Hello again from the pen!

Boy, I’ve had a busy summer. Now that it’s drawing to a close, allow me to recap:

(1) In early June I banned all things Arizona from Bootleg City, including Arizona Iced Tea, even though several alert readers informed me that it’s made in New York, not Arizona. Sorry, but you can’t throw me off the trail that easily, undercover corporate spies. Thanks for all the free samples, though.

(2) I then snuck across the border into Arizona so I could visit Lake Havasu City and see the original London Bridge since it’s rumored to be falling down, falling down. Sadly, almost as soon as I crossed the border I was arrested at a Del Taco for suspicion of being Mexican. Failed mayoral candidate and fellow ChromeDomeCon ’09 attendee Matt Wardlaw promptly bailed me out.

(3) At the end of June I went back to the southwest, this time to attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ annual meeting in Oklahoma City, where Mayor P.R. Nelson of Erotic City declared that “the Internet is completely over,” a sentiment I agree with so wholeheartedly that I can’t stop tweeting about it. He added, “All these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers, and that can’t be good for you.” The mayor then gave out free copies of his latest musical effort, 20Ten. Irony rocks.

(4) Matt Wardlaw dropped a bomb on me and everyone else in Bootleg City when he revealed that, as of mid-July, I’ve been in the pokey. You know, the slammer. The big house. The jailhouse rock. The Rock, though I’m not in Alcatraz — unless, like London Bridge, it was moved to Arizona and no one told me.

Frankly, I’m confused as to why I’m in an Arizona prison for tax evasion that I allegedly committed as a resident of Bootleg City, but I’m outright outraged that I’ve been accused of developing “a great deal of respect for the [Bruce] Hornsby catalog”! That’s below the belt, Mr. Wardlaw. What’s next, a smear campaign alleging that I’ve already pre-ordered the six-disc reissue of Springsteen’s Darkness on the Edge of Town? Your political narratives may be convoluted, sir, but there’s no need for them to be creative.

I’ll tell you who I do like, though — Phil Collins. So does everyone else here in the pen. The can. The cooler. The hoosegow. (The prison library has a great thesaurus.)

Yes, just as war-torn Iraqis love Lionel Richie, warden-torn Arizona prisoners love Phil Collins. (I wonder who Rip Torn loves. Feel free to discuss below in the comments section.) He knows how to write a strong hook, he sings with conviction (always a plus with convicts), he played a criminal in the 1988 movie Buster, and that urban legend about him watching a guy drown and then writing “In the Air Tonight” about the experience gives him more street cred with the sociopaths here than Richard Marx will ever have. On a personal note, Matt Wardlaw and I found Mr. Collins to be a genuinely kind, down-to-earth guy when we bought $30 autographs from him at ChromeDomeCon.

The following bootleg, recorded for pay-per-view and radio simulcast on October 2, 1990, at Madison Square Garden in New York City on the final night of Collins’s Seriously Live! world tour, comes to us courtesy of Mr. Wardlaw once again. But since he doesn’t believe in telling the truth, why should I? In that spirit …

This week’s bootleg is a gift from Levi Johnston, the Playgirl-posing two-time ex-fiance of Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol and father of their son, Tripp, who turns two in December. Johnston and Palin first got engaged in September of ’08, after she became pregnant and her mom became the Republican party’s candidate for vice president. They disengaged early last year once Johnston changed a diaper, thereby fulfilling his duties as a parent, then re-engaged this July, only to disengage again three weeks later, allegedly because Johnston revealed he might be the father of another girl’s baby and lied about flying to Los Angeles to shoot a music video mocking Sarah Palin. She, of course, is the former governor of Alaska and current Tea Party booster who charges $100,000 per speech to tell people about the dangers of excessive spending. (Federal spending, that is. If you want to blow a hundred grand on a woman whose talking points are scribbled on her palm, that’s your business.)

According to the Associated Press, Johnston is hoping to extend his minor-celebrity shelf life with a reality TV show, going so far as to file papers in his hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, where Palin was once mayor, so he can run for mayor himself. “I can’t guarantee or promise you anything but I’m gonna try,” he told reporters. “That’s the goal.”

You tell ’em, Levi. But if you get tired of trying, remember, you can always quit, just like your double-ex-fiance’s mom did last year. There’s no shame in quitting, especially if bigger paychecks or higher Nielsen ratings are at stake.

Say, where’s my reality show? I may be in prison, but I’m still the acting mayor. Isn’t that worth a prime-time slot on TruTV? I guess all I can do right now is focus on serving my time and completing my library science degree. Oh, and leading the men’s prison show choir in a rousing rendition of Phil Collins’s “Take Me Home” that rivals anything you’ll ever see on Glee.

Still, I’m gonna try. That’s the goal.

[“Hang In Long Enough” music video and Paul Shaffer/Bill Grundfest intro]
Hand in Hand
Hang In Long Enough
Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)
[KRQR 97.3 FM station identification #1]
Don’t Lose My Number
Inside Out
Do You Remember?
Who Said I Would
Another Day in Paradise
[station identification #2]
Separate Lives
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning/The West Side
That’s Just the Way It Is
Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
[station identification #3]
One More Night
In the Air Tonight
[band introductions]
You Can’t Hurry Love
Two Hearts
A Groovy Kind of Love
Easy Lover
Take Me Home

P.S. I also made two jokes about male prison rape this summer. I’m unoriginal but consistent, and in these troubled times isn’t it comforting to know that some things never change?

About the Author

Robert Cass

Robert Cass lives in Chicago. For Popdose he's written under the Sugar Water, Bootleg City, and Box Office Flashback banners and collaborated on the series 'Face Time with Jeff Giles and Mike Heyliger.

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