I interviewed Eartha Kitt for a website a couple years back. Two guys interviewed me, and then told me how their next call was to Eartha Kitt and that they knew absolutely nothing about Eartha Kitt. So I took over for them–first I asked if she liked singing in French better than English, and it kind of rolled on from there, me asking questions of this dignified, quiet old lady over a speakerphone.
We’re lucky, in a sad way, that she died on Christmas–it’s a slow news day, and NBC News treated us to a brief rundown of her life story that they probably wouldn’t have time for on another day. There was footage of her spontaneously decrying the Vietnam war at a luncheon at the White House that Lady Bird Johnson was throwing for some less controversial cause. It speaks to the well-known intelligence cluelessness of the Bush regime that the next clip was her singing “Santa Baby” at the White House tree-lighting in 2006.
My girlfriend is away, so I was sposed to observe a Very Jewish Christmas with Scrap this year–Katz’s pastrami and a movie–but at the last minute Scrap went to Dallas. So I spent the day watching TV. I watched The Breakfast Club for the first time in years and was amazed to see that Judd Nelson appears to be roughly 32. And to rediscover that nearly everything we said in high school, circa 1984, was ganked from the movie. Actually, despite myself, I was kind of moved by the high-school-stereotypes-unite-in-spite-of-their-tribal-enmity message in the same way I was in the 9th grade. (My role was sort of a Judd-Ally Sheedy-Anthony Michael Hall Venn diagram)
I also watched a little bit of the WPIX Yule Log– a videotape loop of a fireplace, with holiday music, that’s run on channel 11 in New York every Christmas for as long as I can remember. It used to run for 24 hours straight–presumably so there could be just one guy at the station keeping it running while everybody else could go home, open presents, and get drunk on nog–now they keep it to a crisp 4 hours, 9 to 1. There was some hoopla about them changing the log this year. Maybe there was an outcry. It was the same log.
The thing I’ve been complaining about since about 2003 is that MTV no longer devotes their programming on the 25th to playing their backlog of every Christmas video and promo and bumper-slide that they’ve played since 1981–including my personal talismanic Christmas video, “We’re Having a Reggae Christmas” by Bryan Adams, in which one can see Pee Wee Herman undulating in a dreadlock wig.
I did see the video for Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” though. I forgot that somewhere in the second verse Paul Young, Bono, Simon LeBon and Boy George (I forgot what an amazing voice Boy George has) sing about “a world of dread and fear” and “the clanging chimes of doom.” I heard it on the holiday mix-tape-loop at Whole Foods the other day and realized you could probably say anything in a Christmas song. I’m considering writing a Christmas song with dark, foreboding imagery between choruses that go, Christmas, snow, etc, snow, trees, Christmas, etc, snow, etc.
(PS, who would remember Paul Young? I loathed him as a metal-transitioning-to-punk kid, but he’s got a great voice. He needs his Rick Astley moment)
(PPS, does anybody out there call Whole Foods “Ho Foods”? As in the place where they feed the Hoes?)
I went to YouTube, looking up the other chorus-of-rock-stars benefit song videos that happened after Band Aid. I saw the metal one, Hear’n Aid, with five straight minutes of celebrity guitar solos, and then Artists United Against Apartheid’s “Sun City.” Which is worth it just to hear Joey Ramone sing the line, “Constructive engagement is Ronald Reagan’s plan.”