Thursday, November 12, 2009
The Beast, Making Love to Itself
Poor Schmuck sings: Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street.
Poor Schmuck thinks: Is she really going out with an ape like him?
What, in 1979, English singer Joe Jackson (in the role of Poor Schmuck, all greasepaint and clown shoe) didn’t know about what a woman sees in a man – and of a man – could well fill an album – a sad, lyrical testament to the ignorance of the young men found prowling the council tenancies of Britain’s Thatcherite squalor.
Of course, old Joe’s not alone.
I’m a schmuck too.
And chances are better than even you’re a schmuck too.
We’re all schmucks, every last one of us – male or female.
We all linger before the primate cage, transfixed by envy or desire, seeking to fulfill a need we choose not to elaborate upon – the “beast crush” – where oily-haired counterparts copulate beyond practical concern – Jack and Jill rolling down the evolutionary hill, thick hair doubling itself along their haunches – a strip club soundtrack sliding through the seaweed fluctuations of their collective mind.
Poor Schmuck’s dad, peering over the Daily Mirror: “You let Grape Ape get ‘is chocolate in yer niece’s peanut butter – an’ everythin’ goes to pieces, it does!”
Poor Schmuck’s mate, lingering before the tattooed pizza parlor: “It’s just like that, innit? We become Cornelius and Zira, exchangin’ partners with Taylor and Nova – Lancelot Link guest-starrin’ on bleedin’ Charlie’s Angels – old Jane Goodall – gettin’ her jollies in the clutches of King Kong!”
The borders become unclear in the prideful plea of the singing clown, he and she transposed, a knuckle-dragging pelt shaking at the base of the sexual tree – a monkey stealing Adam’s apple from the sleeping snake.
God quickly becomes a baboon, resting on a dark cloud, admiring his simian design in a puddle of rain.
The church-builders will never allow it!
Even the atheists will cry foul, refusing to let anything muddy their crystal clear understanding of Darwin’s strobe-lit gait across the phylogenetic stage.
But the clown will have his way!
Poor Schmuck is awarded a second season, the gorilla left standing in the rain – a bouquet of courting roses wilting in his hand – the nougat-limbed beast backing away from its self, returning to its designated cage.
Now it’s Irish singer Elvis Costello who casts himself against the ape, reading her as next year’s model, pouring bile on those who fail to share his misanthropic gloom – the King asking the queen – who’s on first?
And don’t forget Graham Parker – or Pete Shelley – or Ari Up – any number of angry young twig-limbed Brits with quivering knees – the dyspeptic bookmobile driver, the roofer’s son, the proto-feminist hairbrush – all standing tall behind the shield of rock and roll, clearing the jungle floor, finding their balls strung across electrified wood – their voice hanging from a microphone stand.
This was never a problem for performers like Lou Reed and soul vixen Betty Davis, two singers possessing an acute understanding of their gender counterparts – Reed playing the unfaithful wife to rock‘s rooster, Davis spreading his legs – both capable of sketching a woman bruised with love, splendid and sexual in her ruin, a feast for the dissolving male spirit – a fair lover for the girls hiding in the back.
Magilla Gorilla, Cheetah, Curious George – but a few products of the unholy union twixt troglodyte and God’s image – the fanciful agents busy supping from the loins of their muse – Reed giving rise to the bristle, singing of the beast making love to itself – Davis dancing with its shadow.
Meanwhile – back in Britain – the ape, it would seem, was walking hand-in-hand with the clown in the window – leaving the girl to find other company.