Who Wants to Be a Figurehead!?

The new postwar TV show

Well, it's all over but the ululating, folks. Time to paste a big Happy Face over Iraq on the map and move on, and not a minute too soon for those of us who are sick of typing the words Iraq and Iraqi all day long. When President George W. Bush listed the international laws Iraq was violating, he never even mentioned the one about u always coming after q, such as in the word quisling.

Which reminds me: before we move on to the next underdefended chunk of geography that dares look at us sideways—You'd better watch your ass, Catalina!—we still have one or two favors left to bestow on the newly liberated, looted and lacerated Iraqui people. (There, that makes them look more like Iroquois. Open a casino, boys!)

They'll need a new flag, of course. Maybe something emblazoned with an eagle with a missile exploding in its gut, bearing the motto "Freedom is Untidy"—that would do the trick. If you missed it, that was Donald Rumsfeld's remark when asked about the utter chaos, unchecked looting, hospital and museum gutting, and infarcted infrastructure that followed our liberation of Baghdad. Remember that phrase after the Bush administration has dismantled every beneficial branch of our government except those that infringe your rights, undone every environmental and consumer protection, shipped your job overseas, and handed the keys over to their corporate overlords: freedom is untidy.

But back to that plucky desert nation getting its first quaff of freedom: they need a president to call their own. They live near an entire country called Chad, so they don't need anything as untidy as our last election. Their phones don't work, so they can't call Pick-a-Pawn, Dial-a-Stooge or Puppet Hut.

Well, hey, mosque-makers, that means it must be time to play Who Wants to Be a Figurehead!

"Will our first contestant please come on down? Hello, sir, and what's your name?"

"Yanni," says the romantic figure in chiffon robes the color of night-vision lenses.

"Can you tell us your qualifications?"

"Well, Iraq is in a shambles. . . ."

"Would you mind spelling that with a u?"

"Not at all. Iraqu is in a shambles, and as you must know, I've played at the Acropolis, which has been a big damn mess for I don't know how long. If I can bring a sense of peace and harmony to that damaged infrastructure, I believe I can do the same for Iraqu. After the bombs, balm—that's what I say."

"And how many barrels of oil a day do you think you can pump out of the place?"

"I don't know. I need a lot of it for my hair."

"Next contestant, please! Welcome, and, well, excuse me, sir, but aren't you Saddam Hussein?"

"Who wants to know? Ha! I amuse myself. No, actually, I was one of his three top body doubles. Perhaps you noticed my work. I, for one, never enjoyed the harshness of his regime and did what I could to soften it. Can you roll the video here? Thanks. Now here you can see I'm wearing a cashmere beret in a lighter, more carefree shade of black. And see the little wave I give to the kids who are about to be executed? And the playful wink I give them? Those are some of my trademarks I was able to inject into what I must tell you was a very confining role."

"And why, sir, do you think you're the best person to lead a revitalized Iraqu?"

"I poll very high on name recognition. I have all the advantages of a proven brand, but you can load me with any agenda you want."

"How do we know you won't fly off the handle like your namesake?"

"Let me show you. Shove a hand up my ass. Now wiggle your fingers. See my ears wiggle?"

"Wow, that's remarkable!"

"Just a little something I learned at the Actor's Studio. An actor should fit his part like a glove."

"Hey, I can't get my hand out!"

"Well, I guess I'm your man then, aren't I? Do you mind if I ask the Haliburton workers you're sending to Iraqu to refer to themselves as 'cast members'? I think it makes for a cheerier workplace."

* * *

And now, a word from our sponsors. Sorry, we have no sponsors. We're boycotting them all.

Do you wake up at night in a clammy sweat, thinking, "Golly, how can I make a difference? The White House ignores my views. The Democrats are just diet Republicans. No one is even talking about the real war we just fought, the one where our bombs and missiles turned probably tens of thousands of conscripts, a.k.a. hapless slaves, into sandy jelly, and the government and media's calling that 'victory.' May I say 'Aaaargh'!?"

I recall a time in the Vietnam War when someone asked one of the North Vietnamese leaders how he thought student protesters in America might make a difference. He suggested we emulate the Vietnamese Buddhist monks who had immolated themselves. While a writhing human torch certainly was an eye-catching form of protest, not too many Americans took him up in that. So how does one make a difference?

Well, local activist Gordon Johnson sent out an e-mail last week—actually, this guy sends his weight in e-mails every week—suggesting several timely boycotts, one of which makes a bunch of sense to me. One suggested boycotting goods from the U.K., Spain and Portugal for supporting the war, which seems a little hypocritical for Americans to participate in, since it's our war. Another is the Brand America Boycott, which suggests boycotting U.S. brand-name products. That's too much of a shotgun approach to me. I mean, Wham-O, Abba-Zabba and Hustler are U.S. brands, and unless wars are fought with Hula-Hoops and whack-off mags, boycotting them won't stop war.

The one that made a poodleful of sense to me, though, was one that targets big corporate contributors to Bush's last—and, one presumes, next—campaign, companies such as Exxon-Mobil-Esso, Phillip Morris and its Kraft Foods division, and United Parcel Service. Those three firms alone contributed more than $6 million in the last presidential election cycle. Amounts like that utterly subvert democracy, and guess where it comes from? People like us who buy their products. So, unless you want to give money to Bush and Co., it makes sense not to give it to the people who give it to him. So don't and let those companies know why. You can check out the boycott info at www.bethecause.org/boycott/index.shtml.

* * * Hey Help! You may have noticed a few changes to the Orange County Fair last year, and even more for this coming one, where, instead of booking One Dog Evening or that mullet on a stick Billy Ray Cyrus, they've got Bob Dylan, Ozomatli, and several other fun and respected folk. One thing else they've done is wholly co-opted me. You simply cannot trust anything I say about the fair from now on because I've been asked to participate in it, helping to assemble an exhibit on rock & roll in OC. (I was trying to hold out for a job making Australian Battered Potatoes, but you have to take what you can get in this economy.)

And this is where I need you. I've only been able to fit so much of the county's history into my garage, and I am hoping to flesh this thing out with submissions from you. If you have photographs, posters, fliers, stolen ashtrays, etc., from old OC music venues or the same, minus the ashtrays, on county bands that you'd be willing to lend to the exhibit, please let me know via e-mail—and attach photos if you're able—at jwashburn@ocfair.com.

Even particularly neato memories would be nice to hear. We're talking the span of music from Dick Dale and Righteous Brothers up through Social D and the Offspring and venues such as the White Room, Merlin's Music Box, the Golden Bear, Spenger's, the Cuckoo's Nest, Radio City, Safari Sam's, wherever. We'd also like to feature bands that never made it, so if you've got embarrassing photos of your old surf band in matching blazers, let me know.

Future President of Iraqu Yanni performs at Arrowhead Pond, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 704-2400; www.arrowheadpond.com. May 3, 8 p.m. $50-$77.50. All ages.
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