The ridiculous 2008 Kennedy Center Honors — featuring bizarre tributes to Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, among others — were recently televised, which gave us an idea for the next Administration. President Obama’s walking into a seriously screwed-up economy and two wars. Since things are going to suck no matter what, we suggest the incoming Chief Executive concentrate on the bread-and-circuses front, and give us a 2009 Kennedy Centers fete that will keep people from even noticing the disastrous state of the country for several days.
Here is the program we would like to see next December:
Lou Reed. Introduced by Dion: “I remember meeting this skinny kid in a leather jacket on St. Mark’s Place. I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying, but there was no mistaking the fire of ambition in his eyes. Lou Reed took popular music to places many of us never expected to see it go.” Performances: the Jonas Brothers play an upbeat, two-minute version of “Heroin”; Beyonce sings “Perfect Day” backed a chorus of New York City firefighters.
David Mamet. Introduced by Andrew Lloyd Webber: “In the theatre Mr. Mamet and I work very different sides of the street, so to speak. But all of us have been dazzled by the power of his language, and the enormous success he had with The Untouchables.” Performance: Expurgated monologue from Sexual Perversity in Chicago performed by Jeremy Piven.
Philip Glass. Introduced by Moby: “When people accuse me of being repetitive and sterile, I play them some Philip Glass.” Performance: Enya sings, Glenn Branca conducts 174 guitarists in a segment of Einstein on the Beach.
David Lynch. Introduced by Michael Bay: “David Lynch has stretched the boundaries what is possible in our industry. When he visited me on the set of Transformers, he told me, ‘Michael, you can always go further.’ I’ve never forgotten that.” Performance: Pilobolus enacts scenes from Dune.
Blowfly. Introduced by Chris Rock: “The man is a truth-seeker! And a truth-teller! Nobody could do what Blowfly did or say what Blowfly said! Because if they did, they’d get arrested!” Performance: A dramatic interpretation by Tyler Perry, who is heckled by Blowfly, who is hustled out of the Kennedy Center.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 2, 2009