I don’t want to give the impression that I’m some sort of whiner in a post-Fellowship slump whose life went from a Ferrari to a 1962 Ford Falcon in about six short weeks, but here’s this anecdote: When I got home from work today, Alan said, “Laura Lippman was the guest on Diane Rehm today,” and said it in his wonderful Diane Rehm voice, and it was sort of the highlight of my day.
“How did she sound?” I asked. (I’m interested because Ms. Lippman is book-touring, and we’re probably going to meet in a few days.)
“Sunny,” he said. “Especially compared to Diane.”
Well, almost everyone sounds sunny compared to Diane, and yes we must acknowledge now that Diane is coping with the tragedy of spasmodic dysphonia, although I’ve always maintained that my problem with D.R. is her recessive sense-of-humor gene, not her voice. Alan feels the same way, but he still imitates her.
(Richard has S.D., but it just makes him sound sexy.)
Anyway, if you want to see if Laura sounds sunny, you can listen to the stream here.
I’ve been thinking today about how stories spread, especially wrong ones. If anyone knows what really happened in Las Vegas between Linda Ronstadt, the people at her show and the management of the hotel where she was performing, please say something. Because every time I read an account of it, it grows a few inches, like the fish your grandpa caught or the snow he had to walk through to get to school. The closest I can tell, from reading Las Vegas newspaper accounts of the show she put on earlier in the month, she gave a lackluster performance that already had the crowd dissatisfied. When she came out to do her encore, and dedicated “Desperado” to Michael Moore, people reacted.
There were cheers and boos, and some walked out. If you search this story in databases, the earlier accounts tend to go with this version: A crummy show, an irritating speech, a vocal audience, an early exit. But oh, how it grew from there.
But Google “ronstadt + ‘near-riot'” and you get dozens of hits, most of them versions of this story, which says concertgoers “tossed cocktails into the air” in their outrage. (A Las Vegas columnist said one concertgoer threw a drink at a poster.) Soon she’s being “escorted from the building” in a bum’s rush of patriotic outrage. And so on.
But ask yourself: Say I’m at a show, and it’s not going very well, and the performer makes a political statement I don’t like. What would be my reaction? Speaking just for myself, I think I’d be likely to a) boo; and maybe b) walk out. But riot? Tear posters from walls? Throw a perfectly good cocktail that was doing no one any harm into the air? Please. This was not a Toby Keith crowd, nor the Sex Pistols; there was unlikely to be a mosh pit at a show for a middle-aged singer and her middle-aged fans, so let’s just use our common sense and try to consider the most likely reaction. You ask me, drink-throwing just seems…unlikely.
Now comes Lance Armstrong and the case of the Spitting French. Did you hear? French spectators spat upon our hero. But again, with the help of Professor Google, we see this entire charge comes from one story, in which the Tour director was talking about the unwise decision to hold a time trial on a mountain stage — because the riders don’t travel in a peloton in a time trial, and because of the characteristics of the terrain, there was no barrier between the crowd and the riders, and the whole course was this screaming gauntlet of crazy cycling fans pressing dangerously close to some riders.
Afterward, Tour director Jean-Marie LeBlanc said, �There were lots of aggressive fans surrounding the riders and I even saw two idiots spit at Lance Armstrong.�
This in a crowd estimated at 500,000 to 1 million. Two. And yet the same people who like to claim liberals have neither spleens nor spines for the war on terror get the vapors over the idea of this expectoration. Good lord, you’d think none of them have ever been to an American hockey game.
Of course, the Freepers are one thing, the mainstream media quite another. Soon Lance will be stepping to the podium dripping the spittle of contemptuous Frenchmen, when everyone else who watched the Outdoor Life Network saw people standing five deep along the Champs-Elysees, waving flags and cheering.