Saturday, May 10, 2014

Eurovision, kitsch and queer popes, some of whom might now be saints, wifi radios and showing the Tudors a thing or two: as I promised it’s time to get EDGY (if only I knew what that bloody meant). As for the words queer or nigger or spic or kike or greaseball – me, looking for trouble? – Lenny Bruce sums it up rather well

As I write, the kitschfest known as Eurovision (the ‘Eurovision Song Contest’) is being broadcast (and has been for what really does seem like the past five days), and if there are ‘them’ out there ‘watching us’ and hoping to save Earth from destruction (i.e. ourselves), they are undoubtedly beyond horror. I would like to write that it is quite beyond belief how a reputed ‘civilisation’ can stage this kind of nonsense, but after the opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics and, more recently, the 2014 Winter Olympics I’ve concluded it is wisest to be prepared for the worst always. We must never drop our guard: kitsch is on the rampage, people, and to those intent on surviving its evil intent I can only counsel eternal vigilance: make no mistake, it’s out to get us (©Loons The World Over).

OK, I’m as liberal and broadminded as the next prig, and I do accept that some folk (sadly, my wife and daughter for two) do enjoy this kind of cack, but if any more proof were ever needed that, to paraphrase H. L. Mencken, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the public (some sources say ‘taste’ but I really can’t be arsed to discover which it is), Eurovision and those opening ceremonies must be it.

But it wasn’t TV’s latest kitschfest which has brought on my latest bout of dyspepsia: it was noticing, while surfing the net and coming across a report on the BBC News website, that the present pope is casting around for a reason to turn a former pope, Paul XI, into a saint. This comes just weeks after he canonised Pope John XXIII, Paul’s predecessor, and John Paul II (who, incidentally, reputedly had second thoughts about accepting the papacy when he was voted in because as a Pole he wasn’t too sure he wanted to live in an Italian neighbourhood). As John XXIII died just over 51 years ago, Paul XI 36 years ago, and John Paul II just nine years ago, this all seems to be happening with indecent haste. So for the connections between Eurovision and the Vatican: few do kitsch better than those two.

I am, by the way, one of those who refuses to accept that John Paul’s predecessor John Paul I died a natural death and firmly believe he was bumped off by an unholy alliance of the Mafia, unsavoury figures surrounding Archbishop Marcinkus and the reputed ‘gay mafia’ which took root in the Vatican while Paul XI was pope. Paul was apparently also gay whose boyfriend was a well-known actor. If he was, there is, of course, nothing wrong with that except that the Roman Catholic church’s hypocrisy in giving gays a rough deal over the sexuality they were born with does make it all a little hard to swallow.

There are also claims (there are ‘claims’ about most things, by the way, and although it is always very entertaining listening to them, it is also wisest, at least initially, to take them with a large grain of salt) that John Paul I was gay, but they are based on the fact that while Patriarch of Venice he was remarkably openminded and liberal about homosexuality. In fact while checking one or two dates while writing this blog, I came across the following quote which rather endears John Paul I to me. It was contained in a speech he made to cardinals while Paul VI was still pope:

The day is not far off when we will have to answer to these people who through the years have been humiliated, whose rights have been ignored, whose human dignity has been offended, their identity denied and their liberty oppressed. What is more we will have to answer to the God who created them.
And, yes, he was speaking about gay men and women.

But back to kitschfests and the canonisation of three popes in what seems like the past ten minutes. Why the rush? Doesn’t the Catholic church have enough saints? And if the intention is to honour these three men, couldn’t some other way have been found? I think (that is I might be wrong and am prepared to be corrected by whatever pedant cares to email me to set me straight) that in order for a man or woman to be canonised two miracles must be attributed to them, miracles which took place when their ‘intercession with God’ was prayed for.

Well, I am one of the uncouth types who believes the definition of a ‘miracle’ is what cannot yet be explained, but which will at some point in the future be perfectly explicable. I mean, were I to travel back in time with my dinky little personal wifi radio (and were the internet available, which, of course, it wasn’t) and were I to turn it on and play to some Tudor folk broadcasts from Russia, Australia, Cuba,


South Africa, Armenia or Iran, what was taking place would most certainly be regarded as a miracle. And if, while I was showing off just what a cool character I was, what with my personal wifi radio and my quite marvellous collection of laptops - seven at the last count, but not all used by me - a plane were to fly overhead - you know the kind we see quite a few off these days, especially if we have the misfortune to live in Hounslow - and I explained to my Tudor audience what it was and where it was going, not only would I be viewed as a source of fabulous miracles, but I would be lucky not to be burned alive as a witch. But this - Tudors spotting jet planes in the sky and me showing off my latest gadget - is a long way from what I was speaking about.

As what is quaintly called a ‘cradle Catholic’, that is one who was born and baptised into the church and not one who ‘converted’ because he fancied the Duke of Norfolk’s youngest daughter and realised he would have to marry her before he could legitimately shag her, I feel I am entitled to my views about the RC church (although I have a very close relative who is rather more attached to it than I am and who reads this blog, so I shall be a little more circumspect in my scorn than I usually am). But this latest bout of saint making is, as far as I am concerned, par for the course.

Incidentally, why do we rule out any suggestion that Pope John Paul I might well have been murdered because we now live in the ‘modern world’ where that kind of thing doesn’t happen and when the Vatican and the papacy has, throughout the ages, at times been a cesspit of vice and murder? Is there really something ‘more respectable’ about the mid-20th century - he died in 1978 - which precludes criminals with a great deal to lose from resorting to that measure? I rather think criminals, whether of the Renaissance or of a more modern era, are eminently pragmatic. The only rule they tend to observe is one often known as the Eleventh Commandment: Thou shalt not be caught.

So there we have it: from one kitschfest to another. The real puzzle is why the Vatican doesn’t have its own entry in the Eurovision song contest. But I’m sure that will come at some point now that I have mentioned it and the Vatican secret service - Gianni and Carmello, as it happens, I once shared a flat with the two of them in Milan in 1973 - have noted my suggestion. Ciao ragazzi!

Oh, and if some of this strikes you, my dear, dear, dear reader as a little more incoherent than usual, yes, wine was involved and drunk during its composition, but I can assure you that no animals were harmed, though mainly because I couldn’t find the bloody cat.

. . .

No one, of course, refers to gays as ‘queers’ anymore, except gays themselves, and when they do it, it’s because they want to make a point. The same goes for the word ‘nigger’: it is now a complete no-no for us all except for blacks themselves, and again they want to make a point. And when they use it, there is absolutely none of the baggage in the word that would be there if it were used by a white. When a black uses the word, there is none – how could there be? – of the hatred, fear and sheer contempt in it which would be central to its use by a white. And I can think of no circumstances where its use by a white would be acceptable.

Yet it really is not as straightforward as that, a point made by Lenny Bruce (a ‘yid’, a ‘jewboy’ to those who still care to use those terms) in one of his funniest routines. On paper, it wouldn’t be funny at all. In fact, at best it would get him banned from the BBC for life, and if his luck were really on a downturn, he might even find himself in court where he still alive today to perform it.

The routine (and I shall spend a few moments in a minute seeing whether a recording of it is available on You Tube) is excellent proof the the adage is true that it ‘ain’t the joke, it’s the way you tell it’. Now, amuse yourself for a minute or two while I head off to You Tube. Think I’ve found it.

Watch (or rather, listen to) this:

 

It is, in fact a clip from the film Lenny, with Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce, but the script is word for word Bruce’s routine. But even so I think the point is well made.

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