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Beatles, Ali, and Hamlet

Back in 1963 when Muhammed ALI met the Beatles, or actually, it was the Beatles who went to meet ALI, Ali made a comment to the extent of, “Who were those little faggots, anyway?”
Now, this is, for me, not an indictment of anyone’s sexual preferences. I certainly don’t mean to make reference to it in that regard, but, having refreshed my memory with the footage of the Beatles actually meeting Ali I became all the more aware of what a powerful man with a great sense of presence he was and is, and what dainty little tittering birds the fab-four were. Supposedly, ALI made a comment to the extent of, “You aren’t as stupid as you look, “ and Lennon said, “No, but you are.” There was a moment of silence, and then they all laughed. I believe that ALI reserved himself for the same reason many men would, and frankly should, hold back from striking a woman. If you have any doubt of this, take a look at the footage of ALI meeting the Beatles.
Now, the Beatles were famous for making controversial, bold, and, truly, (though I was a fan), stupid statements. Lennon of course, made that infamous statement about the how the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. An interesting aside to this is that Muhammed ALI, in that time period, was ‘the most written about’ human being on the planet, (not the Beatles) and he had too much reverence to make such a statement. The only non-fictitious person historically to have been more written about than ALI was, you guessed it, Jesus of Nazareth. The next most written about person of all time, doesn’t count in this context, because he was a fictitious character: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
(Hamlet, also never said he was more popular than Jesus).

This brings me to something I have been pondering for some time, Rock and Roll, American style. Rock and Roll, with its historic beginning in 1954 with Bill Haley and the Comets was truly and uniquely American. Beautiful in its simplicity and marvelous in its ability to cheer people up and get them to dance, early American Rock and Roll was on a rocket course of its own until, as truly expressed in the song Bye Bye Miss American Pie, it was sadly derailed by what became known as, “The British Invasion”. The early days of the British Invasion brought to us music that sounded very similar to American Rock And Roll, with clever and humorous lyrics that mirrored the sometimes humorous lyrics of early American Rock, “Beep, Beep, ‘Oh Maybelline, Why Can’t you be True,’Splish Splash.’ But the British Rock soon became intricately orchestrated, lost its simplicity, became a less fun and more cerebral exercise in weird landscapes of tormented minds who were the children of a tragic and destructive war in their own island country, “Four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire.” And while Americans were emotively symapthetic, we, as a Rock and Roll people became very detached from our own post-war experience, that was beginning to be reflected in the Rock of Our Youth, and became sadly, sponged up in someone else’s experience, “The players tried to take the field, but the marching band refused to yield,” This line from American Pie reflects the frustration, anger and sadness that was experienced by an American Rock and Roll Generation that had to yield the fun and simple power of American Rock and Roll, to a musical-style burlesque that became the antics and exhibition of the likes of Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts-Club Band.

Our own American post – World War II experience with 2 million Americans dead having spent their lives helping to spare Europe from that genocidal menace, post-war businesses booming, new families forming and new adventures being realized, was its own great, grieving, screaming, laughing and crying experience that we spent at someone else’s funeral, someone else’s wedding.
I mean, I love the British and all, I even like BP, though BP has had a long history of making mega-millions at the expense of the Americas and not really seeming to have any particular regard or concern for the people and the land where the money was made. Oh…. I meant Beatle Paul, when I speak of BP, not British Petroleum. Well, British Petroleum, has been just as opportunistic. They have ignored environmental concerns for years. Not so long ago, they were trying to foist their presence on the Great Lakes in the Midwest, ignoring Chicago and Indiana concerns with reference to the questionable ‘cleanness’ of their operations.
Now, I find this twist of British loyalties interesting: President Obama has made it clear that he intends to litigate against BP in every possible way. In fact, evidently, the reason the Federal Government has been so sparse, to the frustration of Bobby Jindal and other Louisiana residents, in its help in the cleanup and resolution of the oil spill, may be that they do not want to dilute their argument that this was all BP’s baby and therefore BP’s responsibility. I find this response tragic and merciless. The fact that Federal Personnel, i.e. Army Core of Engineers and others were not dispatched with dispatch to help mitigate the situation, and that the government kept making the claim, “Well, BP is more equipped to help than we are so… well… we just won’t be able to help much…. so… Have a nice day…” is disgraceful and about as productive as a divorce.
The amusing thing is that, during all of this President Obama is partying with his buds, like Paul McCartney, who in a fawning way made reference to the fact that it was so marvelous to have a president who knew what a library was!” Surprise, surprise, a deprecatory comment from a Beatle, only this time he wasn’t calling himself greater than Jesus, because, of course, I’m sure he thought that he was sitting right next to Jesus. Even more interesting is the reason that McCartney became ‘Sir’ Paul McCartney; it’s because he helped to slay Britain’s economic dragon, many years ago, and, largely for the money the Beatles and other rockers helped to bring into then desperate Britain’s coffers was then appreciated by Britain’s royalty. With no particular regard today for the country that knighted him, McCartney now sits cozied up at the knees of the man who is about to take the knees out from under one of Britain’s great industrial giants, the one man who, litigiously could, and may, bit by bit, piece by piece, destroy British Petroleum.
I had written, many months ago, that Obama would take advantage of a blip or problem with the power grid as an excuse for the Federal Government to take over the power grid. I wasn’t far off.
His announcement regarding the moritorium on drilling, and the litigation and regulation to come, sent Wall Street, (just about all sectors, except T-Bills) into a tail spin. I actually feel bad that a bastion of free-market enterprise and capitalism, like BP is going through what they are going through, and I feel bad for Britain, because, after all, the Brits in the form of Tony Blair stood shoulder to shoulder with we Americans in our time of crisis, that same crisis when President Bush rose to his authority, and made it his duty over the next 7 years of his administration to keep us safe. That’s the same President Bush that Paul McCartney thought we would all just so enjoy if he ridiculed him and made snide little comments towards the leader that protected him along with everyone else. Bush, like Ali, is too big to lower himself to these tittering comments. He probably just smiled and laughed. As far as I’m concerned, McCartney, and BP can take their sorry American money making asses back to where they came from. I have a record up on my shelf that was one of the first releases of any Beatle album. It was stamped, interestingly, in a Chicago Record stamping plant. I will take that record down off the wall, along with some of my other British invasion albums. It is time for me to rediscover the American Experience. See, “I went down to the sacred store, where I’d heard the music, years before…” and I have the feeling that maybe, just maybe… the music will play.

Copyright June 2010 by Juan Zapatero



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