Darrell Vickers: On the Isle of Caprice

darrell-vickersRight off the top, I’m going to categorically state that I’d rather stick my head in an Asplundh Whisper Chipper than get into a discussion about Woody Allen and his present ex-familial travails.  So, for the purposes of this sociological treatise, let’s all pretend that the Woodster never drew his first neurotic breath.

That being said…this bespectacled “He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named”, this nerdy non-gentile who does not exist anymore than The Perth County Conspiracy, does shine a bright light on a peculiar and startlingly capricious aspect of the human condition.  I.E. the separation of the artist from the art.

Celebrities, for the most part, are an ill-behaved lot.  Reprobates of the highest order.  Drunken, wanton, unwashed, and uncouth ne’er-do-wells who feast upon narcissism and eschew the accepted norms of public decorum.  Multiple marriages, bewildering affairs, arrests, sincere contrition, proud reformation, more arrests and drugs, drugs, Jerry-Lee-Lewis-marries-his-13-year-old-second-cousin-Myra-Browndrugs leading to an early and ignominious death next to a toilet.

Back in 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis severely dented his career by marrying a 13 year second cousin.  Today, Papa Duck of Dynasty fame is filmed telling a large crowd of guffawing sophisticates that it is imperative that they wed a girl by the time she’s 15 and it barely rates a mention.  Really?  15?  He has things living in his beard older than that.

a bucket for women to poop inChuck Berry likes to watch women poop into buckets and got arrested for taking a 14 year old waitress across state lines for unbridled naked frolicking.

michael jacksonLikewise, R. Kelly seems to find very, very young women as irresistible as people find his records.

And it’s not just underage girls!  Michael Jackson had invited half the male children in Southern California to his house for sleepovers and no one ever got suspicious until…

rick jamesRick James kidnapped and tortured a woman and forced her to perform deviant sex acts on his girlfriend while he was performing sex acts on his crack pipe.  Rick may have added one or two entirely new volumes to the “Totally Fucked-Up courtney loveEncyclopedia” before he gave everyone a break and cacked it.

Courtney Love was proudly photographed breast feeding an aspiring rapper in a New York Wendy’s.  (After eating a Dave’s Hot ‘n Juicy Triple, one often pines for a complimentary beverage.)

Vince Neil killed Hanoi Rocks’ drummer when, in a whimsical state of mind, he mistook an oncoming vehicle for a liquor store.

glen-campbell-mug-shotAnd let’s not forget the God fearin’ country folk like Glen “Attractive Mugshot”  Campbell, Randy “Lying Naked in the Road in Front of a Church” Travis and Billy Joe “I Shot Your Face Off” Shaver.  The trick in the South seems to be, if you can get banjaxed to the point where you can’t even remember who God is, then you’re free to do whatever the fuck you want.

But it’s not just the Johnny-Rotten-Come-Latelys.  Frank Sinatra did not shy away from acts of unabashed naughtiness and criminality.  Elvis had his share of icky habits.  Hank Williams, Sam Cook, Eddie Fischer, Phil Spector and Spade “Wife Murderin’” Cooley all put lobster and au gratin potatoes on the plates of the gossip mongers of their day.

gunilla and NatWhy even a guy as squeaky clean as Nat “King” Cole had a torrid affair with a bouncy young Swede named Gunilla Hutton.  The whole hollow, self-centered industry is replete with rakes and rounders.  Celebrities aren’t so much entertainers as they are soccer hooligans with microphones.

And now that I’ve run dry of musical miscreants to savage, I can finally get to my oh-so-round-about point.  Why is it that we can disregard some performers’ ghastly deeds and not others?  Rick James was being cheered on at the House of Blues a few months after he was released from the hoosegow.  Chuck Berry can now afford to record women defecating on hi-def video with surround sound.  Michael Jackson was about to embark on a billion dollar tour when he took one too many horse sedatives.

What exactly separates the tolerable from the unforgivable?

Jackie Gleason portraitIs it talent that makes us look the other way?   In far less forgiving times, uber-despicable characters like Bing Crosby, Art Linkletter, Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, Buddy Rich, Paul Anka, Jerry Lewis and Red Buttons didn’t suffer public ostracism.  This sordid sack of surly celebrities was guilty of all kinds of ethical and behavioral malfeasance but their fan base cared not.

Yet, back in the day, Fatty Arbuckle’s career was ruined by the “Coke Bottle” scandal and he was found innocent.  Was it that he’d been accused of a crime so horrific that people couldn’t forgive him, even though he didn’t do it, or were they just tired of laughing at the tubby actor?

It wasn’t enough that Mel Gibson insulted the entire Jewish race to the constabulary while driving drunk.  (I mean, who hasn’t done that?)  He also had to punch out his girlfriend’s tooth while she was holding his baby before his admirers started to question paying $17.50 a seat to see his movies.

And speaking of men who have had the incalculable courage to beat a woman half their size black and blue…Jason Kidd has often taken his extra-large-sized knuckles to a member of the opposite sex but he could still shoot a three-pointer and that was all that seemed to matter.  And now he’s coaching other young and impressionable enormous men.

kim kardashina sex tapeBut, perhaps you don’t even have to have talent to survive self-induced shame and humiliation.  Kim Kardashian started out with a scandalous sex tape and then got famous.  It’s hard now to think back to a time when I didn’t know exactly what Paris Hilton’s vagina looked like.  And who hasn’t Naomi Campbell bludgeoned insensate with a cell phone?  Perhaps a nice paris-hilton-pair of hooters helps smooth over life’s little indiscretions regardless of one’s thespianic gifts.  I know that I myself have forgiven any number of outrageous transgressions against me due to a healthy pair of Bristols.

The question is…would we have forgiven Gary Glitter it he’d written “Beat It”, “Johnny B. Goode” or “I Believe I Can Fly”?

How far does the Biebster have to go before little girls stop buying his peppy-poppy records?  Manslaughter?  Murder?  Singing without auto-tuning?

And speaking of taking another life – All the people below took someone’s life and it was their damn fault.  I’ve divided them into two distinct categories.

56037710CJ059_Prince_Of_WalSeemingly Forgiven

Matthew Broderick, Keith Moon, Laura Bush, Ted Kennedy, Brandi, Don King, William S. Burroughs, John Houston, Howard Hughes, Snoop Dogg, Lead Belly, -sid-vicious-Charles S. Dutton, John Landis, J.R. Smith.

Forever Damned

Sid Vicious, O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, Phil Spector, John Wilkes Booth, Jayson Williams.

If we acknowledge the precept that all entertainers and politicians are basically woefully wayward infants, then it becomes incumbent upon the public, as the adult in the room, to set appropriate boundaries for them.  But, what the fuck are these behavioral lines in the sand?  I don’t see any sort of consistency here.  If a rock star accidentally kills his babysitter while fucking her tied to the hood of his Bugatti Veyron, does he suddenly think, “Christ, I better write a major hit song before celebrities misbehavingthe police get here or I’m totally up the shitter.”

Perhaps there is no answer.  Bankers don’t go to jail, why should famous bass players?  Perhaps we’ll just keep deciding, on a case by case basis, which luminaries we are willing to allow to kill our neighbors, brutalize our women and have sex with our children.

People get the government they deserve, and just maybe, they get the celebrities they deserve.


If you like the writing, then check out my serial novel at the link below.

There is a new chapter every Monday.

Chapter 6 is now available.


Darrell Vickers appears here every 4th Monday 

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.co

DBAWIS_ButtonDarrell Vickers started out as one half of Toronto area band, Nobby Clegg.  CFNY fans may remember the cheery song “Me Dad” which still gets airplay.  From there, he valiantly ventured to L.A. and eventually became head writer for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Since then, he’s created numerous sitcoms and animation shows in Canada and the U.S.  He still writes music and has an internet band called Death of the Author Brigade (members in Croatia, Canada and the U.S.)   Mr. Vickers also had a private music mailing-list where he features new and pre-loved music.  Anyone who would like to be added to his daily mailing list, just write him at Radiovickers1@gmail.com .

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