By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
In "the mother of all contract disputes" the label prevailed, and Saddam retreated into his luxury palaces, while his organization foundered, stripped of infrastructure. The friends who stuck by Saddam in this difficult time say he was a shell of his former self.
One recalled, "Sure, he'd shoot an advisor once in a while, but it seemed like his heart wasn't in it. Without the label there to back him up, all his grandiose plans melted away."
In recent years, there had been talk of a comeback. Rumors circulated—he was putting a new band together called Imminent Threat; he was stockpiling Mp3s; he was secretly producing acts for Osama "Cutout Bin" Laden's al Qaeda label. US Records, which still holds Saddam's contract, issued a preemptive restraining order, but in discovery their attorneys found the rumors were only that: rumors. The Baghdad Fad had joined Sly Stone and others in the "where are they now?" hole.
Then came the startling pictures of that squalid hole—where apparently the only chemical Saddam could still lay his hands on was a can of Raid—and of his haggard, defeated face, showing so little of the boyish pluck that had once inspired the loyalty of Bush, Rumsfeld, Reagan and so many others.
Today, Saddam says he's cleaned up, deloused and ready to reconnect with his old partners, if they were only willing to pick up the phone.
"I don't know, today they act like they don't know me," he said, tears welling in his eyes. "Did you see the LA Times? The first 14 pages of the paper were just about me, a big picture, everything. But nowhere in there do they talk to my old friends or about the times we had. Look, I had some real successes and I can admit today that US Records played a big part in it. But if they want to act like they don't know me now, I understand. Elvis died alone, too.
"But I know I still have a lot to offer, and I hope people are willing to give me a second chance. If Rick James can make a comeback after torturing a woman over cocaine, if they can send John Negroponte to the UN, I can hope they'll give me another turn at bat. If not, I'll roast their stomachs in hell. Ha, ha, that was just a little joke. That was the old Saddam."