxtapose that awful truth with one of my very favorite Jesus quotes: "As you do unto the least the least of these, so you do unto me." Meaning -- each one of us is God. Even the Green River killer.)

(. . . the pain and sorrow we humans so prodigiously inflict . . .)

Mel was still sitting in Jay’s TV living room when Prince flounced over showing off his white high-heel shoes. Jay said, "I have a pair just like them at home!" Prince was charming and friendly and cheerful as he totally flirted Mel up. “Mel Gibson! What are you doing after the show?” Asking masculine Mel on a date! Mel looked real uncomfortable, but he agreed to rendezvous. It made me wonder whether Jay or his producer scheduled the guests that way deliberately.

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