I never talk politics. Not because I've constantly been told that doing so is impolite, but because I have no opinions on politics. This might sound fucked up, but the writers and musicians that the President chooses to surround himself with tell me more about him than most other things. Rather than base my opinion of Obama on his foreign policy, or how sweet it was that he fucking iced bin Laden, I'm more likely to sniff around at the lists of people he invites to his parties. I've never been interested in what someone does for a living when I'm deciding whether I like them or not, so why start now? I'd rather know if Barack and I could hang out and have a couple of strong drinks—step out on the balcony, maybe burn one. I've just never felt like I could kick back and have some laughs with any other American president in my lifetime. (Maybe Clinton, but not really as much, you know?)
On May 11th, the Obamas are hosting "An Evening of Poetry" at the White House. (It's more like a night of artists, but whatever.) On seeing this announcement, for the first time in my life, I envied the President of the United States. I guess I never thought of it, but wouldn't it be sweet to be able to access basically anyone in the world and have them come to your house to talk or perform whenever you wanted?
If I were president, whenever I dipped out to work on securing my people’s rights and freedoms, I'd have my secretary scroll through my iTunes and pick out different musicians to come over every night for an hour or so to play and hang out. It would be like hitting shuffle, but instead of coming from mp3s it would be real live people. Every night after dinner I'd finish my dessert and walk into the den to have a brandy and see who was waiting for me in there. I'd walk in, smile real big at whoever I saw, then yell back to the dining room, "Hey Michelle! You'll never guess who's sitting at the piano. It's Lou Reed, honey! Could you be a doll and dim the lights when you come in?" Then my wife would come in and sit beside me on the couch and it would pretty much be Lou taking my requests (his idea). I'd start out with "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" and then go from there. I'd also have my secretary go through my library and invite different writers over as well. Finally get Pynchon out of his house and over to my place. This would be sweet because if Pynchon didn't accept my invitation, I would just say, "Don't make me fucking ice you like I did bin Laden, Tom. Haha. No, seriously though, if you don't come I will have you iced."
Here's the line-up for the night:
Isn't it a relief that the list's not full of total losers? I mean, although the line-up is not exactly what I would have planned myself, it's pretty close. Elizabeth Alexander and Rita Dove are both fine. Not my top picks or anything but perfectly respectable choices nonetheless. Billy Collins, though? Yes, please. I don't give a shit if some people don't like Billy Collins because they think his poetry is too easy. I like him because I know that it only appears to be easy, but in reality it’s not easy at all. Just because a poem isn't a fucking puzzle that I have to read ten times in order to feel anything, doesn't mean that the poem isn't any good.
Also appearing is Kenneth Goldsmith, a poet who does these crazy things writing with self-induced restraints. A few examples of the craziness:
-He produced 600 pages of rhyming “r” phrases, sorted by syllables and alphabetized
-He transcribed everything he said for a week
-He wrote down every move his body made during a thirteen-hour period
-He transcribed a year of weather reports
Now, I'm not saying that any of those four projects is "a guaranteed party to read" or anything, but at least the concept is interesting.
Aimee Mann? I am completely disarmed by this because I had a crush on the character she played in the "Voices Carry" video and because she used the title of one of my favorite Fitzgerald stories, "A Diamond As Big As The Ritz," as a lyric in one of her songs. I am weakened by her and often wish she would get her hair cut like she had it in the days of 'Til Tuesday.
Really, the only artist's performance that I would take a bathroom break during is that guy Common's. I have never had any idea what that guy is trying to do except be on like a Gap commercial or something. It seems like he was one of those rappers who tried to break into the movies but who forgot about the "being a rapper" part first. Or maybe he was an actor first and then became a rapper. Honestly, I don't even know if it's fair to separate the words "rapper" and "actor" anymore. So, besides that one glitch in the evening's program, it sounds like an OK night at the White House. I'd go if I wasn't super busy.