Bush and the Christian right
George "Dubya" Bush racked up some good press this week by naming the
well-liked Dick Cheney as his running mate (Bush & Dick, a balanced
ticket), those who fear the Texas governor is still in the thrall of right-wing
fundamentalist Christians appear to have a valid concern. Your superior
correspondents recently visited the State of Texas Web site to see what's been
going on there, other than the frying of convicts. Seems that Dubya signed a
proclamation last month designating June 10, 2000, as "Jesus Day" in the Lone
The proclamation reads in part, "By volunteering their time, energy or
resources to helping others, adults and youngsters follow Christ's message of
love and service in thought and deed." While P&J certainly have nothing
against messages of love and service, it seems that some all-important context
should be brought to this initiative. Has not Texas wrestled with some pretty
scary anti-Semitism in recent (and past) times? Not that this isn't a problem
elsewhere, but in the South particularly (Fox News recently aired a piece on
the continuing problem of anti-Semitism in the South), this continues to be a
A few questions come to mind: Since the Christian majority in this country is
a pretty well established fact, and Christmas and Easter have long been
considered major holidays, we wonder what sort of message "Jesus Day" sends to
our non-Christian fellow citizens? Are there any states out there proclaiming a
"Mohammed Day"? Was not his also a message of love and service? Is the point of
proclaiming "Jesus Day" in Texas anything more than a sop to the Fundamentalist
Christian right, which is not entirely elated about some of Dubya's more
The flags are at half-staff at Casa Diablo after the recent death of Phillipe's
mentor, Haskell Cohen.
Haskell (the equivalent of Ezekiel in one of those Jewish tribes to which he
belonged) taught P everything he knows about public and media relations, and
was a giant in the sports world. He was the first PR man for the National
Basketball Association, devised the initial NBA All-Star Game and negotiated
the first TV contract for what is now the Billionaires Boy Club. He also edited
numerous sports magazines, and chose any number of high school All-American
teams for Parade magazine. (Hey, Joel Rawson -- at least that was a
legit reason to switch to Parade when you sunk the Urinal's Sunday
magazine.) The number of sports PR guys whom he helped move on to bigger and
better thing are legion.
Haskell also told Phillipe one of the funniest stories regarding the Boston
Celtics. Way back during their heyday of Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Red Auerbach,
et al., the dressing room at the old Boston Garden was so small, the team
limited the players to having one guest per player in the locker room after the
game. It got to the point where you essentially knew all the visitors, because
the players would always give their locker room passes to their best friends.
Not so Bob Cousy. For some reason, Haskell said, Red Auerbach noted that Cousy
always had a different visitor for home games. Prying into the matter, Red
figured Cousy, a notorious skinflint, had a vested interest in picking his
diverse companions. Too right.
It turned out that Cousy's teammate Russell just happened to be the Milton
Berle of the NBA -- i.e., hung like a Clydesdale. When Cousy would mention this
to non-basketball people he knew, they wouldn't believe his description of his
teammate's prodigious length. He would then bet them $100 that Big Bill had at
least a 10-incher working for him, and would then invite the person into the
locker room to watch Russell emerge from the shower. Once Auerbach found out,
he immediately pulled Cousy's carte blanche invitational privileges.
Although that's a cheap way to get a laugh from Haskell -- and lighten up,
Cooz, you know we love ya -- it is indicative of someone who has been around
the block once or twice. Phillipe can't thank you enough, nor can anyone else
who benefited from your wisdom and care. Shalom, old friend.
Finally, the state Education Department spoke on the infamous White Zombie
T-shirt case that emerged from the wilds of Westerly. Basically, they were
exactly right in deeming the student dress code in that city vague and
We have no idea where the paranoid fear in Westerly about youth gangs and
satanic cults comes from. Jorge, who testified before the Ed Department's
hearing officer and was cross-examined by the then-counsel for the school
committee in this regard, thinks the over-reaction stems from a committee being
held in the sway of reactionary nutbags. Certainly, many of the questions that
Jorge was asked by the lawyer for the Westerly School Committee were those of a
At one point, Jorge was read some typically silly promotional blather from
Geffen Records, the company White Zombie was recording for. Apparently the
lawyer's take was that these were serious devil worshippers whose main goal is
to subvert the youth of the nation. Nefarious groups with such motives usually
do not hire top-flight Madison Avenue types to create their propaganda. And
usually, they do not take the form of touring rock bands which are recording
for a major label.
It's interesting that the Westerly School Committee members who were most
enthusiastic about pursuing this suit and wasting tens of thousands of dollars
of the taxpayers' money seemed to be more conversant than most fans with the
lyrical content of mock scary heavy metal bands. Nine out of ten kids you might
ask about White Zombie would tell you they are not exactly acolytes of Aleister
In fact, the kids would typically have no idea what he, Anton LaVey or Kenneth
Anger are all about. But apparently a few Westerly residents with over-active
imaginations are spending a great deal of time poring over the fringe writings
of such lunatics. We guess they still can't get over the fact that the Beatles
continue to be more popular than Jesus.
Waiting for Godot.com
Sorry, this item has nothing to do with the headline, but it's indeed a link
between two generations whose twain shall never meet. P&J like it almost as
much as "Of mice and Mensa," which is, of course, what your superior
correspondents would title Walt Disney's biography, if we ever wrote it.
This is instead a follow-up to P's missive last week from Indonesia, where he
went to recruits new plagistes -- better known to non-Francophiles as pool
boys. But this week's letter from afar has a less upbeat theme:
Halo Jorge --
Hey, it's just like Rhode Island here, even down to the Jakarta Post
headlines that read, "Corruption still dominates in RI," using the same
abbreviation for Republik di Indonesia that we use for Rhode Island. It's like
reading the Urinal, right down to the local attorney general's office getting bombed for having the audacity to suggest that Tommy,
ex-President Suharto's son, might have actually been as corrupt as his dad.
Hello, Tommy and Dennis DiPrete?
Fortunately, since no one is lobbing grenades in the direction of our own AG,
Weldon Shitehouse, or the queen of Plunder Dome, US Attorney Meg Curran, we do
have at least some dignity left. But life on the other side of the world is
pretty grim, despite the fact that in Farad Khan, a local movie star, they have
managed to clone Tom Jones -- however frightening that thought may be. And we
can always mention the crossdressers singing competition featured on Japanese
TV, but that would be wrong.
Perhaps the weirdest moment we've experienced so far was waking up to find a
round sticker with the word "Kiblat" on it, along with an arrow pointing toward
the ceiling above the bed. After wetting the bed thinking it was the world's
largest cockroach, I then thought it might mean something like "Fire Exit." No
such luck. Actually, it's used to point the direction to Mecca for the Muslim
majority who may wish to pray while on excursion. No one's thoughts ran
immediately to a person in the bed, engaged in the horizontal limbo, who may be
reaching Nirvana without the need for a Geographical Informational Systems
Oh well, enough for now. My tiny brain just can't take any more. Say hi to the
gang, and tell John Harwood we're still thinking of him.
-- Love, Phillipe
. . . Our tireless fact-checker, Myrna Nussbaum, points out to your superior
correspondents that the song "Satin Doll," mentioned two weeks ago in cool,
cool world, was written by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Johnny Mercer.
While we mentioned that it was part of "the Ellington canon," we neglected to
note Duke's long-time partner, Strayhorn, and Mercer, who is undoubtedly
responsible for the word "flipparooney" in the lyric.
. . . Anyone out there get the feeling that the "mistaken" apprehension and
jailing last week of Antonio Freitas, the government's chief witness in the
Plunder Dome case, was a little more than a boo-boo? Jim Taricani was
definitely onto something when he suggested on Channel 36's "Deadly Experiment"
that there seemed to be more than meets the eye with this embarrassment. C'mon
people, let's quit the monkey business.