Archive for 90’s pop culture

Your Own Personal Jesus (Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel)

Posted in country music, Music & Life & Sundays, Mythos, Spirituality & Religion, Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 20, 2010 by alphabetfiend

Have your personal Jesus call my personal Jesus and we’ll work somethin’ out. How’s Sunday work for ya?    

For this week’s Sunday AM Punk Rock Gospel, I’ve chosen a song that’s gone through quite a transformation since its early 90’s hey-day. Originally done by Depeche Mode, “Personal Jesus” got a whole new spiritual life when covered by the late great Johnny Cash.    

    

Johnny Cash recorded “Personal Jesus” for his 2002 album American IV: When the Man Comes Around. Brilliantly produced by Rick Rubin, the album is a masterful collection of Cash covering songs by such diverse artists as Nine Inch Nails or Simon & Garfunkle. (Hurt; A Bridge Over Troubled Water) It’s clear from Rubin’s song selections that he’d listened to a lot of old Johnny Cash records. Each song is a glimpse into Cash’s psyche, soul and sound.    

    

“Personal Jesus” was an especially perfect choice and yet not at all obvious.    

Johnny Cash? Depeche Mode? Whuuut?    

C’mon, think about it! “Personal Jesus” was made for Johnny Cash. It’s a Jesus song! And damn can Johnny sing us some Jesus.    

“Gospel music is part of what I am and part of what I do,” — JC    

By 2002, singing about Jesus was old hat to Cash: he’d struck an earthly aching chord with songs like “Redemption”, “I Saw the Light” or (my fav) Billy Joe Shaver’s “Old Chunk of Coal.”    

Sinner? (Johnny Cash)

Johnny was the sinner striking out towards redemption.    

There was a sadness in Cash: an ill-healed injury, a bruised history. Yet Cash wasn’t brow beat or beat down. He wasn’t ashamed or unwilling to change. Johnny Cash was a work in progress… he was “Us”. For all the hurt his voice conveyed there was also yearning, learning and hope.    

Before I heard Cash’s cover of Personal Jesus, I never saw the song as spiritual or even especially meaningful. It seemed, to me, to be more about SNARK than SPIRIT.   

With that voice like an open gash, Cash gave it gospel. Personal Jesus” was never meant to be a spiritual hymn or religious statement. Dave Gahan reportedly wrote the song about heroin, after battling a nasty addiction to the stuff. (Guess that explains the snark.)   

Saint? (DM's Dave Gahan)

For me, the Depeche Mode version elicits memories of an illicit afternoon of stolen sex with my high-school boyfriend who was supposedly my ex-boyfriend (who should have definitely stayed an ex.) He’d shown up with his shiny new CD, hot to trot, hopin’ to be my very own personal Jesus. While he sang along,  fancying himself as unholy savior, I sat there thinking A) This again? What am I doing? and B) He bettah not be thinkin’ he’s my personal Jesus. Until I finally busted out with “Y’know you’re really not” and he said, “Oooh, yes I am.”    

Let us take a moment to thank our blessed father who art in heavan, for it was Johnny Cash who took ultimate and final possession of “Personal Jesus.” Sorry DM fans, sorry MM* fans, but it’s true. “Personal Jesus” is Johnny’s. Always will be. Sorry ADC but you aren’t my personal Jesus. Never waz.    

Everyone must find something to give their life texture and meaning, be it Jesus or Johnny Cash. We’re all setting our own moral barometers and looking for guidance — in the pages of The Koran or in the pages of Nietzsche. Whether we find peace in ancient psalms or Ginsberg poems, we’re all in search of the joy that obliterates pain, the light that illuminates the dark.    

    

What is more personal than Jesus?    

Often, when someone’s found what they’re looking for, they’ll become convinced that they have what the rest of us need. But spirit is a private matter. No one can save another’s soul. Even those belting out “Jesus Loves Me” beneath the same rain-pelted church roof  are singing to their own singular versions of God’s first-born.    

Historian/Author Stephen Prothero explored the many-faced Jesus in his book American Jesus. The book examines how Jesus has affected our culture and how our culture has affected Jesus.    

No religious personality has captivated so many Americans for so long as Jesus. Indeed, as Boston University historian Prothero demonstrates in this sparkling and engrossing book, Jesus is the one religious figure nearly every American, whether Christian or not, past and present, has embraced. From Thomas Jefferson’s cut-and-paste Bible to Jesus Christ Superstar, from the feminized Christ of the Victorians to the “manly redeemer” of Teddy Roosevelt’s era, from Buddhist bodhisattva to Black Moses, Prothero surveys the myriad ways Americans have remade Jesus in their own image.    

(Publisher’s Weekly)      

    

Whether you view Jesus as a diety or not, there’s no denying that Jesus has become an American icon. Chances are, you too have your own personal Jesus. We should all have our own personal Jesus! Who doesn’t sometimes need to reach out and touch faith?    

Personal Jesus    

Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who cares
Your own Personal Jesus
Someone to hear your prayers
Someone who’s there    

Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer    

Take second best
Put me to the test
Things on your chest
You need to confess
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith    

Your own Personal Jesus
Feeling’s unknown and you’re all alone
Flesh and bone by the telephone
Lift up the receiver
I’ll make you a believer
I will deliver
You know I’m a forgiver
Reach out and touch faith
Your own Personal Jesus
Reach out and touch faith    

This video is beautifully done — sun-faded familial shots of Johnny & June intercut with raw b+w photos of haggard looking celebs. (Kris Kristofferson, Kieth Richards, Dennis Hopper, Billy Gibbons, Kate Moss, Sheryl Crow, Justin Timberlake, Johnny Depp, Chris Rock, Lisa Marie Presley, Travis Barker and Kid Rock.)    

   

Who or what does your Jesus look like? Who’s listening to your prayers? What do you reach for when you’re all alone, just flesh and bone by the telephone?   

I sometimes suspect that Johnny’s personal Jesus was June.    

    

After June died, after they buried her, the Robot Boy was reading the paper when tears welled up in his green eyes. I was… surprised.     

Wow, he said. Johnny’s not long for this world.    

RB passed the paper and pointed at a photo of Johnny Cash at June Carter Cash’s funeral. Cash, in a black suit and tie, was seated in a wheelchair; his face was graven and distant. A man was offering condolences, hand out-stretched, but Johnny saw right through him, as if he were in a whole other plane of existence. As if one or both of them were ghosts.    

They’ll be one of those couples, predicted RB. It won’t be long, now that June’s gone.    

And it wasn’t. It wasn’t long at all. I cried and cried the day Johnny died but having seen that picture, I’d say I was prepared. I could see the peace in it.    

    

*Marilyn Manson also covered “Personal Jesus.”    

The Holy Banana is from Stuff That looks Like Jesus, a gallery of one Jesus after another, whether in a dusty moth-wing or in the chocolatey layers of a kit kat candy bar.     

“Dead Characters” (the Jesus Big Boy painting) is by the ever-brilliant Mark Ryden.“Jesus with Desk Lamp” is by Branden Martz (just one of many amazing multi-media artworks on view at his website.) Expect to hear more about Mr. Martz!    

American Jesus by Stephen Prothero is available at Amazon.

Janeane Garofalo Spills (on) Her Ink

Posted in Goof & Glamour, I Heart Funny Femmes with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by alphabetfiend

 “If you’re appealing to the most amount of people all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong. If you’re a person who appeals to people with discerning taste-if some people love you and some people hate you-you’re probably doing something right.” — Janeane Garofalo

I’m one of the ones that loves Janeane Garofalo.

I’ve loved her forever. I loved her curves & platform shoes in Reality Bites. (See below for you-tube clip of Garofalo shakin’ her booty to “My Sharona”  in a gas station.) I think she’s gorgeous, intelligent & funny. If I met her out in the world, as a random person, I would like her much and befriend her quickly.  So I was excited to see her in the latest issue of Inked magazine.

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Janeane Garafalo had a nice juicy article (not a unsatisfying blurb) in the December issue of Inked.

Inky Pink is on the cover.

. pink

Inked  magazine is kinda irksome. The interplay of tats & $2000 bags bums my tattoo artist Tina Forever.  But I love to hear the stories behind people’s ink so I enjoy the magazine. I also love the insanely sexy glam photos of tattooed ladies. Plus I think, in terms of it being arty & high fashion, that it’s nice to have alternative beauty ideals in that glossy guilty pleasure of the fashion magazine. I’ve also noticed the models are sometimes quite bootilicious. So on one hand I bow to my geisha Tina in all things tattoo… on the other hand I snap up a copy whenever I come across a new issue.

Then when Janeane Garofalo is inside — spilling behind-the-scenes details on her tats — I’m glad I did. (Sorry Tina. Here’s my hip. Go ahead and prick me. I’ve been a bad bad girl.)

Love that sexy bee-otch!

Garofalo blabbed about her pieces which number in the mid-teens and look killer yum yum on her. Yay!

I think I have 14 or 15. They’re all kind of splattered about-mostly on my arms, some on my stomach, some on my legs. My very first one was a star on my left calf. I got that because it was small and easily hidden. I liked it and I kept going from there. One of my favorite tattoo artists is Friday Jones. She did the Rosie the Riveter on my right arm. I really like the iconography. Instead of the government slogan “We Can Do It” underneath, I put “Valor,” from the phrase “A woman of valor, who can find? For her price is far above rubies.” Meaning it’s very difficult to find a courageous person-man, woman, or otherwise. It’s very valuable to be courageous, so I put it on my arm to remind me. I also didn’t want a government slogan from the World War II era on my arm.

Tattoo talk segued into politics — of course! — when the interviewer pointed out Garafalo’s left shoulder which is inked with the now honorary 4-letter word “Liberal.”

Being liberal is something to be very proud of. Over the last 30 years or so, the right wing of this country has managed to bastardize the word. They think it’s something to be feared because liberalism equals progress and social justice, and Republicans and conservatives hate progress and social justice. Liberal is not a dirty word. It’s not a pejorative.

She also discussed her hesitation to join the cast of 24 and her continuing struggle with the show’s depictions of torture.

I initially passed because some of the show’s creators’ politics are a little right wing for me. But then I realized, A. I need a job, B. I’m not myself on the show.

Creator Joel Surnow has jokingly called himself “a right-wing nut job.”  Oh, it’s not a joke. He is a right-wing nut job. While being a very funny guy, he’s also a right-wing nut job. That’s part of the reason I didn’t want to do it. I can’t honestly say that my conscience is clear about the torture on the show.

Politics segued into work, naturally, for Garofalo has been more politically-minded than career-minded and has often merged work & politics. She discussed the juicy gossip behind some of her famous roles such as her short (shorter than my 5 ft 2 in frame that can’t be allowed these big ole breasts… grrr) short stint on SNL.

You once said your stint on Saturday Night Live was the worst experience of your life.  For the five minutes when I was on it, it just happened to be at the rock bottom.  It’s been resurging since Tina Fey started there years ago-or, actually, since Molly Shannon came on. When Molly started, things started looking up.

Does the “SNL effect” on politics get more credit than it deserves? Nobody changes his vote because of a comedy bit. I do think, though, that cumulatively, shows like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, SNL, Bill Maher, and David Letterman are showing the hypocrisies and absurdities of the contemporary Republican party. They’re hopefully helping to shape the feeling, Wow, this party is extinct. It should go the way of the dinosaurs.

She also dishes about her almost-roles like “Phoebe” on Friends and “Dorothy Boyd” on Jeremy Maguire.

Is it true that you turned down the role of Monica on Friends? No. There is some truth to it, but not exactly that. Long ago before Friends was Friends, when it was in its infancy, it was a show called Friends Like Us, and I was being considered for a role, like a goth girl, which I think morphed into Phoebe. Friends was created for Courteney Cox, so she was always Monica.

(Alpahabetfiend note… Friends may have been created for Cox but she was actually supposed to play Rachael and she chose to play Monica instead… I know b/c it’s the only reason I like Courtney Cox. That and the fact that she married a total freak. And named her baby Coco. A baby freak named Coco is too circusy & cute for words.)

What about rumors that you were close to getting the role of Dorothy Boyd in Jerry Maguire, which eventually went to Renée Zellweger? One of the producers wanted me to do it, with the caveat that I lose weight. Then I lost a bunch of weight and it turned out that the consensus was that I was too old. It’s hard to deny that Renee was perfect in that role. But I was first too fat and then too old.

Which brought us to another important issue — beauty ideals & body image — that Janeane Garofalo has addressed through-out her career which is one of the main reasons why I so adore her. I’m sure she’s made many women & girls feel more comfortable in their own skin.

You’ve been so open about body image. Do people still ask you to lose weight or change your appearance? Not anymore. When I started acting at 27, it was always, “Can you lose weight?” It’s kind of crappy, but that’s the gig. They pay you to look good on camera. I don’t agree with this, and I think with the advent of HDTV, it’s even worse, because nobody looks good on HD. It looks so cheesy when everybody’s hair looks like glass and their eyebrows are perfect. It bothers me. I don’t find any connection in it.

I must admit I was kinda bummed — and a tad less comfy in my own skin — when, asked about her breast reduction surgery, Garafalo dissed big titties. C’mon!

I had boobs like Dolly Parton. I’ve never thought big boobs were good. I hated them the second I got them. I did nothing but try to hide them my whole life, and as soon as I was in college I was like, These have got to go. I just didn’t like those pendulous boobs. When I did stand-up, people would heckle me because such a short person with such big boobs is very distracting.

OH! So that’s why I’m so…. distracting. Oh well, dolly-pardon me… I did not mean to distract you with my sleight of height and bouncy boobage. Grrr. Well, let’s move back to goodness, let’s let talk of flesh & skin take us back to ink. Garofalo attested to the legendary dickishness of Henry Rollins aka ASSHOLE.

You’ve also worked with Henry Rollins on The Henry Rollins Show. Do you guys talk tattoos? Not really. He doesn’t discuss his. He has a lot of tattoos all over his body, some good, some not so good. He also doesn’t take care of them, so a lot of them have faded terribly. He refuses to moisturize his skin because that would be girly-a little too metrosexual for him-so they’re not all in great stead. But of course the iconic Black Flag bars are the best. If it didn’t look like I was copying, I’d love to have those.

Would that piss him off? Yeah, he would not like that. I actually told him that I wished I could get the bars, and he said, “Don’t.”

And YES! She also said she’d tattoo Sarah Silverman’s face on her already hot bod… which would make Janeane what?  Sexy-Squared?  Funny-Squared? Oh hell yea!

Has a fan ever flaunted a Janeane Garofalo tattoo?Yes, oddly. It’s unbelievable, I know. A very young, nervous girl came up to me at a comedy club and showed me a tattoo of me on her arm. I was shocked and speechless, thinking, She’s gonna regret that. It was such a big piece on her little arm. I think I hurt her feelings by my reaction, and if I had it to do over again, I would’ve been more supportive. She was really proud of it. It was from a photo taken at the Clay Pigeons screening party years ago. I was in corduroys and a T-shirt, karate-kicking towards the camera. She had the picture exactly. Hopefully she was able to turn it into something better later on. I would put Sarah Silverman’s face on my body.

Janeane Garofalo with a Sarah Silverman’s saucy mug all across Janeane’s belly or backside? MMmm. Kinda makes me a touch tumescent. Mmmmmm. In addition to Silverman, Garofalo is laughing at — and with — Tina Fey, Molly Shannon, Upright Citizens Brigade, Flight of the Conchords, David Cross and Bob Odenkirk. Although when asked about Dane Cook’s comedic appeal Garofalo confessed to being flabbergasted.

 It is as big a fucking mystery to me as the pyramids of Giza. 

 “A woman of valor, who can find? For her price is far above rubies.”

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