Archive for Sunday, March 25, 2001

A look at the Oscars and some old guys

March 25, 2001


I hate the Oscar column. You hate the Oscar column. Everybody hates the Oscar column.

But it's tradition. Last year I didn't write it, and I got hundreds of letters protesting its absence. Here's a typical letter: "Your Oscar column stinks. You never see more than two of the nominated movies, and you make stupid wisecracks about the Best Actress category, to wit: 'act, shmact. Did you check out her casabas?T' You're really an imbecile."

See, they love it!

So, here we go: I didn't see "Gladiator." Why bother? It's old news. Heads are rolling like bowling balls on league night. Big deal. You see one head on a stick, you've seen 'em all. And the emperor wants to boink his sister. But hey, it's only a movie, so it's not really his sister - and did you check out her casabas?

Didn't see "Erin Brockovich." Am I nuts? Didn't this flick come out in the Reagan administration? Seriously, this movie has been playing longer than Derek Jeter. Get it out of here.

Didn't see "Chocolat." Sounds like a girlie movie. Life is too short for me to see this.

Here's what life is too short for, Tony: the same stupid Oscar column again. What else you got?

Wait! I saw "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." Loved it. An hour later I wanted to see it again. I loved "Traffic" more.

Then do us a favor: Go play in it. Move on.

News Item: "John Phillips, founder and creative force behind the spectacularly successful 1960s rock vocal group the Mamas and the Papas, died in Los Angeles. The Mamas and the Papas were best known for haunting, four-part harmony work on such songs as 'California Dreamin',' 'Monday Monday,' 'I Saw Her Again' and the autobiographical 'Creeque Alley,' which told the story of the founding of the group."

Everybody who was anybody in the mid-'60s L.A. folk rock scene was in "Creeque Alley": John Phillips and his ethereally gorgeous California waif wife, Michelle; the other Mamas and Paps, Denny Doherty and tubby Cass Elliot; Roger McGuinn of the Byrds; John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky of the Lovin' Spoonful; Barry McGuire, who wrote and, um, "sang" the quintessentially hideous "Eve of Destruction," which contained the line, "My blood's so mad, feels like coagulating." (Cole Porter, eat your heart out.)

You recall Creeque Alley? "John and Mitchy were getting kind of itchy/Just to leave the folk music behind. Zal and Denny, working for a penny/Trying to get a fish on the line. In a coffee house Sebastian sat/And after every number they'd pass the hat. McGuinn and McGuire just a-getting higher/In L.A., you know where that's at. And no one's getting fat except Mama Cass."

Most everyone listed is in their 60s now, except the lucky ones, who are dead. (You think I'm joking? Have you taken a close look at Bob Dylan and Keith Richard recently? Those guys look like they not only felt like coagulating they did it.)

John Phillips was 65 when he died. Sixty-five! If he wrote "Creeque Alley" now, it'd be "Creak Alley."

"John and Mitchy were getting kind of itchy to leave assisted living behind.

Zal and Denny, couldn't count to tenny; took Ginko pills to jump-start their minds.

In a body cast Sebastian sat; he'd broken both his legs, slipping on the bath mat.

McGuinn and McGuire had long ago retired, to Lauderdale, you know where that's at.

Everybody's at the early bird, except Mama Cass."

Clearly, the Rolling Stones are going to keep touring no matter how old they get. I dread the day they come out and sing: "I can't get no satisfaction. I can't get no wheelchair traction. I might flip, I might slip, cut my lip, break my hip. I can't get no ..."

I mentioned Bob Dylan before. He looks like a shrunken head inside a great leather coat. It won't be long now until he starts singing, "How does it feel, to be fed oatmeal, to have your fruit all peeled, to lose your sense of feel, to use a safety seal?

Once upon a time, I felt so fine, wrote a real good rhyme, in my prime, didn't I?

People call, say I'm bound to fall, end up in a crawl, in the nursing home hall, my oh my.

I used to be so amused, at Crosby, Stills and Nash, and the acid that they used.

I got osteoperosis now, my bones are fused.

Every five minutes I need a snooze.

I'm on Prozac now, I've got hostility to conceal."

Dylan's still a genius. He's up for an Oscar himself: Best Original Song for something he wrote for "Wonder Boys." What if he wins, and someone asks him, "How does it feel?" And he tells us!

"How does it feel? To have your joints creak, to have a sagging physique, to wake up at 3, and have to take a leak? Thank God Johnny's in the basement, mixing up my medicine."

Tony Kornheiser is a columnist for Creators Syndicate.

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