The sun has set, my Saturn Vue is motoring up the driveway, the goats are lining up along the fence of their pen. They are watching the car carefully, and perhaps they also are watching me behind the wheel. They expect me to feed them, which I will do soon enough. The food, which generally is hay, but sometimes banana peels or orange rinds, forms the basis of our caprine/human relationship. Nevertheless I like to think that I am a Goat Celebrity, someone whose presence the goats simply MUST observe and acknowledge because of the Great Things accomplished and the Renown achieved.
The music network MTV once aired a program called “The Surreal Life,” in which an eclectic mix of rock musicians and past-their-prime actors and other well-known ne’er-do-wells were thrown together for no reason apart from vulgar entertainment and cheap sociology. Events were staged but unscripted, and the cameras caught whatever they caught. In 2004, the participants included television actors Traci Bingham and Erik Estrada, the pornography actor Ron Jeremy, and quite improbably, the evangelist Tammy Faye Messner, better known from her earlier billing as Tammy Faye Bakker (last name rhymes with “Quaker,” which her mascara suggested she was not, as well as “Faker,” which she might have been, at least partially; not to mention “Shaker,” “Taker,” and “Big Mistake-r.”)
In the 1980s, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were unavoidable intrusions for anyone surfing the cable channels. Their shows were broadcast and re-broadcast, seemingly around the clock, on their network, called PTL, which stood for Praise the Lord, which was the Bakkers’ second-most common activity. Their most common activity was soliciting funds. I remember Tammy Faye reading a long list of testimonials from viewers who had sent in $10 or $20, and soon thereafter came unexpectedly into dollars in the hundreds or thousands, seemingly by happenstance, such as by discovering a long-forgotten bank account, or by finding a stash of bills inside a flea-market mattress. The presumption was that the Hand of the Lord was at work, and the gospel implied was prosperity through faith. Hallelujah!
By all accounts, Tammy Faye spent much of her time on the “Surreal Life” with her hands over eyes or ears, screaming such proclamations as “This is not happening!” and “I shall not bear witness!” However, she also managed to strike up a life-long friendship with Ron Jeremy. Here is an excerpt from Mr. Jeremy on the subject.
She recognized that I wasn’t such a bad guy after all, and though she never approved of my line of work, she respected me and always treated me fairly. She even told Larry King and other interviews how much she liked me (and my pet turtle.)
I suspect that the goats in my yard do not practice a religion, nor do they entertain concepts such as reality television, money, and pet turtles. They are constantly naked and do partake in sexual activity, but that’s a long way from pornography.
I will Praise the Lord for the return of baseball season, now begun in earnest, and right on schedule, too. Several players have shuffled among the teams, which is not unusual, but still disconcerting for those of us who take comfort in familiar relationships. Last night, ex-New York Yankee catcher Brian McCann hit a home run for his new team in Houston. When the news reached the Yankee broadcast, John Sterling wondered, with some wistfulness, whether the Houston announcer had sung the “McCann-Can” song, as Sterling enjoyed doing for McCann homeruns last year.
John Sterling has been announcing Yankee games for as long as I’ve been listening to them, which is about 20 years now. He is famous for his love of Broadway shows and musical numbers, which he works into the calls of the games.
I have no doubt, however, that John Sterling will recover from the loss of Brian McCann. He’ll find good shtick, if he hasn’t already, to celebrate the new Yankees, like Matt Holliday (“Hooray for Holliday! That screwy, ballyhooeyy Holliday!”) and Aaron Judge (“Here comes the Judge; the court’s in session, now here comes the Judge!”) and Ronald Torryes (……um, well, check with me a little later.) I have no worries about John Sterling or any other baseball announcer. They’ll all be fine.
Comedian Don Rickles died yesterday at age 90. I haven’t checked, but I’ll wager that some cartoonist has drawn a bald-headed, fire-plugged wise guy at the Pearly Gates with St. Peter, yakking out a stream of insults and japes and borderline-rude commentary about the clouds and halos and harps and so forth. Presumably, Don will be admitted to heaven and we’ll never hear from him again, although video clips of his career are readily available on the Internet—that electronic repository of nostalgia. You can also check out his act in movies that include “Beach Blanket Bingo.”
It’s been a long time since I was a teenager, but my son M. is on the doorstep. He’ll be twelve years old in a few weeks, and his mom and I are noticing a somewhat lankier and snarkier child than we had before. No doubt adolescence will be a grand adventure for the whole household.
Tammy Faye died in 2007. I used to think of her as a self-deluded idiot. I still think of her that way, but a little more charitably. There have been times when I too want to put my hands over my eyes and say “This is not happening!” I also think of her living her life all at once, as if it all happened at the same time: Preaching on television, suffering the sex and financial scandals, chatting it up with Ted Koppel and Roseanne Barr, dying of cancer, meeting Jim at the bible college in northern Minnesota and then striking off with him for the big time, and her turn as Columbia in “Rocky Horror,” where she sang “Rose-tint my world, keep me safe from my trouble and pain.” OK, I made up that last one, but it’s fun to think about.
Take a look outside. Overcast and ugly, for the most part—but what’s that, a break in the clouds, with some sunlight shining through?! Spring just might be arriving, as it should. Spring, the hopeful season. Let us have hope for this year and beyond. There are many things to enjoy, to celebrate, and to cherish.