Cheap thrills, voicemail and VJ Day, 2018
Summertime is bottoming out, so I was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the great Janis Joplin’s “Cheap Thrills” record and the iconic “Little Piece of My Heart,” first recorded in 1967 by Aretha Franklin’s big sister Erma.
When I got this two-part phone message from a Sad Sack lost in the propaganda cloud of InfoWars, all I could do was crank Janis up to stun on the living-room stereo. The threat from the white supremacist (proving the contradiction in terms) came at the perfect time, as I was engaged in a pre-primary-election cleanse.
“Come on, come on, come on, come on and take it!;Take another little piece of my heart now baby.;Oh break it.;Break another little bit of my heart now darling, yeah, yeah yeah. ...” Janis sings.
“I continually occasionally, continually occasionally... whatever, read you talking about dumb s—-. You and your white-privilege s—- and making excuses for…black people. I feel bad for black folks that are decent, that are doing decent things, man…” InfoWars dude prattled.
The call came to the Capitol Press Room from a nearly articulate man who first conceded a point of mine about the role of local newspapers and how any number of things we cover at Hearst Connecticut Media are not “fake news,” even as the definition exists among right-wing fabulists and race-baiters.
The voice-mail quickly turned ominous, detailing racist angles on isolated assaults around the world that could only be promoted by Alex Jones, who, if you’ve been living under a rock for the last six years, has broadcast the hoax that the massacre that left 26 dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happened.
“Didn’t I make you feel like you were the only man yeah! Didn’t I give you nearly everything that a woman possibly can? Honey, you know I did! And each time I tell myself that I, well I think I’ve had enough. But I’m gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough…”
“...A woman beats a 91-year old man with a piece of concrete, brick. Wow she was black. Somehow that was left out of the piece. That’s what I’m talking about homeboy…demonize the white people and pretty much give the blacks a pass on pretty much anything. OK? And you talk about fake news… You’re a piece of s—- man. I would love to run into you someday and whip that …. smirk off your face that you got in your picture.”
At this point, InfoWars dude convinced me that he must be bitter about a restraining order against him. Maybe he had to turn in his guns to the State Police until that date before a Superior Court judge.
“You’re out on the streets looking good. And baby deep down in your heart I guess you know that it ain’t right. Never, never, never, never, never, never hear me when I cry at night. Babe, I cry all the time!”
“You —————. Grew up in Greenwich and you preach to ———- me? You piece of —— you….”
I can take the assault threats and the barnyard expletives, but just because I noted a recent visit to Greenwich on the campaign trail, the Alex dude gets it so wrong. My late father, who dropped out of Hamden High School at age 17 to become a Navy medic for two tours in the Philippines with the Marines in World War II, later got a job teaching grammar school in Greenwich, where he also worked nights in the morgue at Greenwich Hospital. He and my late mother lived in an attic in a downtown Greenwich house. I was born in that hospital. When I was 17 months old we moved out of town and I grew up in Stamford.
On Tuesday, the day of the Republican and Democratic primaries — to remind those of you registered with either party to celebrate our freedoms and vote — I will arise in the predawn so I can fly the government flag I received after his death, from the front porch, to meet his wishes. For Tuesday is VJ Day, the anniversary of the victory over Japan in 1945.
“And each time I tell myself that I, well I can’t stand the pain. But when you hold me in your arms, I’ll sing it once again. I’ll say come on, come on, come on, come on and take it! Take it! Take another little piece of my heart now, baby. Oh, oh, break it! Break another little bit of my heart now, darling, yeah.”
Ken Dixon, political editor and columnist, can be reached at 860-549-4670 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit him at twitter.com/KenDixonCT and on Facebook at kendixonct.hearst.