where the writers are
PAUL WELLER>LETTERMAN>OBAMA or Freud on Pigs and Lipstick

Inspired by Blair Kilpatrick’s gift of a Sauce Piquante CD, I made a pilgrimage to Boston to see Paul Weller play live at the Berklee Theater (on 9/9/08).  I went with one of my best friends from college and communed with a musician I last saw live back in London in 1987.

I had much to celebrate and much to lament and Weller continues to sing my number like no other contemporary musician.  As the reviewers attest (see below), the Modfather rocked it hard, even past 50 and in a country that has remained supremely indifferent to his orphic lure.  For me, he is indeed as Spin says, the last man standing out of the class of 1977.  The opening act, The Rifles, were also a treat, and their less powerful electrics, filled the small theater better, truth be told.  That is probably my one compliant: Weller did not dial it back enough and what may sound great at the far end of Manchester’s soccer field still rattled the windows of this theater designed for a chamber orchestra.  

But then on the way back home, something strange happened:  I flew back to Louisville by way of NYC and while delayed on the runway at Laguardia, I look out the window and spot Obama’s jet.  You can’t miss it: a big O on the tail fin and the slogan: CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN across the fuselage.

Eventually, we take off and soon after I am home I get a call from my friend in Boston alerting me to the fact that Weller was scheduled to play live on Letterman that very night.  I tune in but discover that Obama is the surprise guest (and clearly one reason he was in the Big Apple).  As the interview went on and on it became clear to me that Weller was going to be bumped, and he was. I couldn’t help but wonder how he took it.

Anyway, I ended up watchign Obama amuse Dave with a superb close reading of his remarks about pigs and lipstick.  He explained that if anything the lipstick comment was dissing McCain and praising Palin.  He then reviewed the logic that structures metaphors.  The New Critics were so good at this sort of stuff.  There is the vehicle and the tenor: in this case two of each.  The pig was the vehicle for McCain’s failed policies and the lipstick was the vehicle for Palin [in her role as the persuasive advocate for the republican position].

Of course I could see Obama’s reasoning and it was just that: reason.  A+ my friend. But we live in Freud’s world.  I lecture my philosopher friends all the time on this.  Who doesn’t want to live in a rational world?  Certainly Freud did.  He could never understand why they called his daddy a Jew and then knocked his hat off in the street.  Freud watched them laugh as his father put his hat back on head and walked on.  Was that Reason?  All his life Freud wanted reason to win out, but in the end, he knew that his first premise was more powerful than his second.  The first truth for Freud of course is that the unconscious (that is-- irrationality) is in the driver seat, the second for him was that you could consciously use this truth to reason your way to health.  The older he got the more disillisioned.  He had fled the Holocaust by then, and suffered so much.

So: for anyone paying attention-- the lesson with respect to pigs and lipstick is that reason is beside the point.  The outrage to Obama is not designed to pass some sort of logic test.  It is designed to enable voters to embrace a course of action: to vote for McCain.  The strategy is bluntly Freudian.  It is a classic example where a comment is being glossed as what we use to call a “Freudian slip.”  It is unthinkable that Obama consciously wants to alienate voters by calling Palin a pig.  Instead, what we have is the claim that this metaphoric language reveals the “true” Obama who suddenly stands exposed as a sexist hypocrite.  Obama can respond with “Enough is Enough” but I am not sure that will stop the consolidation of the Republican base and that is the aim here: to help Republican women “come home.”

Like I said, we live in Freud’s world: even if he is wrong, what matters is his pervasive influence.  At least in America.  Perhaps Weller has another reason to long for merry ol’ England.


I am now in gathing together pics for Big Sid’s Vincati.  And making minor changes to the text before shipping it off for copy editing.

Note 1: To read my winning entry to Blair’s Contest “The song that changed your life” go here: http://www.redroom.com/blog/blair-kilpatrick/july-contest-the-song-that-....

Note 2: Spin Review of the concert, with pics!:


Most of the pics are of Weller at the opening playing Out of the Sinking.  I love that song as much as I do Sunflower:  I can't find the key.

Note 3: Boston Globe Review:

Note 4:

Songs played in approximate order: Out of the Sinking, Shadow of the Sun, All I wanna do is be with you, Wild Blue Yonder, Sea Breeze, Have you made up your mind, Porcelain Gods, Empty Ring, From the Floorboards Up, Invisible, <acoustic miniset> Butterfly Collector [JAM song!], Brand New Day, All on a Misty Morning <miniset ends>Wild Wood, Wishing on a Star, You Do Something to Me, Picking up Sticks, Speak Like a Child [Style Council Song!], Come On Let’s Go, Echoes Round the Sun, Whirlpool’s End [Encore] Town Called Malice [Jam, natch].

1 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

I'm so happy to know my

I'm so happy to know my little old Cajun CD helped propel you back to Weller!

That Obama quote was unfortunate.  And as a psychologist, I am not so sure it wasn't a Freudian slip--one of those remarks where, as soon as it's out your mouth, you go "Oh s....!" because it is so very true!  Never mind that the same remark has been used before, in different contexts, on the left and the right.  It's just a cliche--but an unfortunately telling one in this case.

I even cut my hair because it was getting dangerously close to Palin length!  A purely emotional reaction.  The healthier one is the fundraiser we are hosting today, a Cajun-Creole house party.