Today is the 81st anniversary of the (in)famous War of the Worlds live radio broadcast by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater troupe, which means the controversial radio episode that caused panic across the land is exactly one full year older than Grace Slick, singer from the seminal rock and roll band Jefferson Airplane. A lot of young men had serious crushes on her back then and a lot of young women wanted to be her, both for her style and her talent, as she was one of a handful of influential women who were part of the San Francisco music scene of the 60’s and 70’s. She’s 80 today. And while there were a lot of people trying to make music and cash in on the groovy, psychedelic scene without necessarily being very good musicians, Grace could actually sing and write songs. Case in point: Grace Slick isolated vocal on “White Rabbit”
Today many of us have a crush on her for additional reasons. A couple of years ago, Grace allowed Chick-fil-A (does anyone else think this is a stupid name for a restaurant chain?) to use a Jefferson Starship song, “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” in an ad that was set to appear on the Grammy broadcast of 2017. There was a lot of outrage that the rock ‘n roll icon, always outspoken on social injustice and other important Liberal issues of the day, was profiting by licensing her song to a company with an anti-LGBTQ reputation (justly earned, and that company seems to be proud of its ugly biases).
But what people didn’t know is that Grace came up with an idea as soon as Chick-fil-A reached out to the Jefferson Airplane/Starship representatives to purchase rights to use the song in the ad. She signed off on it, knowing all along that she would give all of the proceeds, 100%, to the Lambda Legal, the organization dedicated to protecting the rights of people in the LGBTQ community. It was a big “F%#K YOU” to the chicken sandwich chain. Here’s the statement she released after the ad aired:
So that was my voice you heard on the Chick-fil-A commercial during the Grammy Awards telecast. I am donating every dime that I make from that ad to Lambda Legal, the largest national legal organization working to advance the civil rights of LGBTQ people, and everyone living with HIV. Admittedly it’s not the millions that WinShape [the charity founded by Chick-fil-A’s founder] has given to organizations that define marriage as heterosexual. But instead of them replacing my song with someone else’s and losing this opportunity to strike back at anti-LGBTQ forces, I decided to spend the cash in direct opposition to “Check”-fil-A’s causes — and to make a public example of them, too. We’re going to take some of their money, and pay it back.
Isn’t that refreshing in a time when we hear countless ads with Who songs, or Beatles songs (admittedly not for such controversial companies or products) on commercials, and already-wealthy actors being paid to narrate commercials? One such example is Susan Sarandon, famous liberal, outspoken political critic and Bernie-ite. Susan likes to deride all the lobbying that goes on in politics, especially in Washington, and the power that large corporations, like Big Pharma, wield over our elected officials.
Fair enough, but then one day I’m watching TV and a Tylenol (Big Pharma) commercial comes on and the voice is very familiar, and then I thought, Dammit, Janet! It’s Susan Sarandon! Yes, the anti-lobbyist was okay with taking money to work for Johnson and Johnson, the parent company of Tylenol, and one of the biggest and most aggressive lobbying corporations in America. Way to go Susan! Maybe you could learn something from Grace Slick?
The Johnsons also own the New York Jets Football Club. I’m a Jets fan. Enough said.
VIDEO BREAK: if you’re one of those people who think all baby creatures are cute (and I am one of those), this is for you: a baby giant sea slug crawling around on its mommy at low tide in Malibu, CA. Cute, right?
And now, back to Orson Welles and War of the Worlds.
Back then, radio and newspapers were pretty much it as far as getting news and information. Every home had a radio. So when people tuned in to the show already in progress, and didn’t hear the disclaimer saying that this was a dramatization of H.G. Wells best-selling novel, War of the Worlds, they freaked out, thinking it was an actual radio news broadcast, which was Welles’s brilliant concept in the first place: tell the story as real news happening in real time. In other words, War of the Worlds may have been the first, and perhaps best, instance of faux news, even by accident.
Today, news comes from all over the place. Papers (the ones still in print, and all those on line). Broadcast TV. Cable TV. Radio news and talk shows. Twitter. And so on, and so on. People on the left watch their news, people on the right watch their news, and everyone seems to be creating news, real or not, on Twitter, like what’s-his-face. We need to fact-check (and re-check the integrity of the fact-checker), and sometimes even if we’re not being lied to we’re still being manipulated, which is exactly what young Orson (he was 23!) did so successfully to the radio public 81 years ago.
A friend suggested it was time for a re-make, using Twitter and Facebook, etc. to create a fictional crisis (nuclear? Epidemic? Military coup?) that would make War of the Worlds look like a grade-school fire drill. I thought about it, and sure it could be done, but why bother? The news is scary enough already. If I want to get my blood pressure up and have dooms-day ideations, I’ll just turn on the TV news or go web-surfing. especially during wildfire and impeachment season.
Enough about serious issues. I’d like to share a recent epiphany with you.
I have this unusual ritual. It has been referred to as a peccadillo, which is a great word and sounds a little dirty, but that’s because it is, as it means “a very minor or slight sin or offense; a trifling fault,” which I have decided is not exactly what my ritual is. Sure, it’s a little sinful, but a fault? You be the judge.
After washing up for bed and whatever else, I lie down and play stupid games on my phone in the dark. Kiki is usually asleep at this point. Sometimes I have an ice pack on my arthritic shoulder, other times I might have a heating pad on my sore back. I’m a mess, let’s face it. And then, I pull out a small cup of lightly salted peanuts and eat them in the dark, in bed.
Peccadillo? Or just brilliant? I read somewhere that eating a couple of ounces of protein right before bed helps you sleep better and burn fat while you’re not doing anything. Does it work? Who the hell knows, but it tastes great!
But here’s the epiphany: sometimes, if my peanut cup runneth over, a couple of nuts fall onto the heating pad. So what I want to share with you is this: warm peanuts are delicious! And you don’t need to heat them in bed with a heating pad, but it’s a nice way to multi task, especially in the cold winter months. They used to sell warm peanuts in the shell from carts on the streets of New York City, but not so much anymore, so you need to warm your own. Nuts, that is
Here’s a couple more tasteful and artsy pictures of coral from Malibu, CA.
Wow, I’ve gone over my limit here. So what have we learned? Aside from my odd eating and sleeping habits regarding warm nuts? Well, we learned that Grace Slick is still pretty cool. She paints now, by the way. Did you ever notice that all celebrities become painters when they grow old? Musicians, actors, radio personalities, politicians. Yeah, George W. Bush paints. And Howard Stern. What is that? But anyway, Slick sets a good example that other celebrities might consider following.
And we learned that fake news used to be for entertainment purposes only, unless it was straight-out propaganda (red flag! red flag!). These days, with news and entertainment so intertwined, “reality” is so scary we don’t need to modify or edit for entertainment purposes. Think about that. We’re being entertained by the very things that scare us most. People are, well, nuts.
That’s about it from Woodland Hills, CA today. Hope you have a great week and please stay safe from the fires and the news. There’s some fake news in Smoking in Bed, come to think of it. I never realized this. It has something to do with Dick Cheney and terrorism. Read it to find out the juicy details!
2 thoughts on “ON THE WAR OF THE WOR(L)DS AND BEING GRACIOUS”
You pulled me in with War of the Worlds, pulled the old switcheroo on me with Grace Slick, and I stayed for the whole thing. Great post. Thanks for sharing this!
Thanks Darius! Great name. And I mean both of ’em!