s m u g
by Joe Procopio

When Five Become Four

Everyone who knows me also knows that I do NOT accept phone calls on Sunday. Period. End of story. Sunday is my day. I begin by going to church, naturally, and then I head home and lock all the doors. I open a fifth of Old Crow and a new pack of cigarettes, turn on the television, the radio, log on to the net and keep it all running in the background. I then sit down with Rolling Stone, Spin, Vibe, Wired, George, GQ, Entertainment Weekly, Playboy, and Men's Health and read them all cover to cover. By the end of the day, I'm screaming a cathartic litany of filth at each media device for destroying my life the way it has.

I call it my "compression" chamber.

By sunrise on Monday, celebrities make sense to me again.

The last person to try to get in touch with me on a Sunday, years ago, was Lisa Marie Presley. We had recently scored with the Naked Gun movies and, on finding herself in another rut, she was again looking to me to add some zip to her gig.

"You know," I said, completely annoyed and halfway through an unbearable 'Gavin Rossdale's Crossroads,' "Isn't Michael Jackson single and looking for a diversion? Why not latch onto that train?"

I never really expected her to take me seriously. Now, of course, she hates me. But at least she no longer calls on Sunday.

This time I was in the middle of the second paragraph of an article detailing how hard it is to be the guy from Third Eye Blind, whose name, even after the Dylanesque treatment he received, still escapes me. The phone rang, which I could barely hear over the cacophony of an NPR essay being read by someone who sounded as if they had marbles jammed up their nose.

"Is this Joe?"
"I'm sorry. I got this number from a mutual friend who told me if things ever got bad I was to ring Joe."
"And you are?"
"Geri Haliwell."
"Oh." (giggle) "I'm sorry. Ginger Spice."

You know how they say that in order to get over a former boyfriend or girlfriend, it takes twice as long as the amount of time you were dating? It works that way for me with the 15-minutes bunch. Thus, half-an-hour later, I have a hard time remembering details about, say, those British Beatle-aping brothers who fight all the time, or all those lawyers for that football-player guy, or Matthew McWhatsisname.

I mean, I knew who the Spice Girls were and I knew they all had cute nicknames, Sporty and Sleepy and Moe and whatnot. But they had been processed and dismissed a long time ago. Well, it turns out Ginger had left the brood due to an "artistic dispute," which I couldn't even begin to envision, but, you know, I let it slide. My guess is that she bought her own press and listened to the people telling her that she was the popular one, the real reason behind Girl Power (and, I'll have you know, I use that phrase knowing full well that Leslie has threatened on more than one occasion to repeatedly slap anyone who does).

The net was already up, so I found one of the jillions of Spice Girl worship pages and popped open a gif. Not being completely sure which one she was (and, for that matter, not caring. I mean, they're interchangeable), I decided to whip out the standard celebrity comeback file and just go through the list with her in hopes to wrap this up as quickly as possible. After all, there was an intriguing article in this month's SPIN that promised to shed some new light on how desperately difficult it is being Jewel.


Number One: Start Street-Cred Solo Career

This failed immediately. Ginger, being unmistakably European and not particularly musically oriented, really only had one shot in this arena. I suggested she take up techno, get some whiz-kid soundscaper to pre-fab a dozen backing tracks, and diva quirky a la Bjork. Setback? Pipes. As in she has none. Apparently, only one of them can really sing, and it isn't her.

Number Two: Respectability Enhancing Career Shift

This one spiraled as well:

Can you write music? Umm.
Can you write poetry? Umm.
Can you act?
I was in Spice World.
Was it good?

Number Three: Merch the Hell Out of the Old Days

This one is tricky right off the bat. Most of these kids, when their tenny-bopper spin-cycle comes crashing to a halt, realize they not only feel dizzy and a little dirty, but they also have absolutely no rights to anything, even something as simple as their own name. They signed it all away at the get-go. Ginger fell into this category. Thus, no stint on Home Shopping selling Ginger Spice Ginger Snaps or Ginger Spice Ginger Ale.

Number Four: Chuck All Things Shallow and Do Something Worthwhile

This worked miracles for Sally Struthers. Unfortunately, I couldn't even explain the theory to her. Anytime I mentioned words like "homeless", "poor", "underprivileged", "charity", or "dirty" to Ginger Spice, I was greeted with a shrill "EEEEwwww!" Scratch that.

Number Five: If All Else Fails, Get Naked

So, you know, sorry. You all have me to thank for that.

I guess the moral of the story is, when you do something half-ass, it always comes back to haunt you. Like I said, it wasn't the first time, and it probably won't be that last (which reminds me, Keanu, thanks for the CD and all but I am NOT taking the blame for this and I am NOT calling you back). In the end, I feel pretty good about my win-loss record, I mean, it's not like I do this for money or anything. I'll take solace in the fact that for every Ginger Spice I screw up, there are at least half-a-dozen Tori Amos's who, if I had not stepped in, might still be fronting Y Kant Tori Read and no longer finding herself the subject of myriad articles in trendy magazines describing exactly how tough it is to be Tori Amos.



in the junk drawer:

and such
and such

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