p.s. Neil Diamond
p.s. Neil Diamond was "the bomb," as they say in 2008. There was an overlong (and frankly unwelcome) bird interlude somewhere in the middle, staged to a video loop of swooping pigeons 'neath azure skies, along with some number I'd never heard before about a bunch of random people whose only connection to each other was that they were "done too soon." This was essentially a worse version of "You Didn't Start the Fire," itself one of the worst songs in the history of the world, only Neil's list included, for some reason, John Wilkes Booth.
Now "done too soon" is the sort of nonsense tautology that could apply to literally every person who has ever walked the earth (you seldom hear "he lived exactly the right number of years" when somebody croaks), except for someone like Hitler or Idi Amin or, of course, John Wilkes Booth. It wouldn't even occur to me that this was debatable. At first I thought perhaps I misheard a lyric, but there was JWB's face in the corresponding montage video, which actually made it worse.
And then I wondered why nobody has ever pointed this out to Neil. It made me concerned for him a little, that he hadn't realized what he was putting down in song was strange and unwise, and that nobody around him thought to mention it. In the end I guess I don't care about it all that much, except for being a thousand percent sure I don't need to hear any of those songs ever again.
Me shouting to Groucho during the bird segment: "This is like a Christopher Cross video."
Groucho shouting back to me circa John Wilkes Booth: "This must have been a low point in his career."
Here's where our faces tell the story of joy, followed by concern and confusion:
I realize I sound pretty harsh, but there was an entire row of very drunk forty-something folk sitting right behind us who were enthusiastic about Neil Diamond in all the wrong ways, and even though Groucho and The Old Man and I were appropriately behaved, it sort of colored my enjoyment of the whole affair. The lesson here is okay, have your fun, but also don't use that fun in an oppressive and encroaching way—through kicks in the back of the head and non-stop chatter and the repeated middle-aged screeching of the made-up word "beautimous"—to fuck it up for others. I can't even believe I have to type that out loud, but there you have it. 2017.
He did sing all my faves, though, and wrapped it up with "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," which I hope we can all agree is a pure and unfettered force for good in the world.
Rock on! Enjoy your diamonds while you can! etc.