“Romanians are the Mexicans of Italy,” I said as we walked away from the menu girl standing outside of a restaurant hawking food to tourists as they strolled the streets leading up to the Spanish Steps.
“That’s not nice,” my brother said. “They’re indentured servants. They can’t make a living in the country they’re from, so they come here illegally to do the work no one wants to do. And they’re vilified for it. Call them what they are.”
“The Mexicans of Italy,” I said.
“Sad,” my brother said. “Sad but true.”
I have one final thought regarding the scandal over Miley Cyrus twerking her way to legitimacy. You know who twerked to legitimacy? Johnny Depp.
He hated the way he was turned into a product on “21 Jump Street.” So he twerked for John Waters in “Cry Baby.” He twerked for Tim Burton in “Edward Scissorhands.” He twerked for damn near 20-years before finally twerking in “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
If you want to know why Johnny Depp bombed this summer when he played Tonto in “The Lone Ranger,” it’s because he stopped twerking. How many sequels were there to “Pirates of the Caribbean?” I lost count at 53.
Once you buy into a franchise, and everyone knows what to expect from your performance, you lose the element of surprise (otherwise known as twerking). By the time this happened, Johnny Depp was a man in control of his career. He was a long way away from the boy who was used as a product on “21 Jump Street.”
Now he was Captain Jack Sparrow.
So what if he was available as an action figure? So what if he was available on your cup with a Happy Meal? It was an even split. Disney got a gay pirate. Johnny Depp got an island off the cost of France.
At some point in the journey, we all have to buy our freedom. If the only thing it costs is your dignity, so what?
I used to hate Johnny Depp. I thought of him as little more than a Tiger Beat Brat from “21 Jump Street.” I refused to like him in “Cry Baby.” I refused to like him in “Edward Scissorhands.” But somewhere along the way, maybe it was “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” I stopped to ask myself this: what’s eating Greg Morelli?
Turns out, I was jealous. Johnny Depp had it all.
He was talented, beyond talented. There was a gorgeousness in the choices he made, not just in front of the camera, which were there for everyone to see, but also in the scripts he chose, which reflected an instinct for greatness few are blessed with the opportunity to refine.
He also looked good in hats.
Johnny Depp grew up with my generation. We all watched, in real time. He had a tattoo which said “Winona Forever” turned into “Wino Forever.” He trashed hotel rooms. He swung brooms at the paparazzi. He smoked cloves and wore scarves while playing piano for a pretentious spread in Rolling Stone Magazine. He used Keith Richard to justify his swagger in “Pirates of the Caribbean” instead of fessing up to playing it gay.
This is the cosmic dust swirling around a star. Johnny Depp is a star, bonafide. Who knows if Miley Cyrus will become a star? She has to earn her bonafides.
Cher is a force of nature with a once in a generation ass. But she’s not a star. Sinead O’Connor is a force of nature with a once in a generation voice. But she’s not a star. They had a moment. They had the chance to be stars. But they flickered out.
Cher turned into a caricature of herself, sucking so much oxygen out of the room, Chastity Bono had to become Chaz Bono to snatch a sliver of the spotlight from her poisonous mother.
Sinead turned into a priest, aligning herself with an organization more committed to renovating Vatican City than feeding the poor.
Yesterday, I walked to Vatican City. It’s little more than a construction site, an expensive construction site. What A Sham. Holy Fucking Shit What A Sham.
If I was skeptical about religion yesterday, I’m completely over it today.
God has no patience for the church. He told me. God heard I was in Rome, so he texted. In addition to having zero interest in the church, God is totally over Cher. As for Sinead O’Connor blasting Miley Cyrus in an op-ed, God said public shaming is so last century.
He wouldn’t comment on Pink, since He’s a fan of the duet between Pink and the guy from Fun. As for Sir Elton John, He said ever since Sir Elton accepted the royal title, God pretty much tuned him out.
Which brings me back to where I started, walking away from the menu girl standing outside of a restaurant hawking food to tourists as they strolled the streets leading up to the Spanish Steps. She was everything I ever wanted in woman: beautiful, funny, fearless in the face of rejection, emotionally homeless, displaced but with a sparkle of ease in her big blue eyes.
She was also in her 20′s, early 20′s, too young for me, far too young, a world away, physically and emotionally, someone I’d never know, not really. An act, most of all, above all else…
Miley Cyrus is no different from Hannah Montanna. I didn’t like the act then. I don’t like the act now. You know why? It wasn’t for me. I’m not supposed to be one of the 200,000,000 people who watched “Wrecking Ball” on YouTube.
And neither are Cher, Sinead, Pink, Sir Elton or God. He actually liked it. He liked it a lot. God liked “Wrecking Ball” better than “Gangnam Style.” He also thought Johnny Depp was phenomonal in “21 Jump Street.”
And I was pretentious for having a blog.