The Death of Oratory

Now I, myself, do not like to speak in front of large crowds, but have, on occasion, done so. Neither do I consider myself to be an expert on the art of public speaking. Having said both of those things, let me critique last night's oratory at the DNC.
There is a tendency, and I don't know when it started, to have a catch phrase that the audience chants along at intervals. Maybe this is a nod to the call and response of traditional Black churches, but let me tell you now, it just sucks when some stiff white guy tries to get it going. *

It does nothing for the message, either. I mean really, who's going to be quoting "Here comes hope!" when you can use "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."? Right. Not one soul. Not even the hack who wrote it.

If I were the person who scheduled the speakers, I would not have led with Barack Obama on Tuesday. He was too hot, too passionate, too good to be wasted on day two. Last night we had the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and, in my humble (yeah, right) opinion, he has had his day. His delivery was off, his rhetoric was stale. He's lost the fire in his belly.

Al Sharpton? Better than I expected, but still not the kind of rallying, blood-boiling speech that one wants on day three. Oh, and that stiff? Marvin? Melvin? O'Malley? ( I had to look him up: Mayor Martin O?Malley of Baltimore) Oh. My. God. He sucked. He sucked big. He sucked so badly, that even I, political junkie from Yellow Puppyhood, had to turn the sound off.

All I can think is that they needed people who'd make John Edwards look good. Not that he needed that much. Is it just me, or does he have that whole Dennis Quaid thing going on? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The high point of the whole night for me was the video from the Firefighters Union. The photography was chilling, riveting. And the music? Well, we know where I fall on that, don't we. They used one of the best of the best, Bruce Springsteen's "No Surrender." And must have had permission to do so, as it was a real version (I think it was from the New York City Live shows, but I could be mistaken). The last time someone tried to co-op one of his songs (Reagan and "Born in the USA") he shut them down in a heartbeat, and even went so far as to explain to the Republicans that it was a protest song, you morons, and not a paean to the glory of being an American.

I couldn't stay awake for my very favorite part of any of these conventions, the Roll Call. Is there anything more quintessentially American than the roll call? I just love it: "The Great State of East Elbow, home of the quadruple cheeseburger on rye with onion relish, Silverfish Capitol of the Universe, and center of everything to the left of Cleveland, proudly casts its fourteen votes for...." They had the Roll Call on after eleven p.m. Who the hell would or could stay awake for that after an evening of mediocre public speaking and even more random musical acts?

Oh, yeah. The music... Uh, John? John Mellancamp? A little Queer Eye advice: stop with the dying and teasing of that pathetic mop of what used to be a magnificent head of hair. You look like Elton John before the hair transplant. And another word, if I may? Do not, under any circumstances, ever, ever, ever repeat the lyric changes in "Small Town" to reference the fact that your wife was only 10 years old when you wrote the fucker in the first place. It caused me, and probably many more folks to do the math, and all I can say is: EWWWWWWWWWWWW.

Thanks, I'm done now.

*OK, so Springsteen can do the revival call and response like a a first-class tent preacher, but then, he is hardly the definition of a stiff white guy.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/29 at 11:50 AM in The Church of Rock & Roll

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