The G-String Grammys

I went from being slightly teed off at the current state of American music to just laughing about it.

Poor Smartacus, having to watch the Grammy’s with his dad the culture critic, the everything critic, the grump on the couch with nothing to lose.

“Wow, that was trashy,” I said of a particularly smutty performance. “Let’s see them top that!”

And, in no time, they did.

I kept my mouth shut initially. I’ve always prided myself on a rather pagan value system, tolerant of nudity and subversives…the snide outbursts of youth.

Then I started reading on social media how entertaining some viewers found this Grammy trashiness. To me, it was the “G-String Grammy’s,” and while I’m a believer in being provocative (and an occasional admirer of g-strings) I found the Grammy’s overall to be vulgar and embarrassing, an affront to females – as staged by females.

Go figure. So out-of-step and confused. What else is new, eh?

Rule of thumb: Live long enough and you will eventually be out of step with pop culture, recognize performers’ desperate attempts to get noticed, realize that this isn’t about art, it’s about fame. And when you speak up about it, you’ll be dismissed as the old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

I accept that for what it is. At one point, amid all the stripper-pole dance moves and sharply cut underwear, there was a commercial for bikini shavers in remote regions of the groin.

At that point, I finally realized what was going on.

“It’s a comedy!” I told Smartacus. “I get it now, this is all a big British farce.”

Even he laughed.

My goal, always, is to make Smartacus laugh. Exposed to my sophisticated humor from an early age, he can sometimes see the joke coming. Since comedy is surprise, that makes it extra challenging.

But we laughed together at the Rabelaisian nature of the G-String Grammy’s. Eventually, I found everything about it funny, except of course host Trevor Noah, who was hired to be funny but was definitely not. In the end, I found that kind of funny too.

As they say, you can laugh or you can cry, and I went from being slightly teed off at the current state of American music to just laughing about it. John Lennon is dead; Patsy Cline too. I just need to come to terms with that.

The kids don’t learn guitar anymore, they learn code. That’s starting to show. And now they have their parents tied up in the basement and are having this raucous nationally televised party where someone could get pregnant at any time.

I suppose that’s what popular music has always been about: shock and seduction. If I were a CBS stockholder, I’d be ashamed. Then again, I’m not. Besides, this is all about money, so maybe I’d stand up and cheer.

Listen, pop culture will have to go on without me soon – me, the scoldy and judgmental Santa appalled at all this lewd behavior.

I coughed the other morning while bending to put on shoes, and it came out as a  gasp/bellow/death rattle/cry-for-help, a sound I had never before produced.

I mean, I’ve cried for help before but no one answered, especially not my late wife Posh, who used to respond, “Work it out yourself,” as if I were a first-grader and she was trying to build character. That certainly never worked (though I saw her indifference as a sign that maybe I’d have the wherewithal to rescue myself).

So when I coughed out this sound the other morning, I thought to myself: “DON’T LET THE OLD MAN IN! DON’T LET THE OLD MAN IN!” as per the Toby Keith song.

My sixtysomething buddies and I talk about this occasionally: “DON’T LET THE OLD MAN IN!”

Where you falter in that, most often, is to not laugh about the disconcerting state of things. Such as the Grammy’s. Or the sad state of movies. Or the discomforting state of pop culture in general.

I think you have to realize that the youngsters now get their turn, and if you find their music and values kind of guttural, misogynistic and almost totally without merit, rest assured that your parents once felt that way about your music and values too.

And these kids, in 20 or 30 years, will feel the same way about their own kids’ music.

They will sit on the couch and think: “Dear gawwwwd, are there any adults left in the world? Dear gawwwwd, please bring back Post Malone!”

An aging Beyonce will teeter on stage, and all the oldsters will get misty at how old and tired she looks and how fast it goes, and how great pop music was in the good old says.

And that, old buddy, is life.

Happy St. Patrick’s Week. We’ll celebrate Thursday with a Gin & Tonic bash. I think we have enough room where everyone is welcome. Bring your own booze (of any kind), and please be discreet since boozing in public is generally not acceptable these days. What is happening to America? That will be one of our topics, as well as the push-pull between decadence and good taste. Or maybe we’ll just raise a glass and tell a few jokes. See you there. For details or questions, email me at  letters@ChrisErskineLA,.com. Cheers.

16 thoughts on “The G-String Grammys

  1. If you are a geezer about pop music and culture, I’m right there with you! And yes, I well remember how freaked out my parents’ generation were about the Beatles and their long hair and don’t get them started about the Rolling Stones! Thanks for validating my feelings. I turned it off pretty quickly. That’s an easy remedy, by the way. P.S. Made your Jambalaya recipe last night while I was watching what little I watched of the Grammys. EXCELLENT! (Your recipe, not the Grammys.) Thank you again for sharing your food, thoughts and laughs with us, Chris.

  2. I think I’m glad I didn’t watch it. The Grammys were always slightly subversive, or snarky at the least, which was fun when I was young, but I don’t understand why female singers feel the need to prance around half naked. I’m all for appreciating your body, but these grabs for attention just feel desperate to me. Hell, we all know fame is just a shot of your breasts away. I think true musical talent doesn’t require that. Adele won Grammys and she was fully clothed. Billie Eilish wins them and she’s always fully clothed — frowning, but fully clothed. But here I am sounding like a grandma, so I’ll stop. But I concur.

  3. Let’s see
    Us boomers have the Stones ,led Zepplin,Jimmy Buffet
    Now the Grammys have strip shows by Gals demanding respect
    Go figure

    1. Grew up with and loved all 3 of those ‘Non-Grammy” winning bands. Guess it shows WE had the better taste in music…

  4. Thanks for validating why I didn’t watch the Grammys. And I’ve seen the groin shaver commercial and it validated just how old I have gotten and happy to be old!!!

  5. I haven’t watched the Grammys for years, either. I was a Beatlemaniac, and my parents, who were younger than most of my friends parents, we’re more understanding. I find it’s easier to be understanding and accepting if I don’t actually watch. I also accept that we Boomers, who use to be the be all and end all, are pretty much irrelevant now, and our time in the pop culture sun has passed. More power to each new generation as they inevitably experience the same .

  6. Pop “culture” is an oxymoron. I’m a really old guy and a huge jazz fan. Big Band Kenton Basie Brubeck etc. Ella Frank Nat & swing too. Simple themes complex variations. I cherish the music my parents enjoyed Goodman Shaw Miller etc. Appreciate rock & much boomer music. No fan of screaming noise slurring and violence.
    But I agree with your conclusions about all our nostalgic inspired musical memories. One person’s trash is another’s treasure.
    This recent Grammy stuff isn’t a salute to music. It’s an affliction of our lowest capabilities, with no social value whatsoever.
    Sometimes it’s good to let the old man in!

  7. I bow down to you Chris. Thank you, thank you for affirming my thoughts. In these last few years, I’ve had a motto which is, “I think I’m too old to be on this planet.” I choose to watch the Grammy’s every year in hopes that I will find a shred of something that will touch me. But knowing the continuing decline of any refinement over the last decade or so, I’ve gotten wiser. I record it, start watching and then just fast forward though most of it. This year I found myself stopping at the commercials which were more entertaining than the porn show. I did find humor in one song that just kept repeating the same phrase with the words “trashy & classy” as if they were synonymous. Sigh. Headed off to the old peoples’ home now with my Tony Bennett album.

  8. Long live the queen, and the queen has no clothes, royalty being what it is these days. Geez Louise ! Megan Thee Stallion isn’t (lovely bootie), and Beyoncé is not beyond much I know of( though she is certainly here and now, her dress showing how). Taste is an acquired (and often lost) sense, though beauty seems intrinsic in the harmony of things. As we become ever more numerous, there seem to be more variation in our experience of these themes. In the current babel of culture, the lowest common denominator rules, though the rebellion against beauty’s exquisite natural order has been going on longer than any of us has been alive. Since change is the coin of youth, isn’t this mostly about money, fame being an internet meme you can capture in a single Zoom session gone viral ? If you find combat boots the height of fashion, you would have loved stilleto heels in Carmen’s day. All this adds up to chaos for lovers of order, order for lovers of chaos. We should get a grip. Time forces all noise–at least that which is cultural–to pass. Laughter blows it by faster. I never thought I would ever find ripped jeans funny; but now I do. Sic transit all of us; and pass the popcorn.

  9. “out of step” doesn’t even come close in my case, one small misstep for me one giant leap backwards for mankind!
    The Grammys were totally yucky, I only watched for the John Prine tribute (thank you Belinda Carlisle)
    “chacon au son goute” may be true but what if they have no taste at all?!
    Happy to join you for a tibble on St. Patrick’s day
    Your Pal,

  10. As a classically-trained music teacher, I always try to watch the grammys to catch up on what’s happening in the pop scene ~ so I can appear at least somewhat “with it” to my young students. However, last night after watching 20 minutes of booty shaking and absolutely no musical value at all, I had to just run screaming back to Downton Abbey on re-run. Grammys were too sad, embarrassing and deplorable. And what is left ~ after they have stripped down to mere inches of thread ~ where do they go from here. I also found it disheartening that the female performers agreed to this objectifying display ~ especially in the face of current trends of no more “me too” and the cry for women’s rights and self-worth. There was absolutely nothing there for young people to aspire to ~ musically or otherwise ~ ~ ~

  11. Consider yourself hip. I’m younger than you and didn’t even watch it. I don’t know ANY of the artists!

    1. Remembering Shawn Cassidy and Shirley Jones handing the Grammy to Karen Carpenter in ’70 (?) That was entertainment.

  12. Grammy Whammy

    Hey sleepyhead ! Tug on your Jammie’s
    It’s time for that snooze–the Grammys
    You’ll doze off quickly–it’s a breeze
    Lots of bottom feeding sleaze
    Tats for the animators
    Nightmares of the agitators
    Hips of the nascent queen
    Lullabys of the obscene
    Muttered, gutteral, like trash
    Thrown out for the waiting cash
    Don’t expect disarming paste
    This is more like bawdy waste
    With an occasional bright light
    To let you know how deep the night
    In the pit of culture’s dreams
    Soon to become viral memes
    As it blurs the crude and slick
    Spoken words cast off as music
    Raw schlock of the zeitgeist’s heft
    Little but the noise is left–
    As musical as melatonin
    With some virtual sex thrown in
    As if taste were mildly vulgar;

    If what you say is what you are–
    Music the soul’s avatar
    Then this circus shows earth far
    Beyond loss, it’s culture war
    One on a dead or dying star
    Trevor Noah droning on
    He tried, high, but not much fun
    As ringmaster of oblivion
    And bla-bla-bla of dirt as vision
    Sophomoric, bored, and done
    Entertainment, anyone ?
    Manna for insomniacs
    Sedative their hearing lacks
    How swift the pall that lays you flat
    When numbness sets the thermostat
    Since this is on the internet
    It may go viral–with a stet
    The Cancel Culture dominant
    Viral vultures prominent
    Their screams of rage dire, unmet
    For i’ve not watched the T.V. set
    With heavy breathing’s shallow creep
    I have nodded off to sleep…

    Even so, I liked Brandi Carlyle’s tribute to Prine, Beyonce and partner tearing it up, and Billie Ellis telling us why breathy soul is still in; and Megan-Thee-Bomb’s unbridled ethusiasm in the face of so much down “art”. We should always expect less from this event. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to pat yourself on the back ? The reach alone is daunting, even for the most flexible “artist”….

  13. My son’s a musician. His name is Drew. Someday, even if he has to shake his booty, I’d love to see him on the Grammys. Of course, that’s the only reason I’d watch. Really.

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