Let Jerry Speak!
When Penthouse put former California Governor (now Oakland mayor) Jerry Brown on its cover one July, I bought that Penthouse and saved it for five months so I could frame the cover and give it to Commie Mom for Christmas. It's a great photo: Brown, as always, looks like an eagle, with his silvering temples and stern nose. And they chose a photo that features a big, black microphone coming at his mouth like-well, you know. Commie Mom and I love Brown. In fact, if you rent The War Room-the very fun documentary of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign-you will see Commie Mom in closeup shouting, "Let Jerry speak!" at the Democratic National Convention. Brown, the second-ranked presidential candidate in the primaries, was being denied even the courtesy of addressing the convention-so that everything could look more "unified," as if he had never run and all his delegates were not sitting there screaming. Bad Clinton!But the Catholic Worker will always let Jerry speak. The wonderful, soulful Lefties whom OC Democratic Party leadership called "not in the mainstream" had a very sweet "peasant dinner" at their Santa Ana digs on Sept. 1 to welcome Brown to OC. He was in town for a debate later that evening at Chapman University with status-quo apologist and master of protect-the-rich smugness Hugh Hewitt. (The Santa Ana Catholic Worker has officially designated Oakland as a sister city; I'm not sure whether they mean Santa Ana's sister city or the Catholic Worker's. Either way, I think it's groovy!) Before Brown came downstairs to address OC's proud liberals, an Orange County Register reporter pointed up to the small room where Brown was hanging out. "There's Jerry Brown," he said. He pointed to the banister, where a pair of olive pants hung, drying from an unknown water accident. "And there are Jerry Brown's trousers!"Brown soon donned those trousers and came down to the assembly. He started, as usual, terribly abstractly, talking in circles while he warmed up. But he soon began hammering specifics. About 1,200 new laws are signed in the state of California every year, he said. Shouldn't that about cover it? Maybe for a couple of years, they wouldn't need any new laws? They could take a year off? And the laws mostly mean nothing: the federal government has been trumpeting its plan to test students at the national level as an education cure-all. Of course, we already have local and state testing. "If you have two extra speedometers on a car," said Brown, "they don't make it go any faster." He was very funny-though, of course, he never cracked a smile. And then he was off to Chapman. Since The Man has me down, I had to return to the office. So I gave my mom the fedora and sent her off to cover the Hewitt/Brown fiesta. Here is her report.Why I Love Jerry BrownBy Donna Schoenkopf, a.k.a. Commie Mom "I love Jerry Brown. He says things like, 'Social construction of reality' and, 'Cities interest me.' And he is intense, handsome and brilliant. Even Hugh Hewitt seemed reverential at a debate at Chapman University, where 500 freshmen got an up-close look at what makes Brown great. Brown looked at them, and the first words out of his mouth were that education and politics are corrupt. The room turned its collective eye on MC Dr. Fred Smoller, who grinned, acknowledging Brown's iconoclasm. Then they let loose a torrent of freshman approval-with pockets of silence. Brown never gets everyone's approval. God, I love that guy. Hewitt's opening line was, 'In the year 1702, the Duke of Marlborough. . . .' And he recommended everyone read God, Plutarch and Montaigne. Hewitt said the global economy is good because it creates wealth with which you can help the poor. We all know what happened the last time rich people helped the poor: they're still poor. In the end, it doesn't really matter what the debate was about (it was about the global economy). The important thing is: never miss getting a chance to be there when Brown speaks truth to power. Viva la revolucion! Viva Jerry Brown!"If it had been Linda Ronstadt night at Ripple's Dragarama, I would have invited Brown along. Instead, Wednesday was Dolly Parton night. I love my job. The intimate room upstairs (where the lip-synching was on fire) was a terrific place to see tall gay men don enormous breasts and accuse their friends of three-day coke binges. Meow! I actually teared up during the MC's rendition of Dolly's version of "I Will Always Love You." She was so wonderful, fluttering her huge lashes and smiling gently at the adoring audience. And the other Dollies-an obese one in pink, a strange one in lingerie, and a terrific one who danced a reel while "singing"-were darling, too. I could change them!I went to the preview of Simon Birch prepared for a misadaptation as egregious as the movie adaptation of A Little Princess. You remember Princess, which featured the orphan getting chased by cops! And dangling from a plank outside a third-story window! By one hand! In the rain! Not to mention a lame ending featuring her dad being alive instead of killed in the war! And the OC Weekly gave it a good review!But Simon Birch-which was "suggested by" John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany-did its best to be faithful to the book, which happens to be my favorite in the world. The audience was rapt, perfectly quiet during the story of the little freak who would be a hero. The problem, simply, is that the book is unadaptable. It's a dense (but very funny) novel about miracles, perfect faith and a Christ figure for our time. Like The X-Files, it makes you a believer. And while staying relatively true to the book's plot-though with serious holes, like the complete absence of the Vietnam War-the movie sucks the locomotive-like religious power from the book and makes it a funny, sad little story. That's very nice, and I appreciate the effort (and good acting all around), but it ain't no baseball upside the head.I'm guessing Christopher Cross wouldn't have minded throwing a baseball at my head after his show with former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald on Saturday for the whole darn city of Garden Grove. It was an innocent question and an honest mistake. I simply asked the singer of such KOST-FM soft-rock songs as "Sailing" and "Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)" if he also belted out the theme to the TV series Greatest American Hero ("Believe it or not/I'm walking on air/I never thought I could feel this free-ee-ee"). I loved that show for the four weeks it was on when I was 8! He said he didn't know who sang it, referred me to his drummer, and turned on his heel. Ooops. The Euclid Park show was a lot of fun: Cross' voice is as high and clear as ever, McDonald is a Grizzly Adams-like rocker, and they've got a hot girl drummer who sings duets while pounding the skins. There was also much schlock, like Cross singing a song he wrote about Kirk Cameron popping his cherry on Growing Pains ("And so it begins/This journey of love"), and it was more than an hour before they started rocking out to old Doobie tunes. Once they did, though (and got to such Cross megahits as the rousing "Ride Like the Wind"), some people got off their lazy bottoms and danced like hormone-poisoned teenagers. Of course, while I was dancing to the Arthur theme up front, some fat girl walked by and punched me in the arm and told me to sit down. She obviously hasn't read much Plutarch! Did I mention that I love my job?
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