Thursday, June 26, 2003
Grilled Weiners for the Holiday--or--
Everyone Loves a Barbecue, Even a Weiner
I've never been much for holidays. Since my writing career's taken off, I haven't been in an office and benefited from a long weekend away from the tedium of stapler performance and Xerox jams. And holidays are quite obviously an invitation for amateur-hour clowns to sit in your backyard, poke at grilling meat with a huge fork, get drunk, vomit all over your second-hand patio furniture, and urinate on your highly-illegal lawn dart targets. I can piss in my own plastic rings while dangerous projectiles rain down around me, thank you very much.
That being said, I decided to have right-wing talk show host Michael Savage (né Weiner--kids, count along at home how many times you're going to see "Weiner" today!) for a little barbecue in honor of America's newest holiday, Appropriate Michael Savage's Name for Your Own Purposes Day. We chatted about current events, threw some burgers on the Coleman, and put back a twelve pack of Amstel Lights (hey, that's what he brought even though I specifically asked for Miller Genuine Draft, a holiday beer if there ever was one).
"You do realize that today may or may not be the worst day of your life."
"How so? It's my holiday! It's not too bad so far. Those burgers are going to be great."
"I don't know, I thought you might be a little upset that your name is going to be dragged across the internet. Some might say it's going to be appropriated over and over for people's personal purposes, and that seems to upset you."
"Who can think about all of that stuff when there are burgers to grill?"
Savage takes his place beside the barbecue, wafting the scent of browning meat towards his face. Even though we haven't eaten yet and there are already four burgers cooking, he unwraps four more and plops them down on the grill.
"Ready for some questions?"
"It's well-established you hate many minority groups. Do you hate Jews yet?"
"If you did a little research, you might have discovered that my given name is Michael Weiner and that I am, in fact, a Jew from the Bronx. Which gives me carte blanche to hate them if I so choose. I reserve the right to hate them in the future. You know, harangues about sending them all back to Israel, and turning The Holy Land into a parking lot. The whole bit."
"If you could get one million additional viewers for your foundering right-wing cable talk show by strangling a Jew, would you do it? I'll make it easy, it's a very liberal Jew you'd be strangling. You know, he could have been against the war, loves immigrants, whatever."
"Then what difference does it make that he's Jewish?"
"I'm trying to construct some kind of moral dilemma since you haven't officially turned on the Jews yet. You better push down that burger with the spatula."
He flattens a burger with the spatula, which hisses and bleeds juice over the coals.
"How many viewers would I get again?"
"A million. A million extra, so your viewership would be something like one million forty thousand."
He wags a finger at me, indicating I've been naughty, but still managing to keep an eye on his cooking duties.
"Cheap shot. Yeah, I'd strangle the little liberal. My show could really use the help, I can't even sniff the ass of WB ratings. You want me to flip this burger for you? It's getting a little brown."
"Sure. Speaking of which, we know how much you hate brown things, like my gardener, Manuel. You asked to see his green card on the way in. But he was born in Cleveland."
"We can't take any chances, now can we? I would have given him a three minute head start before I chased him down with my shotgun. I'm gonna use that on my show tomorrow. The Michael Savage Three Minute Immigrant Head Start Challenge. I'll play some tejano music, really let loose with the shotgun sound effects. Oh, man, that's good."
We're quiet for a minute, watching the grill, when I break the silence.
"When you used to hang out with Ginsberg, was there any cock play involved? And I must warn you, no matter what you say, I am going to replace it with innuendo that leaves the door open on the Ginsberg-cock-play-in-your-hippie-days question."
"It was an era of free love, which I've turned my back on in all its forms. Especially the cock play forms. If you imply that I am or was a homosexual because I am going to artlessly evade the cock play question by rearranging the meat on this grill, you'll be hearing from my attorneys."
By what I am sure was sheer coincidence, he throws three hot dogs on the grill, which is now a logjammed with sizzling meats.
"I was just asking. I thought it would be ironic given your hostility towards homosexuals. Would you mind melting some cheddar on one of those for me?"
"Not at all. This is going to be extra-yummy! I brought my own onions."
He tosses some onions onto the grill. Finally, he scoops up a cheeseburger with a spatula and deposits it in a bun. He hands it to me, smiling.
"You know, you've been surprisingly good-natured about these questions. You haven't turned purple once and taken a swing at me, or called me a pussy or anything."
"I love barbecues. And I'm really starting to like the idea of having my own holiday, even if I have to sue five thousand internet blog nerds once a year." He chokes a little on a bite of a hot dog, then composes himself. "I dunno, I guess that's why MSNBC has lawyers. On a totally unrelated note, you're not going to use the term cock play in your transcript, are you?"
"Of course not."
"Of course not. I mean, there really wasn't anything playful about it. Alan had a lot of anger."
"I didn't hear that."
"Of course you didn't, it's my holiday!"
Michael and I take a long swig from our Amstels, as I wonder what we're going to do with all the extra burgers once we're done with lawn darts.